One of three ways in which you can change the attitude of an aircraft or other vehicle or organism that can move in three dimensions. Pitch involves rotating the thing on its axis that runs from left to right for lack of better terminology. Pitching an aircraft will move its nose up or down. The other two ways you can change the attitude of something is to roll and yaw it. In aircraft, pitch is induced by control surfaces called elevators, which are controlled by pushing or pulling the yoke or stick towards or away from you.

A pitch is also something you can find inside a cave. In this case it's a vertical shaft which cannot be ascended or descended without recourse to SRT or ladders, although a few pitches can be free climbed.

In checkers parlance, "pitch" is a synonym for "sacrifice"; that is, a move which deliberately allows the opponent to capture a piece. Of course, a good player will have a sound reason for such a sacrifice; for example, it may bring about a position on the board where he can recapture more pieces than he has sacrificed, as occurs in a two-for-one shot.

Pitch is a card game played generally with four people arranged in teams sitting across a table from each other. It is a trump game similar in structure to Hearts or Spades with some interesting twists. The game is over when a team has reached or bettered 21 points. Conversely, the game also ends if a team has reached or descended past negative 21 points.

To begin the game the dealer (the deal is passed clockwise) deals out six cards to all players. In the set of house rules I am most familiar with cards are always dealt three at a time. Cards can of course be dealt one at a time if one wishes. Once all cards are dealt the bidding round begins to the left of the dealer. A bid by a player must be higher than the bid from the player to their right with the exception of the dealer, who may at his option “steal” the current winning bid. A player at this point also has the option of turning their cards face up in order to get six new cards if and only if all six of their cards are lower than a Jack. Below is a list of the bidding options for a hand.

  • Standard Bids
    • Pass, the bidder believes they can win zero points for their team this round.
    • Two, the bidder believes they can win two points for their team this round. As will be explained this bid, just as a pass, is not a valid starting bid for a hand.
    • Three, the bidder believes they can win three points for their team this round. This is the minimum starting bid for a hand.
    • Four, the bidder believes they can win four points for their team this round.
  • Non-Standard Bids
    • Low-wrap, the bidder believes that they can win six points for their team this round. A low-wrap implies that they, or their teammate, will have the lowest card playable (while following suit) for each of the six tricks. Aces may be declared to be high or low for a low-wrap.
    • High-wrap, the bidder believes that they can win six points for their team this round. A high-wrap implies that the bidder, or their teammate, will have the highest card playable (while following suit) for each of the six tricks. Aces must always be high. A weak high-wrap bid upon in times of desperation may be declared aces low, but this is only a joke to relieve tension.
    • Smudge, the bidder believes that they can win eight points for their team this round. This is the granddaddy of all pitch hands. This bid implies that the bidder believes they can win a four, but furthermore they or their teammate will win all of the six tricks this round.

Play continues with the winner of the bidding round playing their first card. In a wrap, no trump is declared. In all other hands, trump is the suit of the first card played with the exception of a verbal declaration that trump is otherwise. For the rest of this round, that suit has precedence over rank. For example, if spades are declared trump and the dealer is south, east would win the following hand:


3♥         2♠


because they have successfully “trumped” the dealers attempt to win points. This play is valid if and only if east has no more hearts in their hand.

Once the round has been played out points are awarded on the following basis:

  • The highest card of the trump suit earns one point for the team holding it.
  • The lowest card of the trump suit earns one point for the team holding it.
  • The Jack of the trump suit earns one point for the team holding it.
  • The team with the most trick points earns one point.

Trick points are calculated as follows:

Some simple math shows that there is a maximum of 80 points in the entire deck. Since just about half the deck is used, each round will generally provide about 40 points.

Just as not all points are always in play, it is equally if not more important to remember that the Jack of trump is not always ensured to be in play. In fact, if the bidder is not holding the Jack of trump is it recommended to not assume it is in play.

Round scoring, traditionally, affects only the team that won the bidding round. Only their score may be affected positively or negatively. In some house variations, the team that lost the bidding round may still receive points for capturing the high, low, or Jack of trump in a standard hand. After the round has played, if the team that won the bidding round was successful their bid is added to their overall score. If they were beaten by the other team, generally by losing points or the low, their bid is subtracted from their overall score. A representative hand may play out as below, with teams of North and South, East and West.

Hand One
North dealing

                                   A♠, Q♠, 9♦, 6♦, 8♥, 6♥

A♥, 4♣, A♦, 10♦, 8♦, 7♦                                            6♠, 5♠, 3♠, 2♠, 7♣, K♣
                                   J♠, 5♥, 3♥, 6♣, 3♦, 2♦

East bids Pass
South bids Pass
West bids Three
North bids Three.
North-South wins the bidding round.

Trick One, North leading.

4♣      3♠

Trick Two, North Leading

10♦    7♣

Trick Three, West Leading

A♦     K♣

Trick Four, West Leading

A♥      5♠

Trick Five, East Leading

7♦     6♠

Trick Six, North Leading

8♦     2♠

Trick Scoring:

  • Team North-South is awarded one point for the high of trump (Trick One).
  • Team East-West is awarded one point for the low of trump (Trick Six).
  • No point awarded for the Jack of Trump.
  • Team East-West is awarded one point for outscoring Team North-South in trick points 21-7.

The score of this game out be 0 - -3 after one hand, Team East-West winning. In this hand we see that by taking West’s three bid, North walked into East’s monster bid-busting hand. North properly led off-suit in trick two after winning the Js and a potential low in the 3♠. West winning trick two with the 10♦ allowed team East-West to steal momentum, points, and in the end win the hand.

Now let’s see how the hand plays out if North, as the dealer, doesn’t steal West’s bid.

Hand Two
North dealing

                                   A♠, Q♠, 9♦, 6♦, 8♥, 6♥

A♥, 4♣, A♦, 10♦, 8♦, 7♦                                            6♠, 5♠, 3♠, 2♠, 7♣, K♣
                                   J♠, 5♥, 3♥, 6♣, 3♦, 2♦

East bids Pass
South bids Pass
West bids Three
North bids Pass.
East-West wins the bidding round.

Trick One, West leading

A♦    K♣

Trick Two, West leading

10♦    3♠

Trick Three, West leading

A♥     2♠

Trick Four, West leading

8♦    5♠

Trick Five, West leading

7♦   6♠

Trick Six, West leading

4♣     7♣

Trick Scoring:

  • Team East-West awarded one point for winning the high of trump (trick one).
  • Team East-West awarded one point for winning the low of trump (trick two).
  • No point awarded for the Jack of trump.
  • Team East-West awarded one point for winning trick points 28-0.

In this hand, we see that West’s aggressive play by leading the 10♦ in trick two pays huge dividends, as with no J♦ in play any other card would allow South to trump trick two with the 2♦, thus winning the low of trump and the hand. In this example East-West would open the game winning 3-0.

Pitch is, in the end, a game that rewards aggressive three bidding and conservative four bidding. Loose fours bid with only two or three trump, or worse with no Jack in hand, are susceptible to being busted by an opponent or by a lack of a Jack in play. Weak wraps, those with multiple holes (a hole would be any gap in cards for which you need help or luck to win the trick) or holes of 5 or greater cards, will also punish your team and show in the final score. A team that defends its deal by stealing the other team's bid whenever plausible will generally have the advantage, as will a team who consistently wins the bidding round when they are not dealing. The most notable bidding round advantage can be found if one team can manage to have their more agressive player sitting to the right of, and having first action in a bidding round, the other team's more agressive player.

These, of course, are just rules and standard modes of play. More advanced concepts would include comfortably making A2 three bids hold up as well as making Jack-less four bids. Also included would be knowing when to lead off-suit after winning the bidding round when to bid wraps. Another advanced concept is knowing when, towards the end of a game, it is better to bid out a marginal hand such as A♥, 9♠, 7♠, 6♠, K♣, Q♣ or to pass on such a hand in an attempt to break the other teams bid assuming they have or will make one.

Moments to learn, a lifetime to master, pitch is a friendly and enlivening game which all lovers of card games would do well by to try.

Pitch is the name for any number of resins with high viscosity (about 100 billion times more viscous than water) that appear solid and will shatter if hit, but also flow at room temperature, albeit very slowly. Pitch can be derived by the distillation of wood, coal, plant resins or petroleum in which case it is called bitumen. Pitch is a point in a continuum of substances such as asphalt, tar and something called slime. Tar for example, is more fluid than pitch and slime is liquid at room temperature. Glass also inhabits the same strange world of solids that flow, though it takes centuries for it to do so appreciably.*

Pitch has been know since time immemorial and is mentioned in a particularly Life of Brianish line in the story of Noah and the ark:

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” BibleGenesis 6:14
The ancients had access to pitch from boiling the bark of trees such as birch and from natural bitumen which can be found sometimes freely seeping out of the ground, and also in bitumen impregnated sands called tar sands or oil sands. The use of pitch to waterproof ancient craft is one of the technological innovations that helped establish maritime commerce and the first steps to a global economy.

One of the most curious uses of pitch is the pitch drop experiment started by the first physics professor at the University of Queensland, Australia, Thomas Parnell. The experiment was started in 1927 and is still going on today: the good professor heated a sample of pitch and poured it into a funnel with a sealed stem. After allowing the sample to settle for three years, the stem of the funnel was cut and the pitch was allowed to flow onto a waiting beaker below. The whole contraption is kept in a cabinet in the foyer of the physics department and to this date, eight drops have fallen into the beaker. No one has been around to witness any of the drops though now a webcam keeps constant vigil. The eighth drop fell recently, but unfortunately the camera had malfunctioned.

*call points out correctly as it turns out that I have been duped along with a lot of other folks by this old wife's tale. Glass is not a liquid after all. There are a number of references on the web to an article that dispels the myth: Antique windowpanes and the flow of supercooled liquids, Robert C. Plumb,(Worcester Polytech. Inst.), Journal of Chemical Education, 66(12), 994-6, 1989.
The Pitch Drop Experiment,,8/14/2004
Pitch (resin) Wikipedia,,8/14/2004

In the parlance of the confidence game, the "pitch" (a.k.a. the "come-on", the "tale", the "sell" or even the "patter") is the process of convincing you that your money is safe, that you're making a smart decision…that you're not a mark when you actually are.

Of course, the pitch isn't limited to just the art of the con. It happens in any sales meeting, business deal or confidence scam… and, in a way, they are all the same thing.

The pitch is a process that happens on two levels. First, the information must be transmitted: What is the angle, what's the deal? What does it entail? How much should I invest? But all of that is nothing compared to what's going on under the table. The real question that the pitch man is hoping to answer (and if he's gifted, without you realizing it) is "Why should I trust you?"

Below are twelve of the most common ways they'll do it. Ways that, at best, you should ignore, and at worst, should make you walk out of the room and never look back.

The Sell

  • "What would you say if I told you…" - There are many rhetorical devices like this: cheap neurolinguistic programming tricks to make you listen. Instead of, for instance, just telling you X, the pitch man asks you what you would say if he told you X. If you're following along at all, your mind naturally starts to come up with an answer to the question. "What would I say?" Regardless of the answer to the question, you've been sucked into actually considering what's being said instead of just listening to it. This, in a way, short-circuits that filter in your head that ignores bullshit statements. Variants: "How many times have you…", "Right now, you're asking yourself…"

  • "Make Money Fast" - Sure, it's no secret that most people want to make a lot of money doing little or no work. Whenever you hear an enticement that guarantees fast and large returns, it is either a swindle, very risky, or illegal. On the contrary, the surest way to make a lot of money is to be patient, cautious and, above all, invest (i.e. don't spend) your money. If someone is preaching to you with a sure-fire plan to make a lot of money, you have to ask yourself why this person isn't making money with this method instead of preaching to people. The answer is probably that making money off of gullible marks is easier. Variants: "How would you like to make a million dollars?"

  • "By now, you're wondering" - Be especially wary of this formula, especially if it is repeated more than once. Not only does it include an NLP hook like the one above, but it includes the phrase "by now" which is a homophone for "buy now". Whether or not you believe that this kind of subliminal homophony really works or not, you should be aware that there are a lot of people in sales and confidence that do. The very fact that someone is trying this approach on you should be an insult and a warning sign.

Making You Feel Special

  • "Don't tell anyone I told you this, but" - Here's another double-pronged attack. First, there's a secret. People like secrets. It's interesting, compelling, and is one of the most plausible ways people think they can game the system. If there's a secret in, a tip on the Q.T., the fix is in…then there's probably some juice in it for you. The second thing is that by letting you in on the secret, you're made to feel special, unique…trusted. Most people like to feel like they are special. Once again, I must invoke David Mamet's watchword of the con: "It's called a confidence game. Why? Because you give me your confidence? No. Because I give you mine." Variants: "Can you keep a secret?", "I really shouldn't be doing this", "My boss will kill me if he finds out…"

  • "You have been selected" - A favorite of cold-callers, mail solicitations and a common concept in the short and long cons. To the egotistical mark, it sounds as though ream after ream of names were pored over, research was conducted, maybe even interviews with the neighbors, boss, friends. Like the word "finest" on the label of your favorite prepackaged processed snack product, this term means nothing, or—more accurately—means that you were hand-picked because you look like a mark. Variants: "Hand-selected", "Our research department gave me your name", "You're being chosen because of your…", "A few select investors"

  • "We'll just need to ask a few questions to see if you qualify" - Most people would be surprised to know how many times they've fallen for this pitch. More often than not, you've already qualified. If it's an investment, you can be almost certain that this line is absolute bullshit. The only qualification for most investment is this: Is it green and does it rhyme with honey? The application questions, the hoops, the passing you on to a case worker/talent director/investment officer is all just a ploy to make you think they might possibly refuse you? Why? Because acceptance is acceptance, whether it's a credit card, a circle of friends or the deal of a lifetime. To be accepted is to be validated—to be worthy. Listen to your mother (if she can be trusted): your opinion of yourself is what's important, don't let it be swayed one way or another by a deal you found on a matchbook cover. Variations: "I'll have to discuss this with my boss and get back to you—", "We're just going to review your application and if you meet our criteria, we'll give you a call."

The Appeal to Trust

  • "In exchange for your trust" - While some people trip this alarm with honest intentions, you should always be more cautious when someone asks for your trust. As your mother would tell you, trust should be earned, not given away. In addition to this, trust should be an implicit part of the deal, and not a bargaining chip. In other words, if someone is giving you something in exchange for your trust, you should be extra suspicious. Whenever trust or loyalty is called into question, ask yourself why. Whether or not we are too cynical to admit it, these traits are the default characteristics of human interaction. We trust each other every day not to stab, poison or crash into one another. If the question is even raised, it should make the whole deal suspect.

One of the Boys

  • "Have another drink—on me." - There is a reason why in societies East and West it is customary to get piss drunk while making business deals. Most people think it's fun to be drunk, and it makes people more agreeable. There is, to be sure, an implicit intellectual and physical challenge involved in competitive drinking. Of course, if your adversary is a career deal maker, he or she already drinks a lot. Some of them will even secretly eat a stick of butter before they start in. While man-to-man drinking is, of course, a well-accepted way of proving masculinity, ladies are often no less the target here, especially if they are, like most modern women, desirous of liberation. The challenge can be made a little more explicit when peppered with some paternalistic pet names: "Can you hold your liquor, sweetie?", "Are you as good as a man, sugar?"

  • "Look at that one over there." - Ogling. Womanizing. Maybe even getting you laid. This one is textbook, and on the right mark, it can work like a charm. For the mark who has spent his life on the periphery—outside the locker-room—a bit of male chauvinist blather makes him feel like one of the boys. If your pitch man has a Rolex, a BMW, an Armani suit but still considers you close enough to show you that pig inside of him, well, shucks, he must be all right. In fact, if he likes boobies, he's probably just like you. Variants: Stories of sexual exploits.

One Last Push

  • "Live a little." - Sometimes they push you in this direction: appeals to how cool, brave, attractive or smart you are or want to be. You should take this as an insult, because this is the play they make to the ones they think are the most uncool, cowardly, ugly or stupid. The formula is as simple as the devil's bargain: Identify what the mark wants to be and then offer it to him. Gentlemen, be especially suspicious when they try to impugn your masculinity. "He can't be a man's because he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me." Variants: "Do the smart thing", "Don't be a pussy"

  • "If you change your mind, I'll understand" - Because true friends know how to guilt trip. This one, like "trust me" should never be a consolation. These words, if true, need never be spoken. Your parents taught you, your teachers taught you, the after-school specials taught you, and even the saccharine feel-good movie of the year taught you: people who respect you—true friends—understand and respect your judgement implicitly. Not everyone who says this phrase is trying to swindle you, but it is yet another tripwire that should set off your alarm system. Variants: "You can back out if you don't want to go through with it", "I'm just going to tear up this check and we'll forget the whole thing".

  • "What does it matter anyway?" - The appeal to the ethical relativist in you—the amoral—one man's sin is another man's virtue. Sure, it's true. The earth will be destroyed someday, we're all going to die, people get fucked over every day, money isn't everything, you can't take it with you. If you hear these words, someone is trying to change your values for you. When you walked into this bar, restaurant, bus station, airport or hotel, you had values. Life had meaning and money had worth. If you let a stranger strip that away from you, friend, you're every bit the mark that he thought you were. If you happen to have a copy of Glengarry Glen Ross handy to read or view, you can learn from it: Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) pitches to James Lingk (Jonathan Pryce) along these lines and it is a perfect example of how morality can be eroded with patter and drink until there's nothing left. Not a single inhibition. Now sign on the dotted line. Variants: "You only live once", "Grab life by the balls" and similar carpe diem malarkey.


  1. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet

Pitch (?), n. [OE. pich, AS. pic, L. pix; akin to Gr. &?;.]


A thick, black, lustrous, and sticky substance obtained by boiling down tar. It is used in calking the seams of ships; also in coating rope, canvas, wood, ironwork, etc., to preserve them.

He that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith.
Ecclus. xiii. 1.

2. (Geol.)

See Pitchstone.

Amboyna pitch, the resin of Dammara australis. See Kauri. --
Burgundy pitch. See under Burgundy. --
Canada pitch, the resinous exudation of the hemlock tree (Abies Canadensis); hemlock gum. --
Jew's pitch, bitumen. --
Mineral pitch. See Bitumen and Asphalt. --
Pitch coal (Min.), bituminous coal. --
Pitch peat (Min.), a black homogeneous peat, with a waxy luster. --
Pitch pine (Bot.), any one of several species of pine, yielding pitch, esp. the Pinus rigida of North America.


© Webster 1913

Pitch, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Pitched (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Pitching.] [See Pitch, n.]


To cover over or smear with pitch. Gen. vi. 14.


Fig.: To darken; to blacken; to obscure.

The welkin pitched with sullen could.


© Webster 1913

Pitch (?), v. t. [OE. picchen; akin to E. pick, pike.]


To throw, generally with a definite aim or purpose; to cast; to hurl; to toss; as, to pitch quoits; to pitch hay; to pitch a ball.


To thrust or plant in the ground, as stakes or poles; hence, to fix firmly, as by means of poles; to establish; to arrange; as, to pitch a tent; to pitch a camp.


To set, face, or pave with rubble or undressed stones, as an embankment or a roadway. Knight.


To fix or set the tone of; as, to pitch a tune.


To set or fix, as a price or value. [Obs.] Shak.

Pitched battle, a general battle; a battle in which the hostile forces have fixed positions; -- in distinction from a skirmish. --
To pitch into, to attack; to assault; to abuse. [Slang]


© Webster 1913

Pitch, v. i.


To fix or place a tent or temporary habitation; to encamp. "Laban with his brethren pitched in the Mount of Gilead." Gen. xxxi. 25.


To light; to settle; to come to rest from flight.

The tree whereon they [the bees] pitch.


To fix one's choise; -- with on or upon.

Pitch upon the best course of life, and custom will render it the more easy.


To plunge or fall; esp., to fall forward; to decline or slope; as, to pitch from a precipice; the vessel pitches in a heavy sea; the field pitches toward the east.

Pitch and pay, an old aphorism which inculcates ready-money payment, or payment on delivery of goods. Shak.


© Webster 1913

Pitch, n.


A throw; a toss; a cast, as of something from the hand; as, a good pitch in quoits.

Pitch and toss, a game played by tossing up a coin, and calling "Heads or tails;" hence: To play pitch and toss with (anything), to be careless or trust to luck about it. "To play pitch and toss with the property of the country." G. Eliot. --
Pitch farthing. See Chuck farthing, under 5th Chuck.

2. (Cricket)

That point of the ground on which the ball pitches or lights when bowled.


A point or peak; the extreme point or degree of elevation or depression; hence, a limit or bound.

Driven headlong from the pitch of heaven, down
Into this deep.

Enterprises of great pitch and moment.

To lowest pitch of abject fortune.

He lived when learning was at its highest pitch.

The exact pitch, or limits, where temperance ends.


Height; stature. [Obs.] Hudibras.


A descent; a fall; a thrusting down.


The point where a declivity begins; hence, the declivity itself; a descending slope; the degree or rate of descent or slope; slant; as, a steep pitch in the road; the pitch of a roof.

7. (Mus.)

The relative acuteness or gravity of a tone, determined by the number of vibrations which produce it; the place of any tone upon a scale of high and low.

⇒ Musical tones with reference to absolute pitch, are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet; with reference to relative pitch, in a series of tones called the scale, they are called one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Eight is also one of a new scale an octave higher, as one is eight of a scale an octave lower.

8. (Mining)

The limit of ground set to a miner who receives a share of the ore taken out.

9. (Mech.)


The distance from center to center of any two adjacent teeth of gearing, measured on the pitch line; -- called also circular pitch.


The length, measured along the axis, of a complete turn of the thread of a screw, or of the helical lines of the blades of a screw propeller.


The distance between the centers of holes, as of rivet holes in boiler plates.

Concert pitch (Mus.), the standard of pitch used by orchestras, as in concerts, etc. --
Diametral pitch (Gearing), the distance which bears the same relation to the pitch proper, or circular pitch, that the diameter of a circle bears to its circumference; it is sometimes described by the number expressing the quotient obtained by dividing the number of teeth in a wheel by the diameter of its pitch circle in inches; as, 4 pitch, 8 pitch, etc. --
Pitch chain, a chain, as one made of metallic plates, adapted for working with a sprocket wheel. --
Pitch line, or Pitch circle (Gearing), an ideal line, in a toothed gear or rack, bearing such a relation to a corresponding line in another gear, with which the former works, that the two lines will have a common velocity as in rolling contact; it usually cuts the teeth at about the middle of their height, and, in a circular gear, is a circle concentric with the axis of the gear; the line, or circle, on which the pitch of teeth is measured. --
Pitch of a roof (Arch.), the inclination or slope of the sides expressed by the height in parts of the span; as, one half pitch; whole pitch; or by the height in parts of the half span, especially among engineers; or by degrees, as a pitch of 30°, of 45°, etc.; or by the rise and run, that is, the ratio of the height to the half span; as, a pitch of six rise to ten run. Equilateral pitch is where the two sloping sides with the span form an equilateral triangle. --
Pitch of a plane (Carp.), the slant of the cutting iron. --
Pitch pipe, a wind instrument used by choristers in regulating the pitch of a tune. --
Pitch point (Gearing), the point of contact of the pitch lines of two gears, or of a rack and pinion, which work together.


© Webster 1913

Pitch, n. (Elec.)

The distance between symmetrically arranged or corresponding parts of an armature, measured along a line, called the pitch line, drawn around its length. Sometimes half of this distance is called the pitch.

Pitch of poles (Elec.), the distance between a pair of poles of opposite sign.


© Webster 1913

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