an ace hidden behind his spur

Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
A beautifully mustached, crewcut, nonchalant-looking Western gambler, with an ace hidden behind his spur.
(Murakami, Haruki. Pinball, 1973. Trans. Alfred Birnbaum.)

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

spur /spɜː/ n
  1. a pointed device or sharp spiked wheel fixed to the heel of a rider's boot to enable him to urge his horse on
  2. anything serving to urge or encourage: the increase in salary was a spur to their production
  3. a sharp horny projection from the leg just above the claws in male birds, such as the domestic cock
  4. a pointed process in any of various animals; calcar
  5. a tubular extension at the base of the corolla in flowers such as larkspur
  6. a short or stunted branch of a tree
  7. a ridge projecting laterally from a mountain or mountain range
  8. a wooden prop or a masonry reinforcing pier
  9. another name for groyne
  10. Also called: spur track a railway branch line or siding
  11. a short side road leading off a main road: a motorway spur
  12. a sharp cutting instrument attached to the leg of a gamecock
  13. on the spur of the moment ⇒ on impulse
  14. win one's spurs ⇒ to earn knighthood
  15. to prove one's ability; gain distinction
If "ace" is a playing card, what could "spur" mean? Is it one of the above meanings? If so, which one?
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Someone who is adept in cheating at cards might hide an ace up his sleeve. Here it looks as though this fellow has surreptitiously placed a card between his spur (definition 1.) and his boot, where it would be hidden by his trouser leg.
    < Previous | Next >