By Val Rhead
HOW YOU CAN WIN BY LOSING: THE SACRIFICE BID
PART TWO: CONSIDER DISTRIBUTION
Sacrifice bids are an important defensive technique. Last week we investigated making a sacrifice bid against your opponents when you believe that they can make a slam, or a game.
You’ve probably encountered hands, with lengthy suits, that could make a game or even a slam in both directions. More frequently though, one direction can make game or slam, but the other can’t. However, the direction that can’t may go down only one or two tricks in a sacrifice. Depending on vulnerability, that pair may fare better declaring and going down than leaving the opponents to play in their makeable suit.
Remember from last week, if you’re not vulnerable, you can sacrifice more safely.
So what kind of a hand does it take to make a successful sacrifice? The key is distribution. You cannot make successful sacrifices with flat hands. A useful guideline that will assist players in deciding whether or not to sacrifice is “The Law of Total Tricks”. As explained by the esteemed bridge writer, Larry Cohen and other experts, the “Law” says that you can safely bid up to the number of trump your side holds, with some adjustments for distribution that either raise the value of your hand or lower it.
For example, if you have a six card Spade suit and your partner has three Spades, you can safely compete to the Three Spade level for regular bids and a competitive score. You can sacrifice at the Five Spade level, planning to go down, if they compete to Five Hearts and you think they might make their bid. But, a flat hand from partner (3,3,3,4) is a negative factor and suggests that the total tricks will be less and not worthy of the sacrifice attempt. With a different hand, singletons and voids suggest that the total tricks makeable may well be greater and worthy of a sacrifice attempt. You expect to go down, but it does imply that you will often get a better score with a sacrifice than letting your opponents play their suit.
As we discussed last week, remember to consider the vulnerability. It may not make sense for you to risk a sacrifice bid with unfavourable vulnerability.
Also, do try to make sure, before making a sacrifice bid, that the opposition likely can make their contract. What’s the point of going down and giving a score of 500 to the opposition if they can’t even make their 420 Heart contract? Avoid these Phantom Sacrifices.
So, when bidding distributional hands, keep in mind the possibility of making a sacrifice bid as part of your defensive arsenal. Do remember, however, to consider vulnerability and to avoid sacrificing against opponents whose contracts are unmakeable.
If you wish to promote an activity in your bridge group or ask a bridge question, send the information to email@example.com and I will try to include it in this column.
HUNTSVILLE DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB
Games at the Huntsville Club are Tuesday 1pm start for the Winter Season, Trinity United Church 33 Main Street in the Hearth Room. Please arrive 15 minutes before game time. For partners and information call Liz Graham (705) 789-7187
The game was cancelled December 26. The following winners are from Tuesday, Jan 2 with 7 pairs playing a Howell movement. 1. Vern Foell and Rod Dixon; 2. Joanne Garvey and Barb Green; 3. Dorothy Russell and Kel Andresen; 4. Jim Smith and Ralph Mitchell
MUSKOKA DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB (Bracebridge)
Games for the Bracebridge Club are Mondays 7pm, Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Taylor Road. Please arrive 15 minutes before game time. For information or partnerships, call Brian at 705-645-5340 firstname.lastname@example.org
The game was cancelled Dec 25 and Jan 1 and resumes Jan 8. The following winners are from Monday, Dec 18 with 13 pairs playing a Howell movement. 1. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst; 2. Kathy Kent and David Kent; 3. Liz Barnes and David Bryce; 4/5. Kel Andresen and Jim Smith; 4/5. Frank Vagnoni and Gerry Lawrence; 6. Gerry Flaherty and Ralph Hair
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