Duplicate bridge results and tip: The Sacrifice Bid Part Three


By Val Rhead


Sacrifice bids also are an important defensive technique against some lower levels of bidding.  Be alert when the enemy bids One Heart – Two Hearts, and you are in the pass-out position.  You should act!  You do not want to let them play at Two Hearts when they want to be there!  With an eight card fit, they will likely make at least eight tricks (six for the book and two for their bid) and get a good score even though your side has about half the points.  Bid your five card suit or double and force your partner to bid.

According to the “Law of Total Tricks” players usually are better off to compete at the level of the number of trump that they possess.  If you and your partner have an eight card fit, you can safely make a Two Spade bid over your opponents Two Hearts.  With a nine card fit in Clubs or Diamonds, you will likely do better to bid at the three level in these suits than letting your opponents blissfully play at Two Hearts.   There is no guarantee that you will make your bid but still you may score better by going down.

Sometimes, of course, the dastardly opponents will increase their bid to Three Hearts.  It is often better at this stage to pass and let them possibly sink into the abyss of a minus score.  Sometimes they will make it but they will be no better off than if you hadn’t tried a challenging defense.

If you compete to the three level, you may go down, but you can still have a better score than if you allowed them to play their two level bid.  If you’re not vulnerable and go down one trick, their score is just 50 which is better than letting them make 110.  Even if you’re down two tricks, not vulnerable, that’s just 100 for them.  If they double you, you can afford to go down only one trick but often they will not double you at the three level because that gives you the game score if you make it!  Do exercise discretion when you are vulnerable, but the same logic applies.

If, however, the opponents’ lacklustre opening bids do not show a fit, such as One Heart followed by One Spade, it is less important to intervene with a weakish bid of your own.  They may not have a fit and may be unable to make their contract or they may be too strong for you to compete.

Also, remember when contemplating sacrifice bidding that you want to be reasonably sure that the opponents have a good shot at making their contract.  It makes little sense to make a sacrifice bid when the opponents weren’t likely to make their contract anyway.  Avoid these Phantom Sacrifices.

Often a weak preemptive bid makes a good sacrifice.  Suppose you have a seven-card Spade suit and less than opening points.  If you open Three Spades, your opposition may find it difficult to discover their Heart slam or Five Club game.  You may go down, but you will likely have a better result than if you let them explore their hand and find their optimal contract.

The games of duplicate bridge and social bridge are similar but not identical.  The play of the hand is the same.  The bidding systems are similar.  Only the scoring system is different.  Because of this difference in scoring, making sacrifice bids at the lower levels is a more valuable defensive action in the duplicate game than in the social game.  However, the concepts still can be valuable.

If you wish to promote an activity in your bridge group or ask a bridge question, send the information to [email protected] and I will try to include it in this column.


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 following winners are for Tuesday, Jan 9 with 8 pairs playing a Howell movement.  1. Liz Graham and Dorothy Russell; 2. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst; 3. Joanne Garvey and Betty Rintoul; 4. Val Rhead and Gail Lederer


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 [email protected]

The following winners are from Monday, Jan 8 with 14 pairs playing a Mitchell movement. North-South 1. Mary Luke and Donna McIntosh; 2. Barb Forth and Vern Foell; 3. Carol Anne Robinson and Nancy Barber; 4. Frank Vagnoni and Gerry Lawrence; East-West 1. Gail Lederer and Don Evans; 2. Lyn Walisser and David Bryce; 3. Val Rhead and Joanne Garvey; 4. Kathy Kent and David Kent

Looking for more bridge tips? You’ll find them here.

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