by Graeme Tuffnell
Bidding to a contract in bridge that you know won’t make doesn’t seem sensible at first glance, but it’s a common, legitimate and effective tactic.
Sometimes the opposition get all the points and you have to accept that you will lose points on a hand. However, on some hands you can minimize your losses by playing the hand rather than defending.
Suppose the opposition can make 4 and that they are vulnerable. They will score 620 for game in a major suit.
Now suppose instead of letting the opponents play in 4, you bid 4. We’ll also say that you are vulnerable and that you get doubled.
One down, doubled and vulnerable is 200 points. That’s cheaper than the 620 you would have lost defending 4. Even two down would be a good sacrifice at 500 points.
Three down, doubled and vulnerable is 800 points. Too many! How can you tell when to sacrifice?
If your side has a good trump fit, then a sacrifice might work. The bigger the trump fit, the more you can safely bid, even without points. The hand above had only nine trumps which is not enough to bid at the 4-level without the requisite high card points.
Moreover, you were vulnerable and that is the time to be careful. It’s great if you are not vulnerable and your opponents are vulnerable. 3 down not vulnerable is 500, which is a good sacrifice if your opponents were likely to make 620.
But remember, you won’t necessarily make your contract. You’re just trying to minimize your losses.