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Sacrifice Bids

When both sides are bidding your focus is no longer bidding game or slam. Most of the time you'll simply be deciding whether to defend against a contract by the opposition or try and play the hand yourself.

If both sides are bidding then showing your points to partner isn't going to help much because, with the points spread around so much, you're less likely to have the strength for game anyway. In fact, bidding to a making contract is not your only consideration. You can sometimes get a better score by making a sacrifice, which means going down on your contract rather than letting the opposition make theirs.

How high to bid in a competitive auction

Your trump fit will determine how high to bid in a competitive auction. The better your trump fit the more keen you should be to play the hand. Without a trump fit you'll probably be better off defending.

Other hand evaluation techniques will help you to decide if you'll make your contract whereas your trump fit will help you decide whether the contract you bid to will be a good sacrifice. The better your trump fit, the higher you should be competing.

This is the basic idea:

Sacrifice Bidding and the Law of Total Tricks

Each side has a 10-card fit. This means that it is a good idea to bid for 10 tricks. Note that it doesn't guarantee that you will make the contract, only that it is a good idea to bid it! You'll either make your contract or it will be a good sacrifice.

East West can make 4 and North South are only 1 down in 4♠. It's better for North and South to give East and West 100 points for going down our way rather than 620 (or 420) for letting them make game.

Related Lessons

Law of Total Tricks - How to use the Law of Total Tricks when deciding how high to bid in a competitive auction.


JBrown says:
Thank you ! Graeme, loved the lesson
Kadiritf says:
Love the lesson, and played the game went down one (1) in 4H...
I am always tempted to do a sacrifice bid when they have bid eg 1S partner 4 S. I will have 5 H, good ones, invariably it is wrong. Even when I looked to see vulnerability. Sometimes I X, thinking partner will bid, that doesn't work either. Partner thinks it is a penalty and I go down the tubes again. Probably need more practice.
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