Bridge sacrifices: Be a lamb or a lion?

DUPLICATE bridge is the most popular form of the game played at the Bathurst Bridge Club.

A difference of 10 points in the outcome of a hand at duplicate bridge can make a significant difference to the finishing order for that hand, and hence for the scoring points achieved. The greater the difference, the greater the effect on the success of a pair compared to other pairs playing the hand.

Accordingly, sacrifice bidding over enemy game contracts can be very profitable, or very unprofitable.

A “sacrifice” is a bid that is unlikely to win the contracted number of tricks, in the hope that the penalty points imposed will be less than the points likely to be gained by the opponents successfully making the number of tricks they contracted for.

If you lose 500 imps instead of the opponents making 620, it is likely to yield a large match point score gain.

On the other hand, a very poor score will result if one sacrifices against a contract that is unlikely to make.

It could result in having a score of minus 500 when all the other pairs are positive 100 from defeating the opponents’ contract.

So it is best to  avoid a sacrificial bid against opponents who show signs that they will struggle to make a contract. The bidding may show when the opponents are in a game that they are uncertain of making. 

If the contract makes half the time for -620, and fails half the time for +100, then at best a sacrifice costing -500 will be a middle scoring board.

If the opposition at the other tables are in a contract that makes only nine tricks, then half the field in the game contract will score -100, while the other half of the field in the part score contract will score 140.  The sacrifice of -500 will be an outright bottom score.

So watch the opposition for any signs of doubt in their bidding.

If there is a good chance that the opposition are not going to make their contract, forget about sacrificing.

Winners’ circle

CONGRATULATIONS to Helen George, Anne Hunter,Judith Haysom, Nora Taylor, Lyn and Bob Dillon, Belinda Mansell, Teresa Martin, Liz Scorer, Jennifer Hector, Christopher Rosevear, Doreen Kjeldsen, Keith Jebb, Barbara Woolfe, John Shield, Graham Cox, Sheila Thompson, Denise Thomas, Elaine Walker, Libby Tink, Maureen Pike, Mary Onus, Patricia Lockwood and Lorraine Johnson.

All of these players won both the handicap and the outright competitions in recent bridge events.

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