Bridge notes | When to make the sacrifice

TOP TIPS: Sometimes a sacrifice bid is your best option.
TOP TIPS: Sometimes a sacrifice bid is your best option.

A SACRIFICE in duplicate bridge occurs where one pair bids to a contract that is expected to fail, but the penalty is less than the score their opponents would have earned had they been allowed to make their contract.

It is an exciting aspect of playing bridge, but it is important to understand the scoring system.

Where the opponents can make a vulnerable slam, it can be enticing for a non-vulnerable pair to sacrifice.  After all, a vulnerable slam scores at least 1370 while going down five doubled costs the non-vulnerable pair only 1100.

A vulnerable grand slam will allow non-vulnerable opponents to fail by eight tricks doubled and still give the opponents fewer points. So, when vulnerability is favourable and the opposition are making strong bids that may lead them to a slam, it is good strategy to make interfering bids.

Interference can be increased if some support comes from partner.  For example [Dealer: North; Vulnerability: North/South]:

  • North: S AKJT53, H AKQ, D QJT8, C –
  • East: S 42, H T8432, D 97, C QT93
  • South: S Q9876, H 765, D A65, C A4
  • West: S -, H J9, D K432, C KJ87652

North has a colossal hand that all bridge players would recognise, and South has a very good supporting hand.

With this bidding West can suspect North/South may bid to slam. So interfering with the bidding, especially if East supports, can be effective.

The bidding might proceed:

North          East            South             West

2C(1)           Pass            2S(2)              4C(3)

4S(4)           6C(5)           6S(6)             7C(7)

Double(8)    All pass

1. “Partner, I have a very strong hand. Tell me what you have.”

2. “I have at least five spades and more than six assessment points.”

3. “I don’t have a strong hand. I have at least seven clubs, we are non-vulnerable, the opponents seem to be heading for a vulnerable slam, so we have a potential sacrifice.”

4. “Spades is my suit also. You decide what contract we should be in.”

5. “I have some clubs. Let’s make life difficult for the opposition.”

6. “I think we can make 12 tricks in spades, but the opposition have taken a lot of our bidding space, so I can’t be sure.”

7. “With my void in spades, I think we can sacrifice at the seven level.”

8. “These ####**** opponents!  Let’s see if we can get some points at least.”

West should win eight tricks, five down, giving North/South 1100 points.

North should win 12 tricks if allowed to declare in six spades, losing only a diamond trick.  That would earn 1430 points.

Seven clubs doubled would, therefore, be an excellent sacrifice.

Happy new year to all.