M J Bridge
Competing at a high-
Although the thoughts on this page can be applied a little more widely I have in mind the specific conundrum as to whether or not to compete at the five-
I am looking at the decision whether or not to bid one more as a sacrifice.
We are in the world of fine judgement. It is the mark of an expert to be able to differentiate between the offensive and defensive potential of specific holdings. I am not such an expert.
There are a few adages around which may or may not helpful, but which, as ever, contain at least a grain of truth.
One old saw is ‘the five-
This might not deter you from competing at the five-
Another of the traditional guidelines is ‘six-
Again, not a bad starting point. Such a shape is likely to have considerably more offence than defence and because of this the sacrifice will frequently score better than allowing the opponents to make their game.
But there is more to it than either of these ‘rules of thumb’.
As indicated above, vulnerability will be a consideration.
At its simplest, there is little point in going down 500 if the best your opponents can do is score 420.
Are they making?
Even more important is the question as to whether or not the opponents are making their game.
If the opponents have struggled to their contract and you can see as much as a well placed king or the likelihood of a poor trump break then pass and aim to take them down. How often have I been so pleased when my sacrifice went down for a mere -
Offensive and defensive holdings
This is the bit where the judgement of the experts leaves me a very sorry second.
At the present time (2016) Andrew Robson is writing an excellent and authoritative series of articles in ‘English Bridge’ on the theme of ‘Double, Bid or Pass?’.
The best that I can do is to pick one or two general points, but the underlying message is clear -
In general an offensive hand is one with ‘fairly’ extreme shape, probably including a void, and honours in the long suits.
A defensive holding will usually be less shapely and will frequently contain honours (even minor honours) in the short suits.
With an offensive holding you might bid on.
With a defensive holding and no real hopes of a making contract your way you will pass every time (or just possibly double).
Playing the room
And finally, and this applies particularly at pairs scoring, will the opponents contract be bid by the rest of the room?
If most of the room is going to score 200 for 3♠ + 1 then there is little point in making a well-
Andrew’s suggestion is that to sacrifice at the five-
I have no reason to argue with the judgement of a master.
Beginner and above
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