WATCH THE VIDEO
You'll find the Quiz and Hints and Tips below.
HINTS AND TIPS
When playing online you will just click on the bids you want to make. When playing in person you may or may not have access to bidding boxes - one box for the whole table will do if you don’t have one each. If you do, you simply take out the card for the bid you want to make and place it on the table in front of you. If you don’t have bidding boxes, you can either just speak your bids and try to remember what each person has bid, or write them on a piece of paper in front of you so that they remain visible throughout the auction.
We will be moving on to how you choose your bids and what they communicate to your partner in the coming modules. First, though, we have introduced two new factors - vulnerability and doubles - and we need to consider how these impact both scoring and tactics. You don’t need to remember the detail of how these affect the scores - the actual numbers are easy to look up - you just need to understand how they influence your decisions on any given hand. A full scoring table with all the information you need to score hands can be found here: SCORING TABLE (we're working on replacing this with an improved version, please check back soon!)
We mention in the video that vulnerability is pre-determined for each hand. When you play online or with pre-dealt hands in competitions the vulnerability is shown by red and green indicators next to the N/S and E/W positions. A red indicator means that the pair is vulnerable. So on each deal it can be that neither side, one side or both sides are vulnerable. When you are playing at home or in school, for example, you can determine vulnerability by having cycles of four deals. On the first, neither pair is vulnerable, on the second and third, the dealing pair is vulnerable (as the deal rotates this is effectively each pair in turn) and on the fourth deal both pairs are vulnerable. When your side is vulnerable, the bonuses for making games and slams will be greater, but so will the penalties for failing to make your contract, and you need to think about these factors when deciding how high to bid.
Doubles and redoubles
The concept of doubling is slightly confusing one for players learning the game because double is used during the auction in two different ways (the same is true of redouble). The most straightforward meaning of double is ‘I don’t think you are going to make that contract’ - your opponent makes a bid that would put them in a contract that you think you can defeat so you double them to increase the penalty they will incur for each undertrick. This is known as a penalty double. If you are right, and your opponents fail to make the required number of tricks for their contract, the penalties will be heavier but if they do make their contract when you have doubled then they will gain a considerably bigger score. This element of the scoring system prevents players from just always outbidding their opponents because it can prove very costly to do so.
However, double is also used during the auction to convey information about your hand to your partner without raising the level of the bidding in certain situations (which we will look at in detail when we get to the meanings of bids). A double of this kind, as you saw in the video, is called a takeout double. As you heard, we suggest that you adopt a very straightforward agreement for now, that all doubles below the level where your opponents have bid a game contract are takeout doubles - you want your partner to carry on bidding - whereas all doubles once your opponents have reached a game contract are for penalty - you don’t think that they will make their contract and you want to penalise them for bidding too high. This is a pragmatic approach for the short term to avoid confusion - you will need to be able to make penalty doubles below the level of game in due course.
When a partnership has been doubled, either one of them has the option to redouble, further increasing both penalties for undertricks and rewards for making contracts As with double, there is a straightforward meaning of redoubling when the opponents have doubled your contract, which is ‘I think you have made a mistake by doubling - I think i can make this contract’ but also like double, it can be used during the auction to convey other meanings. This secondary meaning of redouble is much less common than with double and you can stick to its primary meaning for now. As with all elements of bridge, the best way to learn about tactics is to try them out when you are playing. You may suffer a few big penalties along the way or inflict some on your opponents but that’s all part of the fun.
Sacrifice bids - a simple guide
Now that you have competitive auctions you have to think not just about the contract that you think you can make but also about the scores that will result from your opponents making their contracts. You will quickly work out that there are circumstances where you may lose fewer points by outbidding your opponents and going off in a contract than you would lose by them making their contract. A bid like this is called a sacrifice or a save.
Suppose your opponents have bid to a game contract - let’s say four hearts - and you think they will probably make it. You want to know whether you might score better if you outbid them - say bid four spades - and fail to make it. This can look like an attractive bet: Say neither side is vulnerable, then your opponents will score 420 for bidding and making four hearts. If you bid four spades and go two off then even if they have doubled, you will only lose 300, so that’s a better score for your side. If you are vulnerable, however, and they are not, now you are losing 500 for going two off, doubled. Compared with the 420 they were going to score for their non-vulnerable game that’s a poor outcome for your side. Rather than having to remember the scoring system and do the calculations each time you think about making a sacrifice bid you can use an easy guide to help you: Think of the situation where your opponents are vulnerable and you are not as ‘favourable vulnerability’, the situation where both sides, or neither side is vulnerable as ‘equal vulnerability’ and the situation where your side is vulnerable and your opponents are not as ‘unfavourable vulnerability’. Assuming that your opponents double your sacrifice bid (they usually will), and assuming that your opponents are making their contract, which they might not be, you can afford to go three off at favourable, two off at equal and one off at unfavourable vulnerability and still achieve a better score. As you can see, there are many considerations to take into account when deciding how high to bid but in general you should be more cautious when you are vulnerable.