Bidding Strategy in a Nutshell

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Game contracts This illustration really says it all. With a balanced hand and all four suits covered playing in No Trumps is by far the best proposition.

But when you have no stoppers in one or two of the suits you need to look elsewhere. In such case the major suits are by far the preferred option.   Just look at the bottom line :

  1. 3NT         =  9 tricks =   40 + 2 x 30 = 100 points

  2. 4♠ or 4♥   = 10 tricks =   4 x 30 = 120 points

  3. 5♦ or 5♣   = 11 tricks =  5 x 20 = 100 points

Avoid raising Partner's Minor suit
Any of above contracts qualify for a lucrative "Game contract" bonus (of 300 or 500 points, depending on Vulnerability), but when you play in Clubs or Diamonds it takes 1 or 2 tricks more to get there!.
So, after a one in a suit opening from your Partner your bidding priorities should be :

Bidding priorities

Do not (I repeat do not) raise your Partner's minor suit unless your are unbalanced and have absolutely no other option to bid anything else.

NT or a Major suit contract ?
There exists a much more subtle dilemma between a NT contract and a major suit contract. It is a matter of ruffing potential. With at least one of the hands containing a void, singleton, or even doubleton, you have the potential to ruff and so gain a trick more than when playing in NT.

But if a ruff is not possible (and assuming your side has all suits covered) you will make the same number of tricks in NT as in a trump contract, but always score 10 points less than in NT.
So if you have a 4 3 3 3 card distribution you should seriously consider NT if at all possible (rather than supporting Partner's major suit).
Once you are in a suit contract and realise you could have been in NT too, ruffing an additional trick at one stage during the play should be a high priority.

Duplicate board, NS Vulnerable Being the Opposition
When your Opponents have all the cards the main guide to your actions is the Vulnerability on the Deal at hand.

If you are Vulnerable, be very careful about what you bid. If you go down two tricks in a Part score contract you will attract -200 penalty points, more than any part score the Opponents can inflict on you.

If you are Not Vulnerable however, you can go to town, be really aggressive. Two down is only -100 points, and better than most part score contracts Opponents are likely to make.

For Game scores too, especially when Opponents are Vulnerable (with their Game scores worth 600+ points), your side can go down 3 tricks doubled (-500 penalty points) and still be the better off. So in these cases do support your Partner's minor suit if that is the only long suit your side holds.

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Copyright © 2011 Michael Furstner.