Teams Tactics by Derek Patterson
When in Doubt, Bid Game!
TO BID or not to bid (game), that is the Some will make and some will fail but in
question. Of course, each situation will As a consequence, experts try to bid the long run, the aggressive approach
have its own set of circumstances upon all marginal vulnerable games, should turn out to be a winner, even if
which any decision will depend. However, choosing to play in part-scores only only 40% of such contracts succeed.
when playing teams, adopting an when game contracts appear to be
optimistic approach to the bidding of completely unrealistic propositions.
game contracts is likely to be a successful In passing, it is probably sensible to
strategy. It is a matter of risk and reward. note that the strategy of optimistic
For example, imagine that you are North, When non-vulnerable, the risk-reward ratio bidding should not be applied to
with the hand below: is closer but, even so, a mildly aggressive slam-bidding, for which a cautious
approach is still correct. approach is suitable.
On this occasion, bidding game turned
´ QJ852 and, with everybody out to be a successful choice:
™ K83 vulnerable, the follow- From the Defenders' Perspective
t 862 ing auction develops:
® 65 Game All. Dealer East. When playing a teams match, having to
´ QJ852 play against a pair that seems to be in
™ K83 game on every hand is not easy. One
West North East South t 862 unlucky lead, one momentary lapse in
1® 1NT1 ® 65 concentration, and before you know it
Pass 2™2 Pass 3´3 ´ 97 ´ K3 declarer has claimed his or her contract. A
Pass ? ™ 9652 N ™ AJ4 constant barrage of thin games tends to
1 15-17 points t A9753 S t J 10 apply considerable pressure and, being
2 Transfer to spades ® J7 ® K 10 8 4 3 2 human, most of us yield at some point.
3 Showing four-card spade support and a ´ A 10 6 4 Therefore, the idea should be to exert
maximum ™ Q 10 7 (in the nicest possible way!) the same type
t KQ4 of pressure on your opponents when the
What now? ® AQ9 opportunity arises – stay out of hopeless
Playing in a duplicate pairs event, it is games but be prepared to bid all the close
sensible to take no further action. The ones.
point is that both 3NT and 4´ rate to fail When West led the ®J (partner's suit) In the first article of the series, I
reasonably often and going down is likely against 4´, a third-round club ruff pro- advocated the habit of playing safely for
to be just as bad as making game would be vided access to the dummy and despite the contract. So now, the two major
good. However, when this deal occurred in the tA being offside, the ´K, ™J and ®K ingredients of successful teams play have
a top international teams event, the were all successfully finessed (dummy's been covered – bold bidding in the game
players were contemplating which game to trumps serving as subsequent entries) to zone, followed by careful play to secure the
bid, rather than whether to bid one. enable the contract to be made. On other (potentially precarious) contract.
The reason for this is that 4´ making leads, the play is more complicated but
gains 10 IMPs by comparison with 3´ plus declarer can prevail by exiting in dia- Final Thought
one. On the other hand, 4´ minus one monds (or a heart to the king) and forcing
loses 6 IMPS by comparison with 3´ the opponents to broach the critical suits. A friend of mine once told the tale of a
making. The reward for bidding game is a Meanwhile, 3NT was made when West fellow bridge player who ‘gets a nose-bleed
gain of 10 IMPs, the risk is a loss of 6 decided to lead a diamond (the ®J lead when the bidding reaches the three-level.’
IMPs. Naturally, the prospect of over- would have defeated the contract) and the ‘No good at teams!’ he added . . . r
bidding slightly and then being doubled diamonds were blocked. The successful
adds to the risk but this is offset by yet declarers were fortunate to varying extents
When you have finished
another factor: that, occasionally, the but this is a situation where good players
reading this magazine,
defenders will give tricks away, especially earn their own luck.
please recycle it.
with the opening lead. So be prepared to bid marginal games.
www.ebu.co.uk February 2012 English Bridge 21