By Prof Tony Campbell

A SACRIFICE is when you bid over a game bid by your opponents, expecting not to make the contract, but to get a better score than their game contract. So here is a hand played at Penarth last October where East/West can make four spades for a score of 420. Whereas the sacrifice bid of five diamonds by North/South, doubled by East, goes only one off for a loss of just 100. This hand also has some interesting things to tell us about the card play.

The Auction

East opened one spade, hoping to be able to bid his hearts twice to show he had two five card majors. South was happy to overcall two clubs with 12 points and a five card club suit. Some South’s might overcall 2NT to show the minors. But really you need five cards in both suits for this bid. So an overcall of two clubs is fine. West could have bid three spades to show a good raise to two spades, but East/West were not playing this system. With a six card diamond suit North felt it was worth bidding three diamonds. East now bid three hearts, showing a strong hand with at least 5/4 in the majors. South, with four diamonds and expecting his partner to have six, bid four diamonds. West, who had underbid with his initial two spades, knows his partner has as strong hand, and with the king in his partner’s second suit and a singleton diamond was happy to bid four spades. North, realising his partner was likely to be 5/4 or 6/3 in clubs and diamonds, thinks four spades with make. So he sacrificed in five diamonds. One or two down doubled would be a loss of 100 or 200, a better score than 420 when East makes four spades.

The play

East led the ace of spades. Seeing the queen of spades and a singleton heart in dummy, he then led the six of clubs, which was won in dummy by the ace. North, as declarer, then drew two rounds of trumps, and ruffed two of his losing hearts with dummy’s last two trumps. After winning the king of clubs, North returned to his hand by ruffing a club. But he had to concede the last trick, as he still had one heart left. One down for a loss of only 100. At other tables, where North/South did not sacrifice in five diamonds, South led the ace of clubs. He then led the three of diamonds, rather than the king of clubs, not wanting to set up the queen and jack of clubs in dummy, as he suspected East originally had a singleton club. This was won by North’s ace, who returned another diamond, which East ruffed in dummy. East then drew two rounds of trumps, leaving South with the queen. He then played a small heart to his ace, and returned a small heart which was ruffed by South’s queen of spades. East now made the rest of the tricks, ten in all – five spades in his hand, a spade ruff in dummy, and four hearts, losing one club, one diamond, and the queen of spades, for a score of 420. Well done North/South for sacrificing in five diamonds for a top.

What have we learnt?

1. In a competitive auction it is always worth bidding a six card suit when non-vulnerable.

2. After an overcall of your partners opening bid of one spade by your opponent, there is a very good system to cope with this. If you have a weak hand and at least three spades bid two spades. But if you have 7-9 points and four spades, as here for West, bid three spades. On the other hand, if you have 10-11 points and four spades, enough for three spades without your opponent’s intervention, then bid two no trumps.

3. Whether to sacrifice against a game bid made by your opponents requires great judgement.

Further information

There is a very good long-standing double dummy site, something I loved doing from Bridge Magazine when I was a student. Double Dummy Corner is written by Hugh Darwen at and is well worth looking at. There is a large archive of problems. I will be putting the solution to some of these on the Penarth Bridge Club web site, but only after the closing date for each problem. Good luck with your online bridge. Bridge Club Live (BCL) is the best and may be open again for new registrations. Bridge Online Base (BBO) is OK, but the software is not nearly as good as BCL. BBO is still open for registrations. Contact for information. I hope you are able to keep copies of my articles as I build them up. Please let me know if they are useful. You can always find my articles online at www.penarthtimes/bridge. Keep an eye on Email me if you have anything you would like me to discuss Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Virtual table up.