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Does the 5-level belong to the opponents?

To bid to make at the 5-level, you need:

  • Offensive values – extra high-card points, extra trumps

  • A source of outside tricks – a long side suit, or extra trumps and ruffing values

  • Controls (aces, kings and singletons) in outside suits

  • Very important: Control of their suit (singleton, ace or sometimes Kx)

Words of wisdom from Grant Baze:

The 5-level belongs to the opponents. Be very slow to jeopardize the possible plus position you create when you push the opponents to the 5-level. If the decision is close whether to push on, double them, or pass — then you should pass.

If you push on and go for too much, or it is a phantom, or you double them and they make it, you have a terrible result. If you double them and beat them one, you may have gained little or nothing. If you pass, in most cases the worst that will happen to you is that you break even.

This is almost analogous to a statement made by Daryl Royal:  «If the (foot)ball is in the air, only three things can happen, and two of them are bad.»

[Excerpted from «Rules of Bridge» by Grant Baze, published in 1985. The full article is here.]

To sacrifice at the 5-level, you need:

  • Extra trumps – usually a fit of at least 10 trumps

  • Distributional values – a singleton in their suit (best) or other suits

  • Very few defensive tricks (keep in mind that queens and jacks in your shorter suits may be tricks on defense)

  • The expectation that you can take 10 tricks (red vs. white), 9 tricks (at equal vulnerability) or 8 tricks (white vs. red)

  • The strong expectation that the opponents will make their game contract.   

Estimating tricks for a sacrifice…Click here to continue Reading


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