Primer to Duplicate Bridge @ MSN


Every partnership in the room plays the same hand, either as East-West or North-South.  You score points based on how your points (for or against) stack up against everyone else's.  You can see the interim score after every hand, but  your score will vary, as other (new) results are factored in.  Since BOTS sometimes play the hands, rankings can be 'out-of-whack' at times.


Unlike contract bridge, where the deals are random, Duplicate hands are designed to play games with your head (see #2 below).


1. Keep a good sense of humour.  You can go from hero to villain on one deal in Duplicate.


2.  'Sacrifices' need not be automatic.  Bidding contracts you know are likely to fail i.e. 4-spades over 4 hearts, or 5-clubs over 4-spades -- purely to sacrifice -  isn't always a winning strategy.  Sometimes the contract you are bidding against is doomed and your sacrifice won't pay off on the score sheet.


   Related to this is the issue of part-score contracts.  In normal bridge, you might bid a shaky 3NT, or 4 hrts, because the percentages favor aggressive game contracts.  In Duplicate, you may well play 1-NT, 2-Hrts, or 3-clubs, etc., aiming to make overtricks.  All that matters is how you fare when compared to everyone else.  If no one else bids game, you don't have to.


3.  Other Concepts in Bidding: most of the tricky part of Duplicate bidding concerns openers and subsequent passing by the responder.  Assuming you are playing 5-card majors --as openers, at the 1- or 2-level (strong), and your partner opens.  you have a weak hand and he bids:

a) 1-club or 1-diamond - this may indicate a preferred minor - not a biddable suit. usually, you respond with your own 4 or 5-card major.   with less than 6 points, I recommend NOT passing unless you have 4-cards in the minor suit.  otherwise, your pard may get hammered.  safest alternate to a 'pass'  is 1-NT.  partner should read this as a sign-off.  if he opts to pursue a legitimate club or diamond contract, that's his choice.


b) 1-NT   2-clubs is Stayman (minimum of 7 points, asking for 4-card major), and 2-NT is 8 points.  but what if your hand is horrid? a snglton or void and few points? you could pass. but you might bid 2-hearts, or -spades if you have 5 or more in that suit.  partner should interpret that as a 'bailout'.  you may be able to garner 8-tricks in a trump contract, but your pard might get killed at 1-NT. tough decision.


in my system, only 2-hrts or 2-spades is used as a 'bailout'.  2-clubs is reserved for Stayman and 2 diams makes no sense (you only get 40 points for 8 tricks, versus 40 points for 7 tricks in NT).


c) 2-hearts or -spades (strong) - well, you can't pass--it's a demand bid.  with a weak hand, your only option is 2-NT, 0 to 5 points  (same thing as contract bridge).  if partner opens 2-clubs or -diamonds (which could be a  preferred minor), I'd be tempted to respond 2-hearts or -spades with a weak hand, as long as pard treats this as a "3 to 8 points" reponse initially, rather than the usual "6 to 8 points".  here, prior agreement and communication in trhe partnership can prevent misundertandings.


d) Situational Bids – in Duplicate, Vulnerability is a big issue. Vulnerable games earn big points.  If the Opps are Vulnerable, and you are not, it pays to bid aggressively, but particularly when you have a very strong 6+-card suit, and useful distribution (i.e. singleton, void).  This is a good time to overcall 1NT, even with 10 points.  If the opps can make game, you will score well on a sacrifice even if you do 3-down doubled (500 points).


e) Situational Passes – there are limits to aggressive bidding. before raising your pard, ask: 1> does he or she have another bid? is it really my place with the cards I can see (yours) to raise the ante? besides trump, what cards characterize my hand: jacks and Queens?  if so, pass. 2> are the Opps strong or weak?  if they are strong, it is foolhardy to keep raising with ‘average cards’. pass.  3> is there a good chance we will get doubled NOW?  don’t raise – pass.


f) remember: if the Opps only make what everyone else makes, they won’t score very well─that’s just not a ‘money hand’.  you could turn it into a disaster, but a ‘money hand’ for them by bidding 4 or 5 with marginal cards, and letting them hammer you.


M Gull -   - Monday, March 14, 2005 – updated Dec/09