Home / Bidding in Bridge - 3 Strategies

Improve your bidding in bridge

There are three bidding strategies you will need, depending on who has the points and what has happened in the auction so far.

Bidding in bridge

We'll want to bid and make play a part-score, game or slam on many hands but making a contract isn't always our only objective. Sometimes we can profitably go down in our contract, called sacrificing, to prevent the opposition from making a bigger score for making a contract their way.

constructive, competitive and balancing auctions in bridge

We need bidding strategies to cover every situation. There's often overlap, of course, and auctions will sometimes have elements of two or even all three stratgeies to consider.

You and your partner will need to recognise what type of auction you're dealing with and bid accordingly.

Constructive Bidding

When just you and your partner are in the auction it's all about constructive bidding. You'll be trying to decide whether to play in a suit or notrump contract and whether to play in a partscore, game or slam.

This is where you'll be using a bidding system such as Acol, Standard American, 2/1, Precision or even something else.

On the following hand North and South have a constructive auction to 4♠.

Bridge Card Game

Opening Bids and Responses

Regardless of what bidding system you use, bridge is a lot easier when you understand the logic behind all those bids.

Competitive Bidding

In competititive auctions, where both sides are bidding, your combined trump length is a good indication of how high you should be bidding. For that reason, showing your suit length as quickly as possible with an overcall or double helps partner to make better bidding decisions.

Other hand evaluation techniques will help you to decide if you'll make your contract whereas trump length helps you decide whether the contract you bid to will be a good sacrifice.

The better your trump fit, the higher you should be competing.

8 trumps between the 2 hands = bid for 8 tricks
9 trumps between the 2 hands = bid for 9 tricks
10 trumps between the 2 hands = bid for 10 tricks

On the following hand each side has a 10-card fit. This means that it is a good idea to bid for 10 tricks. Note that it doesn't guarantee that you will make the contract, only that it is a good idea to bid it! You'll either make your contract or it will be a good sacrifice.

Sacrifice Bidding and the Law of Total Tricks

East West can make 4 and North South are only 1 down in 4♠. It's better for North and South to give East and West 100 points for going down our way rather than 620 (or 420) for letting them make game.


When the opposition have been doing all the bidding but then stop at a low level you will sometimes want to get back into the auction. That's known as balancing. It takes courage but learning to balance at the right time will help your scores a lot.

Having a trump fit is great! A fit just means a suit that we've got at least eight of between our two hands. The bigger our fit, the higher we can afford to compete. If our side has opened the bidding, we are normally going to be able to work out pretty quickly whether or not we have a fit and how good our fit is.

Even if the opposition have opened the bidding, if we can overcall or double to show something about our hand, again, we're going to get an idea of whether or not we've got a fit. But sometimes there just doesn't seem to be anything to say.

Luckily a tiny little bit of knowledge about bridge odds tells us what we need to know. If they have a fit, we probably have a fit.

Did we bid ok?

Did we make a mistake? Were we just unlucky? Or lucky?

Forget what the actually happened at the table and don't look at the oppositions' cards. Just look at your hand and partner's and compare to the chart below. Don't let the actual result influence you one way or the other.

The result of one hand often doesn't tell us much. We're looking for a long term winning strategy.

tags: #constructivebidding #competitivebidding #balancing

This is one of the most important lessons, I reckon. Understanding that there really is a difference between constructive, competitive and balancing auctions is a big step forward.
Updated: 2023-12-01
Parker Joyce
I’m printing this article for my bridge game friends. Terrific article. Thank you.
Very helpful
Graeme you post such helpful information that I share with our new players, you are amazing!
Chris Sherlock
Very helpful, Graeme! Thanks for posting this!
Thank you Graeme most helpful
As always great information put in a simple way, thanks so much Graeme.
Maureen bridge
Very good Thanks Graeme
Rita Kumar
Thank you, Graem! I read and watch all your posts! You’re a dedicated teacher to help bridge players! Thanks again!
great information Thank you
Irene Jones
Thank you Graeme. Once again, excellent lesson/information. You have an innate ability to explain, even complex topics, in such a way that makes it easier for me (us) to understand.
Sue (Socks)
This is a tremendous piece of work. I am really glad you are a huge believer in the KISS theory ( keep it simple) Thank you for online videos and this is a great .
marie smith
Thanks Graeme, so grateful how you share your wonderful knowledge of Bridge. Particularly your wonderfully informative videos - thank!

Like this website? Become a supporter.