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Winning a Game and Bidding Strategy
#1
Greetings,

Scenario:  Suppose the game is 500 points.  Team A has a good run of cards and is up 400 to 70.  Can team B start over-bidding team A and go set in an attempt to wait out a bad run of cards? (or team B simply starts winning the bid in good faith but goes set a few times)  Either way, once the difference in score reaches 500, does team A win?  E.g., team B continues to outbid team A, goes set, and the score becomes 480 to -30.  The difference in score is now 510.  Does team A then win?

Brian
"Do or do not.  There is no try."  Yoda
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#2
I can't recall ever seeing any official document with such a rule, but I think most sensible people would consider a 500 point score difference to be grounds for the conclusion of a recreational game in the name of mercy.

If this is a recreational game, chances are the losing side would favor abandoning the current game and starting another.

Alternatively, some people may argue that there is no need. If you are up by 400 points, just play it cool/sensible. Bid your hands within reason. You are likely to "coast out" in 2-3 hands anyhow without needing to win any contracts. The chances of a miraculous comeback will be seriously, seriously low.

Furthermore, these wild and cutthroat game endings can actually benefit all four players in terms of analysis and strategy. Perhaps embrace the madness, stretch your bidding confidence, and learn from your mistakes in a low-risk scenario.
It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life. -- Mickey Mantle
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#3
I've never seen it as a rule, but IMO it's a very reasonable one. In home, recreational play, this shouldn't happen. IMO, this is always disruptive behavior, but it can be discussed.

HOWEVER, playing online...it does happen. On Yahoo, it was something to track. Know the players that would do it, and just don't play with them.

And mick, there IS a downside. If the game is timed with chess clock style timing, then if the winning side is playing a bit slower, the losing side can use this to force their clock to expire, and "win" in that manner. If there's no fixed amount of time, then the losing side just adapts a stall tactic whose only goal is to force the winning side to give up, becaues that's the only way the game will end.

Now, recognize: there's 2 entirely separate aspects here.

1. All out aggression. When 31 is reasonable with a bit of help, then you can play to get that help. If partner never bids, I normally count on him to provide 15 points total, between meld and play. If he shows meld, then it's the amount of meld he bid, plus 5 points from tricks he wins in play. In endgame bidding, I can hope for more....so, call it 25 points from a passed partner, or meld + 10. Maybe even meld + 15.

IMO this is ok, as long as you're not going totally crazy, and as long as 31's reasonable. And there are some other cases: Say NS are up 400-70. North opens with 53, East bids 54. South jumps to 65. West passes; North passes. Say East has 23 meld and a 9 trick hand. That's about 45 points total. Bidding 70 would mean he'd have to catch his partner with 25 points total. NOT likely, but also not impossible because the auction so sharply limited the hands with which West could bid. So it's plausible.

Honestly...if I'm East and I really think I have 31 AND likely no defense (say, AAATKKQJJ Axx Axx xxxxx...on defense, I'm afraid I'll have about 2 tricks), then:
a) if I pass, they're making 65, and it looks like we're gonna get 0, one way or the other.
b) if I bid and pard has total junk, we go set, they save. Worst case, but with what I have...not that likely.
c) if I bid and pard has a few bits and pieces so we pull 31 but go set, we lose 70, but they get 0. Basically the same result as a)
d) If I bid and get lucky, we make, we pull 31. We're +70, they get zip.

So it's something of a balancing act between the b and d scenarios. How much luck do I need for d to happen? Hoping for 25 from a passed partner is a lot, but it's possible...regardless of the score. So if the score puts us in desperation mode...70's an easy bid to trot out at any time...with this score, I'd actually buy East trying a 75 bid. He'll need 30. NOT likely, but figure South can probably bid 75 himself comfortably (opposite 30 meld)...if not he should've given meld himself or passed.

2. Suicide bidding. Bidding to play the hand with no marriage...auto set, opponents don't score their meild. Similarly, bidding with no appreciable meld, hoping to not even make the board so the hand doesn't get played. Bidding impossibly high even if you have a strong hand. I've seen players need to pull more than 50 to save...even after partner's hand was clearly limited. THIS is disruptive behavior.
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#4
House rule ideas...

1.  500 point margin ends the game.  
2.  If the bidder goes set by a large margin, the opponents may elect to add the bid to their score in lieu of scoring normally.  The bidding side gets 0 if they choose this option, rather than losing the value of their bid.

If using the second, you're probably not using the first.  The idea is, there would be nothing to gain from a suicidal overbid.  And this would apply throughout the game.  Yes, I have seen things like North bidding double kings...and EW taking a 125 point set with all of 25 meld to stop NS from scoring.  If you're playing to a 500 point margin, it doesn't matter.  If playing to 500, then taking the intentional set *may* be tactically reasonable, as it means there's more time to get lucky.  Yes, I've seen this happen in the first couple hands of a game.

The second also may be good in tournament-style play.  Say there's 8 pairs.  Every pair will play 4 hands against every other pair...7 total rounds, 28 total hands.  The winner is the pair with the highest total score at the end.  In this scenario, Pair B can try to punish Pair A by tanking their own score with sets...but also not letting A accumulate any meaningful points.  

So what's a "large margin"?  At least 15, I'd think.  I'd lean to 20;  it's easy, and it's almost always gonna be the case that missing by 20 was a clear suicide bid.
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