Mr. Marty Bergen has suggested using a bid of 3 No Trump during the auction in order to perform a sacrifice against the opponents, when it appears that the opponents have a game contract in a suit. The concept is the expectation of not making a contract of 3 No Trump, and therefore the name of this convention or method.


The expectation is the hope that in a non-vulnerable situation versus a vulnerable situation for the opponents, the contract is only down five or fewer in a Minor or Major suit game contract undoubled, or down only three or fewer doubled. Since a score of minus 500, down three, non-vulnerable, and doubled, is better than a score of minus 600 if the opponents make their game contract in a Minor suit, and 620 in a Major suit, then the concept proves successful and acceptable.

During the auction, it must become clear that the opponents have a game contract, either in a Minor or Major suit. The one who sacrifices should, but not absolutely necessary, have already passed when it was his turn to make a call. The following bidding auction should clarify a situation where it is evident that the opponents are able to reach a game contract and that a 3 No Trump sacrifice bid could prove advantageous.

Dealer is North
North/South are vulnerable
East/West are not vulnerable

North   East   South   West
1   Pass   2    

North has opened the auction, East has passed, and South has jump shifted, signifying a long Heart suit and enough high card points to reach game. It is also now evident to East/West that the opponents have a game contract.

North   East   South   West
1   Pass   2   3

West has decided to enter the auction with a preempt of 3 Diamonds. This bid by West is definitely a signal to the opponents that they should not attempt a No Trump contract. The contract of North/South most likely lies either in Spades or Hearts, or, if all else fails, perhaps in Clubs.

North   East   South   West
1   Pass   2   3

North now shows little support for his partner's Heart suit, and suggests Spades.

North   East   South   West
1   Pass   2   3
3   3 NT        

East has recognized the situation and has prepared to sacrifice, and expects a double of his bid rather than a continuation of the bidding auction by North/South, since North/South still have not agreed upon a suit. East realizes the hopelessness and futility of sacrificing with a bid of 5 Diamonds, which could prove devastating.

If the contract of 3 No Trump is doubled, the only good result would be down three tricks or less. If East/West are down more than three tricks, then the sacrifice will not have proven acceptable. Therefore, the evaluation of the high card points and the location of the honors are both major elements in the decision to make the sacrifice. The main concern is whether either East or West has a stopper in the opponent's suit in order to run the Diamond suit, thereby reducing the amount of tricks needed to stay within the range of tricks necessary to produce a positive score.

Alternative to 3 No Trump

As an alternative to the 3 No Trump bid, the partnership may agree that a sacrifice in an agreed suit could be more advantageous than leaving the 3 No Trump bid, even doubled, stand. Even if the opponents bid a game contract, the question remains whether a contract at the four level in Spades or at the five level in Hearts would be the better sacrifice. The following example should illustrate this point.

Dealer is North
North/South are non-vulnerable
East/West are vulnerable

North   East   South   West
Pass   Pass   Pass   1
1   1   2   3
3 NT   4   5 ??    

From the bidding sequence, it is almost evident that East/West are heading towards a game contract in Spades, and North, realizing that he and his partner have a fit in Hearts, decides to sacrifice by bidding 3 No Trump. In the above example, after East has decided that a game contract is possible, South now has to determine whether a sacrifice bid of 5 Hearts will be more profitable. In a non-vulnerable situation, the question is whether a contract of 5 Hearts doubled is more acceptable than allowing East/West play in a contract of 4 Spades. A certain amount of logic, card instinct, and deduction are necessary to arrive at the correct conclusion.



If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.