Bridge – Not Making the Contract: Handling Penalties

In some wheels, neither side can make a contract even if their lives depend on it. When you don’t make your contract, you’re penalized when reckoning time comes at the end of the hand. Welcome to the sad world of going set, going down, or failing. All these terms mean the same ugly thing: You didn’t take enough tricks to make your contract. When you come up short, the missing tricks are called undertricks, and in this section we tell you the sad truth about the points they’ll cost you.

Don’t despair when you don’t make your contract. The fact is that about one-third of all contracts bite the dust. You may not have done anything wrong. You may have run into a ghastly suit division in the opponents’ hands, making the contract impossible to realize. In fact, sometimes you get an advantage by bidding more than you think you can make because your loss is less than the number of points they could have made in the contract they were in. This move is called making a sacrifice bid — a big part of the game.

When you don’t make your contract, opponents score penalty points on the They side of the score sheet.

Not vulnerable: 50 points per undertrick Vulnerable: 100 points per undertrick

As an example, say your contract is 4♠ and you need ten tricks to make it. Alas, you wind up with only nine. The normal way to describe this scenario is 4down one. Because you’ve gone down in a contract, your opponents get the penalty points. If you aren’t vulnerable, they get 50 points; if you are vulnerable, they score 100 points.

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