Does the 5-level belong to the opponents?

To bid to make at the 5-level, you need:

Words of wisdom from Grant Baze:

The 5-level belongs to the opponents. Be very slow to jeopardize the possible plus position you create when you push the opponents to the 5-level. If the decision is close whether to push on, double them, or pass -- then you should pass.

If you push on and go for too much, or it is a phantom, or you double them and they make it, you have a terrible result. If you double them and beat them one, you may have gained little or nothing. If you pass, in most cases the worst that will happen to you is that you break even.

This is almost analogous to a statement made by Daryl Royal:  "If the (foot)ball is in the air, only three things can happen, and two of them are bad."

[Excerpted from "Rules of Bridge" by Grant Baze, published in 1985. The full article is here.]

To sacrifice at the 5-level, you need:

Estimating tricks for a sacrifice

If partner has preempted and you're deciding whether or not to sacrifice, estimate partner's playing strength by using the Rule of 2, 3 & 4. Assume partner will have the playing tricks to be within 2, 3 or 4 tricks of making his bid, depending on the vulnerability and that virtually all of his winners are in his trump suit.  Here's a summary of how to apply the Rule of 2, 3 & 4:

Rule of 2, 3 & 4

Your Side

The Opponents

Preempting conditions

The level of your
preempt should match:

 Not Vulnerable (white)

 Vulnerable  (red)

 Excellent   (Favorable)

 Rule of 4

 Not Vulnerable

 Not Vulnerable

 Good        (Equal)

 Rule of 3  



 Fair           (Equal)

 Rule of 3  


 Not Vulnerable

 Poor         (Unfavorable)

 Rule of 2  

In practice, partner's preempt could be a bit light at favorable vulnerability (he may "stretch" the Rule of 4, especially in third seat). He'll tend to be more careful when vulnerable (he may not bid with a marginal Rule of 3 hand when both sides are vulnerable).

If partner opens or overcalls a weak two at:

    Favorable vulnerability (white vs. red) – he’ll usually have 4 winners and 9 losers (sometimes 5 winners, 8 losers) (Rule of 4 to bid at the 8-trick level).

    Equal vulnerability (white vs. white or red vs. red) – he'll have 5-6 winners and 7-8 losers (Rule of 3).

    Unfavorable vulnerability (red vs. not) – he'll have 6 winners and 7 losers (Rule of 2). 

If partner opens or overcalls a preemptive three-bid at:

   Favorable vulnerability – he’ll have 5 winners and 8 losers (sometimes 6 winners, 7 losers) (Rule of 4 to bid at the 9-trick level).

   Equal vulnerability – he'll have 6-7 winners and 6-7 losers (Rule of 3).

   Unfavorable vulnerability – he'll have 7 winners and 6 losers (Rule of 2).

Before you make a sacrifice bid, always: 

© Karen Walker           Back to Karen's Bridge Library