Bridge scoring makes major suit and notrump games more attractive than minor suit games.
|Strain||Tricks Needed for Game||Points per Trick|
|♥ or ♠||10||30|
|Notrump||9||40 for the 1st trick, 30 thereafter|
|♣ or ♦||11||20|
Major suit games and notrump games require less tricks than a minor suit game and offer a higher score per trick. Minor suit games should be chosen only when it isn't feasible to play in 3NT, 4♥, or 4♠.
For a major suit game to score better than a notrump game, the major suit game must win more tricks than the notrump game. An 8-card or better major suit fit will often provide an additional trick because your losers can be ruffed. Ruffing a loser in the short hand (the hand with fewer trump) provides an additional trick. Trumps also act as stoppers. In a notrump contract, if the defenders establish winners in a suit and gain the lead, there is nothing you can do to stop them from cashing their winners. In a suit contract, you can ruff to prevent the defenders from cashing their winners. This provides another way for a major suit game to score better than a notrump game. When your partnership has an 8-card or better major suit fit, you typically want to play in the major because of the potential for ruffing to provide an extra trick. If your partnership has extra strength, around 30 HCP, it is less likely you will have losers to ruff or will need trumps to act a stopper. So you may prefer a notrump contract to prevent any defensive ruffs or problems handling a bad trump break, as well as the extra 10 points.
When choosing which game to play, you will generally want to follow the priorities below.
- Choose a major suit game with an 8+ card fit.
- Otherwise, choose 3NT if feasible.
- If not feasible, consider playing in 4♥ or 4♠ in a 7-card fit.
- If not feasible, fallback to game in a minor.
5♣ and 5♦ are the games of last resort because they require 11 tricks and pay only 20 points per trick.
Note that these preferences don't apply to slams. Unless a slam is particularly easy to bid, many pairs will fail to reach slam. So any making slam will score well. In general, you want to bid your safest slam.