TEAM - OF - 4        THE  PLAYERS | TYPES OF GAMES | SCORING | TEAM-OF-4 STRATEGY

 

 


figure 13 
Seating for TEAM X vs. TEAM Y

THE  PLAYERS
Most of us are familiar with Bridge being played by "teams of 2"; that is, two people on one team versus two people on another team. But there is a way of playing Bridge with four people on one team. Obviously they will not be playing against each other. Then how is this done? 
       One Team-of-4 will have to play against another Team-of-4. That is done by having half of one team (2 people) play against half of another team (2 people). Let's say Team X (4 people) is playing against Team Y (4 people).  At TABLE 1, half of Team X will sit North / South, playing against half of Team Y sitting East/West. And at TABLE 2, the other half of Team X will sit East/West, playing against the other half of Team X sitting North/South. See figure 13. Each team plays the same hand from both directions; one half sitting North / South and the other half sitting East/West. 
       The tables are set, half of one team playing against half of the other team. But how is the scoring done? Simple, after the hand (or hands) are played, the SCORES from each table are then compared. In  figure 14 three hands are played then the East/West half of the teams return to their home table. The SCORES are then compared. Both half of the team must keep score.
       Hand 1. Team X at TABLE 1 bids 3 $ and makes 4 for a SCORE of 170. Team Y plays this hand at a later date (hopefully within the hour) at TABLE 2, and also bids 3 $, but makes only 3 for a SCORE of 140. The SCORES of the hands are compared: Team X won this board by a SCORE of 30 points (170 -140). 
       Hand 2. Team Y at TABLE 1 bids 3 ! making 3 for a SCORE of 140; and Team X at TABLE 2 also bids 3 ! and makes 3 (for a SCORE of 140). The  SCORES of the hands are compared: both teams made the same amount so there is a tie or a push. 
        Hand 3. Team X at TABLE 1 bids 2 No Trump and makes 4 for a SCORE of 180 points, and Team X at TABLE 2  sets Team Y one trick at 3 # for a SCORE of 100 points. The SCORES of the hands are compared:  Team X made 180 + 100 or 280 points. 
        To compare SCORES East/West players on both teams must return with a copy of the SCORES to their home table (where their North/South partners are sitting).

 
figure 14  TEAM X vs. TEAM Y - 3 HANDS

When TEAM Y gets a positive SCORE, TEAM X gets 
a negative SCORE (-140) as in hand 1, Table 2 
Net SCORE for TEAM X for hands 1, 2 and 3 is 30 + 0 + 280 = 310 

 
  TYPES OF GAMES
Team-of-4 is becoming ever more popular. For one thing only 8 bodies are needed to play. Once the realm of International or prestigious National competition, Team-of-4 is becoming a major happening in every tournament. And there is something for everybody; events are offered at different levels from novice to stratum A. Even some local clubs run Team-of-4 games as a break from pair events. As we will see later, Team-of-4 is not playing against a field of players, but against a specific team. It is truly the mano e mano of Bridge competition.

SWISS TEAMS: These are Team-of-4 events that usually consist of eight matches of seven boards per match for a total of 56 boards. 
      You and your playing partner are North/South at a table playing against Team A  who are sitting East/West. The other half of your team are at another table sitting East/West, playing against the other half of Team A who are sitting North/South. You will play a total of seven hands. Let's say you are playing boards 1 - 3 and your other half and their opponents are playing boards 4 - 7. 
       When you are finished playing your three boards, raise your hand and yell "caddie please!" You will soon be visited by a young person (often a teenager or younger) who will take the boards 
(1 - 3) that you just played and transport them to the other table where your partners are sitting with their opponents. And the caddie then will bring you the boards they just finished playing. 
      After you have played the seven boards (and results of each agreed upon), the East/West players return to their partner's table. Now each half of the Team-of-4 is together their home table. The scoring between the two halves of the team are compared and a final score is arrived at. If both Team A  and Team B agree on the result, the score is turned into the Directors and posted. Also soon to be posted are your new assignments: new opponents and table numbers. So go there, take the cards out of the boards, shuffle, deal and proceed with the next match. Good luck. 
       Each of the eight matches with play, scoring and posting, takes about one hour. That is a long day: eight hours. But not to worry; there is a  1½ or 2 hour break for R & F (rest and food). The break could occur after the fifth (5/3 - 5 rounds, break, then 3 rounds) or after the fourth (4/4 - 4 rounds, break, then 4 rounds) round. That depends on the starting time and tournament organizers. Some players like to take a little R & F after each match. That is also good. Just play Bridge, have fun . . . and win.

MITCHELL AND HOWELL: Team-of-4 events can be use the Mitchell or Howell movements that are used in pair games. In a Mitchell the East/West pairs move up and the Boards move down. In the Howell follow the guide cards; almost every body  moves - even the Director. One half of the team sits North/South while other half sit East/West. The Director must of course make sure that both halves of the same team never play against each other. A big no-no. After all, playing against your partners would complicate things. 
           Both East/West and North/South must keep score. This can be done in a Private Score Card. When the match is over, East/West return to their home table and their SCORES are compared with the North/South SCORES. The results are given to the Director, who will determine and announce the winner. 

KNOCKOUT TEAM-OF-4: Like any other Team-of-4 event, Knockout involves one team going head-to-head against another team. With Knockout however, the losing team is "knocked out" or eliminated from the tournament. * Something like a tennis tournament: the loser loses. 
           In the Knockout Team-of-4 a specified number of boards are played. In the regular  Knockouts it is usually 24 boards with scoring and change of opponents (optional) at the half way point (after 12 boards). Since there are at least three matches per tournament, these events will usually take more than one day to complete. 
           A shorter version of the Knockout Team-of-4 is the compact. In the Compact Knockouts only 12 boards are played per match. Unlike the Regular Knockout Team-of-4, the Compact Team-of-4 can be finished in one day. More time to play more Bridge.
           Knockouts are often "bracketed", that is teams with a similar number of total Master Points will play against each other (be in the same bracket). 
           Within the bracket teams are often seeded. Again like tennis. This means that the team with the most Master Points will play against the team with the least. This prevents the top teams from knocking each other out early in the tournament. But then again, just because a team is top seeded with a lot of Master Points, it does not mean that they will necessarily win. Strange things can happen on the road to victory. And that's Bridge.

* If there are an odd number of teams there is a "round robin" between 3 teams. Then it is possible for a team to lose a match and "not" be knocked out. Also in some tournaments, losers will play against losers for a runner up position.

  SCORING
BOARD-A-MATCH: At the end of the round (or match) the East / West half of the team return to their home table (where the North / South half of the  team are sitting) and the scores compared. If there is a net positive SCORE then the team gets a +1. If there is a net negative SCORE then the team gets a -1. If there is a net of 0 points, there is a tie or a push. Then the team gets a 0. 
         See figure 15. For Hand 1, Team X got  positive SCORE at Table 1 and a lower negative SCORE at Table 2. Team X won that board and gets a +1. Team X also won hand 4  for a +1, but this time the larger positive SCORE was gotten at Table 3.  For Hand 3, Team X got a larger negative SCORE, so lost that board for -1. Hand 2 is a Push, or a tie, and Team X gets a 0. 
          Team X got +1 point for Hand 1 and 4;  -1 for Hand 3; and a 0 for hand 2. Team X won with a net of 1 point.
          There are only three possible scores in each hand of Board-a-match scoring:        WIN   w    LOSE    w   TIE
And point wise that is:           +1               -1               0 
          This type of game creates a test of skill probably superior to any other type in Duplicate Bridge. Fixes and gifts are limited or non existent. No excuses, no alibis, just win, lose or tie.

 

figure 15 BOARD-A-MATCH SCORING for TEAM X 

TEAM X won 2 boards; lost 1; and tied 1 for a net of + 1

 
  TOTAL NET SCORE: Let's see who won. East/West compares their SCORE with North/South for the same board. If both East/West and North/South got positive SCORES, then the two SCORES are added together and the team gets a positive Total Net Score. In hands 2 and 4 in figure 16, both halves of Team A get positive SCORES. North / South compares their SCORES with team mates East/West. 
          But if both East / West and North/South get negative SCORES, then when the two SCORES are added together the team gets a negative Total Net Score. See Hands 1 and 5 in figure 16. (Team B gets a positive SCORE; Team A gets a negative SCORE.)
          If one half of the team gets a positive SCORE, but the other half gets a negative SCORE, then subtract the smaller SCORE from the larger SCORE. When the larger of the two SCORES is positive (hand 3 in figure 16) then the Total Net Score is positive. And when the larger of the two SCORES is negative (Hand 6 in figure 16) then the Total Net Score is negative.
        This method, was the way most Team-of-4 matches, specially international matches, were scored. But if one team got a fairly large Total Net Score on one board, it was very difficult for the other team to catch up or even get close. If this happens in the beginning of the match, the rest of the hands will be sleepers.  The other team has no way of catching up. It was some tiny, little, impish, Bridge people who were able to resolve this problem. See next page.

 

figure 16 TOTAL NET SCORING for TEAM A

TEAM A got 3 plus positive Total Net Scores for a total of 1070 
 and got 3 negative Total Net Scores for a total of 850 
 TEAM A won with a NET of 220 points 

 
  IMPs - a mischievous child; little creatures who run around and destroy peoples picnics; young demons; a devil's offspring; a method of scoring at Team-of-4 events that reduce large swings.
          It is the last definition that we are concerned with. Up until 30 years ago Team-of-4 matches were scored using Total Net Score. (In some events, this method is still used.) The team with the highest SCORE won. Why not? However, a team could be doing great then blow one hand and give the opponents a large SCORE. This large negative SCORE will more than wipe out all the good little positive SCORES. How to prevent large swing hands from determining the outcome of the match? Answer: IMPs - International Match Points. IMPs round out or smooth the scoring curve. Let's see how these little demons operate. 
           First let's look at the old way: Total Net Score. In figure 17, Team A on Hand 1 lost 460 points at TABLE 1 and  lost 100 points at TABLE 2. The Total Net Score for Team A on Hand 1 is a negative is 460 + 100  = 560. Or -560 points for Team A (+ 560 for Team B).
           On Hand 2, Team A  made 300 points at TABLE 1 and lost 120 points at TABLE 2 for a Total Net Score of 300 -120 = +180 points. 
          On Hand 3 Team A made 140 points at TABLE 1 and also made 100 points at TABLE 2. The Total Net Score for Team A on Hand 3 is 140 + 100 or +240 points. Hand 4 was a tie or a push.
          Adding up the positive Total Net Scores for Team A we get 180 + 240 + 0 = 420 points. Combine this with the negative Total Net Score of 560 (hand 1) we get 560 - 420 = 140. Or -140 points for Team A (+ 140 for Team B). So Team A lost this match by 140 points. Even though Team A did very well on Hands 2 and 3, they still lost because of the big swing on Hand 1.
        The big swing on Hand 1 did it. But now let's IMP it, that is convert Total Net Score on each hand to IMPs. For Hand 1 take the Total Net Score for Team A  of -560 and look that number up on the IMP scale in figure 18. The IMP scale can be found inside the convention card where the private score is kept. Going down the column marked  Diff. In Pts. (for -560 is the difference in points between TABLE 1 and TABLE 2), we see that 560 falls between the numbers 500 - 590. That range equals 11 IMPs. So Team A is minus (-11) 11 IMPs. 
            In Hand 2 there was Total Net Score for Team A  of +180 points which translates on the IMP scale to +5 IMPs. (180 is between 170 and 210.) Doing  the same for Hand 3, the Total Net Score is
+ 240. On the IMP scale this is between 220 - 260 which translates into +6 IMPs. Total positive IMPs for Team A is 5 = 6 = 11 IMPs; total negative IMPs for Team A  (Hand 1) is -11.  Net IMPs for Team A is then 11 - 11 = 0. Tied  match. So even though Team A  got killed on Hand 1 (low enough to lose when considering Total Net Points), when converting to IMPs, there was a tie match: 0 IMPs  net. The IMPs smoothed out the big swing and reduced its influence.


TEAM A got a Total Net Score of 420 and 11 IMPs.
TEAM B got a Total Net Score  of 560 and 11 IMPs.


figure 18 INTERNATIONAL MATCH POINT SCALE
 


 


figure 19
VICTORY POINT SCALE
HANDICAPPING & VICTORY POINTS: Suppose during a Swiss Team-of-4 event one team scores and unusually high amount of IMPs. They are playing against very weak opponents and let's say score over 50 IMPs. This is certainly not fair to the rest of the contesting teams.
        One way to maintain equity is to have teams with similar scores play each other. That is to
handicap the pairing of the matches. This of course 
has to happen after the first round. (The first round is pot luck.) So after the first round the team that is 
        first will play the team that is second; the team that is third will play the team that is fourth; and so on until the team that is last will play the team that is next to last. No team will play any other team more than once. In most events this pairing is done by computer.
       Still the inequity of a large IMP score may occur. The way to solve this problem is to smooth out the IMP score and put an upper limit on the number of IMPs won per round. This is done with Victory Points. A Victory Point scale along with the IMP scale will be found on the inside of the convention card where the private score is kept. Look at the 20 Victory Point scale in figure 19 below. If the teams are tied, that is the team won by 0 IMPs, then each team gets 10 Victory Points. If a team won by, let's say 5 IMPs, then the winning team gets 13 Victory Points and the losing team gets 7. And if a team won by 21 IMPs, the winning team gets 18 Victory Points and the losing team 2 Victory Points. For each match the total number of Victory Points between the two teams is 20. 
       Note that a win of 28 * IMPs or more will only get the winning team 20 Victory Points (and the losing team 0). So if a team won the match by 50 IMPs they will still only get 20 Victory Points. This is the maximum number of Victory Points won per match.
       Thus with the handicapping and Victory Points, the Swiss Team-of-4 tournaments are exciting, closely fought battles. Ah, but how to fight these battles. That is the strategy of Team-of-4.

* A win of 28 IMPs or more is known as a Blitz.


 


figure 20 TEAM-OF-4 vs. PAIRS

 
  TEAM-OF-4 STRATEGY
See figure 20 above.
BIDDING: The bidding strategy in Team-of-4 is more or less similar to Match Point pairs. A difference: close vulnerable games should be bid. The numbers talk. Bidding 4 of a major vul and making it is 620 points. If the opponents (with your cards) bid 3 of the major they get 170 points. You have a net score of 620 - 170 or 450 which equals 10 IMPs. If the game is not there and you go down 1 for a loss of 100 and the opponents make 3 for 140 then they get 100 + 140 or 240 which equals 6 IMPs. 6 IMPs compared to 10 IMPs is a 3:5 ratio. So if out of 8 games you bid a close game, you will break even if you lose 5 times and make it 3 times. 5 out of 8 is 62 ½ %. Then close vul games should be bid 62 ½ % of the time. This is at a more frequent rate than in pair games.
        The numbers can also demonstrate that bidding close slams are to be done with the same frequency as in pair games. A 50 % chance is considered acceptable for a small slam and 60 % for a grand slam. 
       Some players believe that all close games and slams should be bid in Team-of-4 matches. That is, if you smell game, bid it. Maybe overall you could be slightly more daring in team games. . .  but not that daring. It is usually the conservative, steady, down the middle bidder that will get the better results and walk away with the biggest piece of the pie. 
       This is especially true in part score bidding. Be aggressive, like Duplicate pairs, at the 1 and 2 level. Look at the numbers. Opponents bid 2 ! Making 2 for 140 points. At the other table the opponents (with your cards) bid 2 $ making 2 for 110 points. They got 140 + 110 or 250 points net for 6 IMPs. Not so small a number. In this case be aggressive; bid 2 $.
       At the 3 level, especially if vul, watch it! Getting doubled and going down 2 or 3 tricks could cause the match to be lost on this one board. And all over a part score.
       Sacrifice bidding, in pairs or team-of-4, depends on accurate diagnosis. Can the opponents make game? Can we go down only 2 or 3 tricks? What is the vulnerable situation? Good assessment will lead to good bidding. Be careful. In Team-of-4 if you sacrifice, go down doubled and there is not a game (or a slam) for the opponents, then the IMP carnage will be great. 
       Penalty doubles can also be costly. Especially doubling the opponents into a game. Make sure you got them before you get them.

BIDDING: Unlike pair events where you can get a top by SCORING even 10 points higher than the rest of the field, in Team-of-4 IMP events you are playing against only one opponent. 10 or even 20 points will hardly matter. If it is safer to play the hand in a Minor than in a Major or No Trump, do so. Example: you play are playing in 2 of a Major making 2 for 110, while your opponents (with your cards) play in a safer 2 of a Minor contract making 2 for 90. Then you are up 110 -  90 or 20 points. On the IMP scale this is 1 IMP.  Not much. But if you went down 1 in the unsafe Major contract and lost 100 points then you would be down 110 + 100 or 210 which is 5 IMPs.  A considerably larger number. This leads us to the following Team-of-4 maxim: savings of 1 or 2 IMPs are comparatively insignificant. 
       To summarize: Play in the best contract, weather Major, Minor or No Trump. Team-of-4 game and slam bids are like Duplicate Pairs, except be more aggressive when it comes to bidding close vul games. Do not compete too strongly for a part score at the 3 level. Be conservative with sacrificing and making penalty doubles. In Team-of-4 do not go for the big swings. Bid it safe, be chicken.
       Shakespeare: Conscience doth make cowards of us all.
       Bridge: Cowardice doth make winners of us all.

PLAY OF THE HAND: Even though every IMP is important and counted, do not lose sight of the big picture: get a positive score. Over tricks are good to have (especially in close matches) and if they are there certainly take them. But do not jeopardize the contract for an over trick. In pair games in certain situations it should be done, but NOT in Team-of-4. This means that the Declarer should take every precaution by taking every possible safety play.
       Losing an IMP or two (a good title for a song: "An IMP or Two") by not making that extra trick will usually not matter. Small swings are insignificant. Playing the hand is like money in the bank: making the contract is the principal; over tricks are the interest. The Team-of-4 motto: the paramount concern is to safeguard the principal, that is, make the contract.

DEFENSE: In pair games Defense is complicated because you might have to let Declarer make the contract in order to be sure you get the tricks that you are entitled to. That is, sometimes you concede the contract to prevent the over trick. At Team-of-4 as mentioned earlier, relative small swings are insignificant. Thus the primary objective of Team-of-4 Defense is: to set the contract. What ever it takes and at all costs: set the contract. 
      Example: the opponents bid 3 u and make 4 for 130 points. If set 1 vul you would get 100 points. Instead of losing 130 you gain
100. That is a swing of 130 + 100 or 230 points  which translates into 6 IMPs. So be tough, concentrate and set the contract.


 
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