Ted's Bridge World Dante's Infernal

The Par Result

I have just upgraded my Handrecord Generator software to include a "Par" value in the analysis box.  The designation represents what is known as Absolute Par, or the result of best bidding and play by both sides.  Par also can be thought of as the smallest minus by the weaker side.

If, for example, North-South can make a non-vulnerable game in a major for a score of +420.  On this occasion, however, East-West have a profitable sacrifice in a minor for down two, so they do that.  Since North-South cannot make a 5-level contract, the best they can do is to accept the lesser score.  Par becomes EW -300.  Had East-West been vulnerable, the sacrifice would not have been profitable; so Par would be NS +420.

During my program testing, I observed this interesting outcome on a printout:


Whoa!  It says that Par is for North-South to give up 2000 points by sacrificing over a contract of 7, which would have scored 2210 points.  But sacrifice in what?  North-South could not bid 8, but they could bid 7NT! East-West could then cash five hearts, two diamonds and the ace of spaces, but that would leave the offense with five tricks.  That's down eight, for -2000!

It should be clear by now that Par will not always be achieved at the table.  In this case, it is likely that no one would dream of sacrificing over 7.  The Par designation specifies only what could be done, not what will be done.

In the January 2012 ACBL Bulletin, a letter to the editor featured this memorable hand:

AKQJT876  —  —  AKQJ6

That was a spectacular deal indeed; but at our recently completed local Sectional, we did even better:


Note that as the cards lay, East could make 7, but West could be defeated in that contract by an opening-lead club ruff.  In the competition, only two pairs played in hearts and took thirteen tricks; the others declared 7 or, believe it or not, 6.

This deal is another good example of failing to achieve the Par result.  Any North-South pair could have earned an uncontested top on the board by sacrificing at 7, for -500!  Even -800 would have been fine; but it is likely that no North or South player seriously considered such an action while looking at an ace.

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