There are several valuation principles in bridge. Some you must absolutely know in order to play the game at all. Then there
are others that you don't have to know immediately in order to begin playing. We are looking at three of those valuation principles here:
Relative Bidding Values, Vulnerability & Final Contract Valuation.
If you are unclear as to the dynamics of the bidding process, then go back to "The Basic Bridge Game" and review bidding dynamics.
Otherwise, it is assumed you are clear on the mechanics of the bidding process. And remember, by making a bid,
your partnership (ie, you & your partner) is participating in an AUCTION, wherein you are striving to obtain the
right to play the hand as Declarer/Dummy & obligated to realize your final contracted bid by taking the number of
tricks you specified in your final bid level.
As a point of clarity, we make the following distinctions:
A PROPOSED FINAL CONTRACT is one that is considered up to, but not included in, the end of the bidding stage.
A STIPULATED FINAL CONTRACT is one that is actually arrived at as a result of the end of the bidding.
A PLAYED-OUT FINAL CONTRACT is one that has been bid & played , but not necessarily made.
All final contracts (proposed, stipulated, &/or played-out) have a FINAL CONTRACT VALUE , FCV.
The only one that really counts in the end is the FCV of a played-out contract, because it is the one that is recorded in the scoring.
1. The RELATIVE BIDDING VALUES ( or RBV, RELATIVE BID VALUES) are something you absolutely must know in order to play bridge at all.
Each bid made by a player has a relative bidding value. And each bid represents a proposed final contract having a final contract value.
But the relative bidding value is not to be confused with the proposed final contract value.
a. BID CONSTRUCT.
In order to understand the relative bid values, you must first undertsand the construct of a bid.
A bid is comprised of two parts, ie, the bid level & the bid suit.
BID = BID-LEVEL + BID-SUIT
|     |_______________ Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, No-Trump
|___ 1 TO 7 (Relative to a BASE-BOOK of 6 tricks which is one half of all 13 tricks)
1) The bid level is a numeric specification contained within the range from 1 to 7 & represents the number of tricks
(over six tricks) to be taken by the partnership issuing the bid. Why is the bid level relative to six tricks? Why does it not
from 1 to 13? It is assumed that the winner of bidding is going to take at least half the tricks (ie, six) anyway, so why
included it in the bidding? The first six tricks in the play is called "BOOK". So to put it another way, The bid level specifies
the number of tricks to be taken over & above book.
2) The bid suit is the specification of one of the four suits as a potential trump suit or the specification of no trump (ie, no suit).
A typical bid might look like this: 1 spade (or 1S for brevity).
Or, it might look like this: 4D (diamonds)
Yet another might look like this: 4N or 4NT (for no trump)
b. RELATIVE BID VALUES.
Now seeing what a single bid looks like, how does it compare in value to another bid? What is its relative value to other bids?
The relative value of the bid level specification is rather intuitive, since it is a number from 1 to 7.
But what about the bid suit specifications?
By arbitrary definition, each suit specification has a value (or ranking) relative to the others, with clubs being the least in value,
followed by diamonds, followed by hearts, followed by spades, and then finally followed by no trump (the highest in value).
So which is higher in relative bid value, 2S or 2C? The answer is 2S. And which is higher in relative bid value, 2H or 2N.
The answer is 2N.
A typical progression of bids might look like this: 1 Heart (or 1H) -> 1S -> 1NT (no trump) -> 2D (diamonds) > 3C (clubs)
Notice in this progression, when we got to 1NT, we hit the top of the 1 level. We wanted to bid diamonds, but could we bid 1D?
No, because that is a lower valued bid than what existed, ie, 1NT. A 1D bid would be insufficient at that point in the bidding.
Therefore, we had to go to the next level up & bid 2D.
To recap the idea, the relative bid value is expresses as:
RELATIVE-BID-VALUE(RBV) = BID-LEVEL + BID-SUIT-RANK <-- Clubs(low), Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, & NoTrump(high)
In the auction, The RBV of a successive bid must be higher than the RBV of the prior bid.
By now, it must be clear that the lowest possible bid is 1C & the highest bid is 7N. And it must be clear that the bidding progresses
from the lower valued bids to the higher valued bids.
There are three caveats to the value of bids that might arise during the bidding process. These are STIPULATION BIDS:
1) The "PASS" where a player makes NO-BID/NO-STIPULATIONS.
2) The "DOUBLE" where a player attaches an ODDS stipulation to the opponent's existing bid value & its related final contract valuation.
3) The "REDOUBLE" where one of the two partners of a doubled bid increases the ODDS stipulation by 2.
2. VULNERABILITY is a STIPULATED STATE (or condition) that is imposed upon one or both partnerships immediately prior to the deal of each hand.
It might be viewed as a handicap that is imposed as a result of the partnership's prior success. In other words, the better you do, the tougher it
gets. The effect of being vulnerable (as opposed to not being vulonerable) is to increase the bonus rewards for making a final contract &,
increase the penalties for not making the final contract.
As an example, a partnership who has bid 4S as a final contract will get an extra 300 bonus points
for bidding and making game if they are not vulnerable.
But they will get 500 bonus points for doing exactly the same thing if they are vulnerable.
Conversely, if they fail to make their contract going down 1 trick, then they will lose 50 points if
they are not vulnerable, but 100 points if they are vulnerable.
3. The VALUATION OF A FINAL CONTRACT is something you don't have to know in order to begin playing bridge.
But it is recommended that you learn it as soon as possible, because it makes you better at evaluating your hand, competing
in the bidding, and playing the hand. During the appraisal of your own hand & then again throughout the bidding process,
you must seek to anticipate what the potential final contract might be & what the FINAL CONTRACT VALUE, FCV, might become.
So if you want to be a really, really good player, learn how to value contracts & the scoring process. This is particularly true
when it comes to making "Sacrifice Bids" which will be explaining under the introduction to bidding systems.
For more details on how to determine the FCV & scoring , click here --------> Scoring