Pairs vs Teams Strategy

There is a definite difference in strategy when playing IMP scoring (Teams) and Matchpoint scoring (Pairs).

International MatchPoint Scoring (IMPs)

In IMPs your main goal is to get as many plus scores as possible.

You never jeopardize your contract to try for overtricks.

You always try to beat the opponents' contract.

You always bid aggressively - especially for vulnerable games. Slams are similar to non-vulnerable games with equal gains or losses.

It is generally right to be cautious in slam bidding against equal opposition.


In matchpoints, it is important to take all the possible tricks. As declarer, it is imperative to try for overtricks. Sometimes, you even risk your contract to try for those elusive extra tricks.

As defender, it is important to take all the tricks to which your side is entitled ... whether it beats the contract or not.

In matchpoints, it is often not necessary to bid close games. If you can play the hand one trick better than the field, you need not risk getting too high.


Most players find it much harder to play matchpoints than IMPs. Clearly, it is easier to simply worry about making the hand or beating the hand than making extra tricks. Sometimes, there are two or more possible ways to make an extra trick and you must decide which way affords you the highest percentage play. On the other hand, there is usually only one way to insure making or beating the hand, so you are faced with less difficult decisions.