Major Suit Raises: Preemptive Raises


Major Suit Raises: Preemptive Raises

While most raises of partner's major suit openings are made with the expectation that we'll make the contract, sometimes our thinking is the very opposite. The first category of raises, where you expect to make your contract, are called Constructive Raises, and they cover single, limit and forcing raises of partner's major opening.

But the other type of raises are made with little expectation of making the contract. If you do make it, that's a bonus. These are called Preemptive Raises. Weak hands with good trump support fall into this category. Responder’s raise is designed to make it more difficult for the opponents to enter the auction. The number of trumps you hold is far more important than points, and the vulnerability plays a part, but not much.  With five trumps for partner and 4 -7 points (including shortage) jump to the four-level, i.e. 1♥ p 4♥.

Let's say you held: ♠2 ♥A10754 ♦9752 ♣1097 and partner opened 1♥. Your response would be 4♥.

Most hands of this type will have a singleton or void. There's another way to show a preemptive raise with a shortage too, and that's by bidding the short suit at the four-level!. These are called Splinter bids and go like this: 1♥ p 4♦ would show a hand with four+ trumps and a singleton or void diamond. These hands are usually slightly stronger (around 8 - 11 high card points) than the variety of preemptive raise discussed in this lesson. There will be a lesson on Splinters soon. 

When you jump straight to game, you're not worried about making 4♥ or not. The fact that you have 10+ trumps means the hand will play well if hearts are trumps. And the fewer points your side holds, the more the opponents hold, and they will have a fit for sure if they hold only three of your hearts between them. If one of them has one or possibly no hearts, all their other cards will do well playing a contract in one of their suits. They will probably make 4♠ or even more! 

It's also an advantage to bid quickly to game with a weak hand and five trumps, because you've taken so much space from the opponents that they'll be struggling to find the best fit, and you're now making them guess the best place to play the hand. Sometimes they get it right, but at other times they don't! 

Preemptive raises follow exactly the same principle if you overcall too. Show the number of trumps you hold with the level of jump bid you choose, because of the effect it will have on the opponents. You're in a win-win. You might make your contract, but even if you fail, you can be happy that the opponents had a fit somewhere, and a lot of points. 

 This month's lessons are related to the lesson on Judgement here. Go through the videos and hands for reinforcement: Lesson 003 Valuing Major Suit Responses.

It's important to recognise the difference between constructive raises and obstructive or preemptive raises.
NB: When you first learned bridge you were probably taught that 1♥/♠ p 4♥/♠ showed an opening hand by responder with three or more trumps. It's necessary to change that style now, and use Jacoby 2NT as the strong raise, and play that these jump bids show five trumps for partner and 4 - 7 points (very weak). 


The quiz below may not work properly on some mobile devices. If you are having trouble using it, please click here to open the quiz in its own window. 

Don't forget to share your answers, or post any questions about this lesson in the comments below! - Joan