The Next Step: High Level Preempts

This is the final of our four lesson block focusing on The Next Steps for Preemptive Bidding.
It’s also the fourth week that we have had a panel of strong bridge players discussing one of the hands from the lesson. I’d love to hear what you think of the panel discussion.

As always you can complete the Preempts - A Wrap Up lesson or watch the video before tackling these new lesson hands.


Quick Tips:

  • Look at your short suits as well as your long suit when deciding to make a high level preempt

  • 7-4-1-1 hands will play better than 7-2-2-2 hands

  • 8-4-1-0 hands will play better than 8-3-1-1 hands

  • In first or second seat, be careful of opening at the game level, because you haven’t heard from partner yet (eg 4♠️, or P 4♠️)

  • In third or fourth seats, it’s a different story as partner has already passed (eg P P 4♠️)

  • The vulnerability makes a difference as usual. Not vul vs vul is the best time, vul vs not vul is the worst (means you need a better hand to open vulnerable at a high level)

  • High level preempts must always be less than an opening one-bid, have a good quality long suit, and very little outside that suit, and will take very few tricks if your side defends

  • Opening one-bids, by comparison, may have a long suit, but will also have some cards which you expect will take tricks if your side defends.


This week’s hand:

Your partner opens 3♥️ (your side not vul, and they vul) and the bidding is passed to you?

3♥️ Pass ?
What’s your bid?

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David Appleton

Answer: 4♥️. I hope to make seven hearts, two black aces and one diamond (and on some finesses I may make more). This means I ought to try 4♥️. Not 3NT as partner may not have an entry, just seven hearts
eg ♥️KQJ10xxx


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GeO Tislevoll

Answer: 4♥️. There might be a slam here, but rarely. The problem is pre-emptive style in general. With a pretty aggressive style you are not even sure game will make, but of course have to bid it. 3NT may be better but can be hopeless too, with no tricks coming from the pre-emptive hand. 4♥️ must have a good chance and will often make. The problem highlighted here is that if the preemptive range is too wide, responder won't know what to do with a good hand like this.

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Joan Butts

The panel agrees that we’re playing in hearts. The fact that you have only one heart (♥️A), shouldn’t deter you from raising, as partner shouldn’t have anything in other suits, and you’ll take between six and eight tricks in hearts alone. The boys also make the point that playing in hearts will never be hopeless, whereas playing in no trumps could be a disaster if there’s no way to reach the heart suit, via an external entry (ie entry in another suit). The ♥️A (singleton) is a blocking card. The principal of choosing a trump suit with weak, long- suited hands applies here, and GeO’s point of very aggressive preempts making it hard for you to know how good (or bad) partner’s hand is, and therefore how far to bid, is worth noting.