Opening Preempts

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 02/01/2015
Level: Intermediate


Style is everything. We've reached the 21st month in this series and we're preempting again.

There is a box on the Convention card that addresses opening preempts. You can mark LIGHT, NORMAL, or SOUND. You might choose to base this on vulnerability (some players mark "SOUND--vulnerable").

Whatever your style, the most important things are:

1) Make sure partner knows your style and you know his.

2) Stick to that style. Don't zig and zag.

3) Do not preempt with a hand that is suitable for a 1-level opening (roughly 12+ HCP).

One popular preempting guideline is the rule of 2,3,4 which means:

If you are Vulnerable against not, you are within 2 tricks of your preempt (for example, you can open 3? with ?KQJ10987 and maybe a side king). At equal vulnerability you are within 3 tricks of your bid and at favorable, within four.

I suggest reading  this article for more detailed thoughts on style. Also, see my article in this series on two-bids.

In general, 2-level preempts are made with 6-card suits, 3-level preempts with 7-card suits, and 4-level preempts with 8-card suits. Note, the words "in general"--there is no rule that you have to abide by. Position is very important. When you are in 2nd seat, your preempting shouldn't be too reckless (because one of your opponents has already passed, there is a good chance the contract belongs to your side). In third seat, when your partner has already passed, you can loosen up and preempt more often.

When you respond to a preempt, you have to take many things into account. For example, say partner opens 2? and you have:

?K Q 2
?K 2
?A J 8 7 3
?J 10 2
If partner is a sound preemptor, and you are vulnerable (especially at team scoring or opposite a 2nd-seat preempt), you might just bid 4?.  If partner is a "medium " preemptor, you might bid 2NT to find out if he is minimum or maximum. If he is an aggressive preemptor, you probably should pass. It is so important to know partner's style!


Namyats: This convention is explained by clicking on it.

4th seat: In fourth seat, can you open with a preempt (after 3 passes)? Sure. For a 4th seat weak-two, you should have a decent six-card suit and about 10-13 HCP (with less, you would pass the hand out). A 3-level preempt in 4th seat would contain a 7-card suit. After 3 passes, I would open 3?with something like: ?2
?K Q J 10 8 7 3
?Q J 9 2
. (This hand would be too good to open 3? in any other position.)

4N opening: Is it Blackwood?  Is it a good five-of-a-minor bid (something like: ?2
?A K Q 10 9 8 7 3 2
?K 10 2
 (better than a 5? opening)? A big minor 2-suiter (something like: ?--
?K Q J 10 9 2
?A J 10 9 7 5
)?   Unless you've discussed it with partner, it is probably wise not to use this bid.  If you do discuss it with your partner, don't hold your breath waiting for this bid to come up.

5? or 5? Opening:  Am I kidding? Click here to read Chapter 1 of My Favorite 52 to learn more.  (And definitely, don't expect to ever make this bid).



Larry's Audio Tour of the Convention Card