Older and Wiser-2

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 01/07/2002
Level: Intermediate


Another facet of maturity (age?) [see Part I of this article] is the development of a sane preemptive philosophy.

The younger they are, the more they bid. This philosophy isn't restricted only to the young--I see many tournament players that bid every time it is their turn. They preempt with 5-card suits, and they don't care about suit quality.


Having played such a style (in my Marty-Bergen days), I feel well qualified to comment. Opening 2? with, say:

?5 2
?J 8 7 6 4 2
?A 3 2
?7 5

is what I'm talking about. Such actions certainly can work. You might preempt the opponents (especially if partner can raise) and force them into a ridiculous position. Opening 2? could easily hit a homerun. But, there is the flip side. It can often strike out. It is a real swingy, "top-bottom" action.

I prefer to go more down the middle. I wouldn't open 2? with that hand, but would do so, with:

?5 2
?Q J 9 8 4 2
?A 3 2
?7 5

This is still not a good-enough suit/hand for the really stodgy crowd, but I think they need to loosen up a little. They would probably need at least the ?10, and maybe even that wouldn't be sufficient. They hardly ever get dealt a hand on which they can preempt.

So, what qualifies me to recommend this middle ground? Having played all 3 styles (sound, medium, and aggressive) I can tell you that I've seen it all. I am 100% convinced that "medium" is the long-run winner. If I had to give up "medium," the next-best would be "aggressive." I don't like the pain of enduring the strikeouts, but there are almost as many homeruns and fun to make up for it. In a weak field, especially, aggressive is not a bad way to go.


As far as "sound,"--count me out. I have seen first hand how this is clearly a losing preemptive strategy. Yes, on the few deals where it comes up (you actually get to preempt), you are usually a winner (partner gauges the auction, opening lead, and/or defense quite well). However, the sound preempters are losing out big time by not setting enough problems for their opponents. I love to play against such (non)preempters. They never get in my way--life is good when the opponents are in love with passing.