Wednesday, May 23, 2007

All About Preemptive Bids (Part 1)

I have been waiting to start a series on preemptive bidding, so it seems like a good summer project. If you are consistently getting average plus on your preemptive opportunities, you can take the next few weeks off. I always think the starting point is the ACBL Convention Card and the disclosure required. Preemptive type bids are covered in 2 different areas of the card. On the left hand side of the page are “opening preempts”, where you are required to describe your style for preemptive openings. On the right hand bottom of the card are weak 2 bids. Since weak 2 bids would be described here, they are presumed to be excluded from the section on opening preempts.

In the ACBL Bulletin series, Conventional Wisdom, the following comments about preemptive openings are made.

1. An opening bid on the 3 or 4 level promises a weak hand of below opening strength with a seven card suit at the 3 level and an 8 card sit at the 4 level. The texture of the hand can be a determinate of whether the hand qualifies.

2. Under “opening preempts” you are required to indicate whether your opening preempts are “sound, light, or very light.” While the categories are somewhat subjective,
(a) “Sound” means that you generally subscribe to the Rule of 500. This rule means that you have told partner that at any vulnerability you will not be down more than 500 based on your own hand. This is the oldest and most conservative approach.
(b) “Light” means that you preempt on most reasonable 7 or 8 card suits. “Reasonable means that your holding contains some honor concentration in the suit. I think this category can best be understood by looking at the definition of “very light.”
(c) “Very light” means that you will preempt with almost any 7 or 8 card suit and sometimes with less than the number of cards normally associated with the bid.

3. If you have conventional uses for preempts (such as Namyats) or conventional responses (such as 4 clubs being ace or key card asking), then you should disclose them in this section of the card. If you don’t know what Namyats is, then you don’t need to worry. That needs separate discussion at another time.

Conventional Wisdom also requires you to describe your weak 2 bids. Two diamonds means many things in many different systems, but in standard American or 2/1, it generally is weak unless you play either Flannery or the Mini-Roman convention. In these same systems, 2 hearts or 2 spades are weak. If these 3 bids are anything other than weak, they must be alerted.

Note that for your weak 2 bids you must disclose the high card point range. One limitation is that a weak 2 bid must not be as strong as an opening hand. A further limitation imposed by the ACBL’s General Convention Chart is that the high point range cannot be more than 7 hcps. This later limitation is not well known, so if your partner sometimes opens a non-vulnerable weak 2 bid with 3 hcps and a 6 card suit (QJxxxx and nothing outside) you must put the lower range at 3 hcps, but now your upper range must be 10 hcps or less. If partner will open a weak 2 bid with a Yarborough, then your upper limit is 7 hcps. Finally, if you partner will open with a weak 2 bid in any seat at any vulnerability with only a 5 card suit, then you must disclose that.

Good habits are formed in club games, so now that you better understand your obligations to your opponents with respect to disclosure on preemptive bids, take the time to mark your convention card correctly. It is not ethical to leave those spaces blank, even though the local director will let you get a way with it. If you carry sloppy convention card procedure over to ACBL tournament bridge, you will likely pay the price.


Bill Orr said...

Hi there -

Until last night I was unfamiliar with a preemptive over call. My question now is this: how do we tell the difference between a preempt and a strong jump shift over call?

Anonymous said...

Bill: The strong jump overcall is all but gone from bridge. Almost universally today the weak preemptive jump is where it is at.When you use preemtive jump overcalls you show the hand that you would have shown by the stong jump overcall by first doubling the opening bidf and then bidding a suit of your own. So with KQT9x, Axx, AKx, Qx if the bidding is i opened 1 club, 1 diaimond or 1 heart I am going to double first and when partner bids I am going to bid spades at the cheapest level to show I had a great hand and not just a routine take out double. Depending on your agreements double and bid shows 17-18+ hcps and a hand not suitable for a no trump overcall.tommy