Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don't Preempt the Preemptor

I have senioritis - that disease that is very widespread amongst high school seniors around this time of the year, with graduation for most less than a month away. I don't think I really expereinced it fully in high school, although senioritis in my last semester of college hit me pretty strongly. Strangely, though, that was one of my better semesters grade-wise (2 A's, 1 B, and a pass in a pass/fail class). Anyway, 4 years later, I have senioritis again as the end of my current job is in sight and a new one awaits whenever the required paperwork gets taken care of.
On to some bridge stuff.
Don't preempt the preemptor. This is one of those rules I learned very early on in bridge, but apparently it’s not something most people learn in the early stages of their development (or ever) as a bridge player. If your RHO preempts and you have a preempt hand, you probably should just pass. Coming in directly over a preempt shows a pretty good hand and jump overcalls are more destructive to partner than to the opponents. When LHO has a huge hand, you might do okay to preempt over a preempt but even when the points are split between LHO and partner, LHO is in a better position to know what to do.
Furthermore, jump overcalls over a preempt are useful for other hands that are difficult to show. I guess standard is to play that a jump overcall, like (2S)-4D shows a hand that would have doubled and then bid diamonds. However, doubling and then bidding diamonds is less likely to work out because partner is too likely to insist on hearts so you leave this bid to show a giant true one-suiter. The advantages for this are small, but having 4D show AQJxxxxx and out is definitely not a good strategy. It’s not that that hand never comes up like some esoteric conventions – in fact, my partner did have that hand Tuesday night – but bidding directly more often causes problems for partner than the opponents. He found me with a 19-count and I couldn’t stop short of a grand in diamonds, which made on a pseudo double squeeze once they failed to cash the ace of clubs at trick one. Had he just passed, I would have reopened with a double and then he could bid 5D, which would show a long strong diamonds suit with virtually nothing outside the suit. I would happily raise to 6 with my flat 19.
If you have a standard preempt, there is little danger of the hand getting passed out because one of the other two will take some action. Even if it does get passed out, it’s probably their hand because partner will stretch to balance when it goes 2S-P-P to him. So, you can make a simple overcall if it’s a good preempt or just pass and come in later so partner doesn’t take you for a better hand.
However, almost everyone I play with regularly plays Leaping Michaels. In leaping Michaels, a 4m overcall of their 2M opening shows that minor and the other major and like a 3-4 loser hand. This still allows you to show the 5-5 hands, and frees up the direct cuebid for a stopper ask or strong takeout, and the huge minor one-suiters have to start with double, which is fine.

1 comment:

  1. I have heard the exhortation, "Don't preempt the preemptor", for several years but this exposition makes it clear for me.