Preemptive Bids

Bridge players around the world love to make bidding difficult for their opponents. Every player enjoys employing a competitive bid in order to disturb the auction of their opponents in the hope that the correct contract can not be reached through the exchange of sufficient information. This is the case with preemptive bids.

As soon as bridge players discovered that a contract could be made through distribution alone, and not based solely on the sum of the total high card points, bridge players have been making preemptive bids. This was the case in the game of Whist and was immediately adopted into the evolving game of Auction Bridge and Contract Bridge.

The defintion of the word preempt is: to appropriate, seize, or take for oneself before others. However, in the game of bridge no one has truly and accurately defined a preemptive bid, because they are difficult to describe and define. However, over time bridge players began to agree upon certain guidelines and requirements, because a preemptive bid not only disturb the bidding of the opponents, but sometimes even disturbed the bidding of the partnership itself. Therefore, preemptive bids had to be more clearly defined and guidelines established.

 

Note: Weak Two bids are considered to be a form of a preemptive bid and do fall within the category of preemptive bids. However, Weak Two bids are generally regarded as opening bids rather than competitive bids and are generally restricted to this position. Weak Two bids inform partner only that the preemptor holds at least a 6-card suit with most of the limited high-card strength located in that particular suit. In general, Weak Two bids do not exclude side-suit tolerance.

In general, and as a result of a consensus, a Preemptive Bid should fall within the following parameters:

Parameters / Suggested Guidelines for Preemptive Bids
1. An opening bid on the two level or higher in any of the four suits.
2. If the preemptive bid is a Major suit, then the preemptive bid generally shows no tolerance for the other Major suit.
3. If the preemptive bid is a Minor suit, then the preemptive bid generally shows no tolerance for either of the Major suits.
4. An overcall after an opening on the one level should be at least one level higher and in a higher-ranking suit than the opening bid. For example: 1 - 2.
5. If the overcall after an opening bid on the one level is in a lower-ranking suit, then the preemptive bid should be at least two levels higher. For example: 1 - 3.
6. The preemptive bid describes a holding with sufficient length to justify the level of the preemptive bid, but with insufficient values to make a normal opening bid, call, and/or overcall.
7. The level of the preemptive bid may be based on several factors such as the state of vulnerability and also on the number of Losing Tricks, or simply on the length of the suit.

 

In deciding to open the auction with a preemptive bid, there are several aspects to be considered first. These aspects and considerations should help the bridge player in his decision. They are by no means rules, but rather helpful guidelines to assist you in judging whether or not the distribution of your hand justifies a preemptive bid. Following are some general guidelines which the bridge player should keep in mind.

Length of the Suit
1. An opening bid or overcall on the Three Level contains usually a 7-card suit or a strong, solid to semi-solid 6-card suit.
2. An opening bid or overcall on the Four Level contains usually an 8-card suit or a strong, solid to semi-solid 7-card suit.
3. An opening bid or overcall on the Five Level contains usually a 9-card suit or a strong, solid to semi-solid 8-card suit.

 

Vulnerabilty
1. Generally, the guideline is to take the number of Playing Tricks and add Three Tricks if you are Not Vulnerable.
2. Generally, the guideline is to take the number of Playing Tricks and add Two Tricks if you are Vulnerable.
3. The decisive factor in Vulnerable vs. Not Vulnerable is the Scoring Methods:
 
Down 2 doubled = 300
Down 3 doubled = 500 versus 420 for the opponents

 

Strength of the Suit and Outside Strength
1. The honor strength or location of the values should be in the suit bid. The number of tricks taken will come mainly through this suit.

 

High Card Points
1. Although this is a matter to consider, a required sum of high card points becomes irrelevant, because distribution is the deciding factor.
2. Preemptive bids can be made with as few as 2 honors in the suit bid. Example: QJ98765

 

Position At The Table
1. Preemptive bids in First Seat can cause problems for the partner. Partner may have a strong hand, and he will have difficulty in deciding the correct bid. Partnership agreement is important.
2. Preemptive bids in Second Seat are questionable due to the reasons mentioned above. Experience has shown that the preemptive bid should be somewhat stronger in strength and distribution.
3. Preemptive bids in Third Seat are the most attractive since a pass by the partner has already given sufficient information about his hand. Two passes to Third Seat, who has a preemptive bid, allows Third Seat to assume that most of the high card points are located in Fourth Seat.
4. Preemptive bids in Fourth Seat are most unlikely. If Fourth Seat decided to make a preemptive bid, then Fourth Seat should have a solid suit.

 

The bridge player should acquaint himself with all of the aspects and considerations governing a preemptive bid at the Three Level or higher listed above. These aspects and considerations should influence the bridge player to use his judgment in deciding the correct call.

Since there are no rigid rules or strict guidelines governing preemptive bids, a universal standard does not exist. There are many views and opinions about preemptive bids, and they vary from partnership to partnership. We would like to offer a method, as a pure suggestion only, which might assist in determining when to open the auction with a preemptive bid. These suggestions apply also to Second Seat. In Third Seat, it is normally quite obvious that if the bridge player has a preemptive bid, then he should make it.

Suggestions for Preemptive Bids
1. Preemptive bids in First Seat can be more effective, if the partner also knows the number of Playing Tricks. Therefore, the suggestion is that the level of the preemptive bid should equal the number of Playing Tricks multiplied by 2.
4 Playing Tricks times 2:
Preempt on the two level. Book plus two.
4.5 Playing Tricks times 2:
Preempt on the three level. Book plus three.
5 Playing Tricks times 2:
Preempt on the four level. Book plus four.
   
2. Preemptive bids in Second Seat are handled in the same manner.
3. This means that, in addition to the information regarding the length of the suit, the number of Playing Tricks is passed along to the partner. To some degree, the shape or distribution of the hand of the preemptor is also passed along as information.
4. The partner, when he responds, can then simply add his number of Playing Tricks to the already known number of Playing Tricks of his partner, the preemptor, and decide the correct contract.

 

In the course of time, every bridge player adopts the feature and implements the preemptive bid. It is important that the partner understands the meaning of the preemptive bid, in order to respond correctly. If this is not the case, then the partnership will be competing less frequently. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that a Partnership Agreement include the possibility of preemptive bids. Preemptive bids can be most effective, damaging to the exchange of information by the opponents, favorably disruptive in the auction, and can cause difficulty in the bidding if the partner has a strong hand. Again, it is only prudent that a partnership agreement be constructed.

 

There are several methods of defending against a preemptive opening.

These can be found at: Defense Against Preemptive Openings

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.




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