Join Bridge Winners
Better Preempts IV: Preempts by Seat Position (part 2)
(Page of 2)
Third Chair
In third chair, LHO is marked with an opening hand and often holds extras. Preempt on any excuse.
Unfortunately, just because you want to preempt does not mean the card gods will deal you ideal hands for preemption. And if you wait for ideal hands, you won't be able to preempt as often as you would like. The only way to preempt more often is to drop your standards.In 3rd chair, you should be willing to preempt:
  • at the 3-level on a 6-card suit
  • at the 2-level on a 5-card suit
  • with side suit values
  • with side 4-card majors
  • with bad suits
  • with very bad hands (0-4HCP)
  • with reasonable hands (9-12HCP)
Almost every rule about what preempts "should" look like can be relaxed. You have relative safety because constructive bidding is a non-issuewith partner being a passed hand.
South
Q10xxxx
KQx
x
Qxx
W
N
E
S
P
P
?
2. Stick it to them.
South
KQ10xxx
Qxx
Qx
Qxx
W
N
E
S
P
P
?
2. Your game chances are poor. Make them guess.
South
KQ10xx
xxxx
x
xxx
W
N
E
S
P
P
?
2. Good 5-card suit. Great time to preempt. 4-card heart suit...who cares?
South
QJ10xx
x
xx
xxxxx
W
N
E
S
P
P
?
2. Opponents are cold for game and may have a slam. Get in there!
South
KQ10xxx
xxxx
x
xx
W
N
E
S
P
P
?
3. With a pure preemptive hand, apply maximum pressure.
South
xxx
x
KQ10xxx
xxx
W
N
E
S
P
P
?
3. Another pure hand. 3 will do much more damage to their constructive bidding than 2 will.
South
xxx
x
KQ10xxx
AQx
W
N
E
S
P
P
?
3. Wide-ranging preempts don't always have to be weak. Any hand which is unlikely to make game can be bid as a preempt if you choose.If you open 1 what will happen?
  1. LHO will overcall 1M
  2. Partner will make a negative double
  3. RHO will raise the major
  4. You will compete to 3
  5. Opponents will make a careful decision whether to pass, or bid on to 3M or 4M.
What happens if you open 3 instead? It is much harder for opponents to find their 3M or 4M contract, and you frequently make your own contract! If your contract goes down, the opponents are frequently making a higher-scoring contract. All in all, an ideal situation to throw a curveball at the opponents.
South
Axx
x
Q10xxxxx
xx
W
N
E
S
P
P
?
Pass. Unfavorable, you have to be careful even in 3rd chair. This suit is not good enough for an unfavorablepreempt.
A few words to the wise:
  1. if you are preempting with a shorter than normal suit, do it when you hold good interior texture: Q-J-T-9 are extremely important cards for preventing doubles. When your 6-card 3-bid is going for a number, an opponent holding Axxx may not be able to tell, whereas one with AJTx certainly will.

  2. Just because you may open a weak two on garbage, doesn't mean you have to open 3M when you hold a normal weak two. In 3rd chair, preemptsdon'tjust get weaker, they getwider ranging. 2 can vary from QJTxx, x, xx, Kxxxxto KQxxxx, xx, KQx, Jx.

  3. 2 is much more preemptive than 2. Same for 3 versus 3. When you hold spades, you don't have to take as many risks as when you hold lower suits. When you hold a lower-ranking suit, you may have to significantly overbid to achieve some damage to their auction.Alternatively, you may decide notto bother to preempt at all, if you think the risk isn't justified.
  4. Under this style, when your partner has preempted in 3rd chair, don't raise unless your hand is exceptional: 4+ card support and shape. Think of it like a balancing auction where partner has bid for both of you.
Fourth Chair
In fourth chair, you have an alternative we haven't seen before. You can pass and end the deal.When you expect to go minus on the board (whether on defense or declaring), pass and accept a zero instead of a minus. The only reason to bidanythingis to get a plus score. Further, since both opponents have passed, they are unlikely to make a game, so you have no leeway for sacrifices. In short all your jump bids should contain useful values.You will open either because game is possible or because you expect to win thepartscorebattle. Intermediate high-level opening bids showing goodish hands with a long suitcan help win thosepartscorebattles.
  • A 2-level opening shows about 10-13HCPand a good 6-card suit.
  • A 3-level opening shows about 10-14 HCP and a good 7-card suit.
Why not open these decent hands with a 1-level bid? When you hold a hand like: x,AKxxxx,AJx, xxx you expect to make something in hearts, but you also fear the opponents might buy it in spades, if given room to find their fit. A 2 opening gets you to a likely making contract and may shut the opponents out of a higher-scoring contract or provoke them into a costly penalty.
South
AQJxxxx
Jx
x
Axx
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
?
3. This is a par intermediate 3 opening.
South
AQJxxx
Jx
x
Axx
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
?
2. This is a par intermediate 2 opening.
South
Kxxxxxx
Ax
x
AQx
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
?
1. Suit is too weak for 3.
Conclusion
Seat position has more effect than vulnerability on whether or not to preempt.In second chair, Goren and Roth are your models. To quote BW's Steve Bloom, a second seat preempt is, "a positive step toward getting to our best contract, and a negative step toward the bad guys getting to their optimum spot."Another second seat maxim: When in doubt, don't. There is nothing wrong with resolving close decisions in favor of pass. Save your preempts for hands that look clear to you.
In third chair, Marty Bergen and KitWoolseyare your men. The real debate is not whether you should change your style in third chair, it is by how much. I advocate a big shift, especially NV. However, this shift is dependent on discussion with partner! If partner thinks that because your last preempt, vulnerablein second seat, showed AQJTxxx, x, Qx, xxx, your 3rd seat non-vulnerable 3 on this board will show something similar, you have a big problem. Make sure he knows that almost anything goes in 3rd chair.We can summarize our jump opening strategy inthis table:
Vulnerable Not vulnerable
1st Seat Conservative Aggressive
2nd Seat Conservative Conservative - Average
3rd Seat Aggressive (Conservative at unfavorable) Super-Aggressive
4th Seat Intermediate Intermediate
You may not feel comfortable bidding as often as I do in 3rd chair, and that is fine. Or you may think my second seat advice is too conservative--that is fine too.Regardless of whatlimits your partnership uses for preempts, if you are not preempting much more often in 3rd chair than in 2nd, then either you preempt too much in 2nd or not enough in 3rd.The only way to increase the frequency of 3rd seat preempts is to relax your preemption criteria to allow more hands to qualify and then adjust your responses to preempts accordingly. Responder should assume preemptor is at the lower end of the range for a preempt when picking his call.
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