Home Contents May 11 May 25 05-29-2006 17:01:49

May 18

Defense Against Preempts

Last week in the play deals, opener made a Bailey weak-two bid, and you had to cope. Almost every deal deserved a discussion. Your methods were different than mine. I do not intend to say whose are best.

I prepared Defense Against Preempts for a discussion group on this subject. The group would talk about it and tell their rules. We would next play hands, and might decide the requirements for competing are set either too low or too high for either point count, suit length, or suit quality. We would repeat the process subsequent weeks.

A starting set of rules when neither is a passed hand:

  1. Play an overcall to be a good opening bid, and to have the notrump values for an opening bid. Five-card overcalls have to be allowed.
  2. Play a takeout double to have opening bid values. Cannot require four cards in each unbid major.
    • Play a minimum response at the 2-level for four cards and 0-8 suit points.
    • Over 2 and 2♠ use better minor Lebensohl with a weak hands, unless clubs should be trumps. Over 2, 2 NT is to play.
    • 3♣ has a wide range with a strong preference for clubs.
    • Other 3-level bids start at about 9 suit points.
  3. Minimum notrump overcall is 15-18. You might stretch a point either way. No system on. Over a 3-level preempt, 3 NT is 15+.
  4. After a direct suit overcall, new suit by an unpassed hand is forcing. After a notrump overcall, cue is only force.
  5. Do not change minimum values for these bids in fourth seat. If fourth seat is a passed hand then 2 NT is for the minors.

Tonight's bid 'em ups use the same formula as last week's deals. We will start by handling them as a group rather than as pairs. I note we could swap the East-West hands to double our misery.

Review of Last Week's Deals

Hand 1:

table marker
(2) Dbl Pass 2♠
Pass 3♠ Pass 4♠

But after the continued preempt:

(2) Dbl (3) 3♠
Pass 4♠

Hand 3:

2 ?

20 points is too much for 2NT. One jumped to 3NT. I vote for double followed by a minimum notrump bid as this hand has tolerance for spades.

Hand 4:

(2) Pass Pass Dbl
Pass ?

I sat in as the 2 bidder and knew the deal. An opportunity for the education of Evan was missed. (Partner was 4=1=4=4 and probably should redouble.) 2NT is not acceptable as that is better minor Lebensohl.

Hand 6:

table marker
(2♠) 3♣ (3♠) ?

With 11 suit points at clubs, a simple raise was not enough.

Hand 9:

table marker
(2) Pass Pass Dbl
Pass ?

Our guy passed. 3♠ is a second choice. 2NT is not an option.

Hand 10:

table marker
(2) 2 Pass 3 NT

I would also overcall 2 as our gal did. Advancer expects an opening bid. We don't always deliver. Swap East-West, and I think the 14-point hand would pass and then jump to 3 NT.

Hand 16:

table marker
(2) Pass 2 ?

Our gal doubled, and that made getting to 4♠ easy. That's my vote. I would accept 3♣.

Major Raises and 1NT Forcing

1NT Forcing Over Major

Here is a table to fill. Assume typical suits rather than extreme suits. If you will do something different with extreme suits, check that box. Here are a typical hand and two extreme 6-4 hands.

After a forcing notrump
Problem Typical Hand Extreme Hand
Your rebid with 4-5-2-2.
1 NT is doubled. Your bid.
2♣ overcall.
2 overcall.
6 spades and 4 hearts.
6 major and 4 minor.
Opener shows 5-4 in majors. You have 2 spades and 3 hearts. Pass or bid 2♠.
Opener shows 5-4. You have 4 hearts and all points in minors. Points for raise.
Opener shows 5-4. You have 4 hearts and all points in majors. Points for raise.
Length for 2 over 2♣.
Length for 2 over 2♣.
You have 5 clubs. Points to raise to 3♣.

Major Raises

Question: If partner knows how to adjust for trump length, i.e. he knows the proper suit count adjustment, does he have to tell us how many trumps he has?

Answer: No.

Question: That is contrary to conventional wisdom. How do you prove your point?

Answer: An invitational raise shows 9-10 suit points, and I would accept with:

1♠ Invite

The Senorita and GIB analyzed this hand several ways using (at least) 1008 responder hands for all experiments. The remaining 39 cards were dealt. If responder had three or more spades, 9-10 suit points, and two or more cards in each side suit, the deal was accepted. GIB calculated the double-dummy result.

The results depend on the number of trumps held by responder, with more trumps being slightly worse !!! The difference between three and four trumps is significant to a statistician. Five trumps should be significant to all. Responder hands with five or more trumps were not used except to demonstrate this point.

Deals That Make Game
Responder Opener adjusted ♠ count
Number of ♠ Side suits Game%
3-4 Any length 50% All 3 or 4 trump limit raises. 16
3 No shortness 55% Three is better than four is better than five.
4 No shortness 51%
5+ No shortness 40%
3-4 ♣ shortness 80% Rules increase opener's count by 2. 18
3-4 shortness 23% Decrease count by 1. 15
3-4 shortness 29% Decrease count by 2. 14

The bottom part of the table assumes responder codes his short suit as mini-splinter response.

Question: I have five trumps and only single raised or jump raised. The opposition bidding forces me to bid game to play the hand. Cohen-Bergen say bid game.

Answer: Okay, do it. You don't have to go minus until they make you.

Question: If I bid it slow, shouldn't they double.

Answer: Yes. Until this happens I am going walk hands.

Question: You object to raises that show the number of trumps. Is there a better way?

Answer: Use mini-splinters. The previous table shows you want to bid game when partner is short in clubs. Help-suit game tries are another application of the same theme.

Question: Clarify help suit.


1♠ 2♠

The bid of a new suit implies you are short in one of the other suits. Partner revalues assuming another suit is short.

If you bid 3♣, and partner still has the 5 suit points for a raise, he jumps to game. If counting points in spades, clubs and one other suit gets to 5, he bids that suit. Otherwise, he bids 3♠. To review, an ace in the short suit is worth three, and a king one.

If you bid 3, you do the above for diamonds, hearts, and spades.

Question: What do I do with a 5-4-2-2 pattern?

Answer: A 5-4-2-2 pattern is not a help-suit hand. Bid 3♠ to invite game, as points in all four suits are worthwhile.

Question: What do I bid with a 5-4-1-3 pattern? 5-5-1-2?

Answer: Bid 3♣ in both cases. You could fine tune things and bid 3 with 5-5-2-1.

Question: I have heard of methods that mixes short-suit game tries and help-suit game tries.

Answer: I taught the Senorita both methods. Final contract is the same until opener has 6511 pattern. That is almost a pattern you would clunk into game.

Evaluating When Partner Has a Short Suit

We learn partner is short in a specific suit in several ways.

There are times when we know partner is short in one of two possible suits. These ideas can be used in "what if" evaluations for each of the suits.

Big Club Chapter 2 gives shorts known rules for revaluing when partner has a singleton or void in a suit. To repeat:

More simply, a queen and at least three cards is normal duplication. With less than three cards, you do not get the bonus of two points, and you degrade a singleton or void by one point.

I test these rules for revaluing opposite a singleton or void. The rules are not perfect. I attribute this to


Responder shows short clubs. Point gain is two. 46% games. You would normally pass, and because 46% is less than 50%, you still should at matchpoints. Accept at IMPs!

Partner mini-splinters in hearts on the next two hands. My reaction is: I don't care what the count rules are, or what GIB says to do. I am going to bid 4♠. If you stop at three at matchpoints on either of deals and four makes, that is a zero.


Partner announces short hearts. A solid 17 points reduces to 16 points. 46% games. Senorita-Gib say do not bid game. I looked at some of these deals. The lack of honor cards in clubs and diamonds is punishing, and there are communication problems between the two hands.


Short hearts. Started with 18 at spades. The J-x is zero high cards. Reduced to 15 points. 43% games. The rules are right.

Count Rules to Raise 1-Level Response

1♣ 1♠

If we agreed that a minimum response was 7 notrump, then the second column applies. (You can respond with 6, but I am playing you for 7.) If your minimum response is less, stop reading.

Suit Count for Raise of Responder
Level Suit Count Methods
2-level 12-15 Raise
3-level 16-17 3♠ or a mini-splinter between 3♣ and 3♠. 0, 1, or 2 mini-splinter suits.
4-level 18-19 4♠ or splinter between 3♠ and 4♠.

Robinson states 18-19 for the jump raise. What does he do with 16-17? Many disappear in a 15-17 notrump, but opener may have a short suit. If you 20-up and no short suit, then you opened with 2NT (2♣).

Play Deals

I expect responder to raise opener's major. Law of Total Tricks advocates say do not allow them to play there. Given competition, what are your rules.

Be aware of the crappy raise scenario. Robinson, for example bids 1 NT with a raise where "he accepts no invitations." You should compete against this raise, but not against the more standard 2-card preference that also starts with a 1 NT response.

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