Pre-Emptive Bids in Bridge

One of the most exciting parts of Bridge is bidding competitively so that the opposition struggles to find their optimum contract

How can I bid with my really long suit?

What is a Preemptive bid?

A preemptive bid is an opening or overcalling bid in your long suit. Its purpose is to fully describe your hand both length and HCP in just one bid. You do this usually by jumping, i.e. missing one or more bidding levels doing this also interferes with the bidding of the opposition, allowing you and your partner to find your own best contract.

General guidelines before making a Preemptive Bid.

The Length of the Suit1. Opening or overcalling at the 2 Level requires a 6 card suit preferably with two honour cards in the trump suit.
2. Opening or overcalling at the 3 Level requires a 7-card suit with an honour in the trump suit.
3. Opening or overcalling at the 4 Level requires a 8-card suit and approximately opening hand values.

Counting the Winning and Losing tricks in your hand

Generally, you should estimate the number of Playing Tricks (winning tricks) in your own hand and add to that total three (winning) tricks from your partners hand. If you are Vulnerable however the rule changes, you can only count  two extra winning tricks from your partner.
So even though you don’t know what your partner has they have at the time you make a preempt, you are just hoping that partner will have this support, on the other hand your partner understands that this is how you are calculating and is able to raise your bid if they have support for your suit AND extra tricks above and beyond what they have already counted on from you

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Guidelines for how many winning tricks are in your hand.

1. Only the first three non-honour cards in any suit can be counted as losers,  so the fourth card in that suit is counted as a winner.
2. Only the ace, king and queen can be counted as winning tricks.
3. Honour cards which can be dropped by the opposition leading that suit out,  count as losing tricks.For example a King singleton (and opponents lead out their Ace) or a Queen doubleton (by opponents leading out the Ace and then their King in that suit)
4. The queen counts as half a loser if it is the only honour in the suit but is a total loser when in combination with an ace or a king or a jack.

Vulnerability and its impact on pre-emptive bidding

If your contract goes down 2 doubled by the opposition then that = 300 points against you Non Vulnerable;
If you are vulnerable however and you go down 3 tricks doubled = 500 points against you.
Your opponents will only score 420 points if they bid and make their non-vulnerable game. Its all in the scoring!

Responding to your Partners Preemptive Bid

The problem with Preemptive bids is not what you bid, but what your partner decides to bid in response. Usually partner is best to “pass”, even if they have 15-16 HCP. This is because The Preempter is already counting on you for two or three tricks depending on vulnerability so you should only support partner if you have values above and beyond these tricks rather than using point count.

Exercise: 1. How many losers are there in this hand if Spades are Trumps?

Hand 1.
♠ A 10 9 7 4
♥ K Q 9
♦ 9 7 2
♣ 8 6

Answer: You have 8 losers in this hand they are: 2 spades, 1 heart, 3 diamonds and 2 clubs

Exercise: 2. How many losers and how many winners are there in this hand if Hearts are Trumps?

Hand 2.

  • ♠A Q 7
  • ♥A K 6 4 2
  • ♦A 10 5
  • ♣8 5

Answer: You have six losers in this hand, 1 spade, 1 heart, 2 diamonds and 2 clubs.

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