Pre-Emptive Opening Bids

Free Bridge Lesson

One of the most exciting parts when you learn to play Bridge is bidding competitively so that the opposition struggles to find their optimum contract. As long as you make the contract you are playing your score depends only on the number of tricks you have made. In order to determine when and how high to preempt it is necessary to estimate how many winning tricks you hold in your hand if your long suit is trumps. This Bridge lesson builds on the hand evaluation skills you learned our Bridge lessons for beginners and our Acol Bridge lessons or Standard American Bidding lessons.

The Following Video Shows Preemptive Bids in Action

There are 4 interactive lessons on preemptive bidding in our members area:
Overview of Preemptive Bids
– Weak Two Preempts
– Preemptive 3 Level Opening Bids
– Preemptive 4 Level Opening Bids.

What do I bid with a really long suit?

Why should I make a Preemptive bid in Bridge?

Bidding 1♥ and making 3♥: or bidding 3♥and making 3♥ are both worth the same amount 140 points. This means it is in your partnerships best interests to be in the lowest level contract – but it is in your opponents’ best interests to push you to the highest level contract in the hope you ‘go light’ and not make your contract.

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What is a Preemptive bid?

A preemptive bid is an opening bid or overcalling bid in your long suit. Its purpose is to fully describe your hand both length and HCP in just one bid, and to make the opposition bid at a higher level than if you had not bid. Remember you are always trying to push your opponents to the highest level contract. Preemptive bids are implemented  by jumping the bidding that is by opening or overcalling and missing one or more bidding levels.

General guidelines before making a Preemptive Bid.

Length of the Suit
1. 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.

Vulnerability and its impact on bidding

If your Bridge contract goes down 2 doubled by the opposition then that equals 300 points against you Non Vulnerable;
If you are vulnerable however and you go down 3 tricks doubled equals 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!

Strength of the Suit and Outside Strength 
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.

If you found this lesson useful, you will find the extra features in our members-only lessons especially valuable. The above video demonstrates how our lessons appear in our members area. The ‘members only’ version of our lessons includes popup glossaries for Bridge terms, an instant quiz to test your new Bridge knowledge, and multiple practice hands with full commentary. Access our members area with a full featured free trial.

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.

1. How many losers and how many winners are there in this hand if Spades are Trumps?

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

Your Bid
You have 8 losers in this hand they are: 2 spades, 1 heart, 3 diamonds and 2 clubs This means your hand has 5 winners. (13 – 8 = 5)

2. If Spades are trumps, how many losers and winners in this hand?


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

These lessons are short extracts of the full interactive Bridge lessons available in our members area.

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