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Contract Bridge
LESSON 13
Preemptive Opening bids

  1. Vulnerable and Not Vulnerable
  2. The Penalty Double
  3. Valuation of very unbalanced hands
  4. Preemptive Openings - The Rule of 2 and 3
  5. Responses to Preemptive Openings
  6. The new Rule of 2, 3 & 4
  7. Deals 37 to 40
  8. Quiz - Answers - Review
  9. Bidding Guide : 7 - Facts 7

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BR 13.1 - Vulnerable and Not Vulnerable

Before explaining the principles of Preemptive bidding, it is necessary to understand two more aspects of the game, vulnerability and the penalty double.

Vulnerability is an aspect of the game used in the original Rubber bridge style of play, where a side becomes vulnerable after having reached a certain score level. br13/br1301.gif

In modern Duplicate Bridge this aspect has been maintained in an artificial way, where the Vulnerability of a side rotates from one board to the next.
For example on Board 1 no side is vulnerable, on Board 2 North South are vulnerable, on Board 3 East West, and on Board 4 both sides are vulnerable.
The entire sequence is set by the International Bridge federation. It runs over 16 boards an then is repeated for each next set of 16 boards (see Scoring).
The Vulnerability is indicated on each individual board, usually by a circular red dot

Vulnerability of a side raises the stakes in terms of points scored for a contract considerably. The trick points score and part score bonus remain the same, but

  • the bonus points for a Game contract is raised from 300 to 500 points

  • the bonus points for a Small Slam are raised from 800 to 1250 points

  • the bonus points for a Grand Slam are raised from 1300 to 2000 points

  • Down tricks too are penalised heavier, 100 points per down trick instead of 50


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BR 13.2 - The Penalty Double

If a player believes the Opponents have bid a contract which they can not make he can "Double" when it is his turn to bid. Like each other final bid, A Double must be followed by a "Pass" from each of the other three players before it is locked in as the final bid.
For example :

NorthEastSouthWest
1 S Pass 2 S Pass
4 S Pass Pass DBL
Pass Pass Pass -
The Double raises the stakes in terms of points scored at the end of the game.
If the contract is indeed defeated each down trick is worth considerably more to the opposition.
For example :
Down tricksNot DoubledDoubled
Not Vulnerable
Doubled
Vulnerable
1 Down   50 100 200
2 Down 100 300 500
3 Down 150 500 800
brillkc.gif

If, on the other hand the Declarer manages to make his contract his side too will receive a much higher score.
Each trick made receives double the amount of trick points, plus 50 extra bonus points ("for the insult").
If, as a result of the Double the trick points come within the range of a Game or Slam contract the Bonus points for that are also added to the total score.

For example (Not Vulnerable) :

2♦ DBL and made = 2 x 2 x 20 (trick pts) + 50 (part score bonus) + 50 (for the insult) = 180 pts

2♥ DBL and made = 2 x 2 x 30 (trick pts) + 300 (game score bonus) + 50 (for the insult) = 470 pts

Any overtricks made too score additional bonus points, 100 pts per overtrick when not vulnerable and 200 pts per overtrick when vulnerable.


If the Declaring side, despite the "Double", are convinced they will make their contract they can "Redouble" Opponents Double. This raises the stakes even more. The Redouble is locked in as the final bid after three successive Passes.

NorthEastSouthWest
1 S Pass 2 S Pass
4 S Pass Pass DBL
RDBL Pass Pass Pass



Part score contracts of 1 or 2 are rarely Doubled for penalties.
Instead Doubles at these levels are usually made for Take Out.
A take out Double is made by player who has 12 points or more but, after the Opponents have opened the bidding, has no proper bid to make (see Lesson 14 on Take Out Doubles).



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BR 13.3 - Valuation of very unbalanced hands

Consider the hand below.
It is obvious that a contract of 7 Hearts is unbeatable, yet the hand contains only 10 High Card Points.

br13/br1302.gif

You are not likely to get a hand like this in a lifetime of playing bridge, however it makes an important point :

The more unbalanced a hand, the less realistic normal points valuations becomes.

Take Hand 2 below.
It contains only 9 high card points, but has a much higher trick taking potential when played in a trump contract in Hearts.

br13/br1303.gif

For hands with a good 7-card suit, or any 8+ card suit, and 10 High Card Points or less discard the point valuation and instead count your number of potential tricks.
Preemptive bids
Use the following method :
br13/br1304.gif

In Hand 2 count in the assumed trump suit 1 trick each for the King and Queen (supported by the K) and one for each card after the 3rd card in the suit. This makes 6 tricks in the Heart suit plus 1 for the Ace of Spades, a total of 7 trick for the whole hand.
br13/br1305.gif

The trick taking potential for Hand 3 below is :

  • One trick for the Heart King

  • One trick for each Heart card after the 3rd (4 tricks)

  • One trick for the Diamond Queen (supported by the Jack)

  • One trick for the 4th card in Diamonds
br13/br1306.gif

A total of 7 potential tricks.


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BR 13.4 - The traditional Rule of 2 and 3

Up to this point in this Bridge Course we have paid all out attention on how to win more points in the game. Bidding a Game or Slam contract to receive higher bonus points, trying to make an overtrick to gain extra trick points, etc.

But what do we do when the Opponents have most of the strength ?
Sure we do our best to defeat their contract, or try to prevent them from making an overtrick. But these are only two actions which support our main objective :

When the Opponents have the upper hand in terms of card strength

focus on disrupting their bidding and on your side losing less points !

Now let us look from this perspective once more at Hand 3 below.
It is not hard to imagine that the Opponents on this deal may well have a Game contract in Spades or even Clubs. This will give them a score of around 400 not vulnerable, or 600 when vulnerable.
You, holding this hand will therefore receive a minus score of the same amount (-400 or -600).

br13/br1306.gif

If on the other hand you were to play this contract instead in 4 Hearts, you might not make your contract and go down 2 tricks instead (Partner surely will contribute at least 1 more trick). But even if the Opponents double, you may end up with a minus score of only -300 (not vul.) or -500 (vul.). That is less than if they had played and made their Game contract.

This is the rationale and objective of pre-emptive opening bids, and weak long suited hands are ideal for this purpose. Make a pre-emptive opening bid of 3 or 4 in your suit.
This will disrupt the bidding and make it hard for the Opponents to find and bid their own contract.

But be careful not to overbid. If you end up going down 3 or 4 tricks you may lose more points than the Opponents' Game contract would have been worth and that would of course defeat the purpose.
Follow therefore the Rule of 2 and 3 which says :

Rule of 2 and 3

Using this rule with Hand 3 below you would make a pre-emptive opening bid of :

br13/br1306.gif

Use the Rule of 2 and 3 up to the Game level of your suit (4♥, 4♠, 5♣, 5♦). Therefore with 8 tricks and a long Heart suit open with 4♥ when not vulnerable, and not 5♥.

See also the Bidding Guide (BG-15, intBG-18, advBG-20) for the LTC values (Losing Trick Count for Weak Twos and Premptive openings.

With stronger long suited hands (11 HCPs and more), pre-emptive openings lose their purpose. The Opponents are less likely to have the upper hand in terms of card strength, and you are likely to disrupt your own side's bidding rather then theirs.


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BR 13.5 - Responses to Preemptive Opening bids

When your Partner makes a pre-emptive opening bid (of 3, 4 or 5 in a suit) the first thing you must realise is that he is making a limit bid. This means that you may Pass at any time.

Partner specifies his hands very precisely in the number of tricks he will make, rather than in points.
Likewise you too should now valuate your hand not in points but in quick tricks.
First :

  1. subtract 2 tricks from the bid he made when vulnerable, or

    subtract 3 tricks from the bid he made when not vulnerable

  2. Then add to this your own quick tricks as shown on the Table below, and bid or pass accordingly.
br13/br1308.gif


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Example 1
Your Partner opened the bidding with 3♥.
You hold Hand 4 below. br1309.gif Your response :

  1. Not vulnerable - Partner promises 9 - 3 = 6 tricks
    You hold 3 quick tricks - Ace of Spades plus King and Queen of trumps.
    Together you hold therefore 6 + 3 = 9 tricks   > > >   Pass

  2. Vulnerable - Partner promises 9 - 2 = 7 tricks
    You hold 3 quick tricks - Ace of Spades plus King and Queen of trumps.
    Together you hold therefore 7 + 3 = 10 tricks   > > >   bid 4♥


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Example 2
Your Partner opened the bidding with 4♠.
You hold Hand 5 below. br13/br1310.gif Your response :

  1. Not vulnerable - Partner promises 10 - 3 = 7 tricks
    You hold 2 quick tricks - King of trumps plus King and Queen of Diamonds.
    Together you hold therefore 7 + 2 = 9 tricks   > > >   Pass
    You may well go down 1 trick.

  2. Vulnerable - Partner promises 10 - 2 = 8 tricks
    You hold 2 quick tricks - King of trumps plus King and Queen of Diamonds.
    Together you hold therefore 8 + 2 = 10 tricks   > > >   Pass
    You will probably make your contract.


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Example 3
Your Partner opened the bidding with 3♥.
You hold Hand 6 below. br13/br1311.gif Your response :

  1. Not vulnerable - Partner promises 9 - 3 = 6 tricks
    You have a strong hand and hold 5 quick tricks - Ace of Spades, Ace of trumps, Ace King of Clubs plus a singleton Diamond with trump support.
    Together you hold therefore 6 + 5 = 11 tricks   > > >   bid 4♥

  2. Vulnerable - Partner promises 9 - 2 = 7 tricks
    You have a strong hand and hold 5 quick tricks - Ace of Spades, Ace of trumps, Ace King of Clubs plus a singleton Diamond with trump support.
    Together you hold therefore 7 + 5 = 12 tricks   > > >   bid 6♥


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BR 13.6 - The new Rule of 2, 3 & 4

The Rule of 2 & 3 has been routinely used for many many years and still is useful at the Novices level.

Many players at the Intermediate skill level these days use the Ruler of 2, 3 & 4.
This new rule works exactly the same as the old one, but it reflects three (rather than two) different scenarios.

  1. bid 2 more than the tricks you hold with adverse Vulnerability
    When your side is Vulnerable, but your Opponents are Not Vulnerable

  2. bid 3 more than the tricks you hold with equal Vulnerability
    When both sides are either both Vulnerable or both Not Vulnerable

  3. bid 4 more than the tricks you hold with favourable Vulnerability
    When your side is Not Vulnerable, but your Opponents are Vulnerable

    But do not bid over the level of Game : 4♥, 4♠, 5♣ or 5♦

Countng tricks for both the Pre-emptive Opener and Responder remain exactly the same as before.
Here is one example. br1313.gif Ypur Partner has opened 3♥
  1. Adverse Vulnerability : You are Vul., they are Not Vul.
    Partner promises 9 - 2 = 7 tricks
    You hold 3 quick tricks - ♠A, ♣A and trumps ♥K
    Together you hold therefore 7 + 3 = 10 tricks   > > >   bid 4♥

  2. Equal Vulnerability : Both sides Vul.
    Partner promises 9 - 3 = 6 tricks
    You hold 3 quick tricks
    Together you hold therefore 6 + 3 = 9 tricks   > > >   you Pass

  3. Equal Vulnerability : Both sides Not Vul.
    Partner promises 9 - 3 = 6 tricks
    You hold 3 quick tricks
    Together you hold therefore 6 + 3 = 9 tricks   > > >   you Pass

  4. Favourable Vulnerability : You are Not Vul., they are Vul.
    Partner promises 9 - 4 = 5 tricks
    You hold 3 quick tricks
    Together you hold therefore 5 + 3 = 8 tricks   > > >   you Pass
Alternative page 7 for the Basic Bidding Guide.


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BR 13.7 - Deals 37 to 40

Deals 37 to 40 are examples of bidding and play as outlined in this lesson.


BR 13.8 - Quiz 13 - Answers - Review

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© 2006-2013 Michael Furstner (Jazclass). All rights reserved.