Unit 149 (WUMBA) - District 13
Interesting Hands: High-Level Preempts

Suppose that you are North (dealer) and have KJ976432 in hearts, 3 small clubs, and 2 small stiffs. No one is vulnerable. Would you preempt 4H? If not because you are not playing NAMYATS, and that a 4-level preempt promises something better than a bust, there is no story. So, now pretend that you are East and North preempts 4H, and you find or assume that NS have no agreements for this bid.

You have S K9532  H AQ10  DK2  CQJ7, and likely would bet at least $1 ($1000?) that this contract cannot succeed. Can you double? Depends upon your agreements. If you double (ALWAYS takeout) and partner bids 5 or 6D, you may not have a suitable hand. If a double is ALWAYS penalty, then doubling is appropriate.

(Chip Martel suggests that a double here ALWAYS be one or the other; he deplores the "optional" double here to avoid the ethical issues that arise if partner always seems to "figure it out" whether to bid or pass depending upon the speed of your double.)

Anyway, assume that your double would always be takeout, so you quickly pass IN TEMPO (no director calls for YOU!). Now South passes, and partner doubles! Wow! RHO is trying to steal from us; we may have a slam!

You could pass and take a sure plus, but that might be the losing action if you have a slam. So what do you do? Pass or make a slam try?. If you pass, you go plus and no more story. So assume that you try for slam, but how? How about 5H for pick a slam? Assume that partner has promised spades and, obviously, a hand good enough to double 4H.

There are no ethical issues here, I think. No matter whether you bid 5H quickly or slowly, partner must bid a slam. I guess that a 5NT bid by partner would ask you to pick the slam, so be sure to have this marked on your card so that you can prove that you are forced to bid. So partner bids 6C (in tempo, I hope) and you now have another decision. Pass, 6S or 6 NT? What's your decision? (New tournament players: If partner took a long time to bid 6C, you had better pass. More about this in another article or hand discussion.) Naturally, you do not dream of peeking at the hand below.

Want to try for a possible top or bottom? Subject: What happens after 4-level preempts
Event: Flight A pairs; 2nd Session; July 10, 1999; Westmont, Chicago Regional
Board: 17
Dealer: North
Vul: None
S 6
H K J 9 7 6 4 3 2
D 8
C 8 4 3
North is Glenna, the wild preemptor
South had no clue as to what Glenna held, BUT
neither did the opponents
S A J 10 7
D 10 7 6
C A K 10 9 5 2
  S K 9 5 3 2
H A Q 10
D K 2
C Q J 7
Re the above hand.
What do you do if partner
bids 5D over your X?
S Q 8 4
H 8 5
D A Q J 9 5 4 3
C 6
Stan is South
Nothing to do but pass in tempo until time to lead
Now the auction as it actually happened

4 H P P
X P 5 H P
6 C P 6 S All Pass

What happened? I was not East! I was South and led the AD; continuation of diamonds and down one for 9.5 on a top of 12, so the majority of EW pairs apparently are not making a slam try, or some find the right slam (6N with East declarer!), PROBABLY because North did NOT preempt! Couldn't because of agreements or not willing to go for 500+ when no one is vul.

So, some questions for you and your partner; assume that diamonds are never bid, and that EW bid only clubs and/or spades suits and perhaps NT

Should North preempt? It's your call. Is it best to not have any agreements at all about this bid? (That is my opinion, which avoids having to alert the preemptive bid, and therefore perhaps forces a guess from the opponents). Preempt worked GREAT on this hand.

Should East pass or double? Best to have a specific agreement, I think.

Should West double or bid if East passes? Anything but pass, I guess.

If West doubles, what should East do? Sign-off in game or try for slam? Obviously not easy, as East tanked for almost 1 minute in actual play conditions before cueing. The cue bid then takes the pressure off partner as partner MUST do something.

If a slam try, what should West bid?

If West bids 6C, what should East bid? I guess I would pass, but that would lead to down 2 with best defense!

If South is on lead versus a suit contract, what should South lead? (This is a gimme, I hope.)

If South is on lead versus 6NT, what should South lead? Ouch. Not obvious. Try to set, or just stop an overtrick? Prediction. East will find the Queen of spades, but will be nervous.

If North is on lead versus a suit contract, what should North lead if South has NOT doubled? What if South has doubled?

If North is on lead versus 6NT, what should North lead if South has NOT doubled? What if South has doubled?

More Miscellaneous Thoughts

Won't EW often get to 6N by East if North does not preempt? Preempts sometimes work!!

IF EW is able to double 4H for penalty, then EW goes plus, probably for an above average board. Moral: Check your opponent's convention card for Takeout Doubles BEFORE you look at your first hand.

IF EW is able to stop in 4S, then EW again goes plus, for above average. NS are unlucky.

If EW gets to 5 or 6C, result depends upon the North lead. Would you lead the stiff diamond for down 1 or down 2?

Would you, as East, bid 6N over 6C by partner? It makes, but nervous!

Suppose West bids 6N after East somehow promises Ace of hearts.
What would you lead as North if South does not double?
What would you lead as North if South doubles?

The point(s) of the deal. The above hand is interesting, but also suggests some areas where partnerships should have agreements. Since preempts often work, your opponents will use them, and you should have some defensive agreements in place.