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“I’m your partner. Please do not pre-empt me”. Too late. Your partner is not listening. First in hand, not vulnerable. Off they go with the “stop” card. “3Diamond-small¨”. What pile of rubbish do they hold? Seven diamonds would be a miracle. Anything useful outside? As likely as a week’s uninterrupted sunshine!

So, where do you go to with:


Heart-small 62



A little too much to pass, even opposite garbage! Please do not say this too loudly but Gerber might be more useful here than Blackwood! Actually, no. Even if partner showed two kings, one presumably would be the Diamond-smallK …and the other? Anyway, we would not dare to suggest 4Club-small here would be Gerber! Well, not Gerber..but read on.

If you do bid 4NT and partner shows just one key card, you are none the wiser about the heart suit, which is your real concern.

So, 3Spade-small it is and rather surprisingly, partner raises you to the spade game. If Blackwood will not help, maybe a cue-bid would.      5Club-small? That produces 5Diamond-small and you must call it a day. …which was a pity as these were the four hands:

Board 11
South Deals
None Vul
A K Q J 10 8
6 2
A Q 3
A 4
J 10 9 8 3
7 4 2
K 6 5 2
W   E
9 6 4 3
A Q 5
Q 10 9 8 7 3
7 5
K 7 4
K J 10 9 8 6 5


What a shame partner had to bid 5Diamond-small. While South could not have known how good their partner’s diamond cards were, the slam probe must have meant a pretty good hand…and just maybe, the heart control was worth bidding instead of the presumed diamond control.

Only one pair made it to 5Spade-small. Three played in 5Diamond-small while the rest had seen their partner’s pre-empts before and rested in 4Spade-small. Alas, no-one could bid the lay down (from the South seat) 6Diamond-small  or even the small spade slam, which required the Heart-smallA on-side or a non- heart lead. Is that heart cue just a figment of my imagination or could it really have happened…with North presuming their partner held the Diamond-smallK. At worse, 6Diamond-small would be on a trump finesse even if the Diamond-smallK was missing.

Finally, I wonder how useful 4Club-small as a natural bid after partner’s pre-empt would be. How often would you want to bid long clubs after any pre-empt, especially a diamond pre-empt? Suit set agreeing the pre-emptor’s suit? Why not? Hey, 4Heart-small now (even if you play first round cues, a pre-emptor must be allowed to show second round at the same time.) and North will be checking for key-cards and will bid the grand opposite two.

I think most of the North players would feel they should have done a little better. Blaming partner for having a real hand for the pre-empt is a poor excuse. It seems that most South players were given little opportunity for a creative cue-bid.

Richard Solomon



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