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One can experience and inflict both types of feelings when pre-empts are around. … and there were a few. What, for instance, would you do when your partner, bless him, gets the ball rolling with 3NT, a solid minor with no outside ace or king guaranteed in a first seat opener.

Problem 1

You hold: Spade-smallAKJ863                       Heart-small T52                        Diamond-small2                 Club-small AQ9

It’s all vulnerable, if that makes you feel better, and your right –hand opponent in second seat passed.

Problem 2

There might be a great deal of pleasure to come from the following sequence, again started by your partner and again with everyone vulnerable:

West              North                        East                South


3Heart-small                 ?

With you North holding:

Spade-small K432          Heart-small AKQ74      Diamond-small KQ94         Club-small-

Problem 3.

And what bid would you make after one of the opposition pre-empts your auction which develops like this:

West              North                        East                South


Pass                1Heart-small                             3Spade-small                  3NT

Pass                4Club-small                            Pass                4Heart-small

Pass                5Club-small                            Pass                ?

You are South and opened with: Spade-small KJT5         Heart-small A84            Diamond-small A8432       Club-small 2

pain.pngor     pleasure.png

Problem 1 Solution

In the first two questions, there would seem to be a choice of three options. After the Gambling 3NT (problem 1), you seem to have a choice of 4Spade-small, 5Diamond-small (since diamonds is obviously partner’s suit) or Pass. Both knowledge of the hand and the uncertainty of how many heart losers there might be would tend to put me off trying 5Diamond-small but if partner had three spades and less than three hearts, 4Spade-small seems a better bet than 3NT. Not, though, with the actual hand:


Board 20
West Deals
Both Vul
Q 10 9 7 5
J 6 3
10 4
10 7 5
9 8 7 4
A K Q 9 8 7 3
6 4
W   E
A K J 8 6 3
10 5 2
A Q 9
4 2
J 6 5
K J 8 3 2

 South was not hard-pressed to find the opening lead and retained the lead for the first three rounds. After that, North found much joy in the trump suit.  Meanwhile, there are 10 top tricks in no-trumps.

Opinions seem divided with three West players and one East enjoying the experience in 3NT, five East players having a torrid time in 4Spade-small while two Wests played and made their diamond partial. “Gambling” is just that though on average West will have two hearts and two little spades. It does seem that 3NT will either be the easier game or absolutely impossible!

Problem 2 Solution

You might think that the second problem might have come from the same hand as above  ..but no…and your partner did not have one of those random six card minor pre-empts either. Remember the sequence and your hand?

West              North                        East                South


3Heart-small                  ?

With you North holding:

Spade-small K432          Heart-small AKQ74      Diamond-small KQ94         Club-small-

It’s no longer a sexist world (as the Harvey Weinstein case demonstrates…or not!) and therefore, I could not possibly use a phrase like “the real man’s bid” but could you bid any less than 6Diamond-small (with the Spade-smallA to be in West's hand and the Diamond-smallA with your parner…and when the 3Heart-small caller doubles, reach for your rarely used the “blue” redouble card. Bet you wished you had:

Board 7
South Deals
Both Vul
K 4 3 2
A K Q 7 4
K Q 9 4
A Q 10
J 10 8 5 3
A K 9 5
W   E
7 6 5
9 6
Q 10 8 7 6 4 2
J 9 8
A J 10 8 7 6 5
J 3


So, as West you might have doubled rather than bid 3Heart-small? Same problem for North and same problem for West when North bids to the 6 level.

If West heard 6Diamond-small from North, there should not, at this vulnerability, be the feeling that their opponents are sacrificing. North must mean their bid…and West should be happy to take the contract down, if they can….which they cannot!

It seems the West players were a little trigger-happy but those blue redouble cards stayed firmly in the box. 4 pairs reached the diamond slam, with three of them doubled…but not one redouble! The same happened to the diamond game, doubled 3 times out of 4….but no redouble. Two other pairs got an insufficient penalty from 3Heart-small. It does seem the North players could have got a great deal more pleasure from their partner’s pre-empt this time.

Problem 3 Solution

I am not sure what to make from the third sequence:

West              North                        East                South


Pass                1Heart-small                           3Spade-small                  3NT

Pass                4Club-small                         Pass                  4Diamond-small

Pass                5Club-small                         Pass                    ?

You are South and opened with: Spade-small KJT5         Heart-small A84            Diamond-small A8432       Club-small 2

As West, It seemed to me that Gerber was in use but not  with the South player who had this problem.  South passed 5Club-small which seemingly meant that he and his partner were firmly on the same wave-length:

Board 27
South Deals
None Vul
K J 10 3 2
A Q 10 9 8 7 5
4 3
Q 9 5
K J 9 6
K J 4 3
W   E
A Q 9 8 7 6 2
7 6
Q 7 5
K J 10 5
A 8 4
A 8 4 3 2


As West, I envisaged two club tricks (correctly) and at least one more triick somewhere but North played hearts the correct way and then tabled his hand to two disappointed opponents.

No-one bid the heart slam with most other pairs playing safely in hearts, making 11 tricks. An interesting deduction by our South that their partner was showing very long clubs with what might have been a four card heart suit. It seemed they might have even got more pleasure from their opponent’s pre-empt by reaching 6Heart-small.

So, have you seen enough pre-empts for one night? In two cases, the pre-empt came from one’s own partner. It seems more players could have gained  more pleasure than occurred at the table!

Richard Solomon


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