By Peter Rhead
Responding to a three-level preempt
For the past few weeks, we have looked at preempting weak hands with Weak-Two bids by opener and the responses available to the partner.
This is not a new concept. Preempting has been around since the 1920s. Preempts are good for offense and good for defense. The higher your preempt, the greater your gain and the greater the opponent’s pain if you are careful.
This week we continue to look at preempt responses, but to a Weak-Three level preempt bid by opener. The criteria is similar to that of a Weak-Two opening except responder must be aware that opener is at a level higher. Also opener is promising seven cards in the suit instead of six. The exception is Three-Clubs which may be opened with a six-card suit.
Opener should never open with a hand that has a four-card major side suit. If opener does so with a four-card major, he might miss a major fit. Instead, if opener has a four-card major and twelve points, he could open at the one level and see what responder does. Otherwise opener should PASS and see if partner opens.
At the three level, responder has little wiggle room. Therefore, opener must give responder a hand that responder can work with. Unlike the Weak-Two opening bid, the Weak-Three is based on a weak “Good Hand” of 10-12 points including three length points in the good suit of seven cards. Responder must have at least 16 points to go on suggesting a game or slam possibility. Otherwise, responder should just PASS.
The “Good Suit” and “Good Hand” are important because responder, already at the three level, has no room to investigate. The “Good Suit” consists of two of the top three honours or three of the top five honours (AKQJ10).
So, what are the possible responses to the Weak-Three opening when responder knows the partnership has significant holdings between them? The OGUST convention is no longer available because responder cannot bid 2NT asking for more information.
Vulnerability plays a role in responder’s choices. With favourable and equal vulnerability, responder can be more aggressive. With unfavourable vulnerability, responder must be more careful.
Responder should expect both a “Good Hand” (10-12 points) and a “Good Suit”. Unless responder has at least 16 points he should PASS except when he can extend the preempt holding three cards in opener’s suit.
With four or more cards in opener’s suit, responder should go to game. The partnership probably has an eleven-card fit! They might not make their contract but they will probably score better going down than letting the opponents play another suit.
With the game-going hand, responder can bid a new suit to force opener to bid again. Responder is trying for a 3NT game, or a game in the majors at the four level, or if necessary a game at the five level in the minor suits! If responder bids a new suit, opener can bid a control in another suit if he does not have support for responder’s new suit. That control in a new suit can be an Ace or protected King. It might help responder to a 3NT game.
For more information, read “Responding to Preemptive Weak-Three Bids” in Barbara Seagram’s 25 Bridge More Conventions You Should Know, page 31
Next Week: Examples of Responses to Preemptive Weak-Three Bids
Remember, as we all fight COVID-19 with social isolation, if you want your Bridge fix, online competition is available for all skill levels. From the ACBL Bridge website, you can hook up either to play live people or to play robots. Either way you test or consolidate various Bridge skills. At ACBL.org just click on “Play Bridge” and follow the prompts for various choices.
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