Opening Preempts


Sound Vs. Light Preempts

SAYC uses "sound" opening preempts. This means that you will not go down more than 2 if vulnerable or more than 3 if not vulnerable, even if partner is busted.

Few, if any, experts play this way any more. Most preempt with next to nothing, and while preempting at the 3 level normally is done with at least 7 in a suit, sometimes experts will bid 3x with just 6, especially with a 6-card Club suit when playing that 2C is strong.

When not to preempt:

  • With more than 10+ HCPs.
  • With a solid suit (headed by AKQ) except in 3rd seat.
  • With more HCPs outside the suit than in it.
  • In 4th seat with a weak hand (just pass). You may, however, bid game with a good hand, expecting to make, but this is obviously not a preempt.

Larry Cohen has some logical guidelines for preempting light vs. sound:

  1. Light in first seat, You have two opponents to impede and only one partner.
  2. Sound in second seat. Opposite of first seat.
  3. Light in third seat.
  4. Bid what you can make in fourth seat.

Responding To A 3-Level Preempt

  • With a very weak hand and support, extend the preempt.
  • With a very strong hand, raise to game or slam either directly or by exporatory bidding.
    After 3H-P-??, AQ2-A-A2-AT98753 is good enough for 4H when playing sound preempts, but even more is needed opposite "modern" types of preempts.

Bidding Against Preempts

  • Overcalling promises a good 6+ suit and better than opening strength.
  • Cue bid with a great hand.
  • 3N shows a stopper and usually a running minor; usually 18-19 HCPs.
  • 4N over 3x shows the minors and a great hand.
  • 4N over 4H shows the minors and a great hand.
  • 4N over 4S shows hearts and minors and greatness.
  • Dbl is for takeout up to 4H.
  • Dbl of 4 is "optional".
  • Dbl of 5 is penalty