IN the last issue I looked at defending
against pre-emptive opening bids at the
three level and how you can use a wide
variety of tools to make sure you aren't
derailed from finding a sensible game,
even if you let the odd miracle-fit slam
pass you by.
This month I propose to deal with
higher pre-empts that are even more
shapely and even more destructive.
The problem that occurs when you have
to defend against four-level pre-empts is
that any action you take is fairly committal:
if you overcall, then that will almost
certainly be the final contract, sometimes
doubled. This means any suit overcall you
make has to have at least six cards, and you
must be pretty sure that this is the suit that
your side belongs in.
Sadly, you no longer have a natural notrump
overcall available, but the good
news is that if there is an eight-card suit on
your right then you probably won't be
The Take-out Double
In general a double of a four-level open ing
is for take-out, but remember that the
higher up you go, the more often such a
double is passed.
Let me give you a few examples:
Your left-hand oppo nent
deals and opens
4t and your partner
doubles - what should
If your partner had
doubled 1t it would
be abhorrent to pass, with 1´ summing up
the hand well. If partner had doubled a
weak 2t, you would have bid 2´. If
partner had doubled 3t, you would have
shrugged your shoulders and bid 3´ with
trepidation, but if partner doubles a 4t
opening you should pass. Why?
Simply put, it represents your best
chance of a plus score. First, think about
the diamonds.assuming the pre-emptor is
an honest soul, the suit is likely to be
divided 8-1-1-3 round the table. You are
likely to make a trump trick in 4t as even
if declarer knows that you have K-9-3, he
is unlikely to be able to get to dummy
twice to finesse, and most of the time
dummy will have a singleton diamond
In 4´ if diamonds are led and con tinued,
dummy will be overruffed. More
likely, the pre-emptor will lead his side
singleton through the dummy and start
getting ruffs, or trumps will break badly -
sometimes both! Of course, this whole
decision about whether or not to bid 4´
12 English Bridge August 2014 www.ebu.co.uk
by Michael Byrne
Traps for the Unwary
Coping with Pre-empts Part II
´ J 7 6 2
™ J 6
t K 9 3
® 9 7 6 4
'BRIDGE LICENSED BY THE EBU'
When you see this in an advertisement in the magazine it means:
• The organisers of the holiday have applied for, and received, a licence.
• They may choose to give master points in accordance with EBU scales.
• These master points will be accepted and added to player records.
• The bridge will be played in line with EBU regulations and bye laws, thus
affording all players the protection of playing within the jurisdiction of the EBU.
All County events advertised have an EBU licence.
NOTE: Any events licensed by another National Bridge Organisation will
not be able to have master points credited to members' records save for
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with whom the EBU have a
assumes partner has four of them - he
might well have three and then a pull to
4´ will be an instant disaster!
The same is true of the hands below:
´ K 4 3 ´ 10 7 4 3
™ 7 6 ™ Q J 5
t Q 5 4 3 t A 3 2
® J 8 6 2 ® 7 6 4
´ K J 8
™ 9 8 4 3
t 8 7 3 2
® 5 4
When partner doubles a 4®/4t/4™
opening, just pass on all of these hands.
Note that this tactic will be the winner
in the long run: you can't get every preempt
hand right every time; the occa sional
-710 will of course creep onto your
score-card every year or so, but if you can't
stand a bloodied nose then stay out of the
This assessment is leading towards the
conclusion that a double of a four-level
pre-empt has to show a good hand,
particularly when you double four of a
major, as this will often end the auction.
Typically the values needed are about 15+
points, and the ability to cope with what ever
The 4NT Overcall
In the olden days a double of a 4™ or 4´
opening used to be for penalty, and 4NT
was used as a take-out bid. The problem
with this was that when you overcalled
4NT for take-out, partner no longer had
the option to pass, which is often your
only chance of a plus score, or in some
cases your smallest minus score!
Nowadays with double used to show
strong three-suited hands, an overcall of
4NT is used to show a two-suited hand, at
least 5-5 or better. When you overcall 4NT