Coping with preempts

The main reason the opponents preempt is to use up bidding space and make it hard for us. You need the right tools to counter their pre-empt and reach a sensible contract. Once you achieve that, you may even find that their preempt gives you information that helps you with the play.

Dealer East, EW vul.

          S 654
          H 75
          D AKJ5
          C AKT9
WEST                EAST
S 93                S KQJT87
H K642              H J83
D 76                D QT4
C 87642             C 5
          S A2
          H AQT9
          D 9832
          C QJ3

How do you bid after East opens 2S?

           2S   Dble
Pass 3S    Pass 3NT
All pass

East has the sort of suit quality you like to have for a preemptive action at this vulnerability. Over South’s takeout double, North bids the enemy suit to force to game, and South bids 3NT to show the spade stopper.  

West leads the S9, partner’s suit and high-low from a doubleton. East overtakes (a necessary play if West’s spade was a singleton) and continues the suit after declarer holds up on the first round.

After declarer wins the SA on the second round, everyone knows that West has no spade left to lead to partner – East’s weak two showed a 6-card suit and West’s high-low lead confirmed the doubleton holding there. East is the danger hand who must be kept off lead.

Cross to dummy with a club, and finesse to the H10 or H9, losing to the safe hand. Whatever West leads will cause declarer no grief, and the heart finesse can be repeated, for at least ten tricks.

While the bid of the enemy suit later in the auction tells partner that game is on, an immediate bid of the enemy suit is used differently, as a Michaels Cue Bid showing at least 5-5 including any unbid major:

Dealer North, both vul.

          S AQ
          H 32
          D KJT9872
          C T9
WEST                EAST
S T62               S KJ973
H K54               H AJT86
D A65               D Q4
C K643              C 5
          S 854
          H Q97
          D 3
          C AQJ872

     3D    4D   Pass
4H   All pass

Over North’s 3D preempt, East bids 4D, Michaels, to get both majors into the picture. West prefers hearts.

North leads the C10, won by South who shifts to the D3. Declarer wins the DA and cashes the CK for a quick discard of dummy’s diamond loser.

In spades there is only one way to finesse but in hearts there is a two way finesse. Who has the HQ? Again the opposition pre-empt helps declarer in the play. There are no guarantees, but with North showing lots of diamonds, play South to have the other suits. Cash the HA then lead the HJ and run it if South plays low. With everything working for declarer, the contract makes with an overtrick.

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