Bridge players around the world love to make bidding difficult for their opponents. Everyone loves to make a bid to disturb the auction of their opponents in the hope that the correct contract can not be reached through the exchange of sufficient information. This is the case with Preemptive bids. As soon as bridge players discovered that a contract could be made through distribution alone, and not based solely on the sum of the total high card points, bridge players have been making Preemptive bids.

No one has really defined a Preemptive bid, because they are difficult to describe. However, over time bridge players began to include certain guidelines and requirements, because a Preemptive bid not only disturbed the bidding of the opponents, but sometimes even disturbed the bidding of the partnership itself. Therefore, Preemptive bids had to be more clearly defined.

An opening bid on the Three Level or higher.

The Preemptive bidder does not have
sufficient high card points
to make a normal opening.

One long suit
Limited High-Card Strength

In deciding to open the auction with a Preemptive bid, there are several aspects to be considered first. These aspects and considerations should help the bridge player in his decision. They are by no means rules, but rather helpful guidelines to assist you in judging whether or not the distribution of your hand justifies a Preemptive bid. Following are some guidelines which the bridge player should keep in mind.

Length of the Suit
An opening bid on the Three Level contains
usually a 7-card suit or a strong 6-card suit.
An opening bid on the Four Level contains
usually an8-card suit or a strong 7-card suit.
An opening bid on the Five Level contains
usually a 9-card suit or a strong 8-card suit.

Generally, the guideline is to take the number of Quick Tricks
and add Three Tricks if you are Not Vulnerable.
Generally, the guideline is to take the number of Quick Tricks
and add Two Tricks if you are Vulnerable.
The decisive factor in Vulnerable vs. Not Vulnerable is the Scoring:
Down 2 doubled = 300
Down 3 doubled = 500 versus 420 for the opponents

Strength of the Suit and Outside Strength
The Honor Strength should be in the suit bid. The number of tricks
taken will come mainly through this suit.

High Card Points
Since this is a matter of debate, a required sum of high card points
becomes irrelevant, because distribution is the deciding factor.
Preemptive bids can be made with as few as 2 honors in the suit bid.
Example: QJ98765

Position At The Table
Preemptive bids in First Seat can cause problems for the partner.
Partner may have a strong hand, and he will have difficulty in deciding the correct bid.
Partnership Agreement is important.
Preemptive bids in Second Seat are questionable due to the reasons mentioned above.
Experience has shown that the Preemptive bid should be somewhat stronger in strength and distribution.
Preemptive bids in Third Seat are the most attractive since a pass by the dealer has
already given sufficient information about his hand.
Two passes to Third Seat, who has a Preemptive bid, allows Third Seat to assume
that most of the high card points are located in Fourth Seat.
Preemptive bids in Fourth Seat are most unlikely. If Fourth Seat decided to
make a Preemptive bid, then Fourth Seat should have a solid suit.

The bridge player should acquaint himself with all of the aspects and considerations governing a Preemptive bid at the Three Level or higher listed above. These aspects and considerations should influence the bridge player to use his judgment in deciding the correct call.

Since there are no rigid rules or strict guidelines governing Preemptive bids, a universal standard does not exist. There are many views and opinions about Preemptive bids, and they vary from partnership to partnership. We would like to offer a method, as a pure suggestion only, which might assist in determining when to open the auction with a Preemptive bid. These suggestions apply also to Second Seat. In Third Seat, it is normally quite obvious that if the bridge player has a Preemptive bid, then he should make it.

Suggestions for Preemptive Bids
Preemptive bids in First Seat can be more effective, if the Partner also knows the number of Quick Tricks.
Therefore, the suggestion is that the # of Quick Tricks equals the # of the Preempt multiplied by 2.
Preemptive bids in Second Seat are handled in the same manner.
This means that, in addition to the information regarding the length of the suit,
the number of Quick Tricks is passed along to the partner.
To some degree, the shape or distribution of the hand of the Preemptor is also passed along as information.
The partner, when he responds, can then simply add his number of Quick Tricks
to the already known number of Quick Tricks of his partner, the Preemptor,
and decide the correct contract.

In the course of time, every bridge player adopts the Preemptive bid. It is important that the partner understands the meaning of the Preemptive bid, in order to respond correctly. If this is not the case, then the partnership is in trouble. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that a Partnership Agreement covers the matter of Preemptive bids. Preemptive Bids can be most effective, damaging to the exchange of information by the opponents, favorably disruptive in the auction, and can cause difficulty in the bidding if the partner has a strong hand. Again, it is only prudent that a Partnership Agreement be constructed.

There are several methods of defending against a Preemptive Opening.
These can be found at: Defense Against Preemptive Openings

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.