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Simple defenses to common conventions — part 5
This article, we will launch an all-out attack against big club systems, where the 1 opening is strong, forcing, and artificial. When right-hand opponent opens a forcing 1 —16 or more high-card points, any distribution — the goal is the same as if the opening were a standard 2.
You hope to raise the level of the auction to uncomfortable heights at opener’s rebid. Do not be alarmed at the prospect of bidding aggressively against known strength. Preempts have always been deliberate, tactical overbids.
When you open 3, for example, you don’t have nine tricks in hand. You are overbidding, expecting a minus. In the process, you hope to disrupt the opponents’ auction and drive them out of their best contract.
This example may explain why preempting against a big club is sound strategy. Against a strong 1, play a method that encourages you to compete. A basic method is to use double to show the majors, 1NT for the minors, non-jump overcalls as natural and weak (but with good suits), and jump overcalls as preemptive. If you are dealt a full opening bid, pass and wait assuming RHO opens a strong 1, none vulnerable, try these:
|1||Q 10 8 7 3||K J 7 8 2||3||9 6|
|2||7 5||2||K Q 6 3 2||Q J 9 4 3|
|3||9 4||A J 10 5 4 2||K 10 9 4 2|
|4||7 4||A Q 10 7 2||8 5||10 9 8 2|
|5||9||J 10 3||9 3||K J 10 8 7 5 2|
|6||A Q 7 4||6||K Q 9 2||A J 9 3|
|7||K 7||9 6||A K 10 9 5 2||A 2|
1. Double, for the majors.
2. 1NT, for the minors.
3. 2NT, also for the minors, but with extra distribution.
4. 1, Suit quality matters more than high-card points.
5. 3, preemptive.
6. Pass. If the opponents bid hearts, double for takeout. Otherwise, keep passing.
7. Pass. Plan to overcall in diamonds on the next round, showing a strong hand.
To increase the chance that partner can preempt, a partnership may play a full menu of two-suited calls. The basic method shows majors and minors (usually 5-5), but there are four other two-suited combinations. One method that shows all six two-suited combinations (at least 5-4) is called CRASH. It is an acronym for Color, RAnk, SHape.
One version of CRASH uses double over 1 to show two suits of the same color, 1 for two suits of the same rank (majors or minors), and 1NT for two with the same shape (hearts and clubs or diamonds and spades).
1, 1, 2, and 2 are reserved as natural, and jump overcalls are single-suited and preemptive. A delayed overcall or takeout double is strong, suggesting that the deal may belong to your side, same as in basic.
How can advancer identify intervener’s two suits? He can’t, so he responds in the lowest of partner’s possible suits and at the highest safe level. Try it as responder to a CRASH 1 overcall, none vulnerable:
1) alerted two suits of the same rank
|8|| 9 6
||Q 10 8 2||J 6 53|| A 10 7
|9||Q 8 7 4 3 2|| K J 7
||Q 3|| 10 2
|10|| Q 7 5 3 2
||9|| 8 5
||K 10 6 3 2|
8. 3 Partner will pass with minors or correct to 3 with majors. Jump to the three level with a fit, even though you don’t know exactly where you fit.
9. 1 If partner has minors, he will correct to 2. Don’t jump in spades because partner will correct with minors, putting you in je0pardy.
10. 4 Preempt to the maximum level with exciting distribution and a big fit You are prepared to play 4 or 4.
There are other conventions designed to compete against the big club. All share one advantage and one disadvantage: The upside is that opportunities to preempt against the 1 opening are increased. The downside comes when the big clubbers declare, often armed with a road map of the distribution.