Quick summary

Open 3 of a suit only if

  1. 6-10 points
  2. 7-card suit
  3. your HCP not isolated
  4. 6 winners (7 if vulnerable)
  5. No 4-card heartorspade side-suit

Why? Stop your strong opponents' contract (but accept losing up to 3 tricks, or 2 if vulnerable).

Partner only raises if he can make up the expected loss.

8-card suit, & 1 more winner? Open 4.

In the 2nd seat, you must be stronger:

(because it's more likely your partner has the strong hand, you don't want to disrupt him, so your bid should be more informative than pre-emptive)

STRONG. With an 8-card 4-loser hand, you can use "Namyats", opening 2 steps lower than your Major. Partner will reply in your Major if no Slam interest.


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade A K 8
heart A Q 7
diamond K 6 5
club A 4 3 2
Example Deal
You: South
Dealer: West
Vuln: all

Strong advancer sits opposite pre-emt overcaller
Go to quiz (& full page) of deal # 126050

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Opening bids. Preemptive

Shut out your opponents when you are weak but long: damage limitation if you have 6 or 7 "tricks"

Only ever do this if your hand is weak. 

It's another of these wrecking bids (your opponents are probably strong and will usually be annoyed by your bid which stops them from communicating), made in the knowledge that you might go down a bit. But it's better than the enemy making a good contract. You also know that (sometimes!) it will make.

If you are in one of the first 3 positions round the bidding table (but see important notes below on table position), and others having passed, then open 3 of a suit if you have:

  • minimum of 7 cards in the suit
  • 6-10 points (a weak hand)
  • 6 "playing tricks", and
  • your honours are not isolated, and

you do not have

  • a 4-card Major side suit. (You should wait for your partner to bid: you might have a Major game).

If you have 8 cards and one extra "playing trick" you should bid 4 of the suit.

If you are vulnerable, you should take less risk. You need to see one more "playing trick".

If the enemy has already bid, you can still pre-empt with a double jump overcall.

Calculate as follows

"I can afford to go down 3 if I'm not vulnerable.

"Assuming no help whatsoever from my partner, I will therefore need to have 6 winners in my hand in order to bid 3. I have 7 trumps... so let's hope he has an average number of the remaining 6 trumps, i.e. at least 2. (To preempt at the 4-level, the same considerations apply, except that I need an extra trump, an 8-card suit).

"My partner, having both 2 trumps and enough power overall to win 3 tricks, will breathe a sigh of relief and say 'no bid'.  If partner has more power than this, he will increase the bidding accordingly, with the result that he might even raise to game.

"If I am vulnerable, I should take less risk:  I need to see 7 winners, not 6, in order to bid. In other words, partner is only required to make up a difference of 2. Partner will know this, and only need two tricks in his hand to breathe easily, or three tricks to raise me one."

Changing suit after my partner's pre-empt ?

You partner has opened 3 Hearts. You've only got two very small Hearts, but a strong hand with 6 Spades, and they're good (A,K,Q,10,x,x). But switching to 3 Spades would NOT be a good idea.

5 More

Following partner's pre-empt, only switch suits if you have 5 cards more in your preferred suit compared with the pre-empted suit.

That's because he almost certainly has no strength outside his long 7-card suit, and on average only has 2 in each of the other suits, including your suit. So if you don't have a net surplus of 5 in yours, then you'll be reducing the number of your team's trumps. And don't forget that all your lovely Spades will win anyway - after you've pulled out the enemy Hearts.

Preempting in the second seat

Two of the top three honours

In the first seat, nobody else has bid. Your opening 3-level bid has disrupted everyone else. . . including both your opponents and your one partner. That's a good ratio of disruption, 2:1.

In the third seat, a Preemptive bid disrupts only one person, and it's an opponent, which is what you want.

But in the second seat it's a bit different. There are 2 bidders still to come. One is an enemy, one is a partner, so your disrupting calculations need to change. In this situation, although the 6-10 HCP 7-card requirements don't change, it's best to preempt with a better quality trump suit, in case it's your partner that has the strong hand.

For example, you hold diamondAKxxxxx, and no other honours outside. Your partner holds spadeAJxx heartAx xx diamondQx clubQxx. Even though you only have a guaranteed 20 HCP between you, he will know to bid to 3NT if your bid promises 2 of the top 3 honours. The strong diamond suit assures 7 tricks in diamonds plus 2 more for the two aces. Your partner would not have been wise to bid 3NT after a Preemptive bid that did not have this extra requirement for a second seat preempt, since your diamond suit could easily have contained one or even two losers.


Namyats is a way of opening when holding a long major suit that is too strong for a direct preemptive opening, by using with a 'two-under' transfer bid.

You should have no more than 5 losers.

When the long suit is in hearts, opener bids 4club and when in spades bids 4diamond. The method is also referred to as 'Mitchell Transfers', after the developer of this bidding method, Victor Mitchell. The name 'Namyats' is the name of Mitchell's bridge partner, Stayman, spelled backwards.

Hand 1. With a weak 8-card 6-loser hand, you would open 4heart as usual, for example:
spade 4
heart A Q J 9 8 6 5 2
diamond 8
club 9 4

Hand 2. But with the following 8-card strong 4-loser hand, (13HCP), you would open 4club:
spade 4
heart A K Q 10 8 6 5 2
diamond 8
club A J 7

All your partner would need is 2 Aces, or 1 Ace and the King of Clubs for Slam to be almost certain.

Namyats allows the partnership to explore slam by using a conventional one-step (4diamond) relay response. If partner has no slam interest, a two-step response is made to end the bidding. Also, a slam can be bid directly over the opening with sufficient strength.

Opener Responder
Bid Meaning Bid Meaning
4club Opener has a long heart suit and a strong hand 4diamond slam interest
4heart to play
6heart to play
4diamond Opener has a long spade suit and a strong hand 4heart slam interest
4spade to play
6spade to play







The advantages of Namyats are

  • it may prevent the enemy from competing, despite having a cheap sacrifice against a major suit game;
  • it allows you to narrow the range of hands opened in a major suit at the one-level and rebid in a later round.

The disadvantage is that the 4club and 4diamond bids are no longer available as preempts, although that this is hardly a disadvantage as such preempts are rarely made in practice for fear of bypassing a game in No Trumps.

See also

Overcalling a Preempt

Defending a Preempt

Weak 2's


(1) Counting winners and losers:  In summary, look at the top three cards in each suit and see which will definitely win ("winners"), and then also count all others outside the top three as winners.  It's a tiny bit more complicated, since the queen alone can be only half a loser, and the jack needs adjacent support. Furthermore, such exposed cards can be re-valued upwards if your partner is strong in the same suit.

See the page on losing trick count for a fuller description.

Now try the quiz

Can you put all this into action ? Try the quiz for this subject by clicking on the link at the top left of the page, just below the main menu.
(You can try quizzes for any other subjects too while you're there. Look out for the thin red line).



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