By Larry Cohen
Courtesy of Larryco.com
AGE AND PREEMPTION
Another facet of maturity (age?) [see Part I of this article] is the development of a sane preemptive philosophy.
The younger they are, the more they bid. This philosophy isn’t restricted only to the young–I see many tournament players that bid every time it is their turn. They preempt with 5-card suits, and they don’t care about suit quality.
Having played such a style (in my Marty-Bergen days), I feel well qualified to comment. Opening 2♥ with, say:
is what I’m talking about. Such actions certainly can work. You might preempt the opponents (especially if partner can raise) and force them into a ridiculous position. Opening 2♥ could easily hit a home run. But there is the flip side. It can often strike out. It is a real swingy, ‘top-or-bottom’ action.
I prefer to go more down the middle. I wouldn’t open 2♥ with that hand, but would do so with:
This is still not a good-enough suit/hand for the really stodgy crowd, but I think they need to loosen up a little. They would probably need at least the ♥10, and maybe even that wouldn’t be sufficient. They hardly ever get dealt a hand on which they can preempt.
So, what qualifies me to recommend this middle ground? Having played all three styles (sound, medium, and aggressive) I can tell you that I’ve seen it all. I am 100% convinced that ‘medium’ is the long-run winner. If I had to give up ‘medium’, the next-best would be ‘aggressive’. I don’t like the pain of enduring the strikeouts, but there are almost as many home runs and fun to make up for it. In a weak field, especially, aggressive is not a bad way to go.
SOUND — RED LIGHT
As far as ‘sound,’–count me out. I have seen first hand how this is clearly a losing preemptive strategy. Yes, on the few deals where it comes up (you actually get to preempt), you are usually a winner (partner gauges the auction, opening lead, and/or defense quite well). However, the sound preempters are losing out big time by not setting enough problems for their opponents. I love to play against such (non)preempters. They never get in my way–life is good when the opponents are in love with passing.