Consult the Coopers: Overcalling a Preempt, Feb 2012
by Kitty and Steve Cooper
Mick Dobratz of Chandler, Arizona asks “Do you overcall a preemptive bid when you yourself hold a preemptive hand? What are your recommendations for overcalling over a preempt? At matchpoints with no one vulnerable, dealer on your right opens 4S; would you overcall holding S J H AQJ1072 D Q7532 C 9 ?”
Coopers: The golden rule is that you do not preempt over a preempt. But if you really can not bear to pass, go ahead and overcall. The problem with bidding on too few values over a preempt is that partner will often raise you to a level beyond what you can make. That being said, a hand with great playing strength, such as your example hand, may do fine when partner raises to six.
When the opponents preempt with four of a major, we recommend playing double as take-out with enough aces and kings to expect to beat the contract and 4NT as a two suiter. Partner passes the double unless he expects to make a five level or higher contract. If he bids 4N instead he is asking for the doubler’s better minor. Similarly, over an immediate 4NT overcall responder bids his better minor. Note that partner will not pass a take-out double of 4H when holding four or more spades unless he is extremely weak. Ten tricks are easier than eleven.
Wild distributional hands are a guess. On your example hand, the 4S opener may well have spades and clubs. If you bid a makeable 5H, partner will often bid six. If you bid 4N to show two suits you may end up in a poor 5D contract. Passing really goes against the grain though, so unless we are vulnerable against not, we would bid 5H and apologize to partner when it goes wrong. Finally, in passout seat you may bid on less than in direct seat and partner is supposed to give you some leeway.
We would categorize your hand as a "low loser count" hand, a hand with playing strength, rather than a preempt.
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