Defending against preemptive opening bids on the three level have encouraged bridge partnerships to devise several defense methods to counteract and counter-attack, intending to share as much information as possible with the limited bidding space available. Some of these partnership agreements are listed below. Some of these partnership agreements are simple, sometimes radical, methods and some have evolved into conventions of their own standing.

Note: This presentation shows only a list of possible competitive methods following a preemptive opening bid by the opposing side. These competitive methods were generally devised by players in the bridge community, and a few are devised by bridge personalities.

Note: These competitive methods, as mentioned, are normally restricted to three-level preemptive opening bids, but can be modified by the individual partnership to accommodate preemptive opening bids on the two level.

Note: For additional explanations regarding the individual competitive methods the visitor should click on the appropriate icon on the Conventions page, on which the following conventional methods are discussed in further detail.

Reference will be made on this web page to certain conventional defense methods pertaining to preemptive opening bids on the three level. Such references are not linked from this web page. The interested bridge student should find the appropriate descriptions of such conventional defense methods and review them independently.

Possible Defense Methods

1. The Standard method, used in partnership agreements, is counter-acting a preempt on the three level is to double, which is primarily for takeout. If the responder has almost all of the remaining cards in the suit preempted, then the double may stand as a penalty double. Therefore, the double can be cooperative or optional. A normal minimum for a takeout double over the preempt is approximately 16 high card points, or with shortness in the preempted suit, distributional points may be added.

    If the double occurs in the pass-out seat, then the normal expectancy is at least 13 high card points, at least by favorable vulnerability. The double implies, if not promises, support, usually a 4-card suit, in the other unbid Major suit, or if the preempt was in a Minor suit, then at least a 4-3 distribution in both Major suits. If the preempt is in the Spade suit, to a lesser degree in the Heart suit, the doubler must be aware that the responder might bid a Minor suit on the Four Level, thereby bypassing the possibility of a 3 No Trump contract.
      Any other bid besides the call of double is to be treated as natural, including a bid of 3 No Trump. This bid shows a minimum of 17 high card points, and at least one, preferably two, stopper(s) in the preempted suit, and a good 6-card suit either in the Minor or the Major suits, which he will be able to run.
2. Another method, devised by partnership agreements, especially that of Mr. Harry Fishbein, and which became a convention, is called the Fishbein convention.
3. Cheaper or Lower Minor is a method, sometimes referred to as a convention, which uses the cheaper, still available Minor suit, if the preempt was in the Club suit, as a takeout double. If the preempt is 3 Clubs, then 3 Diamonds is for takeout. If the preempt is any suit other than Clubs, then 4 Clubs is for takeout. Any call of double is for penalty. The bridge partnerships applying this method may have different agreements as to its application depending on the seat position in relation to the player preempting. Some partnerships agree not to use the method in the pass-out seat, and other partnerships agree that the method may be used in the second and pass-out seat.
    This method, or convention, or agreement, is used mainly in England. There is a variation known as the Smith Convention, devised by Mr. Curtis Smith, whereby a bid of 4 Clubs is the only bid over any preempt on the three level for takeout.
4. The optional double is a double after a preempt on the three level, which promises a balanced hand with support for the other three unbid suits and some strength in the suit of the player preempting. The partner can bid with sufficient strength and length in any of the other three suits or bid 3 No Trump, knowing that their combined holding contains stoppers in the preempted suit. On the other hand, the partner is given the opportunity to pass the double for penalty as in the Fishbein convention.
5. The Weiss conventional method, which is a partnership understanding, combines the application of the Cheaper Minor Suit for takeout, and the double is applied as an optional double.
6. Another method, used by some partnerships and used mainly abroad in Europe, is the bid of 3 No Trump, which is used as takeout. A double is then only for penalty.
7. Several partnership agreements use the Reese Method, which uses the bid of 3 No Trump as a takeout after a preempt on the three level in a Major suit only. The call of a double is for penalty. If the preempt is in a Minor suit, then a double is takeout, even in the pass-out seat.
8. There is also the possibility of a two-suiter takeout. These are overcalls on the four level in a Minor suit after a preempt on the three level in a Major suit, which shows that suit and the other unbid Major suit. This overcall is applicable in both the direct and pass-out seat. Several partnership understandings agree to use an unusual 4 No Trump overcall to show a two-suited holding of both Minor suits.
    If the holding has a one-suited Minor suit, then a 3 No Trump overcall is preferred, or a jump in that one-suited Minor suit holding to the five level.
9. Another method is called the Cheaper Minor Over The Blacks. This method uses an overcall of 3 Diamonds after a preempt of 3 Clubs, and a 4 Clubs bid over a preempt of 3 Spades, for takeout. Any double over a preempt of 3 Clubs is for penalty. Any double over 3 Diamonds or 3 Hearts is considered a cooperative double.
10. A method used mainly in England, called FILO for FIshbein over red suits and LOwer Minor, or Cheaper Minor, over black suits, is for takeout. Any double is considered to be for penalty.
    Although highly obstructive for the line of open communication between two partners, a preempt on the Three Level is legal. The manner in which a partnership defends against such preempts is a matter of partnership understanding. When requested by the opponents, the method or convention must be made known to the opponents used in the partnership agreement.



If you wish to include and of these features, 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.