What should I bid?
Answer: Ask Gary: Preemptive Responses in Competition.
This is a good question. If you and your partner are using weak jump shifts, remember the playing strength for a jump bid to the two level can be lower than the strength required for a jump to the three level. So this hand. First things first. You cannot respond 2H. In most systems, this would show a hand of 10+ points or an opening hand. So your alternative is a weak jump shift or a pass. If you could respond 3H, showing a weak hand with long hearts (preemptive), partner must be on the same page. So, we should consider partner’s reaction to a 3H bid. What if partner is short or void in hearts. What will he do? If he has a singleton, will he pass 3H and assume this is the best fit? So if he has a singleton or a void and thinks he must find a better fit, what will he bid? If he has 6+ spades, he will likely bid 3S. With a doubleton, you are okay with that. You can pass, knowing you are likely in the best spot. However, he could be 5-5 in spades and diamonds. You don’t really want to hear 4D from partner. If you do, then what? Probably showing preference to spades? Next, partner could have fit with you and 4H might make or once in a million, slam. Now consider a pass. With a pass, you hope partner will reopen with a double and then you can bid 3H. Partner will likely not double with a doubleton or singleton heart. If he does double and you bid 3H, does that explain your hand any better than a direct bid of 3H? Pass is the most conservative position. I think a direct bid of 3H is the correct bid with this hand realizing that if partner does not have a fit he will likely bid again and you do have a doubleton spade. Also, bridge favours aggressive action rather than conservative action. Hence, you are more often likely to get a poor result from passing in either a pairs or team game.
Two things to remember. Partner must know what you are trying to tell him with a 3H bid, point wise and suit wise. He will assume that since you are bidding at the three level, your hand strength will be greater than a bid at the two level (a good 7-card suit is hand strength). Second, partner will not try to “Improve” the contract without a proper reason and strength.
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