Pre-empts

OCP is an aggressive system, but the pre-empts in the so-called "Simple System" are fairly standard (with a couple of exceptions, such as the fact that OCP's 3 opening is intermediate, and that our Club Pre-empts are included in the Multi-style 2NT Opening).

The "Complex System" is a totally different kettle of fish, however, and all of the Openings from 2 up to and including 3 are non-standard (see the Complex menu for details).

This page deals only with the Simple System's pre-emptive openings, but as your choices in this area do not really affect any other area of the system, you are to a large extent free to diverge from OCP and use alternatives, if you wish. The bottom of this page gives some of the common alternatives.

3-level Pre-empts

The Simple System uses completely standard 3-level pre-empts with the sole exception that the 3 opening is not a pre-empt, but rather is an intermediate opening with 6-card Clubs and a 4-card Major. The 3-level Club pre-empt is one of the options for the Multi-style 2NT Opening in OCP.

3-level pre-empts generally show a weak (notionally 5-9) hand with a 7-card suit. As with Weak 2 Openings, ideally we're in 1st or 3rd position and at favourable vulnerability with most of our few hcp in the long suit, but you can't always have all of those things.

Continuations
Continuations over pre-empts are 100% natural. Bids in new suits are forcing and can normally be assumed to be cue-bids agreeing the pre-empt suit.

Gambling 3NT
This is Acol-style with a solid 8 or 9-card Minor with nothing significant outside the suit (eg: AKQ10xxxx). Responder generally passes unless they have a void in a Minor or if the 3NT Opening is doubled, in which case they may convert to 4 and Opener passes or corrects. In any event, all the continuations over a 3NT Opening are natural and non-forcing.

4-level Pre-empts

OCP's 4-level pre-empts are characterised by the use of "Namyats" (Mitchell Transfers), so OCP does not have any 4-level pre-empts available for Minor suits (so in Minor Suits we pre-empt at the 5-level or not at all).

OCP's scheme of 4-level Openings is as follows:
4 shows a "good" (ie: constructive) 4-level pre-empt in Hearts, typically with good shape (eg: 7411) and maybe an Ace outside the long suit (eg: x, KQJ10xxx, Axxx, x). Now:
-4 is Beta
-4is 100% "to play"
-4/5xare cue-bids for Hearts
4 shows a "good" (ie: constructive) 4-level pre-empt in Spades, typically with good shape (eg: 7411) and maybe an Ace outside the long suit (eg: x, KQJ10xxx, Axxx, x). Now:
-4 is Beta
-4is 100% "to play"
-4NTis an invitation to cue-bid
-5xare cue-bids for Spades
4shows a "poor" (ie: 100% pre-emptive) pre-empt in Hearts with no ambitions beyond game
-4/5xare cue-bids for Hearts
4shows a "poor" (ie: 100% pre-emptive) pre-empt in Spades with no ambitions beyond game
-5xare cue-bids for Spades
4NTUnusual, showing an extreme weak Minor 2-suiter, at least 6-5, but more likely 6-6 shape. All continuations are natural.

2-level Alternatives

(1) Multi 2
If you're not playing in ACBL or EBU jurisdiction, then a Multi Opening is an option. You don't have to have a strong option for your Multi (ie: you can just use it to show a weak-2 in either Major), but it's less inhibitory if you do that.

The Initial Responses to any Multi 2 are as follows: I'm not going to detail anything beyond these initial responses here, because anything else does depend on exactly what options you have in your Multi. For a more complete explanation, please see the Complex System pages, as the OCP Complex System uses a 3-way Multi 2

Tartan Twos, Lucas Twos, etc
If you employ a Multi 2, you inevitably free up your 2 and 2 Openings, since you no longer need them to show a weak-2 in that suit. Tartan 2's and Lucas 2's are similar, but not identical:

  1. Tartan Twos
    • 2 shows either
      • 5-9 hcp and at least 5-5 shape in Hearts and a Minor, or
      • an 8 playing trick hand (Acol-style) with Hearts
    • 2 is similar, but shows either
      • 5-9 hcp and least 5-5 in Spades and another suit (ie: can be both Majors), or
      • an 8 playing trick hand (Acol-style) with Spades
    The 8 playing trick hands are always in the 11-15 hcp range rather than 16+. Tartan 2's are unconditionally forcing for 1 round. The original specification of Tartan Twos (by Hugh Kelsey and Tom Culbertson) allowed for 2 to have a 3rd, strong balanced, option.

    OCP used Tartan Twos for a while, but no longer. Further details can be obtained via Bridge Guys.
  2. Lucas Twos
    • 2 shows 5-9 hcp and 5-card Hearts with a 4+-card Minor.
    • 2 shows 5-9 hcp and 5-card Spades with a 4+-card Minor (optionally can be both Majors).
    Playing Lucas Twos, you can either use 2NT as a "scramble" or as Lebensohl. Both methods are viable. A couple of OCP Pairs use Lucas Twos in preference to the "Reverse Roman" twos that the Complex System uses. You will find a fair amount of discussion about Lucas in the OCP Forums.

3 & 4-level Alternatives

At the 3-level
If you're not going to go "the whole hog" and use something along the lines of the OCP Complex System 3-level Openings, a simple alternative is to use Transfer Pre-empts. These are no longer as popular as they were in the 1980's, but still have some adherents.

The most popular way to use Transfer Pre-empts is the "2 under" method whereby Responder bids the pre-empt suit with no higher ambitions, but can also bid the intervening suit as a game try: Now Opener merely bids the pre-empt suit at the minimum level with a minimum and no wish to go further, but any other bid shows an upper-range pre-empt and shows some kind of feature (eg: a shortage) about their hand (by Partnership agreement).

At the 4-level
There are no sensible alternatives to Namyats. If you would rather have 4-level Minor Suit pre-empts available, that is an option, but our experience is that Namyats is more useful to differentiate between purely obstructive 4-level pre-empts in a Major and "constructive" 4-level pre-empts.
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