If you bid well and take your tricks, you can expect to finish well above average. Good opponents tend to find the right contract in uncontested auctions. To win consistently at matchpoints, you need your opponents to make mistakes at your tables. If you are passive in the auction, your opponents will not make many mistakes. If you want the opponents to make mistakes at your table, you need to put pressure on them. Here are some suggestions to make it more difficult for your opponents to play well against you.
Preempting: Mike Lawrence discusses the following hand: Your bid after a 3♠ preempt on your left. You hold ♠Q8 ♥AJ ♦AKJx ♣KJxxx
“If you agree that bidding against preempts is a pain, maybe you should preempt more yourself." In order to preempt more often you need loosen standards in high upside positions. Seat position and the ambiguity of the auction greatly influence a preempts upside. 1st seat and 3rd seat are high upside positions as are minor suit openings and strong artificial bids. See our Preempts by Seat Position article.
After a 1♣ opening by dealer, preempt 3♦ with ♠6 ♥J98 ♦KQJ742 ♣752. Overcalling 1♦ or 2♦.will not accomplish much.
If you agree to preempt aggressively in high upside positions, you shouldn’t raise preempts aggressively.
If game is unlikely opposite a passed hand, it may be beneficial to preempt with a better than expected hand. After 2 passes, there isn’t much upside to opening 1♦ with ♠8 ♥A4 ♦KQT842 ♣Q943. Open 3♦.
Firing the first shot: Opening the auction forces the opponents to use their defensive bidding. It is common to use the Rule of 20 in 1st or 2nd seat. In 3rd seat, you can open light. The ACBL requires near average strength, 8 hcp or Rule of 17.
Responding light: Many of the top partnerships have agreements to never pass a non-vulnerable 1 of a suit opening. Others say passing is very rare. They do so to make it difficult for the opponents to find their right strain and level.
Balancing: Don’t let the opponents play in their fit at the 2 level. Overcalls, takeout doubles and Scrambling 2nt are good competitive tools. Upside of balancing: your contract may make, it may go down less than their contract, they might bid again and go down. See our Balancing article.
The race to 1NT: non-vulnerable 1NT contracts tend to score well whether they make or not. It is important to get the opponents out of a non-vulnerable 1NT contract when feasible. Recommend the Dead Notrump Defense: Double is penalty oriented, suggests strength in opponent’s suit. Overcalls show the suit bid and a higher suit. One of the suits could be the opponent’s suit.
Obstructive overalls: Loosen standards for a (1♣) - 1♠ overcall and a (1♦) - 2♣ overcall. The bidding room they consume makes the auction more difficult for your opponents.
Making your opponents guess: After 1♦-(1♥)-1♠-(2♥) what would a 3♦ bid by opener show?
♠64 ♥J9 ♦KQJ742 ♣AQ8 or ♠64 ♥A9 ♦KQJ742 ♣AQ8
You cannot use a fast bid to show game interest and a slow bid to show a competitive hand. Partnerships playing Good-Bad 2NT know a direct 3♦ bid shows extra vaiues. Other partnerships have to guess.
After (1♠)-2♥-(2♠), what does a raise to 3♥ bid show? ♠64 ♥Q983 ♦742 ♣A863 or ♠64 ♥Q983 ♦KQ4 ♣A863
Stealing your opponents cue bid may force your opponents to guess. Sometimes they will go wrong.