Opening third in hand non-vul against vul is like having carte blanche. Partner has already passed and, with a hand lacking high cards, you may already know that the opponents have game on. You also are non-vul so any preemptive bid which gets penalised has at least 600 to play with since they presumably can make game. Maybe even slam! So when you find yourself holding this South hand at favourable vulnerability and two passes to you, what goes through your mind? Are you going to preempt? Does the four card major cause you to hold back and open 1C? It shouldn’t. If partner has a hand where we can make 4H, they can certainly make 4S or 5D. The next consideration is the hoary conundrum about what you call an eight card suit. The answer is ‘trumps’! With a nine card suit we certainly want it to be trumps so the only question is how many clubs we are going to bid. The last consideration is what you are going to do when they bid game over your preempt.
The standard advice is that a preemptor should not bid again so you have to be all in on the first bid. Clearly, 4C is very wimpy and 5C might be enough to embarrass them so 5C it is! West has too many values to pass and has no option other than double. On the face of it, this is dangerous because he lacks heart support and only half the field doubled. It is normal practice to leave this sort of double in except with unusual shape and East duly passed it. The opening lead was either a top diamond or a top spade and when the ruff came and the clubs were run, the contract went one down. A few brave souls who bid 5S got a great score but those who bid 5H, for whatever reason went for huge penalties. There were six pairs who played in 6C usually doubled. Presumably they, like me, decided to avoid any difficult decisions over 5S and opened 6C. Did you? It’s difficult to know if the two aces mean you should try to keep them out of slam or try to push them in since you have no idea if the CA will cash!