ACES ON BRIDGE
It used to be that once someone preempted to show a weak hand, they did not act again. The partner of the preemptor tends to know more about the hand than the preemptor himself, and the partner should therefore be allowed to make the last decision. The common exception to this rule is when the responder wants to ask the preemptor’s opinion, as in today’s auction.
When South doubles the three-club opener, West has useful three-card support and so much shape that a good save could easily be in the offing. A fit jump to four diamonds excites East. Over North’s responsive double, East’s call of four notrump shows the double fit and asks West which suit he wants to play in. However, when South bids five spades, North raises to slam.
It could be right to take out insurance by saving at the seven-level, but East has a surprise heart void, so he takes a chance that one of his side’s minor-suit winners will stand up. To attract the heart ruff at trick one, East doubles, which can hardly be for straight penalty here. Instead, it is a Lightner double, asking for an unusual lead. If East had passed, West might have chosen to save.
Since East would not have doubled if he wanted a club or diamond lead (the normal leads here), West gives his partner a ruff at trick one, leading the heart nine as a suit-preference signal for diamonds. East ruffs and underleads his diamond ace for a further heart ruff and 500 out of nowhere.
Notice that East acted not once after his preempt, but twice!
ANSWER: Your partner could have hearts and clubs, intending to pull four spades to five clubs. There is therefore a good case for bidding four hearts, showing your suits up the line. With significantly better spades than hearts, you might take the other approach.