For some time, I have felt that the "Gambling Three No-trumps" opening bid, showing a solid seven-card minor and little else, is a dubious weapon. Three No-trumps may well be the right contract - if played by the other hand to protect the holdings in the other suits! By contrast, an opening pre-empt of Three Clubs never seems to shut anyone out, so what about Three Clubs as an opening showing either solid minor? Then, as opening bids of Four Clubs and Four Diamonds are usually "South African Texas" for good Four Heart and Four Spade contracts respectively, the bid of Three No-trumps is free to show a Four-level pre-empt in either minor, but with a broken suit.

Never mind the theory, study the results. This deal from the Generali European Championships saw East pre-empting in some fashion and South, little suspecting that Six Diamonds might be the best spot, overcalled with Four Hearts.

West led the 24 to the three, king and ace. Some declarers tried to ruff a losing club immediately, and this worked badly when West ruffed in with !6, led a spade, ruffed the next club return and (to add insult to injury) gave East a spade ruff, leading to two down.

Obviously not an outlandish try but, if you are prepared to rely on the diamond finesse being right, the simple approach of taking the club and following with the ace and queen of hearts seems to work a great deal better.

East-West game; dealer East


4K 10 9 6


#A Q 10 9 8 6 5


West East

4J 8 7 4 3 2 4A

!K 10 9 6 !2

#K 2 #7 4 3

24 2K J 10 8 7 6 5 2


4Q 5

!A Q J 8 7 5 4


2A Q 9