Weasel over Pre-emption
Weasel (weak, strong, or "lower the boom") is a powerful treatment for dealing with those pesky enemy pre-empts. Some players hear an auction like 2 - pass - pass and must worry about whether or not to balance on a marginal hand. I have gone for 800 or 1100 after balancing here. If you and your partner adopt Weasel, this will never happen to you again.
The basic Weasel Convention permits you to show nine different hand types on your first call. Here is how it works:
|Action||After a full 8 - 10 seconds
||After 3-5 seconds and/or a little "body language"
|Pass||Shows almost enough to act||Shows almost nothing
|Min NT||Shows marginal overcall in values or stoppers
||Shows full values and at least 1-1/2 stoppers
|DBL||Shows minimum values and shape
||Shows excellent support for all unbid suits and full values
|Minimum Overcall||Less than an opening bid and/or a weak suit
||Full values and suit quality, suggests 3NT
With a penalty double, the original Weasel convention called for a fast double (lower the boom) of the pre-empt, but this is not an approved treatment in all parts of the ACBL. Now most players use a very fast pass to be a "pass with interest." This is known as "Extended Weasel" and is only recommended for more advanced players.
Some players prefer "Reverse Weasel" (which should probably be alerted) but this really is unnatural and has no theoretical merit. It has been reported that some are experimenting with "Encrypted Weasel" but that variant has not been approved for any level of play.
Note bene: Under no circumstances should one hesitate more than ten seconds before making a bid. Everyone knows that this conveys unauthorized information, so your partner may be barred from acting or you may receive an adjusted score. The legal ten-second hesitation should be your longest pause. Since there is no penalty for making your hesitation a bit shorter (or not hesitating at all!), this is the recommended way of showing the alternative hand type.
Actual Player Comments from Enthusiastic Weasel Users
- An intermediate lady player from Wisconsin gushes over Weasel:
- "I just love it! I haven't had trouble with pre-empts in years."
- A high-ranking veteran player from Wisconsin:
- "We don't see Bergen or Berkowitz or those guys around here. We know
how to deal with their flaky pre-empts."
- A National Champion from Chicago:
- "Since people started using Weasel, I don't even bother to give a skip-bid warning. Oh, I might use it when I have a really 'big' pre-empt, but it rarely does any good."
- A beginning player from the Chicago area:
- "Weasel is so natural and easy to use, I feel like I have been playing it for years."
- An intermediate player from Naperville:
- "That's what it's called? Weasel? I've been playing it for years."
- A National Champion from Chicago:
- "This really isn't allowed at the nationals, but I see it a lot at social games like the CCBA Regionals."
- A top Wisconsin player:
- "Next to Stayman and Blackwood, this is the most popular convention in the country. It is about time that we give it a name and the recognition it deserves. I only wish that we could find and honor the actual inventor."
- A scientific young player from the University:
- "With minor variations, you could actually show thirteen different hand types."
- A loyal "cheesehead" player:
- "Don't give us all the credit for this convention. They play this in Iowa, too."
A Few Facts about Weasel
- Weasel is the only convention known to be played more extensively at the club level than at the national level.
- Weasel is also approved for play in Class A convention or "yellow card"
- There is no recorded instance of an adjusted score for the Weasel "fast pass." After all, what is the director or committee to do. While we have all seen players balance on "air" in these auctions, the committee can hardly assign an adjusted score of down 800 or 1100.
- There are now buttons and T-shirts saying "I play Weasel" at most bridge supply stores.
- There is a movement under way to form an all-Weasel team to challenge for this year's GNT.
- Please do not take this article too seriously!