Partner and I have been playing a big club system for a few months now, and we have discussed how to deal with overcalls and preemptive overcalls of 1C.
Over overcalls, we use negative free bids, a cue-bid as a takeout, double for a balanced hand and/or 9+ points. NT bids show stoppers. Over preempts, we use positive free bids, cuebids to indicate game force without a stopper and NT to indicate game force with a stopper. Double shows a balanced hand that is not strong enough to insist on game.
At the club this week, one pair came in with having rehearsed a defense to 1C. Over partner's 1C, they bid a 2H preempt that was explained as spades or the minors. Now, our use of cue-bids went out the window and unable to sort out our values, we ended up in a minor suit game when 3NT was cold. As luck would have it, partner had a 1C opener on 3 boards that we played against this pair, and we ended up messing up every one of those. On one of those 3 boards, I bid 3NT because I had two of the three suits stopped; partner, with a two-suiter passed, and so instead of bidding a slam, we went down 8. First time I have scored -800 undoubled.
We now know how to deal with "suction" now, of course, but that discussion came too late. Too bad that we misunderstood each other's improvised bids. Three zeroes resulted in a 50% game.
p.s. It has now been one year since I started this blog. Thanks to all you regular readers (there are about 70 of you) for coming back. Special thanks to my frequent commenters: Paul Gipson, Jeffery Lehman and Memphis Mojo -- I have learned a lot from you over the past year. Thanks also to John Goold for sharing a standalone version of his blogging tools with me and to my partners for putting up with all this learning!