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Weekly updates from Kit Jackson offering hints and tips for the modern Bridge player. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Bidding Theory: The Reverse Made Clear – 1 December 2010

I get asked about “reverses” a lot. Here’s a basic definition: a reverse is a re-bid by opener in a higher ranking suit than that originally opened. 1C - 1S: 2H! In this case the heart suit is higher ranking than the original club suit first opened and is therefore a reverse.

Included in the idea is that a reverse will take you above the repeat level of the first suit bid. So, e.g., in the sequence 1C - 1H - 1S, the 1S bid may be in a higher suit but it’s not a reverse – partner can easily go back to the first suit cheaply by bidding 2C. On the other hand, where the bidding goes, say, 1S - 2H - 3C, the club suit is indeed lower ranking than the first bid spades, but to get back to spades partner will have to bid THREE spades. So this IS a reverse.

The reverse is so named because it is a bidding sequence that is the reverse of that which is expected. Normally you open one of a suit and then bid another, lower ranking suit, as a re-bid. 1H - 1S: 2C. Partner can then “give preference” without raising the level. But after you make a reverse partner will be forced to give preference to your first suit at the three level.

Because of this raise in level you shouldn’t make a reverse unless you have a minimum of 16 high card points. When you make a reverse you show 16+ points and the two suits bid will be at least 5 - 4. And it is FORCING. Responder cannot pass.

It follows (doth it not?) that with less than 16 points you cannot make a reverse. So with this hand, after the bids 1C - 1S, all you can do is bid 2C:


You must resist the temptation – go on, fight that temptation! – to re-bid 2H. If you do bid 2H you will be fibbing to partner about how strong your hand is. Partner will assume you have a hand like this:


and bid confidently to a slam that will never make because you didn’t have the hand in reality that you claimed you had during the bidding.

This is why I so frequently ask you to consider your natural re-bid BEFORE you make your opening bid.

Responder can also make a reverse, and as above it shows a better than minimum hand (ie 10+ hcp) Here’s a sequence where responder is reversing and showing a 5 - 4 hand as well:

1D - 1H
2D - 2S!

This is also forcing.

The second bid is always the one that attempts to define more accurately the shape AND the strength of your hand.

Good luck!


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