Chris Hasney

Bidding Reverses

There’s been some talk about reverses in the Contract Bridge Bulletin in recent months. For some reason bridge teachers tend to ignore this important aspect of bidding way too long. Here’s an excerpt from page 27 of my beginning bridge ebook Simplicity Bridge covering the topic.

Suit Selection for an Opening One Bid

There are many situations where your correct opening bid is one of a suit,
such as one heart (1H). What you do at your subsequent turn to bid, if any, is
called your Rebid. Your opening bid must envision what you will do at your next
(Rebid) opportunity.

Before presenting guidelines for opening bid selection, I want to break
ranks with my fellow teachers and tell you NOW about the concept of the bidding
Reverse. A reverse is a bid at the two level which forces partner to reply at the
three level if he likes the first suit you bid better than the second. An example
would be starting with one heart and then bidding two spades. If your partner

likes hearts better, he must bid three hearts to say so. If you thus create a
situation where your partner might be forced to bid at the three level with a
minimum hand, you had better have a pretty darned good hand yourself, one that
we call a “two bid” hand or better (2 1⁄2 – 6 1⁄2 or better). And, the reverse bid also
guarantees that the first suit you bid is longer than the second one. If your hand

is not this good AND this shape, you must not reverse the bidding. (There is one
exception, when your partner’s first response to your one level bid is a two level
bid. More on that later.)

So, why did I bother you with all that information? I’m convinced that it
will help you understand WHY we want to mention one suit before mentioning
another. If we do things in the wrong order we may inadvertently reverse when
our hand isn’t anywhere near the right shape or size to do that. I’m going to
present a normal order of bridge bidding. Doing the opposite creates a reverse to
that normal order, and that shows a very big hand. Hope that makes sense.

Please recall that an opening bid of one of a suit requires hand strength of
at least 2 1⁄2 quick tricks and 4 1⁄2 quick and long suit tricks (2 1⁄2 – 4 1⁄2) that is not
the right size and shape to open one notrump. In addition, the hand size in quick
tricks etc. should not be so big that it qualifies for an opening bid at the two level.

First look at your major suits, which are spades and hearts. If you have
five or more cards in one of those suits open one of that suit. If you happen to
hold at least five cards in both majors, open the higher ranking suit (spades). So,
holding something like AQ965, 63, A98762, void you would open one spade (1S),
even though you have a minor suit, in this case diamonds, which is longer. If you

don’t open 1S your partner will never be able to “see” your fifth spade as the
bidding continues, and you may miss a nice spade contract. Let’s swap cards
between diamonds and hearts. Now the hand is dangerous if you forget the part
about reverses. With AQ965, A98762, 63, void, you still open 1S, even though
your hearts are longer. If you open hearts first and then bid spades next there is a

danger that your partner will take you for a hand like AKQJ, AK976, 643, 2 or better.

NOTE: I teach the quick and long suit hand eval method. Using point count, an opener reverse would be a good 16+. Some play it stronger. A responder reverse shows an opening bid or better (could be based on HCP or dummy points with a fit).

1 Comment

EugeneNovember 3rd, 2009 at 2:56 am

“your partner will take you for a hand like AKQJ, AK976, 643, 2 or better.”

That is one of the very rare blinds spot of doing reverse and is covered by the equally rarely used (well) Flannery. But then there are usually other ways of getting around with a strong 5-5 major.

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