By MikeH (Mike Hargreaves) for BBO News
[box type=»note» style=»rounded»]I thought that it might be of some use to set out some guide to reverses. In what follows, I am describing North-American ideas, since that is the approach I know. My apologies to those who seek help in the context of other methods. Furthermore, these concepts do not translate well into big club methods, because the hands with which standard or 2/1 bidders reverse are dealt with in big club methods via the 1 opening.[/box]
Click here for A Primer on Reverse Bidding – Part I.
In Part I of this article we discussed how strong reverses can be, and how can responder handle a reverse using standard methods. It became obvious quite quickly that it would be useful for responder to have a way to show right away if s/he is interested in game or more, or if s/he is really weak.
So years ago, some bright player or two (most inventions are invented several times) hit upon a lebensohl-like approach: use 2NT as an artificial bid, usually connoting weakness… this allows all 3 level bids to be game force and natural.
2NT asks opener to bid 3 unless opener can’t stand the thought of playing 3.
So withQxxx Jx x QJxxxx,, I respond 1 to partner’s 1 and feel ill when partner bids 2. I can’t pass, and I wouldn’t want to because the opponents probably have more trump than we do. So I bid the artificial 2N, hoping to hear 3 which I will pass:
If I am opener with x AKxx AKJxx Axx, I am delighted to bid 3:
If I am opener with Ax AQJx AQJxxx x, I refuse to bid 3 I bid 3:
At the risk of adding confusion to a complex topic, I should add that many experts (including me) open 1 and rebid 2 with 5-6 hands of more than minimal values but far less than the HCP needed for a ‘strong reverse’. Thus I would cheerfully open 1 and rebid 2 on x AQxxx AQJxxx x.. So that hand type would rebid 3 over responder’s rebid after my reverse:
Back to the mainstream: this lebensohl-like approach works quite well and a lot of players still use it. It allows responder to use immediate 3-level raises of either of opener’s suits as forcing. With a non-forcing raise of (or preference to) opener’s suit, bid 2N and then correct or pass.
So with Jxxxx xx QJx Qxx, after you respond 1 to partner’s 1 and he reverses into 2, you really don’t want to encourage partner at all: you bid 2NT and pass 3.
WithAJxxx xx QJx Qxx,, and the same auction, you like your hand. It is certainly a game-force and slam is possible if partner has extras such as Kx AKxx x AKJxxx, so you bid 3:
This merely announces we are going to game and I have a fit for . It is not in itself a slam try, but may be based on a wide range of hand types up to and including hands with grand slam ambition: the point is it is game forcing.
One point that hasn’t been addressed so far is when responder has a rebiddable major: say the auction has started
2 and responder has a rebiddable suit.
2 is a one round force, but it may be weak. This apparent paradox arises from the fact that the 2 was forcing, so responder has to bid, and using 2NT as a weakness bid makes no sense when responder wants/needs to show long s. So responder will rebid 2 without in any way limiting his hand. Opener can complete the description of his hand by, for example, rebidding 2NT with 5431’s short s or 5422 with a good doubleton (AQ is an example) or rebidding a 6 card minor or 5 card major or the 4th suit to create yet another force. Of course, opener can also raise s or bid 3NT if certain that that is the right bid: x AJxx AKQJxx AQ….. I’d open that hand 1, rebid 2 and then, over 2 , bid 3NT… no guarantees but I’m not playing below game even opposite the types of hands I respond on.
All of this is fine, and works reasonably well, but for those interested in something even better: use Ingberman. We will discuss this convention in the next article.