Source: BBO News

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.

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 3unless opener can’t stand the thought of playing 3.

So with;: Qxxx Jx x QJxxxx,, I respond 1to partner’s 1and 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 3which 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 3I bid 3:

At the risk of adding confusion to a complex topic, I should add that many experts (including me) open 1and rebid 2with 5-6 hands of more than minimal values but far less than the HCP needed for a ‘strong reverse’. Thus I would cheerfully open 1and rebid 2on 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 1to partner’s 1
and he reverses into 2, you really don’t want to encourage partner at all: you bid 2NT and pass 3.

With: AJxxx 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


2and responder has a rebiddable suit.

Mike Hargreaves (CAN)
Mike Hargreaves (CAN)

2is a one round force, but it may be weak. This apparent paradox arises from the fact that the 2was 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 2without 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 2and 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.

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