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“Reverse”.. but move forward to Game.

Going “back” to move “forward”. This bridge language might seem like “Double Dutch” at times. It is certainly true that bridge terminology does take a bit of getting used to. So, let’s try and talk in plain English!

Today’s first question is what are you going to open with the following hand:

South Deals
E-W Vul
W   E
Q 9 8 2
K Q J 4
A K 7 2


Remember the basic rules. With 2 x 4 card suits, we open the lower of those suits. Did anyone mention to you what you do with 3 such suits?

The basic rule, assuming we open 4 card suits, is to open the middle suit though this is unwise where you have a singleton diamond. (Open then 1Club-small). Otherwise, this minimises the difficulty of your second bid.

The choice of opening suit is less critical when you have a strong hand (say 16-19 high card points (hcp) as you can, when partner calls your singleton, which they have the annoying habit of doing, make a reverse bid at your second turn.

“Reverse? What’s that?” did you ask. Well, in words of nearly one syllable, that means your second call is at the 2 level in a suit higher than the suit you first opened. Thus, if the bidding went,

(with the opponents staying quiet)

            North                        South

                                                1Diamond-small    (that’s what you did open with the above hand,

                                                            didn’t you?)

            1Spade-small  (see, partner calls your singleton!)

your second call would be 2Heart-small (higher suit than the 1Diamond-small you opened).

Note that if you call 2Club-small, you are showing a minimum(ish) opening hand (12-17 hcp and, in theory, if your partner is very weak, they could pass 2Club-small. You could call 3Club-small with 19hcp but that denies holding 4 cards in hearts..and you should always look for a major suit fit.)

With your hand above, you have 19 hcp and after getting a free bid from your partner, you want to force to game (19 + a minimum 6hcp for a response is enough to be in game. The question is “which game?”).

As you do not have a balanced hand (a 1 card spade suit), you, thus, bid 2Heart-small, a reverse, (16-19 hcp) to which your partner must respond.

So, your sequence has gone:      North            South


                                                       1Spade-small                 2 Heart-small

                                                       3Heart-small                ?

Wonderful. You have found a fit as your partner must have 4 hearts to support you. As you have 19hcp, you are maximum and can raise to 4Heart-smalland play in a game contract.

I am going to give you your partner’s hand now and ask you to plan the play on the lead from West of Spade-smallQ. However, one more word about the bidding:

South Deals
E-W Vul
K 10 9 8 3
J 10 6 3
10 3
J 3
W   E
Q 9 8 2
K Q J 4
A K 7 2


How many hcp has your partner? 5. Yet, you are taught to respond to an opening 1 level bid with 6+ and to pass with less. That’s the rule but you may have already heard that most bridge rules can/should in certain circumstances be broken. Where your partner opens 1 of a minor and you have 5 hcp and one or both major suits, it is generally worth investigating for a major suit fit. Not much harm can come of this and where opener is strong, it is vital you respond to keep the bidding open.

So, North did very well to bid 1Spade-small and remembered the guideline about a reverse, too, that the 2Heart-small bid was forcing for one round. North may feel slightly nervous about having to put down a rather weak dummy in 4Heart-small, though they have bid well.

That makes it even more important that you plan the play well to record a plus score! See you in a couple of days with the answer.

Richard Solomon

Tips for today

Open the middle of 3 x 4 card suits…generally. (certainly, never open the highest suit.)

With 1 or both majors and 5hcp, do not pass your partner’s minor suit opening. (unless the opponents intervene).

A reverse bid by opener is bidding in a new suit at the 2 level above the level of their first suit. It shows 16-19hcp.

A reverse bid is forcing on responder to bid again (with no interference bidding).

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