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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Full Steam Ahead…if you Reverse!

The concept of reversing at the table is one many players do not seem to understand. If they do, they do not seem to put it into practice. A reverse is the second suit bid by opener, a higher- ranking suit than their first one, though lower than responder’s suit. A typical auction might go:

West                          East

1Diamond-small                              1Spade-small


 There are different ways of advancing such a sequence but assuming East did have the value for their one level response, it is a one-round, though not game-forcing bid.

I have checked the  Learners' notes on the New Zealand Bridge website and they “blissfully” ignore the minimum number of high card points opener needs for the above sequence, though had responder’s bid been 2Club-small, then opener can be as weak as 15.

15+10= game!



So, to our problem:

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

South Deals
N-S Vul
W   E
A K 7 5
K Q 9 3 2
K 8 6 2
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass ?


I would not reverse (2Heart-small) in the above auction with 15 hcp unless it was an exceptionally good 15. The Panel have been well-briefed (bribed?) in what to say. Welcome back, Julie:

Julie Atkinson “2Club-small: apart from 15hcp not being strong enough to force partner higher by bidding 2Heart-small, the fact that I have no spades also screams to be conservative.”

A little quieter but in full agreement:

Nigel Kearney  “2Club-small: A light reverse with a misfit is too likely to lead to trouble. We could play 2Club-small instead of 4Heart-small if partner has a 5413 with extra values and bad spades, e.g. Spade-smallJxxxx Heart-smallQxxx Diamond-smallx Club-smallAQx but that's only one case and even then 4Heart-small might not make.”

Michael Cornell  “2Club-small: not strong enough to reverse which of course makes it harder to find hearts. However, if partner takes another bid, I will now bid hearts which won’t always be natural! (certainly natural over 2NT or 2Heart-small, though.)”

Bruce Anderson  “2Club-small:  I do not want to bid 2Heart-small with a minimum reverse when void in partner's suit. After 2Club-small a heart fit, if it exists, can still be found.  1NT is too likely to hear partner rebid (jump) in spades.

Let’s just deal with that 1NT option Bruce mentioned. I am not much in favour of bidding no trumps here even with a singleton (unless an honour) but a void?! Which exit will you run to when partner’s next bid is 4Spade-small and they await you to bolster their trump suit of QJ8763 with your doubleton? Oh, take your hand with you! Partner will not need it as their dummy hand!

Back to sanity:

Peter Newell  “ 2Club-small:  bid out my shape normally. Yes, a bit worried hearts might get lost but reversing on this hand is a far greater risk….getting too high, and could easily lose the club suit.”

Peter did also comment that there would surely be a unanimous panel this time. I am afraid Peter that I ran out of bribe money:

Kris Wooles “ 2Heart-small:  This is a great looking hand and for me the question is whether to rebid 2Club-small, or 2Heart-small. Obviously, the not unexpected 1Spade-small response tempers things, somewhat. I would be concerned if I bid just 2Club-small that partner might have something like Spade-small Jxxxxx Heart-small QJxx  Diamond-smallClub-small Ax and be forced to bid 2Spade-small which I might pass with 4Heart-small being missed.

2Diamond-smallnow seems to misrepresent my hand- shape a lot!.  At least with 2Heart-small while a slight stretch, it gets across my two best suits and positions me for most follow up auctions.”

One issue with the 2Heart-small reverse is that most treat 2Spade-small from responder as still forcing. Perhaps 3Diamond-small from responder is still to play (as indeed would 2NT be) but with 8 or 9 hcp, at least half of them in our void suit, our partner is going to drive on to a hopeless game.

The Panel does acknowledge the problems of bidding 2Club-small, that over 2Spade-small from responder or even “Pass” , a heart fit will be missed. I wonder in either of these scenarios whether the heart game will be that good a contract anyway. Read on to see what actually happened.

We can, most of the time, still reach 4Heart-small, if that is where we want to be by not overvaluing our hand when it smells of a misfit. See the actual auction that would have developed below:

South Deals
N-S Vul
Q 10 9 4 2
Q J 8 4
5 4
A 3
A 8 5 3
10 3
A J 8 7
10 9 4
W   E
K J 7 6
9 6 2
10 6
Q J 7 5
A K 7 5
K Q 9 3 2
K 8 6 2
West North East South
Pass 1  Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      


South is well worth their 2Heart-small bid which must be natural in view of the 2Club-small minimum response. Game is reached the slow, the hard way but without the risk of overbidding which the 2Heart-small reverse creates.

The fact that 11 of the 20 pairs who played in 4Heart-small failed despite a friendly trump break suggests you would not want to be in game if responder was any weaker.

One disadvantage of the auction above is that it attracts the worst lead for declarer, a trump. West can deduce that South has at most 1 spade and can anticipate a cross-ruff.

After the trump lead, there are two routes South can take. They can try and establish their diamonds, a line which fails, or they can still try the cross-ruff. Win in dummy and ruff a spade. Back to Club-smallA and a second spade ruff, Club-smallK and a club ruff, a third spade ruff with declarer’s last heart and a second club ruff, though West can play Heart-small10 (a good example of always leading a low trump as your higher one might come in handy later) which declarer overruffs. South has 8 tricks.

Declarer plays a diamond to the king and West’s ace. West can cash the Spade-smallA and then has to return a diamond to Diamond-small10 and South’s queen. Unfortunately for South, they can no longer score the Heart-small8 en passant as East’s Heart-small96 take the last two tricks.  

Statistics on this deal are interesting. 3 pairs found their heart fit very easily when the North players responded 1Heart-small to the 1Diamond-small opener. Never mind any 5-3 spade fit! One West responded 1NT to 1Spade-small and was very happy to hear North’s 2Heart-small bid. Who says crime does not pay!

Another South made a wonderful opening bid, 1Heart-small!

10 out of 13 South players followed Kris Wooles and reversed with only 3 rebidding 2Club-small. While some days, South will have a wonderful 15 point hand, after hearing partner call 1Spade-small, this was no such day.

All that glitters is not gold.png

I will have to call my fellow Teaching Group members to get a minimum high card point count put into the Teaching notes for a reverse after partner responds at the one level. If I have any say, it will not be 15. I stand a chance as Kris Wooles is not on that committee!

Your problems are not going to be over if you get the opening lead problem for tomorrow correct. However, if you get it wrong, you will be just restricting overtricks:

North Deals
None Vul
A Q 6
A Q 9 4
7 5 3
8 4 3
W   E
West North East South
  Pass Pass 2 
Pass 2  Pass 3 NT
All pass      


2Diamond-small is a 3- way Multi with 2Spade-small not forcing but better hearts than spades. 3NT was showing a long strong minor and has an element of gambling since South could have bid 3 of their minor also as a strong minor hand. The hand is strong but not strong enough to open a game-forcing 2Club-small.

See you on Sunday.

Richard Solomon

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