REVERSES

Q.  What is a reverse?

A.  Whenever you have to go to the three-level to give preference to partner's suit, it is a reverse.  Here are some examples:

Partner     You (opponents are passing)
1C             1H 
2D             ?

Partner's bid of 2 was a reverse.  If you wanted to return to partner's first bid suit, clubs, you would have to do so at the 3-level. 

Partner     You (opponents are passing)
1D            1H 
2C             ?

Partner's bid of 2C is NOT a reverse.  You could show preference to diamonds on the 2-level.  Partner could still have a good hand (up to about 16-17 HCP) but not enough to force for another round. 

Q.  What kind of hand does a reverse show?

A.  To make a reverse bid, you need to have two things:

    1.    At least 16 HCP (though a bit less with very freakish distribution)

    2.     More cards in your first bid suit than your second suit.  In the first example above, partner is showing (in addition to the good hand) more clubs than diamonds.  

Q.  Is a reverse forcing?  What if I have a minimum hand a good fit for partner second suit:  Can't I just pass?  Won't we be in a good contract? 

A.  A reverse is FORCING FOR ONE ROUND!   You cannot pass. 

Q:  The other day I picked up the following hand:

  J 10 9 5 4
H   A K Q J 10
D   A K
C   2

I opened the bidding 1H and when partner bid 1N, I bid 2SEven though partner had 3 spades and only 2 hearts, we ended up in a heart contract.  Why did partner bid so badly?

A.  To repeat myself:  To make a reverse bid, you need to have two things:

    1.    At least 16 HCP (though a bit less with very freakish distribution)

    2.     More cards in your first bid suit than your second suit.  In the first example above, partner is showing (in addition to the good hand) more clubs than diamonds. 

In the hand above, with equal length in both suits, you need to start the bidding with spades, not hearts.  A possible auction is:

1S        1N
3H         whatever

With only four losers, the hand is worth a jump shift which shows about the same values (though slightly more) than a reverse.  The key thing is that you aren't misleading your partner about the lengths of your suits.  In this auction, you MIGHT have fewer hearts than spades but never more.  And the suit lengths could be equal.

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