The Reverse
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  A reverse is defined as an unforced rebid at the level of two in a higher ranking suit than bid originally or else a jump to the three level in a lower ranking suit. Now as partner will have to go to the three level to give preference to your 1 st suit, you obviously need a strong hand. 16+ points is the norm. Also, a reverse guarantees more cards in the 1st bid suit. Let's have a few examples (and check that you would bid them as I suggest), in all cases you play a strong NT and 5 card major system: -  
Hand 1 Hand 2 Hand 3 Hand 4 Hand 5 Hand 6
Q7 2 A - AQ A
KQ87 AK864 AQ74 K765 KJ75 AKJ4
A10964 AKJ74 AQJ763 K765 K9875 AKQ964
Q4 K9 J5 AQ954 KJ 105
Hand 1: Open 1 . If partner responds with a black suit or 1NT, do not bid 2 . That would be a reverse, advertising values that you do not have. Pass 1NT, over 1 bid 1NT and over 2 bid 2 .
Hand 2: This time you have values for the reverse, but it is incorrect as opening 1 and rebidding 2 promises more 's than 's. Correct is to open 1 and then jump to 3.
Hand 3: A classic reverse. Open 1 and rebid 2 over 1 , 1NT or 2 .
Hand 4: Here is where I disagree with many people. I open 1 and then support a red suit and bid 2 over 1. Over 1NT it's not so easy, but 2 is still best. Insufficient values to reverse.
Hand 5: You have the values for a reverse, but with the high cards outside the long suits, I prefer a (strong) 1NT opening. Two doubletons, but that's where the points are.
Hand 6: This is tricky. It is really too strong for a 1 opening. If you play strong two's (or Benjamin), then fine. Otherwise it has to be a 2 opener (also fine). A 2NT opener is out with two short suits and the hand has too much playing strength.
  So, got the hang of it? When I was explaining the reverse to one of my students we came up with a definition of bidding a suit that partner has denied (bypassed) – that's another way of defining the reverse.  
  Is a reverse forcing? And if so, for one bid or one round or to game?  

Not everybody agrees upon this and we really need some examples: -

  (a) 1 - 1 - 2
  (b) 1 - 2 - 2
  (c) 1 - 1 - 3
(a) 1 - 1 - 2

This is a simple reverse and some people do indeed play that it is non-forcing. But ‘standard' is that it is forcing and so we'll go along with that; but let's consider the continuations.

  (i) 1 - 1 - 2 - 2 This 2 bid is weak, generally a 6-card suit, with no game ambitions. Opener should generally pass unless very strong.
  (ii) 1 - 1 - 2 - 3 This is responder's other weak option. It is simple preference back to opener's 1st suit and in no way implies strength or support.
  (iii) 1 - 1 - 2 - 3♣

This is 4th suit forcing, asking for a stop for 3NT. Game forcing.

  (iv) 1 - 1 - 2 - 3/

Any other suit at the 3 level (so 3/ in this situation) is (game) forcing.

  (v) 1 - 1 - 2 - 2NT This one is up to partnership understanding. Traditionally it promises a stop with insufficient values to insist upon game.

But consider this hand: Q643 43 3 KJ9876; you correctly responded 1 and now you want to play in 3. But 3 is forcing (whether you play it as 4th suit or natural) and the way round this problem is to play Lebensohl after partner's reverse.


Now let's consider opener's options after responder has shown a weak hand.


In sequence (i) if opener bids 2NT then it's non-forcing, I would play 3 as invitational and any other bid as forcing.


In sequence (ii), I again play 3 as invitational and any other bid forcing.

(b) 1 - 2 - 2

This is simple. Partner has bid at the two level and so a reverse has to be game forcing. But there is a twist if you play a strong NT or two-over-one. Playing 2/1 the 2 bid is game forcing and many players play that a reverse does not necessarily show extra values.

(c) 1 - 1 - 3

This is called a high reverse (rebid at the three level) and is again game forcing.

(d) 1 - 1 - 2
  Although at the two-level, this jump is also a high reverse and game forcing.  

Lebensohl after partner's reverse.

Hand 7

I mentioned this above but here is a much better example. Partner opens 1 and you respond 1 and partner then reverses into 2. You don't like either of his suits and simply want to bid a non-forcing 3, but 3 would be forcing. The solution here is to play Lebensohl after partner's reverse. Playing this treatment, you bid 2NT which requests that partner bids 3 (automatic puppet) and you then bid 3 – non-forcing.


Reverses by Responder

Hand 8

A reverse by responder is forcing and probably best played as game forcing. With Hand 8 partner opens 1 and you respond 1. Partner rebids 2 and your best bid is 2, showing a powerful red two-suiter. If partner has a stop then he will bid 3NT; otherwise 5 or 5 may be there.

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