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A primer on reverse bidding

#1 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2007-March-01, 17:31

I thought that it might be of some use to set out some guide to reverses. In what follows, I am describing NA 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 stanard or 2/1 bidders reverse are dealt with in big club methods via the 1 opening.

I am not going to attempt to cover all 'reverses': I am only going to deal with opener's reverse into the 2-level after a 1suit - 1suit start:

1 1
2

or

1 1
2 etc


So I am not dealing with related topics such as whether 1 2 2 is a reverse or whether 1 2 3 requires additional strength (the 'high level reverse).

The first question that any partnership must ask, in terms of reverses, is just how much strength does a reverse show?

It is common, to the point of being universal amongst good players, that the reverse is a one round force. While I have seen a post or two questionning why that is, I am not going to try to justify this : not because I can't, but because of space/time constraints and the fact that most players accept that it is. There are many excellent basic bidding texts that can address the issue, and I may even respond to individual questions if I have time. For now, we will treat it as a given that a reverse creates a 1 round force. But this still doesn't answer, completely, the question of just how strong it need be.

There are two schools of thought about the strength shown by opener. My preference is for what is known as the strong reverse approach: opener has a good 18 or more, altho even we strong reversers will upgrade 16 or 17 counts with a good 3 card holding in responder's suit. Thus after partner responds to my 1 with 1, I'll reverse to 2 with AQx AJxx KQ10xx x, but not with x AJxx KQ10xx AQx.

The other school requires less for the reverse: so they might well reverse with the second hand.. but not with anything less. Note that the quality of the high cards count: the 4321 point count undervalues As and Ks while overvaluing Qs and Js, so bear that in mind when deciding whether to reverse.

I am going to assume a 'strong reverse' approach: but, and this is important, what follows makes just as much sense in the 'weak, but still good, reverse' school. Just bear in mind that opposite my preferred approach, responder will be forcing to game on weaker hands than opposite potentially lighter reverses: if I hold a good 6 count, then I know that we have the playing equivalent of 24+ hcp and, with any degree of fit, I'm off to game. Whereas, if opener may have a good but non-fitting 16 count, I'm going to want 8 or 9 to create the gf....or sufficient fit and shape to compensate.

Ok, so partner has reversed. How does responder handle this?

It is useful for responder to be able to immediately convey the good news when he likes his hand in the context fo the reverse: when he is able to commit to game. In the thread that prompted this post, opener had reversed into 2 catching responder with AKxxxx Kxxxx void Qx. The consensus of the experienced players was that 3 was forcing, but several expressed doubt that partner would know this. We can all see, I trust, why 3 as forcing makes sense, on the actual hand. But what if responder were QJxxx Jxxx xx Qx? Now this hand has to show the support, but wants to do so while allowing an out for opener who may have Kx AKxx AQJxx Jx.

So, one might well argue, 3 should be a weakness bid, and responder has to bid around the hand by, for example, bidding 3 as artificial, fourth suit.

This approach, while having some logic, was soon seen to be inefficient. What if opener, over 3, bid 3N or 4..... now responder has to bid 4 to show the suit, and is that just a gf or is it a slam try? And so on.

So years ago, some bright player or two (most inventions are invented several times) hit upon a lebensohl-like approach: use 2N as an artificial bid, usually connoting weakness... this allows all 3 level bids to be game force and natural.

2N asks opener to bid 3 unless opener can't stand the thought of playing 3. So with Qxxx Jx x QJxxxx, I respond 1 to partner's 1 and feel ill when partner bids 2. I can't pass, and I wouldn't want to because the opps probably have more trump than we do. So I bid the artificial 2N, hoping to hear 3 which 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 3: I bid 3.

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

With AJxxx xx QJx Qxx, and the same auction, you like your hand. It is certainly a gf 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 s. 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 gf.

One point that hasn't been addressed so far is when responder has a rebiddable major: say the auction has started 1 1 2 and responder has a rebiddable suit.

2 is a one round force, but it may be weak. This apparent paradox arises from the fact that the 2 was forcing, so responder has to bid, and using 2N as a weakness bid makes no sense when responder wants/needs to show long s. So responder will rebid 2 without in any way limiting his hand. Opener can complete the description of his hand by, for example, rebidding 2N 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 3N if certain that that is the right bid: x AJxx AKQJxx AQ.... I'd open that hand 1, rebid 2 and then, over 2, bid 3N... 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.

This convention is similar to the lebensohl-type 2N above: in fact, on many hands, it works exactly the same. Ingberman use the cheaper of 2N and 4th suit forcing as the ostensibly negative bid. As with the lebensohl-like 2N, use of the Ingberman bid is the only way that the partnership is allowed to stop short of game.

This is an improvement on 2N, when it happens, because it increases the chance of the strong hand declaring notrump. After all, a very common hand pattern for a reverse is 5431 with a stiff in responder's suit.

Say you hold x AQx KQxx AKJxx and partner responds to your 1 opening with 1. You reverse to 2. If partner were to have a weak hand, without rebiddable s, he has to bid 2N and now you play 3 of a minor or 3N from the wrong side. By allowing him to use 4th suit 2 here as the artificial, usually negative response, you as opener get to bid 2N! From the right side.

Change your hand to AQx x KQxx AQJxx and have the same opening, response and reverse. If he has to bid 2N, you are torn between 3 and 3. If he has 5s, 3 is definitely best, but if he has 10xxx Kxx xxx Kxx, you want to play 3. How do you know?

Well, allow him to bid 2 and you bid 2: a perfect description of your 3=1=4=5 hand. Now you find the 5-3 s (and find decent games when he'd have passed 3 over 2N) while allowing him to play 2 rather than 3, or allowing him to intelligently decide between playing s and s.

Also, responder can now comfortably bid 2N naturally when 4th suit would be available: establishing a gf, showing stopper(s) in the unbid suit and allowing opener free rein at the 3-level to further describe his hand.

For this reason, many experts and advancing players use Ingberman.

I appreciate that introduction of these devices might seem a bit much for this part of the forum. I do believe that Ingberman is not too tough for Intermediates... once you master the idea that reverses require big hands and are one round forces, then having no discussion about follow-ups is actually worse: the B/I player is led out into the middle of the raging current and left with no boat or bridge to safety: he or she has to wing it as to what various bids mean.

Learn Ingberman early, don't be afraid to tell your partners about it, and if partner says 'ok' then you are going to be able to handle reverses almost as well as an expert.

Now, is this practical for playing online with B/I players? Not in a casual pickup game, but if the partner is compatible, and you want to arrange other games, why not email or pm him or her and suggest trying Ingberman?

If you are dealing with a real life partner: someone you hope to play with on a regular basis, then certainly Ingberman is a gadget that you can add ahead of many other optional devices, such as complex methods over their 1N (Surely Ingberman is no more complex than Cappelletti, a dreadful (imho) method many non-expert players love?

If you recognize that you need to understand and use reverses, but are not willing to learn either the lebensohl-like or Ingberman, then probably you should use 4th suit forcing to establish the gf and use bids of opener's suit as weak preferences/raises. That approach, flawed though it is, is better than no agreement at all: as posters in the original thread noted, no one is passing 4th suit no matter whether they understand what you are doing.

I am going to close with a few comments on a typical beginner mistake: which is to yield to the temptaion to open, say, 1 and reverse into 2 on strong 5-5 red suit hands, in order 'to show strength'. In is a fundamental principle of bridge (outside of certain non-standard methods) that one bids long suits before short(er) suits. Any reverse absolutely, without any room for exception whatsoever, promises more length in the first suit than the second.

If you hold a good 5-5, your choices are open the higher suit and rebid the lower without jumping or open the higher and jump in the lower.

Now, 1 1 3 is gameforce. While the upper limit of the hand is the same as the upper limit of a reverse, the lower limit of a jumpshift is higher than that of a reverse. We have seen that advanced players and experts have ways to stop short of game after a reverse: no such way exists after a jumpshift.

That can lead to tough decisions: 1 1 2 is exceptionally wide range: from whatever your weakest opening 1 bid looks like to just short of an absolute gf...for me, 2 could be an 11 count 54 or a bad 18.

Another potential source of confusion, to those who watch or read about expert bridge, is that there are hands on which it is appropriate to reverse into a 3 card suit. Let's say we hold Axx x AKx AKJxxx. We open 1 and partner bids 1. What do we bid?

Now, there are players and partnerships who have gadgets for this. I do myself, in one partnership. But what if you don't? A jump to 3 is a huge underbid, given that the bid traditionally shows 15-17 hcp, and this hand is worth more than the 19 points we assign it using the 4321 scale: it has Aces and Kings rather than Queens and Jacks and we have Axx in partner's major. So 3 is wrong, and no raise of is right: imagine playing 4 opposite xxxx KQx Qxx Qxx.

So most experts would manufacture a reverse into 2. Sure it is a distortion, but it is the easiest distortion to recover from. I am not encouraging these fake reverses, but I hope I am showing you why they can be, on a very small number of hands, the better alternative to other choices.

Now, this post is extremely long and yet merely scratches the surface of an important area of standard bidding. I would be happy to answer questions either here or by email/pm, subject to the caveat that I have limited time: I already spend more time than I can really justify on this forum :)
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#2 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2007-March-01, 17:46

Nice post. :)
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#3 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2007-March-01, 17:57

Nice, but

Quote

. Any reverse absolutely, without any room for exception whatsoever, promises more length in the first suit than the second


what's your approach with 1444 hands?
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#4 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2007-March-01, 19:01

Stephen Tu, on Mar 1 2007, 06:57 PM, said:

Nice, but

Quote

. Any reverse absolutely, without any room for exception whatsoever, promises more length in the first suit than the second


what's your approach with 1444 hands?

No way do I reverse :)

I would usually open the higher minor and rebid either the other minor (4=1=4=4 or 1=4=4=4) or rebid some number of notrump. Obviously, if I open a minor and partner responds in a 4 card fit, then I raise: whether that be a direct raise to an appropriate level or a splinter depends on the hand.

I am one of the old-fashioned players who generally avoid rebidding notrump on 4441 hands, altho I am increasingly convinced that I should be more open to doing so. That issue (typically, does one rebid notrump or the appropriate number of s after 1 1 and I hold a 1=4=4=4) has nothing, I repeat, nothing to to with the standard treatment of reverses.

I am well aware that the expert community allows for a variety of approaches to fairly basic issues. Thus there are two schools of thought on the correct opening with 4=4 in the minors, when one has to open in a minor. I am very strongly a 1 bidder, but there are players whose opinions I respect who are as adamantly of the opposite view.

There are those who open 1 with most 5-5 black two suiters: I play on occasion with a good friend who is an ACBL Grand Life Master and a multiple National Champion who is a fervent believer in that, yet I refuse to play it with anyone else: I think it is an inferior treatment, he disagrees.

And, as I set out in the original post, there are 'strong reversers' and 'weak (tho still strong in one sense) reversers'.

But there are NO reversers on 4441s to my knowledge: at least not in the expert community.

Now, if someone were to tell me that an expert pair from Europe or Russia or Australia played a reverse structure on 4441, I wouldn't dispute that, but I would strongly dispute an argument that this was an acceptable school of thought in North American Standard.

In Bridge World Standard, various expert treatments that were not the consensus choice for the method are referred to as 'leafs' (leaves?) of the method. Thus, the consensus method is such-and-such but it is recognized that a significant minority of the expert community prefers another approach, which is then a 'leaf' of the system (as I understand it anyway... I may be confused, not having read the definitions for several years). Some leafs eventually become the consensus approach...see the acceptance of the support double as an example.

But I know of no such 'leaf' for reversing on 4441 hands.
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#5 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2007-March-01, 19:22

I am no expert but I would still reverse with 1444 shape. With 1=4=4=4 shape I open 1D and reverse into 2H over 1s. If partner rebids 2s or 2nt, both weakish, I would rebid 3 clubs. (structured reverses)
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#6 User is offline   whereagles 

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Posted 2007-March-01, 19:26

a primer? that's a treasie!
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#7 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2007-March-01, 22:55

Quote

But there are NO reversers on 4441s to my knowledge: at least not in the expert community.


I believe that's a massive overstatement. I'm quite certain I have seen reverse recommended on 1444 pattern specifically, on certain hands in both Bridge World & some books in articles by expert players in the context of Std American systems. 1d ... 2c is going to lose the hearts fairly often in my view.

Also, I've seen suggestions of reversing with something like 3424 with small doubleton diamond after 1c-1s, rather than rebidding 2nt. Some people hate this sort of thing, would always rebid 2nt on this, but reversing certainly can work out better on some hand constructions.

So I think "first suit longer, no room for exception whatsoever" is too dogmatic. I'd rather say "first suit supposed to/assumed to be longer, some hands might be lying about that if opener thinks the reverse will more effectively find the right contract or get it played from the correct side".

Quote

But I know of no such 'leaf' for reversing on 4441 hands

BWS is hardly comprehensive. It also makes no statement about reverse absolutely guaranteeing first suit longer.
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#8 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2007-March-01, 23:35

I would agree with Mikeh about 4441. The first suit is always longer when you reverse. 4441 hands are a problem and the reason why some players play a gadget.

Stephen, I would go further and say that "reversing with something like 3424 with small doubleton diamond after 1c-1s" is an abomination and that anyone who does this should buy a primer on bidding. I am not suggesting that you do this btw. Do do so is gross misdescription of the hand and deserves a partner who raises to the 5 level. I would be very interested in knowing where you have seen suggestions for reversing on this shape and by whom. The one or two hands in 100 where such an action wins will be drastically outweighed by those hands where partner takes your bidding seriously and thinks you have shown a 5-4 or similar

As posted by Mike, the most workable solution is to bid some number of NT. I would much rather this small lie than the gross misdescription.

I also cannot see how 1D 2C can possibly lose the H suit. With a weaker hand responder will surely bid 1H rather than 2C. (Incidentally the comment you make is a good argument for Walsh or Mafia style responses, but that is another story and you certainly don't need to play these to cope with 4441 shapes). I have spent about 10 minutes trying to come up with a hand where the H suit gets lost and have not been able to do so.
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#9 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2007-March-02, 02:27

The_Hog, on Mar 1 2007, 10:35 PM, said:

I would agree with Mikeh about 4441. The first suit is always longer when you reverse. 4441 hands are a problem and the reason why some players play a gadget.


Well, MikeH is demonstrably wrong about there being NO reversers on this shape. Washington Standard by Steve Robinson explicitly states reverse is allowed on 1444. Plus there is bridge world "rate your play" article from early 90s, a r.g.b poster referenced, that also suggests this approach with strong hands. Certainly a gadget is better, but perhaps too rare to give up an opening bid for it ...

Quote

Stephen, I would go further and say that "reversing with something like 3424 with small doubleton diamond after 1c-1s" is an abomination and that anyone who does this should buy a primer on bidding. I am not suggesting that you do this btw.
Do do so is gross misdescription of the hand and deserves a partner who raises to the 5 level. I would be very interested in knowing where you have seen suggestions for reversing on this shape and by whom.


Marshall Miles, "Modern Constructive Bidding". I know I've seen suggestions like this elsewhere also, but don't remember exactly where.

Quote

The one or two hands in 100 where such an action wins will be drastically outweighed by those hands where partner takes your bidding seriously and thinks you have shown a 5-4 or similar


I think it's silly to throw out words like "abomination" and stats like 2/100 when I'm fairly certain you haven't really done computer study of sufficient # of hands to know that this is a fair & accurate assessment. Maybe you don't like it, but it's a mistake to blithely dismiss stuff as unplayable without sound reasoning & sufficient data. There's lots of different ways to bid in bridge that can work reasonably well, as long as partner is on the same page. Schenken thought 5 cd majors w/ strong club was an abomination, but Meckwell & many others seem to be doing fine ...
In most areas of bidding some treatments work better on some hands, worse on others; if it was absolutely clearcut people would figure it out & abandon the clear losers, eventually albeit slowly if something gets entrenched.

Nobody should blast to the 5 level directly after a reverse. There's still lots of room to back into a notrump contract or 4M. It's not clear to me that one is going to play too many bad 4-3 fits at the 5 or 6 level doing this to offset the right-sided 3nt contracts, and the no-play 3nt contracts avoided. Just because one broke the "rules" and reversed on a 4-4 doesn't mean you can't land on your feet with responder having 4+ support. Maybe responder plays you for a stiff in 4th suit, and overreaches occasionally, but one can design rebids to distinguish the hands where you really have a stiff there from the ones where you improvised.

I also don't see why lying by a single card in shape 4-4 instead of 4-5 is a "gross misdescription", while the lying by the same single card rebidding NT is a "small lie". They are both small lies with a purpose, and will win some, lose some.

Quote

I also cannot see how 1D 2C can possibly lose the H suit.


I am not talking 1d-2c, I am talking 1d ... 2c, 1d followed by 2c rebid after 1s.
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#10 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2007-March-02, 03:13

Stephen, just because you have seen a comment in Steve Robinson's book does not mean that he actually does it in real life; the same applies to the Marshall Miles book. I for one, am prepared to accept that Mikeh's comment "But there are NO reversers on 4441s to my knowledge: at least not in the expert community" applies in the US. From my experience I can say that the same applies in my part of the world.

Secondly, you appear to place far to much emphasis on this concept of "right siding a contract". From memory you have posted on this before. (I may be wrong, but I can't be bothered to look it up.) Rather than going through hoops trying to rightside a contract it is far better to at least attempt to describe one's shape accurately. I don't retract my comment - reversing on a 3424 shape is an abomination. This bidding is suggestive of a beginner. All contracts are not played in 3NT and how you can accurately investigate a m suit contract by bidding like this is beyond my ken.

I still don't understand your comment about losing the H suit.
1D 1S 2C. (Btw standard rgb notation is not 1D..2C)
If responder gives preference to 2D, the strong hand can bid 2H.
If responder bids 3C, the strong hand can bid 3H - ok this one is muddy as it may be perceived as some form of 4th suit forcing.
If responder passes, well you should really play a change of suit as forcing, but that is another story.
If opener has a min opening, then yes the H suit can be lost, but this is a different story and is true of any 5 card M system.

Finally "Yes", you are correct. Rebidding in NT with a 4441 shape is not a small lie - it is a shape that responder should accept as possible.
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#11 User is online   cherdano 

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Posted 2007-March-02, 09:33

Stephen, I don't know about Robinson, but when you quote Miles you should be aware that he has many absolutely non-standard opinions. I would be shocked if a reverse on a 3424 shape would get more than 2 out of 30 votes in the MSC.
Anyway, Mike's description seems clearly the expert consensus, and I don't see the point of cluttering up an excellent writeup for the B/I forum with a side discussion on minority treatments by experts.
Obviously we have a recall bias in favour of the assholes. -helene_t
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#12 User is offline   jtfanclub 

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Posted 2007-March-02, 09:58

Quote

There are two schools of thought about the strength shown by opener. My preference is for what is known as the strong reverse approach: opener has a good 18 or more, altho even we strong reversers will upgrade 16 or 17 counts with a good 3 card holding in responder's suit. Thus after partner responds to my 1 with 1♠, I'll reverse to 2♥ with AQx AJxx KQ10xx x, but not with x AJxx KQ10xx AQx.

The other school requires less for the reverse: so they might well reverse with the second hand.. but not with anything less. Note that the quality of the high cards count: the 4321 point count undervalues As and Ks while overvaluing Qs and Js, so bear that in mind when deciding whether to reverse.


I don't understand why it's forcing across the second school, but that doesn't matter*. If I've manufactured a response out of fear instead of confidence (the KJTxx xxx x xxxx hand), 2 seems to already be too high. I assume the auction with the second hand would go:

1 1
2 2
2NT 3
P

is that correct?

My first question is, you've shown us minimum reverses, but what does an average reverse look like? How much strength do I need to have before I go slam-hunting?

My second question is, does that mean I have to pass with my example hand, or are the odds that we'll get in trouble as a result low enough that we should just laugh off the rare times we end up with 3-3?

Thanks, Matthew

*I only use SAYC in occassional and pickup partnerships anyways. Knowing why would satisfy my curiousity, but knowing that it's forcing is sufficient for me.
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#13 User is offline   FrancesHinden 

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Posted 2007-March-02, 10:11

I agree with everything mikeh said about 4441s and 4432s (should anyone care).

As an aficionado of the rather weaker reverse school (any decent 16-count is considered to be worth a reverse) I can perhaps answer the other question raised.

1D - 1S
2H - 2S

Many people who play this school play 2S as non-forcing, even if they also play 2NT as artificial. They get out alive with a weak hand with 5 spades

Personally, I still play 2S as forcing. If I had a weak hand with 6 spades I would have responded 2S weak jump shift (which I play as 4-8, a little stronger than some Americans). That does indeed leave you in a nasty spot with, say, KJ10xx xxx xx xxx but I'm prepared to live with that for the huge benefit of being able to bid 2S and make it forcing.
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#14 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2007-March-02, 10:41

jtfanclub, on Mar 2 2007, 10:58 AM, said:

I don't understand why it's forcing across the second school, but that doesn't matter*.  If I've manufactured a response out of fear instead of confidence (the KJTxx xxx x xxxx hand), 2 seems to already be too high.  I assume the auction with the second hand would go:

1  1
2  2
2NT    3
P

is that correct? 

My first question is, you've shown us minimum reverses, but what does an average reverse look like?  How much strength do I need to have before I go slam-hunting?

My second question is, does that mean I have to pass with my example hand, or are the odds that we'll get in trouble as a result low enough that we should just laugh off the rare times we end up with 3-3?

Thanks,  Matthew

*I only use SAYC in occassional and pickup partnerships anyways.  Knowing why would satisfy my curiousity, but knowing that it's forcing is sufficient for me.

1. KJ10xx xxx x xxxx: I have gambled with my 1 response and 'lost' when partner bid 2. I rebid 2, which is unlimited, and hear 2N. I would pass. Partner will usually be 1=4=5=3 with 18-19 hcp, and I would not bid 3 here: I now expect a minus and I want the smallest minus.

At the risk of contradicting everything I have said so far about reverses being forcing, it is, in my view, permissible to pass the reverse with the hand you gave: to pass 2. I strongly advise against making a habit of it: my rule for doing it is that I don't even think about it unless I have a hand that probably should not have responded initially.... one like the example you gave. Add anything at all to the hand, apart from maybe a stray Jack, and pass would be abominable.

2. I discussed minimum reverses, but your question re average or better hands will actually address why the reverse is forcing: it is because the upper range is very, very high indeed.

Just how high depends on your standards for a 2 opening. Because the strongest hand for a reverse is the hand that is almost but not quite a 2 opening.

I am a 'strong' 2 bidder: I am probably at one end of the spectrum amongst mainstream experts in terms of showing a GOOD hand. This is in part because I play 2 as an immediate second negative response and part of the cost of doing that is that we need the sequence 2 2 3 to be forcing. So my 2 openings are 22+ balanced or forcing to 3 or 4 of any other suit: and you need good hands to force to a 10 trick contract opposite nothing.

Also, I am strongly of the view that one should try to avoid opening 2 on 2 and 3 suiters unless enormously strong. I have opened a number of 23 hcp hands at the one level, as an illustration.

Thus K AKJx AQJxxx Ax is for me a 1 opening bid, and I will happily reverse over a 1 response, just as I would with x AQJx AQJxxx Ax.

As for what responder needs to go slam hunting: that is not an easy question to answer in a limited amount of space.

Obviously a hand with opening values and a fit for one of opener's suits is immediately thinking of slam and subsequent bidding will be primarily aimed at discovering if there is a reason to stop short, or whether grand is in the picture, etc.

One of the advantages of Ingberman, or, to a lesser extent, of the lebensohl-like 2N response (which is the same in many auctions) is that responder will often be able to show a gf at the 3-level, with lots of room.

Let's say the auction has gone 1 1 2 3.

Opener knows that 4 is the minimum destination. He knows that he has shown a good hand. So he now decides how aggressively he will move towards slam by considering the extent, if any, to which his hand is better than it need be.

So if he has stretched for his reverse, he will tend to bid conservatively. He might even simply raise 3 to 4 to say that he has absolutely nothing aboive a dead minimum: if responder wants to move towards slam, he has been warned what to expect.

I think most experts would use the approach that Justin wrote, on a recent thread, as given to him by Zia: if you have any interest in slam, cue bid until you think you've shown as much interest as you can.

That advice is not easy to understand for a B/I player: just what tells you that you should stop showing interest? This is an area of judgment and experience... and I sure can't answer it in this post. A short and not completely accurate answer would be that one should continue to cuebid if one feels that, in the context of the auction so far, including partner's cue bids or lack of cue bids, one still has some 'extras' to show and there is safety at whatever level you are committing to.

Going back to a point I raised earlier: if you are one of those who will open at the one-level with 20-22 points on some hands (and I think that most NA experts fall into this camp, to some degree) then you can see why the reverse must be forcing. If responder were allowed to pass with 5-6 points, we may miss a 25-27 point game.

BTW, this style is one reason I play the 'strong' reverse style I described in the long post. In my view, allowing a range of a good 16 to 22 is too wide: of course, if you are a 'light' 2 opener, you compress the range at the high end by eliminating some of the 1-level openings I use.. this allows the same effective range of values in the reverse bid, but with lower minimums and maximums. Having said that, no expert that I know of, playing a standard based method allows the reverse to be non-forcing.

One last point, about comments made by others on 4441 hands. I am not about to argue with Steve Robinson or Marshall Miles in terms of my opinion being better than theirs :P But both are proponents of styles very, very far from the mainstream, and if either advocate reverses on 4441 hands, then this is another example. I spoke with Robinson in Verona last summer and asked him what he would open with 65432 void void AKQJ109xx... I had heard a rumour that he would open 1... he did! He is a fine player and thinker, and I am not saying he is wrong. I am saying, and am convinced, that his views do not represent the views, on this issues and reverses, of the mainstream of NA expert thinking.

I did not begin this thread intending to generate a debate about which methods are best. I intended to describe the most popular expert styles as I know them to be. If any reader, after considering the methods shown, decides that it makes more sense to play reverses as non-forcing or to reverse on 4441 hands, go for it! Just don't be surprised when you pickup partner, especially if that partner is a good player, doesn't agree with you :P
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#15 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2007-March-02, 15:56

Quote

Anyway, Mike's description seems clearly the expert consensus, and I don't see the point of cluttering up an excellent writeup for the B/I forum with a side discussion on minority treatments by experts


I'd be OK if he just claimed that this was consensus, which might well be true. But he said "NO experts", and "no room for exception whatsoever", which are gross exaggerations in my view, and I don't think beginners should be taught with absolutes, they need to leave room for exceptions since there are so many in this game... If he wants to say "few experts", fine, I'd let that go.

Now I know Robinson is almost alone in believing in 1s opener on 5xx6 w/ 65432 spades, and I know Miles has a lot of esoteric views on a lot of things. But this reverse thing, I have seen it elsewhere, they are not alone on this, I don't think it is as rare a view as implied.
[Edit]
I found another book, Bill Root's "ABC's of Bridge". In it he explicitly states "it is sometimes desirable to reverse on 4-4 shape" in his section on reverses (though he declines to give examples), and later on in responding to the reverse he says "although opener will occasionally be 4-4, responder should assume [first suit is 5+]". Which is basically my view on the matter. I really don't think Root would insert such statements in a book targeted at beginners if such a treatment were completely unheard of, practiced only by a tiny fraction of American experts, or totally non-std.
[/Edit]

As for The_Hog's assertion that oh, just describe shape accurately is automatically better... he provides no justification for it, just says that is so. "This bidding is suggestive of a beginner. All contracts are not played in 3NT". To me this is backwards. Beginners wouldn't have the imagination to see the possibility of reverse on off-shape hands, and aren't looking for 4M/5m instead of 3nt when it is right. The_Hog wants an automatic 2nt rebid. Well, after that 2nt rebid, partner should bid 3nt an awfully large portion of the time. Then, LHO leads longest & strongest, they take the first 5 tricks in your weak suit, what happened? Reversing pinpoints the weakness in the 4th suit, and allows you to reach that 4M 4-3 contract when responder has strong M, weak 4th suit, but still 3nt if the opposite holds. It's the non-reverse sequence that is going to lead to 3nt instead of the superior minor or major suit more often, not the reverse sequence.

Reversing occasionally on 4-4 on difficult hands is just not all that dangerous, because responder is not going to be straining to play in the minor on an assumed 5-3 fit. Hog seems to think the reverse is automatic disaster but I fail to see why.

If shape is supreme & all hands with the same shape must bid the same way, you necessarily reach the same contract on
KJxx xxx xxx Axx
AQx AKxx xx KQJx

as you do with
xxxx xxx KQT Axx
AQx AKxx xx KQJx

If you are allowed to make small lies about your shape to show value location if you think it's superior, it's possible to do better.

This post has been edited by Stephen Tu: 2007-March-02, 21:29

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#16 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2007-March-02, 16:52

thanks Mike
Searching for your own mistakes is the only way to learn this game. - Fluffy

And no matter what methods you play, it is essential, for anyone aspiring to learn to be a good player, to learn the importance of bidding shape properly. - MikeH

SLOW DOWN! This is not a speedball :)
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#17 User is offline   DWM 

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Posted 2007-March-05, 07:36

After the 4th suit has been used below 2NT to show a minimum hand, what bids are forcing by opener?

Also does the negative bid say anything about responders shape?

e.g

would you use a negative bid holding

Jxxx
Qxxxx
QJx
x

If the bidding has gone

1C - 1H
2S

I have had a quick look on the net about Ingberman, but finding it hard to find any good pages that go into much detail, also very few mention replacing the 2NT with the fourth suit when possible below 2NT.
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#18 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2007-March-05, 15:36

1. A rebid of any suit, other than the 4th suit, is clearly passable. 1 1 2 2N (weak) 3: there is a case to be made that this is passable, showing a 0=4=5=4. I have never had this arise, so frankly am not sure what the consensus is, if there is one. My guess is that this is passable: if I held KJxx xxx xx Jxxx, for example, I'd be passing. Huge 3-suiters, such as 0=4=5=4 hands, are a real problem for standard methods, and passing might be wrong. I am positive that a rebid of 2N or of a suit mentioned by either bidder in a natural sense is passable. That doesn't mean that responder has to pass: only that opener bids knowing that his bid may end the auction.

2. the negative bid is silent about shape, with the exception that it denies the ability to make a cheaper, descriptive call. Thus 1 1 2 2 is neither negative nor positive. Had responder bid 2N instead, it would deny a rebiddable suit, while confirming negative values.


3. the auction 1 1 2 is not a reverse or, more accurately, not the type of reverse I was speaking of. This is a jump-reverse: an absolute game force. It is a stronger bid than a reverse: the high end is the same, but the low end is higher, since it forces to game opposite ALL hands. Most experts, to my knowldege, do not permit an out below game. It is similar to 1 1 3: a strong jumpshift by opener is game force.

i have seen some intermediate players claim that the jumpshift can be played as merely a one-round force, but there are profound systemic reasons why that is unplayable in a standard method... it is entirely playable in a limited opening method such a Precision: indeed, the jump shift need not even be forcing for one round in a big club system.

If I held Jxxx Qxxxx QJx x and heard partner jump reverse into 2, I'd bid 4. We have to be in game (see above) and I sure do not want to show slam interest, which I would do via 3. Generally (and not all experts agree with this, and those that do may differ on particular auctions) once one is in a game force auction, a jump to game shows that the jumper has no interest in further bidding: it is a signoff. Lest we see a wave of posts disputing this, let me add that this is a general principle, not a universal one, and that there are exceptions to the rule... but not in the sequence under discussion.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#19 User is offline   pclayton 

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Posted 2007-March-05, 16:32

Mike; I think 1 - 1 - 2 is referred to as a "jump-shift", not a 'jump-reverse'.

A jump reverse is something like: 1 - 1 - 3 - which is commonly played as a splinter.
"Phil" on BBO
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#20 User is online   cherdano 

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Posted 2007-March-05, 16:48

mikeh, on Mar 5 2007, 03:36 PM, said:

1. A rebid of any suit, other than the 4th suit, is clearly passable. 1 1 2 2N (weak) 3: there is a case to be made that this is passable, showing a 0=4=5=4. I have never had this arise, so frankly am not sure what the consensus is, if there is one. My guess is that this is passable: if I held KJxx xxx xx Jxxx, for example, I'd be passing. Huge 3-suiters, such as 0=4=5=4 hands, are a real problem for standard methods, and passing might be wrong. I am positive that a rebid of 2N or of a suit mentioned by either bidder in a natural sense is passable. That doesn't mean that responder has to pass: only that opener bids knowing that his bid may end the auction.

I admit I am surprised about this. My understanding of Ingberman was always similar to Lebensohl: It is a puppet to the next step, and opener only breaks the puppet if he has a GF hand. So 1D 1S 2H 2N 3C would be completely artificial, denying substantial extras, while 1D 1S 2H 2N 3D would be a game force.
Obviously we have a recall bias in favour of the assholes. -helene_t
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