Reverse Bids in Bridge
Reverse bids in bridge made easy! Reverses are an important part of Standard, Acol and all natural bidding systems. The barrier principle is a simple way to make sense of it all.
Imagine that a barrier is created when an opening bid is made. This barrier is simply the 2 level of that opening suit.
The opening bid was 1♣ so the barrier is 2♣. After a 1♦ opening bid, the barrier is 2♦. After a 1♥ opening bid, the barrier is 2♥ and so on. After 1♠? 2♠, of course.
What is the point of this? The answer is that we use the barrier principle to describe a certain type of hand, which is called a reverse.
What does a reverse show?
A reverse shows a strong hand with the first bid suit always being longer than the second. A reverse means that partner has to bid to the 3 level in order to return to opener's first suit.
North's 2♣ bid is below the barrier of 2♦. 2♣ is not a reverse. South could bid 2♦, returning to opener's suit at the 2 level.
2♥ is above the barrier of 2♦, so 2♥ is a reverse. It shows a strong hand, 4 hearts and 5 diamonds. Notice that if South wants to go back to North's first suit it will need to be at the 3 level with a bid of 3♦.
Why can't a reverse be made with two 4 card suits?
In most auctions if a player shows two suits, the hand should be unbalanced. If you're balanced you're either going to open 1NT or bid NT on the second round. If you haven't bid notrumps by the second round you won't be balanced. The first suit will, therefore, always contain at least 5 cards.
Opener's Reverse Bids
- 16+ HCP
- unbalanced hand
- forcing for 1 round
Can you show the heart suit? No, you can't bid above the barrier. You have to rebid 2♦ which is not forcing. You can't force partner to bid again, given that she may only have 6 HCP.
You would like to bid your heart suit wouldn't you. You can this time as you have more than 16 HCP, so you can afford to show both your suits.
Responding to a Reverse
Reverses are forcing! You must bid at least once more.
You can support either of partner's suit. Remember, partner has shown 5 of the first suit. With no fit for partner you can rebid your suit or 2NT.
This time you have a known we have an 8-card fit in clubs (Partner must have 5 clubs to reverse). It is good that partner has a strong hand, as we are forced to the 3-level.
This time you are stronger and it's up to you to indicate your extra strength. 3NT seems the best option here. You have spades covered.
Practicing Reverse Bidding
Reverse bids come up a lot! We talk about them often in our online bridge games and you'll find plenty of opportunity to practice this important bidding technique.
@graeme Thanks for clarifying this. One question. You say that a reverse bid is a demand, and response MUST bid. However, in saying that, I assume that if your partner prefers your second suit, and is on minimal response points, he may pass at that level and not go to 3 level?
Thank you @graeme for your explanation of the reverse bid - I totally understand it now and hopefully I can use it when I play, especially on skybridge.