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by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 THE BRIDGE BEAT aims to cover the bridge pulse of the nation. If you have questions of general bridge interest, interesting deals, stories, or news items, please feel free to pass them on to us by e-mail only, to (our permanent address). We will reserve space in the Sunday column for suitable material originating with our readers. We can't promise to work every submission into a column, and it may be a while before we can do so in any case, but every communication will be considered. Please specify that you are writing to THE BRIDGE BEAT (we also write a readers-oriented monthly column for the American Contract Bridge League).

 Today's contribution is from Yvan Lizotte of La Prairie, Quebec.

 I play regularly with a group of friends. We are attempting to standardise our bidding methods, but there are a few issues that we cannot easily resolve. We have agreed to play a two-over-one response to a major suit opening as game-forcing, but we are not on the same page when it comes to opener's rebid in these situations. I feel that a reverse bid (as shown below) by opener should not imply extra values, but simply shows length in the suits bid. My idea is that this treatment makes it easier for responder to bid notrump when he has stoppers in the unbid suit. I know that this goes against standard practice and all the literature on reverse bidding. I maintain that a convention is a means of communication and if a treatment prevents us from doing so, we must amend it to fit our needs. My friends call me an upstart for daring to challenge the traditional well-established procedures. Am I a rebel or simply a bridge player using common sense?"

 "Here are some examples:

KQJ8 A7654 76 Q6,

 I open 1, partner bids 2, I bid 2

87 AK765 %76 KQ76,

 I open 1, partner bids 2, I bid 3."

 "My friends maintain that with minimum values I should simply repeat my hearts with a mediocre suit, or rebid two notrump even without true stoppers in the unbid suits. I think that would be giving partner false information."

 Kokish: The approach you suggest is not standard practice, but it should not be labelled wrong or right without analysis. A preliminary caveat is that when one partner is simply describing his distribution while the other is also expecting extra strength, the partnership will often finish in a contract that can't be made. Any successful partnership works hard to developing firm agreements, and this is just one area that requires discussion.

 Kraft: If you agree that opener may "reverse" after a two-over-one response with minimum hands, consider your course of action when you have (instead) a good hand (perhaps with extra shape), a so-called genuine reverse. You will inevitably choose the same reverse rebid because anything else would be bulky, inefficient, and better used for other purposes (a splinter raise, for example). When partner chooses a game contract, you will realise that you have not yet shown your extra strength. If you pass, you might miss an easy slam, but if you bid again, you might be beyond your depth. Going set at the five level (or perhaps in 4NT) can be particularly hard on a partnership when each player has a theoretically legitimate point view. In effect, this late change of heart amounts to entrapment.

 Kokish: Systems using game-forcing two-over-one responses can be very effective, but a sound foundation must be established. Some expert pairs do favour the approach of our correspondent and for them, opener's simple major-suit rebid would suggest a six-card suit. We prefer a style that is closer to traditional, so our major-suit rebid would be the default choice with hands unsuitable for a different, rather specific rebid (2NT with both stoppers and extra values, a reverse with the right shape and extra strength, a minor-suit raise with sound values, a jump rebid only with an exceptional suit). With both of Yvan's example hands we would rebid 2 because nothing else appeals.

 Kraft: For us, suit quality is important. We would reverse to 2 after a 2 response to our 1 opening with:


AKJ7 AQJ94 K2 84,


 but not with:

KJ84 AK862 A5 KJ; we would mark time with 2 or 2NT, but most textbooks would consider this an automatic 2 rebid.

 We prefer to define sequences like 1-2; 3% as not only "high reverses" but also as at least five-five, promising two very good suits (one honour in partner's hand should give a good play for five winners).


 This would be a typical minimum: AQJ107 5 KQJ95 75.

 With more high cards but less distribution or with less chunky suits, we would rebid 2, temporarily concealing the second suit, but leaving responder plenty of room to show a second suit or stall with a natural, forcing 2NT. It is true that our approach isn't exactly mainstream either, and that we have to use some judgment with classical reverses that do not meet our special suit-quality requirements. But isn't that the sort of challenge that make our game so appealing?

 Kokish: Even if you simply define these three-level rebids as five-five with extra values, we believe you will be better off than players using a go-as-you-please style.