1-level Wrap-up (Part 1)


Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 05/15/2014
Level: Intermediate

1-Level Openings Wrap-up

In the previous months we've examined openings on the one-level in minors and majors. Now we can start to tie up the loose ends with an examination of these oft-confused topics.

 

We will cover (not all in this article):

  1. Opener's Jump shift
  2. Opener's Reverse
  3. Fourth-Suit Forcing
  4. New-Minor Checkback
  5. Inverted Minors
  6. 2/1 GF

Warning: Some of this material is a little beyond my normal KISS approach.

 

1. Opener's Jump Shift

This means that the opener jumps (skips a level) in the process of bidding a new suit. For example, 1♠-1♠-2♠ (instead of 1♠).

It continually amazes me how many "intermediate" players have been improperly taught (or improperly remember) this topic. Read carefully: A Jump-shift by opener is GAME FORCING. It shows a very big hand. It does not show a 16- or 17-count. Got it?

 

Let's look at a few examples:

 Opener Responder
  1? Pass 1?
Pass 3?    

 

 

 

 

Opener should have something like:

?4
?A 2
?A Q J 9 2
?A K J 3 2

Opener should not have:

?4
?8 2
?K Q J 9 2
?A K Q 3 2

With the latter hand, opener has to rebid 2? (in tempo, please). He is not nearly strong enough to jumpshift. When opener rebids in a new suit without jumping, he can have up to 18 points!

 

 Opener Responder
  1? Pass 1?
Pass 2?    

 

 

 

 

Opener should have something like:

?A 3
?A Q J 2
?2
?A K J 6 5 2

Opener should not have:

?4
?K J 9 2
?A 2
?A Q J 8 3 2

With the latter hand, opener has to rebid 1? (again, in tempo—don't indicate that you have extras by taking a long time). Opener is not nearly strong enough to force to game with a jumpshift.

So, opener's jumpshift is a huge bid, showing almost a strong 2-bid. Not only is it forcing (partner cannot pass), but it is forcing all the way until game is reached. The only way to stop short of game is if responder breaks system and just decides to pass, maybe because he has responded with a 2-count or the like.

Note: A 2NT rebid (as a jumpshift) is the obvious exception. That action shows 18-19 balanced, and can be passed.

2. Opener's Reverse

This can be a complex subject. "What is a reverse?" Technically, there are several ways to describe it, all of them confusing. Here is one way to define a reverse:

 

a nonjump bid by opener at the two-level in a new suit that ranks higher than the suit opener bid first. This applies only if responder's bid was on the 1-level.

 

Ugh! Better to look at a few example auctions of a reverse by opener:

Auction 1)

 Opener Responder
  1? Pass 1?
Pass 2?    

 

 

 

 

Auction 2)

 Opener Responder
  1? Pass 1?
Pass 2?    

 

 

 

 

Notice that in each auction, the opener bid a new suit on the two-level in a higher-ranking suit than his first suit (but not a jump). Such a bid shows extras. Why? Because if the responder now were to go back (take a preference) to opener's first suit, he would have to go up one more level (to the three-level). Opener had better have a good hand to survive such a preference. How good?

A reverse shows at least 16-18 playing points. I won't get into how to add for distribution at this point. Suffice to say, that the modern-day treatment is to count extra for long suits. Add for short suits, only after a trump-fit has been established.

So, on the two auctions shown above, the hands opener might have (respectively) are:

Auction 1)

?5
?J 4 3
?A Q J 9
?A K Q 5 4
.

Opener should not have:

?4
?Q J 2
?A Q J 9
?K J 5 3 2.

This hand is not strong enough to reverse.

Auction 2)

?2
?A Q J 3
?A K J 9 8
?K 5 4
.

Opener should not have:

?2
?Q J 3 2
?A K J 6 5
?K 3 2
.

This hand is not strong enough to reverse.

A reverse is forcing—responder "cannot" pass. However a reverse is NOT forcing to game. Note the difference between a reverse (which shows extras and might be a huge hand) and a jumpshift which guarantees a powerful hand and is game-forcing. You can click the underlined link for more details and practice.


Quick summary:

Opener's Jumpshift = Game forcing  (Roughly 18/19 or more up to a 2? Opening)

Opener's Reverse = One-round forcing (Roughly 16 or more up to a 2? Opening)


What happens after the reverse? You can just "wing it," if you wish, but here is a simple (and common) system:

AFTER OPENER REVERSES:

If the responder rebids his suit, it shows 5 cards and is forcing one round, but not to game. Example: 1?—1?—2?—2? (5+ ?, forcing one round)

If the responder bids the cheapest new suit (or 2NT if that is cheaper), he is showing a weak hand. He can pass opener's next bid. (Example: 1?—1?—2?—2NT is a weak hand—the responder can pass opener's next bid).

If the responder does anything else, it is natural and forcing to game. (Example: 1?—1?—2?—3? (Natural, game forcing)

Notes: There is confusion (rightly so) over other "reverse" auctions. For example, is 1?—2?—2? a "reverse?" It is, but does it show extras if playing that 2? was already GF? There is no universal answer, but I say that in a 2/1 GF auction, there should be no such thing as "reverses" -- i.e., they don't show extras. Also, is 1?—2?—3? a reverse?

Again, no consensus, but I recommend that it doesn't promise extras. There are other auctions where it is not clear if opener has reversed, nor whether he has promised extras. Also, the explanation given in this article is just a summary—it doesn't cover all the nuances. However, it already says more than I wanted to say—this is supposed to be a KISS (Keep it Simple…) summary.

3. Fourth-Suit Forcing

When the responder bids the fourth suit (the only suit not bid yet) on his second turn, it means he has a good hand. He does not promise any length or strength in the (fourth) suit he has bid.

How strong a hand? I recommend playing it as a game force. This means the responder has at least opening-bid values (he knows that opposite his partner's opening bid there is enough combined strength for game).

Example:

OpenerResponder
1? 1?
1? 2?

 

In this auction, responder's 2? says:

Partner, I have enough for game (I might not have anything in diamonds).

Why make such a bid?

In modern bridge, if responder had jumped at his second turn, for example:

OpenerResponder
1? 1?
1? 3?

or

 

 

 

OpenerResponder
1? 1?
1? 3?

 

 

 

or

OpenerResponder
1? 1?
1? 3?

 

 

 

 

it would be invitational. In general, a second-round jump by responder is invitational. Accordingly, if he has more than an invitational hand he needs to make some other bid. Ergo, fourth-suit forcing. In each of the three auctions above, what if responder had a game-forcing hand with either hearts, spades, or clubs? In all cases he'd start with 2? to set up the game force. On his next turn (he had better get one!) he clarifies his intentions with a natural (forcing) bid.

Notes:

  1. I highly recommend playing the 4th suit by responder (as an UPH) as 100% game forcing.
  2. Look out for the special auction of 1?—1?—1?—1?: Some players choose to use this as the only exception. The 1? bid is treated as a natural call (to try to locate a possible 4-4 spade fit), and the "fourth-suit forcing bid" becomes a jump to 2?. It is not crucial that you make this exception—but just be aware that many partnerships do so.
  3. By a passed hand, the fourth suit should be natural and not forcing at all (a passed hand can't force to game).
  4. I recommend that jumps in the fourth suit be played as natural and invitational. So, 1?-1?-2?-3? is something like:?A Q J x x
    ?K J 10 x x
    ?x x
    ?x
    .
  5. In a 2/1 GF auction, the 4th suit is not needed to artificially force to game (you are already forced there) -- so it should be natural!

You can click the underlined links for more details and practice. 


Next  – Wrap-up on 1-level openings (new minor, inverted minors, 2/1 GF)

 

 

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