A Perverse Reverse

Author: Richard Pavlicek
Date of publish: 06/01/2013
Level: Intermediate

This "Telephone Number" comes from Richard Pavlicek. On his wonderful site, he published this bridge column he had previously written:

What is a Reverse Bid?A reader recently asked, “What constitutes a reverse bid, and what information does it convey?” This inquiry immediately brought to mind an amusing deal (for East-West, that is) from Boston last month. Before explaining what a reverse bid is, I will show you what it is not. Warning! This is painful.

Vul: None
?A Q 6 2
?4 3
?6 5 4 3
?J 7 6
?9 8 7
?Q 10 6 5
?A J 9 7
?K 4
 ?K J 10 5 4
?A 8 2
?Q 10
?9 5 3
?K J 9 7
?K 8 2
?A Q 10 8 2
All Pass

South opened the bidding one club and North responded one spade. South next made a reverse bid, or more appropriately a perverse bid, of two hearts, and North showed a preference with three clubs. South could have avoided the debacle by passing, but he overbid again with three notrump — after all, he did have a diamond stopper.

East was alert to the occasion. His double, by common agreement, asked for the lead of dummy’s first suit. From East’s perspective he could not be certain of defeating three notrump, but a spade lead certainly looked liked the best start.

And so it was, as West led the spade nine. Declarer was sure East held the king, so he won dummy’s ace and led the club jack — perhaps he could salvage something if the finesse worked. West won the king and returned the spade eight, which held, then another spade. East ran all his spades (West discarded two hearts) then shifted to the diamond queen, allowing West to run the entire diamond suit. A field day!

If that wasn’t enough, South was forced to discard all but one of his good clubs to keep a heart stopper. His last three cards were the heart K-J and club ace, so West exited with a club and South had to lead hearts from his hand. The bloodbath was complete. South managed to win only two tricks — minus 1700 for his “not a reverse bid.”

So what is a reverse bid? After a one-level response, opener’s nonjump two-level rebid in a suit higher ranking than his first suit shows a strong hand (about 17 points or more) and is forcing. With the actual hand, South has nowhere near a two-heart bid and should rebid two clubs (one notrump is also a possibility in some systems) which North will pass.