he players at my local club are fond of quoting the “6—5, come alive” maxim popularized by Grant Baze in his 1986 Rules of Bridge
article. The basic idea is that 6—5 distribution is so powerful that it justifies aggressive bidding, even when you have minimum high-card strength.
Even armed with that good advice, we all seem to have problems when we're the opening bidder with a 5—6 hand such as
K Q J 8 6
A J 10 7 6 5
If you had six hearts and five diamonds, there would be no problem—you could open 1
and keep rebidding diamonds until partner got the picture. With six cards in the lower
-ranking suit, though, you have a dilemma.
The simplest approach is to open 1
. This usually results in “underbidding” your playing strength, as the best you can do is show 5—5 distribution by rebidding diamonds twice. The purists prefer 1
, which allows you to show your true pattern by rebidding 2
, but that creates a reverse auction that promises much more high-card strength. When partner bids a hopeless slam based on your presumed 17-plus points, you find yourself saying, “Sorry, partner. I thought I had to ‘come alive.’”
The Jump Reverse
An effective solution is to open your longer suit and use a jump rebid in a higher
-ranking suit as natural, limited and non-forcing. Let's call this the jump-reverse rebid.
With the hand above, open 1
. Over partner's response of 1
or 1NT, you jump to 3
to show a minimum opener with six diamonds and five hearts.
The requirements for using this jump-reverse rebid are:
1) You’re the opening bidder and have 6—5 distribution, with six cards in the lower-
2) You have minimum high-card values (10-15 high-card points),i.e.,
a hand that’s worth an opening bid, but isn’t strong enough for a standard reverse (a good 16+ hcp).
3) You have the playing strength to play at the three level opposite a minimum response.
4) Partner makes a one-level response that bypasses your five card suit. You may also make a jump-reverse if an opponent's
overcall forces you past the one level whether or not partner has responded. For example,
Note that you do not
jump if you have room to bid your second suit at the one level. After opening 1
and geting a 1
response from partner, your jump to 2
should be a strong jump shift (18+ hcp). With a hand like
A Q 8 7 4
Q J 10 8 6 3
you can show your pattern and minimum values by simply rebidding 1
and then 2
Another exception comes after partner makes a negative double. After you open 1
, say LHO overcalls 1
and partner makes a negative double. Your jump to 3
is a simple value bid, promising four-card support and invitational strength.
Most pairs choose not
to use this convention if partner makes a two-level response, especially in a 2/1 forcing-to-game system. After opening 1
and getting a 2
response from partner, rebid just 2
K 10 9 7 6
A 9 8 7 6 4
This saves space and allows you to use 3
as a splinter (good club support, singleton heart, extra values.)
Weighing the Benefits
This simple convention is especially effective in finding short-point games and slams, and can even have preemptive value. Unless you already use this jump as a “mini-splinter,” adding the jump-reverse also makes good use of an otherwise idle bid, since you don’t need the jump to show strength. If you have a 6—5 hand with extra values, you can make a forcing two-level reverse and then rebid your second suit.
The main drawback is that although the jump rebid gives a near-perfect description of your hand, it takes the auction very high, very fast. If partner has a weak hand with shortness in your second suit, he’ll have to go to the four level to take a preference to your first suit. To make best use of this bid, opener and responder must exerecise good judgment.
Evaluating Your Hand
The best hand for a jump-reverse has all (or almost all) of its honor cards in the long suits. this is especially critical if you’re opening with only 10 or 11 hcp. For example, a jump-reverse is not recommended with a hand like
J 6 5 4 2
K Q J 9 7 3
With such a weak second suit, the best strategy is to open 1
and rebid 2
Another way to evaluate your hand ’s suitability for a jump-reverse is to count quick tricks and losers. A “classic” jump-reverse hand will have two to three quick tricks and four to five losers.
You’ll also be faced with borderline hands that seem too strong for a non-forcing jump, but not quite strong enough for a classic reverse. Consider these two hands:
A Q J 9 2
Q J 10 8 6 3
A K 10 7 6
A K 10 8 6 3
Both hands have 14 points and four losers, but the second hand
is much stronger because it has more honors in its long suits, more quick tricks and “slower” losers (missing queens instead of aces and kings). If partner responds 1NT to my 1
opening, I would use the jump-reverse to 3
with hand #1. With hand #2, I would rebid 2
, evaluating it as strong enough for a “true” reverse.
Guidelines for Responder’s Rebid
Adding the jump-reverse to your system is simple enough, but you'll need good hand-evaluation skills to take full advantage of it. The most difficult part of this type of auction is responder's decision after the jump reverse. These guidelines will help you choose your rebid:
• Opener's jump-reverse gives a fairly complete description of his hand, so in most cases, it's up to responder to place the contract. Remember that although opener has shown great playing strength, the jump is not forcing. You may pass or take a preference in his first suit if you have no interest in game.
• To assess your chances for game or slam, forget about high-card points. Use your picture of opener's hand and concentrate on your holdings in his suits. You can start with these “ballpark” assumptions:
(1) On average, opener will have 11 or 12 points and two (possibly 2 1/2) quick tricks.
(2) Virtually all his high-card points will be in his long suits.
(3) He will most often be 1-1 in the outside suits.
(4) His hand will have four—possibly five—losers. (A loser is each missing ace, king or queen in a long suit; a missing ace or king in a doubleton; and a missing ace in a singleton.)
• In general, you should stretch to bid game if you have fitting cards in partner’s suits. You can expect to make 4 or 4 if you have a fit and cards to cover one to two losers. For a minor-suit game, you need honors and/or ruffing values to cover at least two (possibly three) losers.
After the auction
the meanings of responder’s rebids are:
Pass—a “trick-poor”, non-fitting hand that prefers opener’s second suit, e.g.,
K Q 10 2 7 5 2 K J 9 4 4 3
Since partner is likely to be 1–1 in the outside suits, you can't count on your kings to cover any losers.
Preference to opener's first suit
) = a weak hand that prefers the six-card suit. Opener will always pass.
Game bid in either of opener's suits
) = to play.
Rebid of your suit (3 or 4) = to play. Your suit should be long and strong enough to play opposite a singleton.
3NT = to play.
Below-game raise of opener's second suit (1—1; 3—4) = invitational to game, showing a fit and cards that will cover one to two losers.
4NT = Key card Blackwood for opener’s second suit. An alternative is “double” key card, which asks about six key cards (four aces and two kings in openeer’s suits).
Fourth suit (4) = a slam try in opener’s first suit. Opener accepts by cue bidding an ace or void or by using key card Blackwood. Another approach is to use this as immediate key card for opener’s first suit, which allows you to check on aces without going past five of the minor.
A 9 8 5 4
10 4 3
9 4 3
K covers one sure loser, and the
A will be another trick on most deals (when opener is 1-1 in the black suits.) Your trumps may even cover a third loser if partner needs to ruff a diamond.
Q 8 7 4 3 2
10 9 5 3
. This dummy could be a virtual yarborough if partner is 1-1 (or 2-0 with a club void). Then again, game could be almost laydown if he holds
A 9 8 6 2
A K 8 7 6 2
Note that the auction gives you a clue that your
KQ are working cards. The opponents’ silence suggest they don’t hold 10 or 11 clubs making it likely that partner is 0=5=6=2.
K Q 7 5 3 2
K Q 3
Pass. Plenty of high-card points, but with no fit and only one cover card for partner, chances for game are slim. At IMPs I’d probably bid 3NT and pray. Opposite most of partner’s hands, though, transportation problems and the shaky club stoppers will defeat 3NT.
A Q J 8 5 4 3 J A K Q 10 3
3NT. You had high hopes when the auction began, but you’ve quickly discovered the misfit. When in doubt, be a pessimist about partner’s potential fit for your suits. He’ll rarely have the cards you need, and even if he did, there’s no safe way to investigate. If you still have the nagging feeling that you should be making another move with this hand, keep in mind that partner’s jump-reverse may have already given you an edge over the field. Pairs who don’t play this convention will be having a long, tortured auction to show their “dueling 6—5’s,” and they may be propelled past 3NT. They’ll also be giving their opponents more information than you've given yours, so they may not get the club lead you’re expecting. Use what you know, and rely on the odds to settle for a reasonable contract, not necessarily a perfect one, and let other pairs do the high-level guessing.2
1This web page is an amalgamation of two articles originally published in the ACBL Bulletin (July and August 2003), and appears here with kind permission of the author and publisher.
2Karen Walkers's articles and bridge resources are available on her web site www.prairienet.org/bridge.