Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lebensohl Over Reverses

There are some auctions that make me cringe every time they come up with a new partner, because I don't know what they will treat as forcing and what will not be forcing. One such auction is any reverse. If we ever get to the point of saying "Leb over Rev?" "Sure" then it's no problem, but I don't even know what standard is or if there is a standard of whether 1C-1S-2H-3C is forcing or not.

First of all, what types of hands should we reverse with? Time and time again I see players, even some reasonably experienced players, reverse with balanced hands - some 4432 18 count. With almost all of those that cannot raise partner's suit, 2NT is probably the right rebid. Reverses should be limited to strong distributional hands - at least 5-4 with at least game invitational values opposite opposite a minimum response. I'd say a minimum 1C-1H-2D reverse would be: Ax, xx, KQxx, AKTxx.

How does bidding continue after a reverse? As we've established the reverse (opener's second bid) is a 1 round force, but what bids by responder are now forcing? Let's stick with the 1C-1H-2D auction. I suppose in standard 2H, 2NT, 2C and 3D are all non-forcing, just taking a preference, and all good hands would need to jump or bid 4th suit (2S) but I'm not really sure. I think a lot of people are also unsure of what is forcing so opener winds up bidding 3NT over almost any or responder's rebids, often times getting to a no-play 3NT. I highly recommend playing Lebensohl over reverses. A 2NT rebid by responder is a relay to 3C, just as it is in the popular Lebensohl over 1NT interference. This is usually a way to get out at 3 of a suit with you have 17 opposite 6. Opener, however, does not have to bid 3C if he still wants to go to game opposite a 5 point hand that is likely trying to sign off in 3C. Perhaps more importantly, it allows responder to bid naturally and not worry about getting passed short of game. Making forcing raises in a minor suit is always kind of difficult - going through 4th suit and then supporting clubs puts you beyond 3NT and isn't very efficient. Therefore, it will improve your slam bidding, especially in getting to a minor suit slam, by being to establish a suit sooner. Responder rebidding his suit at the 2 level is still non-forcing and 4th suit is still artificial and forcing to game, theoretically denying 3 in opener's first suit and 4 in opener's second suit.

Using Lebensohl, you lose the ability to play 2NT but gain the clarity of being able to distinguish between a sign off and forcing hand with support sooner. 2NT generally is a poor contract when you are distributional. If you're going to play a partscore, you're usually better off playing in a suit, even if it's a 5-2 fit.

Lebensohl also can and should apply to after a weak two doubled. 2 of a new suit is non-forcing and 2NT again is a relay to 3C, usually trying to sign off in 3 of a suit with a really weak hand (0-7 hcp). This allows you to bid 3C or 3D directly over the double of 2H to show a hand with moderate values (8-11 or so). You give up getting to bid 2NT naturally but gain an extra level of figuring out advancer's strength. And, as in the case of a reverse, 2NT is not normally a good contract. If you have a natural 2NT (stopper in their suit and about 10 hcp), you probably should convert the double to penalty or bid 3NT.

1 comment:

  1. after leb two no bid, any suit bid would be to drop dead, or just showing no extra values with at least a 7 card fit?