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Playing five card majors, I open one heart, partner responds two of a minor, and I bid two spades. That would be a "reverse," showing a five-four pattern, and at least 16-17 points.

But suppose I bid one diamond (with three or four), because I have only four cards in my major. Partner bids one spade, and I now bid two hearts (with four of them).

Are there some variations of standard American, or any other bidding system, whereby partners would agree that this sequence was not a reverse? And responder would not credit me with more than 12-13 points? The reason is that I was bidding a "convenient" minor at the one level, and I actually have no more diamonds than hearts.

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    A convenient minor should only ever be bid with a hand that guarantees to rebid either NT or a raise (with 4 card support) of a suit bid by Partner. If you cannot make that guarantee, you are abusing the convenient minor convention, and should look for an alternative opening. Dec 15, 2022 at 2:43

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Why wouldn’t it be a reverse? Partner already denied four hearts (unless they have a weird distribution of their own). What’s the point of bidding 2H unless it’s a strong hand?

With 13 and x-4-4-y, you always have another bid. If x is 4+, you bid 2s. If y is 4+, you bid 2c. If neither is, then 1NT.

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The sequence 1D-1S-2H is still a reverse, and promises extra strength (17+ is typical, but not universal). The reason why such a rebid normally promises extra strength is that it commits the partnership to the three level, should partner have a minimum hand and a preference for your first suit. This may be something you don't want to do.

So if you have 2443 shape and minimum strength (12-14), your proper rebid after 1D-1S is 1NT:

  • You have a balanced hand, so the NT rebid gets the message across.
  • You have a minimum opener, so you don't want to go higher without encouragement from partner.
  • And finally, if you belong in hearts, partner is still there. If they ahve extra strength, the bidding won't stop here.

Having said all that, a few problematic hand types do come to mind. If partner has 5 spades, 4 hearts and a weak(ish) hand, you might belong in hearts. There are various gadgets seeking to solve such problems such as Reverse Flannery and, of course, all forms of checkback, or new minor forcing. Discuss with partner before agreeing to use them. My experience with BBO suggested to me that nearly everybody in the US plays new minor forcing, but here I was told that's not the case. Caution!

Having such holes in the system is somewhat unavoidable, there simply is not enough room to tell everything you would like to, and you need to select bids least likely to leave your partnership in an awkward contract.

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    Thank you for the link. I used to play Flannery, but Reverse Flannery was new to me.
    – AlDante
    May 20, 2023 at 17:43
  • You are welcome @AlDante! I don't have an awful lot of experience with Reverse Flannery. With my current partner we played it for a whil about 10 years ago, but the problem disappeared, when we switched to Transfer Walsh + XYZ. I guess some good players do use RF, for otherwise it would not be known at all. It obviously depends on the rest of the system, whether it is needed. May 20, 2023 at 20:15

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