At any game type, position or vulnerability, if I had something like ♠ AK642 ♡ AQ973 ♢ 75 ♣ 2, and no one had opened in front of me, I would bid 1 Spade, planning to rebid the heart suit of equal length, if given a second chance to speak.

But suppose my hand were strengthened to ♠ AK642 ♡ AKQ73 ♢ 75 ♣2, so that I have 16 high card points (more counting distribution). Would it now make sense for me to bid 1 heart and subsequently "reverse" to two spades in order to advertise my extra strength? If not, how else might I show more than a minimum opening hand?

3 Answers 3


No. Don't do it. Your partner will never learn about your fifth spade. A reverse promises more cards in the first bid suit than the second bid suit.

The auction

1S 1N 2H

has a wide range. Responder should strain to keep the bidding open.

Many would force to game with the hand you give. That would not be a mistake - it's a matter of judgment. Note that you'll have play for game opposite xx xxx xxxx xxxx, and it will be a favorite opposite S Qxx and out.

  • Valid points, but I would not necessarily force to game with this hand via 1S-1NT-3H. May be I'm timid (or tonight my glass is half empty), but I would not be happy, should partner suggest 3NT as the resting place. If I had the Jack of spades instead of a low card, I would feel a lot better, as it is likely enough for one of my suits to come in. Then again, partner might well pass 1S-1NT-2H with something like xx, Jxxx. Kx. Qxxx, so you win the post mortem :-). With my current partner we play Gazzilli, and this hand would be well described that way. May 20, 2023 at 20:27

Yes. No system can describe all hands, and there will be some where the goal is to tell the smallest lie, at the lowest level. This is one such.


  • The hand is not quite worth a jump shift.
  • Spades, the suit you will be showing as shorter, is weaker than the Heart suit.
  • The minors are (21) instead of (30), making 3 No Trump a tolerable landing if Partner is (22) in the Majors.

It's the presence of all three attributes above that makes the reverse into 2 Hearts the smallest lie on this hand. With a minor suit void you need to emphasize the 5-5 shape by opening Spades; followed by either a double rebid in Hearts or, if strong enough, jump-shifting into Hearts on round two.

Likewise if the Spade and Heart suits are swapped you mustn't lie about the Spade length; and so must open 1 Spade.

Finally: You cannot undo the lie. Once the reverse is made, you must bid the hand as 4522. There is now no way to ever show the fifth Spade without making the lie egregious, by showing a sixth Heart. If the reverse doesn't work out: apologize for having a Spade in with your Clubs; and move on.

  • 1
    Good points, but a border line case IMHO. The danger is that 1S-1NT-3H endplays partner into bidding 3NT with an unsuitable hand. Depends on the range of 1S-1NT-2H I guess. May 20, 2023 at 20:32

The answer always depends on your bidding system. In Acol/Standard English, reversing just to show strength is frowned upon. Instead you open 1S and jump rebid in hearts. With strictly longer hearts than spades, you reverse.

The argument that hand two is not worth a jump shift is one I cannot follow. It has four losers. If responder can bid at all after 1 spade, then you are good to bid to the four level (assume, pessimistically, 10 losers from partner; 24 - 10 - 4 = 10 tricks). Losing Trick Count

  • Agree with your description of the relative lengths of the suits in reverse. If partner has 3 card support for hearts you will be fine. I am a bit worried about forcing partner to a bad 3NT on a misfit hand. Gazzilli will help here! May 20, 2023 at 20:36
  • Have to look st Gazilli. Regarding a misfit; partner has 12 points, so probably at least 3 tricks in the minors (AQ+AQ); we have five guaranteed tricks in hand. I would expect a decent play for 3NT even with a misfit.
    – AlDante
    May 22, 2023 at 0:53
  • 1
    I'm more worried about partner having a hand close to the minimum 6 points. Is partner allowed to pass in Acol after 1S-1NT-3H with x, xx, KJxxx, QJxxx? May 22, 2023 at 3:59
  • The jump shift is forcing, so no, partner cannot pass.
    – AlDante
    Jun 9, 2023 at 0:33

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