Although most of the world thinks “reverse” is a gear on a car, bridge players know that it is a bid, and a confusing bid at that. Let me try to take some of the confusion away.

When we discuss the reverse, we are going to focus on the opener’s bidding. We know that a minimum opener (12-14 HCP) cannot introduce a new suit if it takes the bidding past two of his original suit.

That means, if you open 1 club and you have a mini hand, then your next bid cannot be 2 diamonds, 2 hearts, or 2 spades, because those bids take you beyond 2 of your original suit (2 clubs).

If you open one heart, you can bid 2 clubs and 2 diamonds at the two level (they are below the level of 2 hearts), but you cannot bid 2 spades at the two level.

Therefore, when you “flip your lid” or make a bid at the two level that is beyond the two level of your original suit (opening 1 club, then bidding 2 spades, for example), you are reversing. The opening bidder needs extra strength to “flip his lid” or to reverse; a reverse bid promises a medium (16-18) or maximum (19-21) opening hand.

A reverse not only shows an opening hand of 16 to 21 points but also shows a specific distribution. When the opener reverses, he must have two “real” suits with more cards in the first suit than in the second. The normal distribution for a reverse is 5-4, but it could be 6-4 or 6-5.

When the opener reverses, his partner must make another bid; that means the bid is forcing for one round. The responder must take another bid when the opener reverses even with a mini (6-9) hand.

With a mini hand, the responder can bid 2 No Trump or rebid a five-card or longer suit. Any other bid by the responder is game forcing.

Sound complicated?

Many students find this standard bid daunting (and it is a standard bid, not a convention), but once you use it, you will love it. And it’s finally a way to show a medium opening hand, which is difficult to do.

It also keeps the bidding low with a maximum opening hand so the partnership can find the correct spot for their game without getting too high.

Please join us to practice bidding hands that “flip your lid” this winter at the Hilton Head Island Bridge Club.

Kathie Walsh, accredited by ABTA, teaches all levels of bridge at Hilton Head Island Bridge Club.