Reverse Flannery by Responder
by William Schramm, Ojai, CA


The Flannery convention was created to handle a classic standard opening problem: how to bid hands with minimum opening values. Reverse Flannery by Responder (RFR) is designed to handle a classic standard responding problem, how to cope with hands with five spades and four hearts after an opening of one in a minor, on minimum responding values.

Standard practice is to bid the longer suit first (spades) and then the second suit (hearts). Assume then that opener bids one of a minor, responder bids one spade, and opener makes a minimum rebid (one notrump or two of his suit). Is responder's two-heart rebid forcing? 

If it is not, there will be problems handling good and invitational hands with the distribution. Three hearts crowds the auction, and if it is the only way of forcing, it makes it difficult or impossible to differentiate grades of forcing response, or whether responder has four or five hearts. If it is forcing, the heart fit may well be lost when opener and responder both have minimums.

New minor forcing provides a way of differentiating after a one-trump rebid, yet it deprives the new minor of its natural meaning, and it is not available at all after a rebid in opener's minor. 

RFR provides unequivocal methods of handling these hands.
(1) An immediate jump shift to two hearts after partner's minor opening is defined as showing a hand with five spades and four or five hearts, minimum responding values (about 5-8 HCP).
(2) A one-spade response followed by a jump shift to three hearts on the second round is invitational, showing 5-5 distribution or better. 
(This treatment originated by Edwin Kantar.)
(3) A one-spade response followed by a two-heart rebid is forcing for one round showing a minimum of 9 HCP and no upper limit. A three-heart rebid on the third round is forcing to game.

While it is true that RFR deprives two hearts of it is natural meaning, we do not feel this a major trauma, since two hearts is of dubious preemptive value if jump shift are weak, and the strong jump shift of two hearts can be handled adequately by a one-heart response and vigorous rebidding.

Development of the auction after RFR is usually simple. Opener in most cases places the contract by passing, bidding two spades, or bidding three of his original minor. He may invite naturally by bidding two notrump or three of either minor. Three of the opposite minor may be played as a relay for clarification. Responder's obligations then are, in order or priority:
(a) Rebid three hearts with five hearts.
(b) Rebid three notrump with stop in unbid minor.
(c) Raise opener's minor with three.
(d) Raise opposite minor with four-card support for opener's minor (thus
void of opposite minor).
(e) Bid three spade failing (a) through (d) above.

This convention may be gratified onto virtually any system of the standard variety employing natural openings in one or both minors. It is especially useful in five-card major systems. It is even possible to play Non-Reversed Flannery by Responder in systems in which responder uses canapé.

aploying natural openings in one or both minors. It is especially useful in five-card major systems. It is even possible to play Non-Reversed Flannery by Responder in systems in which responder uses canapé.