REVEAL Controls

by Marvin L. French

A popular method for responding to a strong two-club opening is to show the number of controls (king one, ace two) held. There are many variations, and the REVEAL method will work with any of them, but let's assume the following.:

2D = 0 or 1 control (a king)
2H = 2 controls, an ace or two kings
2S = 3 controls, an ace and a king
2NT = 3 kings
3C = 4 controls, two aces or ace and two kings.
3D = 5 or more controls
3NT = 4 kings

If responder has an independent suit of his own, with no outside controls, he can make a single jump in the suit if it is semi-solid and a double jump if it is completely solid. Otherwise, if opener has an independent (master) suit it is likely that he will want to locate responder's control(s). The standard method is to jump in the master suit, initiating a cue bidding process. There are several problems with this approach. First, the jump can unecessarily preempt valuable bidding space; and second, cue bidding does not reveal anyhing about responder's trick taking-ability other than the control(s). The REVEAL method solves the first problem and reduces the second.

To save bidding space REVEAL uses a jump in the cheaper of clubs or hearts with either suit, and a jump to the cheaper of spades or diamonds with either suit. That starts an inquiry. As soon as opener bids one of his two possible suits, or notrump, the auction is over. Bidding a different suit continues the inquiry. Responder's bid of the rankng strain is usually a "negative" bid and a notrump bid constitutes a "positive" bid in the ranking suit.

For instance, a jump to three spades over a two-heart response says opener's suit is either spades or diamonds. Responder now has three bids available, three notrump, four clubs, and four diamonds, which would not be available if opener had jumped to four diamonds with a diamond suit. If the response is two spades, a jump to four clubs says the master suit is either clubs or hearts. If it is hearts, responder has two biids available, four diamonds and four hearts, which would not be available if opener had jumped to four hearts. If it is clubs, there is no gain in bidding space over a jump to four clubs that shows clubs, but no loss either. This saving of space may enable a cheaper stop, as when opener's void makes responder's control(s) in that suit worthless. So how does responder reveal his control(s)?

If the response was two diamonds, he bids the ranking strain with no king, otherwise bids the suit with the king. If the king is in the ranking suit, a notrump bid reveals it. 2C-2D-3H? -3NT (spade king) and opener can pass with a singleton spade, no other quick loser(s), and a solid club suit, perhaps making ten tricks in notrump instead of eleven in five clubs.

If the response was two hearts, he shows an ace by bidding its suit, denies one by bidding the ranking strain, and bids notrump to show an ace in the ranking strain if it is a suit..Having denied an ace, he next reveals his kings with the CRaSh method: the ranking strain shows two kings of the same Color, the next shows two of the same Rank, and the next shows two of the same Shape. Color means black (clubs and spades) or red (hearts and diamonds), Rank means major or minor suits, and Shape means pointed (diamonds and spades) or rounded (hearts and diamonds). If opener has one king he can tell where responder's two kings are; if not, two further queries are needed to find them (show the cheaper first).

If the response was two spades, he bids the suit with the ace, and answers a second query by bidding the suit with the king.

If the response was two notrump, he bids the suit that lacks a king.

If the response was three clubs, he bids the ranking strain with no kings (two aces) and then if asked shows the aces with the CRaSh method. With an ace and two kings he bids the suit with the ace (bidding notrump if the ranking strain is its suit) and then if asked shows the kings with the CRaSh method.

When the the last query reveals the location of a king or ace, the inquiry can be extended to ask about additional tricks in that suit. Bidding the ranking strain denies a queen, next step shows queen and no other (AQ, KQ), next step queen and one other (AQx, KQx), next step jack and one other (AQJx, KQJx), and the next step the jack and two or more others.The replies cater to an ace or king in opener's hand, as is likely but not necessary.

If the response was three diamonds or three notrump, REVEAL is not used.


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