Relay breaks and reverse relay

I’m starting to play around with my MOSCITO notes once more and I am about to start playing around with a chapter on reverse relay and relay breaks. Before I do so, I thought that it might be worthwhile to kick off a discussion and see what how other people treat these sequences.

I’d like to start simple, and then move to more complex. As such, let’s start with reverse relay during (near) game forcing auctions. (You’ll see why I included the qualifier in a couple paragraphs). I am going to take the liberty of define a reverse relay and relay breaks as follows: A relay break occurs when the relay captain chooses to break the relay sequence by bidding step +2 or higher and makes a descriptive bid. A reverse relay is a type of relay break in which the original relay responder has the option to make a first step response to the relay break and become the relay captain. In many cases, the relay break used in the reverse relay sequence will use the same relay schedule that would have been used had the relay captained asked rather than shown. (This is done to decrease the memory load). However, there are examples where a custom relay schedule is used instead.

Now that the basics are out of the way, here are some guidelines that I use for reverse relay playing MOSCITO.

1. If relay gets reverse before any information is known about shape, the relay reversal is used to limit the maximum strength of the hand. The goal is to allow partner to have a good idea about the combined strength of the two hands and make an informed decision whether or not it is worthwhile to explore for slam or just bash into game.

Example auction

1C – 1D

1S+

1C is strong, artificial and forcing 1D establishes a game force

Bids of 1S+ show shape using almost the same schedule that would have been use had the relay captain chose to ask with a 1H bid.

In a similar vein, if the auction starts

1C – 1D

1H – 1N

2D+

1H = Relay 1N = Balanced or 4441

Bids of 2D+ show shape using the same schedule that would have been used had the relay captain chosen to ask with a 2C bid. (Note, it is typically better for a balanced hand to ask rather than show. I normally won’t make an immediate relay break with minimal strength balanced hand immediately after a strong club opening. However, once the relay responder has shown a balanced hand as well, I have a second chance to break and show range)

After 1C – 1D, bidding 1NT is used to show a three suited hand (5440 or 4441). As mentioned before, all balanced hands should choose to ask rather than show regardless of strength.

2. If relays get reversed after information is known about shape, the relay reversal is used to indicate a misfit. The goal is allow the relay responder to intelligently explore 3NT.

If the relay responder has only shown one suit, then the relay reversal shows shortage in that suit. (could be single suited, two suited, or three suited)

If the relay responder has shown two suits, then the relay reversal shows a two suited hand with the other two suits

If the relay responder has shown three suits, then the relay break shows a single suited hand

3. If relays have been reversed, then subsequent relay breaks are used to transition to natural bidding.

The partnership will show fragments and cue bids to explore whether 3NT is a viable contract. If the partnership has transitioned to natural bidding, bids of 4m are natural and non-forcing and suggests that 3NT is not a viable contract.

I’m curious to hear how other folks use these types of sequences!