Wednesday, November 05, 2003 1:37 PM

Forcing Pass Theory




          When you own the auction , forcing passes are on from the very start.( 2/1 , systemic bids like inverted minors , Jacoby 2NT , strong 2♣ openers etc.) In forcing pass auctions , the double is to be interpreted as a warning mostly with respect to their suit. The double in forcing pass theory is any one of the following 3 hands : a minimum or losers in their suit or duplication of value in their suit.

A forcing pass is a “green light” with respect to the opponent’s bid suit. It does not show a great hand but shows a preference to play the hand as we are short in their bid suit. How short depends on the level of the auction. At the 6 level , the forcing pass shows 1st round control.

          What is not always obvious is forcing passes can be “turned on” later in the auction.  Tom Gandolfo had a hand last night that shows forcing passes in action. Tom opened vul against not with a very bad hand

 AQJxx xxx KJ Q10x     1-2♣-3♣-4        Partners hand may be a limit bid so

forcing passes are not on . A double of 4 is for penalty and a pass shows a minimum hand ( unless playing D.S.I.P. theory) . Tom passed to show his minimum.

Pretty simple stuff so far .



 O.K. partner has now contracted for a vul game so forcing passes are now on . The meaning of your pass and double now changes . A double now “discourages further offensive bidding” using the language of the Bridge World. A pass would say “in the light of showing I had a minimum previously , I am short in their suit so if you want to bid 5 its O.K. by me .”

A side issue of forcing pass theory is the meaning of a direct bid. If forcing passes are on , a direct bid means that you feel you can make the contract. If forcing passes are not on and you do not change the level of the auction , bidding your suit is the weakest bid you can make .


 A 3 bid here says I have a dog . A pass leaves room for partner to take some action so its more encouraging and of course a Q bid is even a better hand.

If partner has forced to game say in this auction


          Forcing pass theory is now on even with the possible non fit as you own the hand . A double would say I am short in clubs or a minimum and this would be a good place to get a plus. A pass is a better hand then a double and we await further clarification by partner. A bid would in most cases confirm club support.

Do not forget that you have a responsibility in forcing pass auctions. Recently a partnership opened 2♣ and the opponents were sacrificing in 6 not vul against vul . Partner held xx QJ10xxx J10xx x and neglected her forcing pass responsibilities and passed 6 !!   This pass shows 1ST round control in spades in forcing pass theory and partner duly bid 7  which went down one when they cashed the spade ace .