Friday, December 09, 2005 3:04 PM

Forcing Passes - Pre-empts




          There are two ways of combating the so called “modern pre-empts” . One is by trapping when you have their suit and rely on the opponents to get themselves. Modern pre-empters consider their partners as fair game also . Just like in any psychic bid , it is their partners rather than the opponents that result in their undoing. Their unfortunate partner is going to believe the pre-empter and disaster quite often occurs. The doubling will commence when they finally come to rest somewhere.


          Your partnership should have special balancing rules against these bad pre-empters. BJ and I have the understanding that when they are vulnerable and we are not , a balancing double just shows cards and does not need unbid suits for take-out. We are just bidding the table that we have trapped nv vrs vul. These pre-empters have no consideration for vulnerability so we pay special attention to vulnerability. In all other vulnerabilities our balancing doubles return to normal.


          The best weapon by far against these pre-empters is to have special rights for your partnership vulnerable vrs nv. In this one vulnerability scenario only , forcing passes are automatically turned on when they pre-empt and jam you by bidding game. Bridge is a game of probabilities . You do not gear your system to rare eventualities. The majority of the time when the opponents are jamming you NV against vul , you actually do own the hand. What about the rare time that they are bidding to make ? We still assume it is our hand and the worse thing that can happen is they make their doubled contract. Lose 4 as redoubling is so rare as be considered negligible on these auctions.


          The auction goes 3-X-5-? & you are vul against nv . Forcing pass theory is automatically turned on. You hold xxx xxx xxx xxxx so you must double as this is a forcing pass situation. Partner has 16 HCP for her double but despite all those HCP’s they make it anyway for –550 . So what ? The advantages of forcing pass theory is 99% of all the other hands that your partnership may hold in these auctions so you really do own the hand.


          Forcing pass theory allows both partners to make a joint decision in determining the final contract. You have AKxx Kxxx xx xxx so you can safely pass to partner saying you want to bid vul at the 5 level. You do not have to make the decision for the partnership and guess the diamond distribution. Partner will make the decision based on your pass. Otherwise you would have to force to slam that may not make our choose a major yourself which could be a Moysean with a 5-1 break. The best spot might be 5X so let partner decide thru forcing pass theory.


          The pass & pull part of forcing pass theory is an excellent slam try tool at the 5 level. You have AKxxxx Q10x x xxx so you simply pass 5 . Partner with Qxx AKxx xx AKQx doubles 5 and you now pull to 5. These pass and pull auction must by definition show a control in the opponents suit or otherwise you would have bid 5 directly to make your contract. AKxxxx Q10x xx xx is a 5 spade bid. You also would not pull the double with two fast losers in their suit.


          Since we do not have a trump suit already established in their pre-emptive auctions,  a double does not say that we have losers in their suit as that is silly. The doubler is marked with shortness so unless she doubles to tell you otherwise you assume shortness. A free bid of 5 says that you feel you can make the contract but says nothing about length in the opponents suit. The pass and pull does though as the doubler can hold two in their suit.


          If after a forcing pass and the original doubler chooses to bid rather than double , you can assume shortness in their suit. Therefore with some hands you may bid slam on that basis. AKxxx Kxxx xx xx so you make a forcing pass and partner bids 5. Partner holds Qxx AQxxx x AKxx so you carry on to 6 and all is well. Forcing passes vrs pre-empts. Any help is welcome.