Monday, November 14, 2005 10:00 AM

Forcing Passes - Depending on Context




          Bridge bidding has a very limited vocabulary. To make the language of bidding “richer” many bids must be interpreted depending on the context of the auction. The forcing pass is a superb concept that has been around a long time. It is definitely a “depending on context” bid. It is a myth to think that forcing passes apply only if your side is forced to game. When forcing passes were first invented , that was probably the case but over the years that definition was way too restrictive. Now forcing passes are in effect when your side “ owns the auction”. What does that term mean ? This term has to be defined depending on the context of a particular auction. Has partner made a strength showing bid that is in the limit raise or better range & they are in game ? Has partner made a 2/1 in competition or as a passed hand ? Are we vulnerable against non vulnerable opponents and we bid game ?  What are the opponents doing nv ?  Have they pre-empted or as both passed hands are now in game ? Are the opponents obviously taking a sacrifice ? Has partner doubled and bid singlehanded vul to game or a high level ? Has your side made a penalty double or redouble and they are running ?


          All the above defines whether your side “owns the hand” and if you do , forcing pass theory is in effect. The Bridge World gives this hand  You open 1♣ in 3rd seat  vul vrs not with

A Jxx AQxx AKQ10x  a cool 20 HCP . The partner of the passed hand opponent bids a pre-emptive 2 and your partner as a passed hand makes a 2/1 of 2. The nv passed hand partner of a pre-empter now blasts to 4. What should you bid ?  The Bridge World panel said this was an obvious forcing pass situation. Partner has made a 2/1 vul and two passed hand nv opponents one of whom pre-empted are in game. The panel voted for a forcing pass again taking the table action into consideration. The opponents have announced that the hearts are 6-3-3-1 or 6-4-3-0 around the table. This gives partner a stiff or void in hearts. A forcing pass is the best bid because it gives partner a chance to describe her hand. If partner chooses a double , It gives you a chance to show your monster as you “pass & pull” to 4NT which should show the minors. A forcing pass is a win win situation.


          Partners must be on the same wavelength for forcing passes. For example , in an expert partnership , it is totally impossible that this particular auction gets passed out. An established partnership trust each other. Trust and forcing pass theory is a good mix !!


          Klimo gives me this hand from the recent Bermuda Bowl won by the Italians. AKx Ax AKxx AQxx you are vul and they are not. In 3rd seat they open 3 and you double. LHO bids 6 and around to you. Forcing pass theory has obviously kicked in with auction. So what should partner have for his pass ? He would double with any heart card so we give the KQJ of hearts to the opponents. There are only 10 HCP left in the deck taking the heart cards out of the equation. Partners pass encourages bidding so I would think he holds HCP’s in the 7-10 range. With heart cards out of the way , all his points are pulling full weight in their suits. The Italian after some thought put the 7NT card on the table. Partner came down with 9 HCP’s and he claimed 13 top tricks !! Klimo says wow !