Sunday, October 17, 2004 9:42 PM

Looking For Cues




            Playing forcing pass theory you must look for the cues that turn on forcing passes . Forcing passes and their implications are a huge part of Bridge for expert partnerships. It is a way of making joint decisions in high level competitive auctions instead of one partner just taking a guess. Honing in on the nuances of auctions that switch on forcing passes for your side is a must. Cue #1 is vulnerability and a vul game bid by your side.   An opponent vul opened a Flannery 2 with xxxx AKxxx AKx x  and my  nv partner overcalled 3♣. They leaped to 4 and I bid 5♣ . What should the Flannery  bidder do ? Partner bid a vul game so its your hand. If you own the hand forcing pass theory applies . The opponents bidding your stiff  makes your hand better so you want to encourage partner to bid 5 . A pass is forcing and conveys the message “ partner I would like you to bid 5 “ A double says the 5 level belongs to the opponents partner . A 5 bid with a systemic auction is just not allowed as partner knows your hand already. With this hand partner declines the invitation with her minimum and 5♣X goes for 500.


          Maurice had Qxxx Qx AKJ10xx x  against Peter Jones and partner . The auction went 1♣-P-1-2  by Maurice vul vrs not and and I Q bid  2. This Q bid  means that it is our hand and forcing passes apply ( Cue #2 )  . Peter Jones bid 4♣ and his partner bids 4 and I contract for a vul 5 game .  Peter Jones bids 5so what should Maurice do ? He should double at the speed of light saying he has a dog and lets just take our plus. We got our +500 and on to the next hand. A forcing pass by Maurice shows an invite to 6 and a heart control.


          Another Maurice auction . He held AQxx A J109x KJ10x  and RHO opened 1 and he doubled . The auction went 2 and 4vul by me around to the 2bidder who now decided to bid 5 . I passed and around to Maurice. Forcing passes apply so what should Maurice do ? I said I wanted to bid 5 with my pass . Maurice  accordingly bids 5 and they need to find a ruff to beat 6 as I held Kxxxx xxx KQxxx void . 5 doubled only goes for +300.


          Do not forget forcing pass theory in these kind of auctions also.  4-P-P-X  P-4-P-P 5♦-X      The opponents were willing to play in a partial and we bid a vul game so its our hand and forcing pass theory applies. I doubled saying I wanted no part of 5  .   If I passed ,  it shows a willingness to bid 5. With my partners hand  we should be close to making 6♥. I would pass with  Qxx KQxxxx xx xx  saying I would like to bid 5.  Partner   held AKxx Axx x AKxxx   and 1430 would be lay down .   I doubled with my hand xxx QJxxx xxx xx  warning  that 5 is not the spot.


          Cue #3 is  where passes are forcing from one side only . This is where one partner has indicated a huge hand by opening 2♣ or make a takeout double and bidding game single handedly  vul . A takeout double or even an overcall with a Q bid can turn on “one way” forcing passes. The big hands pass is forcing on the little hand but not vice versa. The pass by the hand who never “attended the party “ is not forcing on the big hand. The pass has the old fashioned meaning that “I am broke”. The double by the little hand means I am not entirely broke.


 The auction went  1-X-1-P    2-4-5-?      I doubled & jumped to game vulnerable against not vul and they bid 5. Tom had xx xxx xxxx A9xx  and doubled to tell me that he can contribute something to this auction. The double helped me and took the vul push and got doubled and made an overtrick.  What if Tom held xx xxx xxxx xxxx  ?   He would pass 5 and I would act accordingly that he is probably broke over there.


What if our auction went a little differently ?.  Same auction but instead of LHO bidding 5 , RHO bids 5 . Now the huge hand makes a forcing pass to partner . The little hand must do something. With Toms first hand xx xxx xxxx A9xx , the Ace would tip the scale in favour of  a 5bid . With the 2nd hand xx xxx xxxx xxxx  he must double ! Partner doubled &  contracted for 10 tricks vul and passed a 5 level decision around to you. You can not shirk your responsibility


          These hands came up recently and there was a common thread among all of the hands. Not once was the forcing pass element picked up at the table and wrong decisions were made every time. The means that the cues that turn on forcing passes are being missed. People who are used to playing with weak partners have trouble with forcing pass theory. They miss out on the joint decisions that forcing pass theory brings to the partnership. Ignoring forcing pass theory means that you must make the decision for the partnership single handedly and very bad results follow. In important decisions , both hands should contribute to the final result. Strong auctions by your side i.e. 2/1 , game forcing strong jump shifts , penalty doubles , 2/1 in competition or as a passed hand and game reached all turn on forcing passes.