Wednesday, May 11, 2005 11:50 AM

Hand Evaluation -  Pre-empts Forcing Passes




            Pre-empts which are defined as opening weak 2’s , 3’s or 4’s have a rule associated with them . Once you have pre-empted , partner is captain of the ship so you can not bid again. Nonsense ! There is a time when partner expects you to bid again & that is with forcing pass theory. When partner contracts for a vul game after you have pre-empted , forcing passes are turned on. Partner is not bidding a vul game as a sacrifice so if she is , she must live with that decision. There are times when partner bids a non vul game after your pre-empt , forcing passes are also turned on but that needs some previous bidding indicators.


            When partner opens a weak 2 & you have a good hand , bid 2NT to turn on forcing passes at the game level. Do not leap to game when your side owns the auction as there are opponents lurking. Bridge is a partnership game so even a pre-mpter has the right to know what is going on. Forcing pass theory involves both sides of the table.


            Just a reminder of simple forcing pass theory for pre-empts. It is based on the opponents bid suit only. If the pre-empter is short in the opponents suit , a forcing pass is in order. If the pre-empter has two or more he issues a warning double. If he has a stiff or better , a green light forcing pass. This is the only exception to the pre-empter can not bid again law.


            A hand was given in this months bulletin. Partner opened 3 vul , RHO overcalls 4♣ nv . You hold ♠Axx AKxx KQxx ♣xx & bid 4 vul. This turns on forcing passes . LHO bids 5♣ , partner makes a forcing pass so around to you for you decision. You decide to go for the +650 & bid 5 . Partners hand is ♠KQJxxxx xx Jxx ♣x so the contract is cold. Change partners hand to KQJ10xxx xx xx ♣xx , he issues a warning double so you take your plus. Pre-empters can & should help partner with these type of decisions.


            You open a weak 2 in the major , partner leaps to game vul  or bids 2NT first & they back in with 5 of a minor. The weak two bid has an obligation to tell partner how many cards in the opponents suit he has with a double or pass. Partner did not commit to game vul to hear himself talk. OK,  now the rare times forcing passes are turned on NV after you pre-empt. These situations are where partner has made a strength showing bid like 2NT , a new suit , a Q bid or  a redouble & later committed their side to game . The opponents now stick their noses in at a high level. Forcing passes apply so you are again obligated to give your count in their suit in accordance with forcing pass theory.


            When you pre-empt at the game level vul , partner takes a vul push at the 5 level. 4-4-5-5 ? Double if you have 2 or more spades , pass with one. They may have pushed you into a vul slam. Use the opponents as a stepping stone if they over compete.


            There are other times a pre-empt can bid again. Disciplined pre-empts  are for 1st & 2nd seat only. In 3rd seat or 4th anything goes. In these seats an “action double” is permitted by the pre-mpter. This means partner I was really kidding when I pre-empted , as I have some outside stuff . Do Something Intelligent over there based on this information. I opened 4 with the outside AK of diamonds , they crawled in 4. I want you to bid 5 or convert for penalty. Rules are made to be broken.


            The big hand making a forcing pass on the pre-empt has a different interpretation. The pass is an asking bid in their suit. The pre-empter must double with two or more , bid with one in the suit and can Q bid with a void in their suit.   3♣-p-3NT-P  P-4♠-P-P  ?   The opponents are nv vrs vul so 3NT was bid to make. The pass is forcing and asks about the spade suit. The pre-empter will bid according to the length in the spade suit.


            Perry Khakar held this hand in Regina ♠Qxxx Axx AJ10xxx ♣void & I opened a weak 2♠. There is no real intelligent way to probe for slam but if partner shows a good suit after your 2NT query,  there may be a slam . With your distribution , there is danger that the opponents will enter the auction so you bid 2NT to turn on forcing passes. Bidding 4♠ just shuts partner out of the decision making process as she has no idea whether you are re-pre-empting or not. After your 2NT bid , the opponents bid 4NT showing any two suiter. Partner now doubles to show a top end weak two so you already have extra information with which to work.


            Your RHO bids 5♣ so you make a forcing pass. Partner doubles & you now bid 5♠ as a “pass & pull slam try” . Partner carries on to 6♠ & it is a 50% grand as partner has a stiff heart . ♠AK & the diamond queen. An excellent auction to get to your 6♠,  as you used the opponents bidding to your advantage.