Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The forcing pass

This is a subject that covers many situations and much has been written on forcing passes after a game bid (or after a game-forcing bid). Fascinating as that subject is, it's been well covered elsewhere (particularly Robson & Segal's excellent book: Partnership Bidding at Bridge: The Contested Auction). And this blog from a couple of years ago: No wonder it takes so long to learn this game--the denouement, covers the situation where one of us has taken an action showing a "sound raise" (aka limit raise or better).

The other situation where the forcing pass comes up at low levels is after an opening 1-bid has been doubled and redoubled. Given a disciplined redouble, which "implies no fit" and thus, in my opinion, denies three (or more) cards in support for partner's major unless it is a very flat hand, our side is in a force. Not to game but, by convention, through the two-level.

In other words, the opponents may not play a contract at the two-level or below unless it is doubled. Of course, we can continue bidding to the three level (or game) if we think that is better. But in the following auction, pass is 100% forcing. But pass does seem in this situation to be not very descriptive.

So, what would West's various bids mean? 2♣ would show a minimum opener with presumably six (or perhaps five) clubs and would tend to deny much defense against a spade contract. 2 or 2 would still be a reverse, although since partner has announced 10+ hcp, we might not be as strong as otherwise. More likely, the 1♠ bid has made life awkward for our expected rebid (1NT?) and so we bid 2/2 instead.

2♠ would tend to show some sort of distributional monster that wants to force to game. The given hand seems like a case in point. 3♣ would be descriptive but non-forcing. I'm not really sure if there are any other bids (other than 3NT) that make much sense here.

What this hand should not do is double. Double here says, I have a minimum hand (although at favorable vulnerability, we might have a maximum hand too) but spades is my second suit. Something like ♠KJ96 Q3 QT5 ♣KQ83. Hopefully, we will be plus 200 when we probably have no game. With significantly more than 10 hcp, partner can of course pull the double to a game contract, knowing that spades are stopped, and that we need 600 rather than 200 or 500.

With any other hand, that's to say nothing particular to say, pass is just fine (it definitely doesn't in any way limit the strength of your hand because it is 100% forcing). Pass would however, tend to limit the distribution of your hand.

For more on my thoughts about redouble, see The blue card.