Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Forcing with a pass

I don’t know who invented the concept of a forcing pass.  But I do know that Eddie Kantar wrote a book about it (I have a treasured copy) and Eric Kokish provides Canadians teams with guideline and lots of complex ideas.

The basic idea is that when you think its your hand and the opponents are all over your auction the player in the direct chair doesn’t have to make the decision about whether to bid on or double the opponents all by themselves.

It is a fairly simple principle in the simple case.  Here is an example from play yesterday.  Francine opened 2.  Right away that says our side has the balance of strength.

We were white against red opponents (who did suicide on this hand).

West Linda East Francine
pass pass 2
2 DBL 4 4
5 ?

My double is systemic and shows less than two controls.  When 5D came back to me we were in a forcing pass situation.  We had bid a power game and the opponents bid over us.  We are now committed to bid on or double them.  No namby pamby middle course.  My pass says that I have a willingess to go on within the constraints of my previous bid.  I did have four trump and some scattered values.  Francine knowing I have at most one king just doubled them.











It all seemed so simple.  However on a previous occasion Francine made what she though was a forcing pass and I didn’t.

But when you see the rules that I have read about what is and is not a forcing pass it is quite complex.  So in the interest of not destroying my brain and forgetting something critical during an important event we have created relatively simple rules.

A pass is forcing when:

  • The partnership is in a game-forcing auction.
  • An invitational bid has been accepted but only by the strong hand.  A direct double by the weak hand shows defensive values a pass is neutral.
  • A bid is forcing to a particular level not yet reached.  This applies to Namyats.
  • A strong two-bid has been opened by our side (however, a 2NT bid, because it is limited does not create a force).
  • VUL vs NV our side has bid game after a pre-empt except if responder has never shown strength and could have.
  • The sound of bidding makes it so:  the opponents are willing to play a partscore and finally bid a game after we have voluntarily bid a game.

The last one has got me in trouble a few times.  (What’s the odd doubled overtrick).

The deal we previously were confused on is covered in the second point which says that after an invitational auction to game the weak player cannot issue a forcing pass (since presumably they have already fully bid their hand).

I am interested in anyone’s thoughts on the subject.  Can it be this simple?


memphis mojoJanuary 14th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I think it’s anything but simple. If you have a group of experts and bring up the topic, they all seem to disagree.

Linda LeeJanuary 15th, 2011 at 8:41 am

Oh forcing passes are NOT simple. I hope our relatively simple rules get us by without too much of a problem.

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