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Forcing and Invitational Bids

25 hcp between the two hands, a 4-4 spade fit, and not one of the 12 East-West pairs made it to the almost cold 4Spade-small game. Four will claim some dispensation as they reached and made 3NT, a contract which relied on the opening bidder holding 4 not 5 diamonds, though for the rest it was a very sad board. What happened?

Board 19
South Deals
E-W Vul
9 8 7
10 9 6 3
10 6 2
9 5 4
J 10 5 4
A 2
K 8 4
A J 8 3
W   E
Q 6 3 2
K Q 8 7
Q 5 3
K 10
J 5 4
A J 9 7
Q 7 6 2


What a Pre-empt!

Six pairs got caught by a big pre-empt. Before you waste too much time looking for a 7 or 6 or 5 card suit in the North or South hands, the “pre-empt” was South’s strong 15-17  1NT which turned West then East to stone. The way forwardwas for East  to show both majors in the pass-out seat. That must wake West up and with the Diamond-smallK well placed and a more than useful Club-smallA and Heart-smallA, a shot at game should be possible. Alas, these six pairs defeated 1NT by 3 or 4 tricks, which did not compare in 50's very well with the 600 or 620 they had lost.

Where South opened a minor, in our case 1Diamond-small, West has no good bid available but East has an easy take-out double. This created a situation of both players knowing that the other had a decent hand .. but how strong?

West          North         East            South


Pass            Pass            x                 Pass

2Diamond-small             Pass            2Heart-small              Pass


2Diamond-small was certainly forcing, but for one round, to suit agreement or to game? I was not sure and so pressed the accelerator with 3Spade-small. Partner was asked and described my bid as a splinter which looked like disaster was about to strike..but  he emerged with what he may have thought was a forcing, “waiting” 3NT bid….and I could see no reason to move anywhere, the end of a fairly unconfident sequence. I am told 2Spade-small would have been forcing too. Would your partnership have been confident of that?

The other two pairs who missed game got stranded in 2NT.

A Time to Invite?

An invitational raise may have helped half the North-South pairs on the following board. As South, would you bid again in the following sequence:

West          North         East            South

Pass            1Diamond-small              1Spade-small              2Club-small

2Spade-small              3NT            Pass            ?

South held: Spade-smallA82  Heart-small A96 Diamond-small 753  Club-small AK73 and neither side was vulnerable.

What has North got?

Certainly not a weak no-trump even if one’s opening 1NT was strong. Maybe 15-17 balanced if you open a weak 1NT…or maybe not. Surely you could make 4NT opposite whatever partner might have…and do not believe that those frivolous non vulnerable opponents could have much at all:


Board 24
West Deals
None Vul
K 3
J 10 7
A K Q 8 6 4 2
10 9 7
Q 5 3 2
J 10
Q 9 6 2
W   E
Q J 6 5 4
K 8 4
J 8 5 4
A 8 2
A 9 6
7 5 3
A K 7 3
West North East South
Pass 1  1  2 
2  3 NT Pass 4 NT
Pass 5  Pass 6 NT
All pass      


3NT looks a reasonable shot on those North cards, with partner showing 10+ hcp with clubs. When partner invites with 4NT, you North has a very nice source of tricks but perhaps a little concerned about controls in the other suits. So, good advice from GeO is that when you accept an invitation like the above but are worried about aces, respond 5Club-small with no aces or 5Diamond-small with one. If your partner cannot add up to a combined three, he can sign off in 5NT. On the above deal, South would be happy to accept with the only problem in the play in slam being playing for the unlikely overtrick.

A useful bid..that quantitative raise.

Richard Solomon




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