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How Forcing?

We often say that a bid is either forcing or is not. Yet, like so much in Bridge, it is not always that simple. We also need to know how forcing a bid is. Is it :

Forcing to game?

Forcing to 2NT?

Forcing just for one round?

If your partner opens 1Heart-small and you reply 1Spade-small and your partner’s next bid is 3Club-small, then for many partnerships, that sequence is forcing to game, no matter how weak your 1Spade-small response is. So, the theory of fast arrival kicks in where, if you are really weak, you bid directly to game (say 4Heart-small), rather than say bidding 3Heart-small.

What, though, when your first response is 1NT?

     
South Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q 8 3
J 5
A 10 9 8 2
J 10 5
West North East South
      you
      Pass
Pass 1  Dbl 1 NT
Pass 3  Pass ?

 

You can choose to play exactly the same way as above though many choose an alternative approach:

Forcing for one round

This is because of the limited nature of the 1NT response, 6-9 hcp, perhaps a bad looking 10 count. The chances that your partnership is heading for slam are much reduced.

There is one additional factor in the above auction, East’s double. That should not make a difference. It means that most of the missing high cards will be in one hand rather than spread more evenly over two.

So, we have our decision to make after our partner jumped to 3Club-small. What do we bid?

Are we minimum or maximum for our 1NT bid? We are kind of in the middle though on the upper end! We could have had 9 but we certainly are better than we might have been. We have no real support for our partner’s suits though those jacks could be useful, more so than jacks often are.

We have a reasonable diamond suit and a kind of hold (on many days) in spades.

So, knowing that our partner would have at least 16 hcp for their jump (along with a 5 card heart suit), we should go for game and that game should be 3NT. Partner may have 19hcp! It’s time to be positive, even when we see dummy!

Thus, we bid 3NT to close the auction. West leads Spade-small6 and this is what we see in dummy:

South Deals
N-S Vul
J 4
A K 10 3 2
J 7
A K 9 6
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
Q 8 3
J 5
A 10 9 8 2
J 10 5
West North East South
  dummy   you
      Pass
Pass 1  Dbl 1 NT
Pass 3  Pass ?

 

16 hcp! We have 8, in theory not quite enough for game. We do not even have a particular fit.

“Thanks, partner” . No time to be negative. You have to plan…. and when you finish planning, you play low from dummy with East inserting Spade-small10. (If you did not play low from dummy, you may not make a spade trick. Playing low guarantees one spade trick no matter in which hand the ace and king are.)

What next after winning your Spade-smallQ?

See you on Sunday.

It is really important that you and your partner know whether any bid is  forcing and to what level. It makes deciding what to bid next a little easier.

Richard Solomon

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