The Curse of the Forcing Bid - 13

 Hi All,

I've had several questions this week which illustrate this curse. Obviously some forcing bids come in handy. The most useful is the unlimited bid by responder to force opener to describe his hand. Another good force enables the Take-out Double. We used to have a lot of bids that forced to game, but most of these have been changed to be invitational, because they didn't do what we wanted. Jump rebids by opener or responder, jump-shifts by responder, jump overcalls, immediate cue bids have all become invitational or weak. The reason for this is that they didn't let partner tell us what we wanted to know.

My first illustration of this is the board shown below.                   

                     North

                     ª A J 10 8 2

                     © A

                     ¨ K 10 6 4 3

                     § A K

West                                  East

ª 9 4 3                               ª K Q 7 6 5

© Q J 7 4 2                          © K 9 5 3

¨ 9 2                                  ¨ Q J

§ 10 7 5                              § Q 6

                     South

                     ª

                     © 10 8 6

                     ¨ A 8 7 5

                     § J 9 8 4 3 2


East opens a marginal 1 Spade, South passes, West raises to 2 Spades and North doubles (Big) for takeout. East raises a silly 3 Spades to try to obstruct and South passes. North doubles again and now South is forced to advance 4 Clubs. South has denied having enough for a free advance and may have nothing. North must pass, but when both minors run, they take 13 tricks.


If East had instead passed after North's double, South would have to advance 3 Clubs. He doesn't have enough for a jump advance and might have nothing. North's helpful bid however gives South a chance for a free advance showing 5-8 points and a decent suit. They surely get to game and DSS would find slam.


Another illustration of the curse is seen in this board.                    

                     North

                     ª J 9 8 6

                     © J 9 4 2

                     ¨ A 8 6

                     § A 3

West                                  East

ª A K Q                               ª 10 4 3 2

© A K 10 8 6                        © 7

¨ K 10 7 4 3                        ¨ 9 5

§                                       § 10 9 7 5 4 2

                     South

                     ª 7 5

                     © Q 5 3

                     ¨ Q.J 2

                     § K Q J 8 6

West really likes his hand and wants to force to game. He wants to open 2 Clubs to make an "in your face bid" that partner will know is a force to game (which is what the cool kids do). Partner responds 2 Diamonds, waiting, and West rebids 2 Hearts. East knows that he's forced to game, but isn't sure about the Hearts. He bids 3 Clubs to ask partner if he's sure about the Hearts and suggest a possible alternative. West rebids 3 Diamonds and East bids something, maybe 3 No Trump. West isn't sure, but may pass, rebid Diamonds or rebid Hearts. He's in a jam regardless. What went wrong?


To start with, his 2 heart bid should not be forcing. He needs help for game and the last thing he wants is for partner to raise to game with nothing. West must be free to pass when he has no help. Do you remember the razor's edge criteria from our lesson?


Next, West's hand doesn't qualify for a 2-Club bid anyway. He doesn't have the points to do that with a 5-card suit, nor is he only one trick short of game, nor does he even have 22 HCPs.


West should open 1 Heart. If partner can respond, he can jump-shift to force to game if he desires. If partner passes, he'll breathe a sigh of relief when dummy comes down. Don't curse yourself with uncalled-for forcing bids.