Advanced Bridge


Lesson 19


The “Forcing Pass”


     Most bridge partnerships know that certain bids invite, yes indeed, sometimes even force, partner to take bidding action.   Several such bidding sequences are: (1) a “Take-out Double”, (2) a “Support” Double, (3) a “Responsive” Double, (4) A new suit bid by the Responder,

(5) a “Reverse” by the Opening bidder or by the Responder, (6) a Blackwood “4NT” or a Gerber “4C” Ace-Asking bid, (7) a “4NT” or “5NT” Quantitative bid over partners opening “1NT”, (8) a “5NT – Grand-Slam Force”, and (9) A “Fourth-Suit-Forcing” bidding sequence, to name a few of the most commonly known examples.


     One additional forcing bidding scenario, however, not frequently discussed, but important and necessary in many bidding situations is the “Forcing Pass”.    A “Forcing Pass” is defined as a pass by either partner of the partnership which forces the partner to take action, either by bidding or by doubling.  The guidelines are not always consistent, but the partnership must agree upon the definition of the forcing pass and recognize the circumstances under which the “forcing pass” comes into existence.   Some of the more common scenarios are as follows:


     A. One of the teams has volitionally reached game-level, or has issued and accepted a game invitation or force, and the opponents have put in an obvious sacrifice bid in their own suit.  A pass by one's partner under these circumstances becomes a forcing pass, and implies the desire to continue the bidding, if the partner asked is willing to bid higher. Alternatively, the partner may, if he/she so desires, rather double for penalty.


       Example:         West        North             East        South


                                                1H          Pass              3H          Pass

                         4H     “4NT” (Unusual NT)    Pass          5D

                    Pass (Forcing)   Pass             ????




     B. After the auction has begun, it becomes clear to both sides that a certain safety level has been reached, and to precede with the auction means that one side may decide to sacrifice or one side may decide to bid higher knowing that the contract will be defeated, all depending upon the expectation of a better score.  This is the situation where a pass by one's partner could become a forcing pass because of his inability to make a suitable call, and /or his desire to discover whether his partner has sufficient values and distribution to double the contract of the opponents.


        Example:         West        North             East        South


                                                 1H           1S               2H           2S

                         3H           3S          Pass (Forcing)    Pass                       



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     C. In the situation of a slam-level sacrifice, a forcing pass, according to the partnership agreement, promises control of the suit of the opponents, and requests that the partner bid a small or grand slam if the partner has sufficient outside values.


         Example:        West        North             East        South


                                                 1H          Pass               3H         Pass

                        “4NT”         5D          Pass (Forcing)    Pass                       



     Note:  East could have used the “DOPI”, “DOPE” or “DEPO” Convention (depending upon partnership agreement) over North’s “5D” interference but, alternatively, passes instead.




      D. Under the scenario where partner has opened the bidding, your RHO (Right-hand Opponent) has made a takeout Double and you have “Re-Doubled”, evidencing 10 or more HCP’s.  Your LHO (the partner of the Doubler) makes an overcall bid, and Opener then passes (forcing) showing no extra values over his/her original opening count.  It is obviously your partnership’s team has the majority of the HCP count and you, the Re-Doubler, must act.


          Example:        West        North         East        South


                                                   1H          Dbl.         Re-Dbl.       1S                                                   

                     Pass (Forcing)   Pass          ????





     When using the “Forcing Pass” or any other feature of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, one must make certain that the concept is understood by both partners.   Additionally, the partners must be aware whether or not the feature is alertable, and whether an announcement should, or must, be made when it is invoked.
















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