Occasionally I’ll mention that such and such is bid is FORCING. But what exactly am I talking about? (Do you ask yourself this too?) Well here’s a round-up of the kinds of things that I might be talking about.
With the opposition silent it goes like this:
1H - 1S
2H - ?
The first thing to notice is that the 2H bid is NOT forcing: partner CAN pass. So a quick resume is that a forcing bid is one that FORCES partner to bid again (assuming the opposition remain silent!)
1H - 1S
The 3C bid is unconditionally forcing. It cannot be passed. Even if you responded 1S on drivel, that’s your problem but you CANNOT pass.
1H - 2D
The 2NT bid is FORCING. (2D = 10+, 2NT = 15 - 19 so game is on.) Again if you responded 2D with not quite 10 HCP that is not partner's problem, it’s your problem – you still have to bid over the FORCING 2NT.
Partner opens with a Game Force bid of 2C (23+ in a balanced hand but only 20+ with an unbalanced hand!) and you hold:
You get cold feet and pass. What will you say when partner turns up with 29 HCP and Four Spades is cold? The point is that partner made a Game FORCING bid. You cannot pass. You must bid – whatever you’ve got. It’s not just about your hand but how the hands fit together in partnership. You do not bid alone your 13 cards. You bid together your 26 cards.
Just so you know, there is one auction that starts 2C that can die below game and it is this and this alone:
2C - 2D
2NT - ?
Now, with something like the hand above, you may pass. Everything else goes to game –regardless of what you hold.
In the same way, responses to 1NT are all forcing too (Again I assume the opps are silent). 2C (Stayman) 2D, 2H, (transfers) and 2S (minor suit take-out) are all forcing. When partner makes a forcing bid the option of whether you bid or not ceases to exist. Partner has taken control of the auction, so obey. If partner has it wrong that’s just tough but partnership confidence and understanding can be fatally damaged by not listening to what partner is saying.
In most auctions at some point one of you has to take control – either by passing an unsuitable hand or by forcing the auction to the correct level.
1S - 3S (10 -12, 4 card support)
It doesn’t really matter what Four Clubs actually means - it’s FORCING! It might be a void, a singleton, a real suit, a partial suit – anything. But it doesn’t matter. Partner has taken control of the auction and has made a bid that is forcing to at least game and maybe more.
You don’t need to think about what it means – you have to think about the bid that will most help your partner understand how your hand fits with theirs. Have you got the Ace of Diamonds or Hearts? (Cue bids!) Are you bare minimum (in which case sign off in 4 S)?
Listen to your partner. Remember – just like you, partner does really really like to win!