Judy Kay-Wolff


Borrowing a phrase from our founding fathers seems to cover all bases relating to the handling of Forcing No Trump.    The liberty aspect allows you to employ the form of treatment you deem most effective for your partnership and the justice results from the announcement and clarification to your opponents of the ramifications of your specific understanding. 

According to the ACBL, ‘it’ must be written on your convention card and is ‘announceable’ (as opposed to ‘alertable’).   Let me make it clear — I am not a maven on this subject.  Far from it!   I am just trying to have clarified the different versions of the bid and insist on full disclosure by those playing it so there are no surprises for the opponents later in the auction.   Let’s examine the variety of methods played, especially in ACBL land with regard to a delicate subject — the diverse handling of a 1NT response to a major opening since two over one is forcing by most twosomes.

1)   FORCING NT (INTENDED FORCING) with 5-12 HCP.   I believe that a great many people play that by a passed hand, you may pass 1 NT as there are other methods of showing support with a good hand (Drury, for instance).   As an unpassed hand, most play it forcing (with standard minimum responses to rebid a six card suit; bid a four card suit; and in the absence of either, to bid your lowest three card minor).  HOWEVER, there are those who advocate it should not be forcing (since partner cannot have an opening bid — or better) and their judgment dictates that holding a balanced minimum, opener may pass — choosing not to go beyond what is possibly their best contract.  Therefore, adjustments must be made by the responder, necessitating the invitational jump to three of a major with only three card support (whereas it normally guarantees four or more) as 1NT is no longer 100% forcing — and you do not want to be playing in the wrong strain — should partner have that dreaded minimum balanced hand and pass before you can show support.

2) FORCING NT (100% FORCING) with 5-12 HCP.   This is living in the comfort zone — knowing you have the luxury of temporizing with 1NT (assured partner cannot pass) and the option to jump with three card support at your next opportunity whereas an immediate jump would normally promise four or more.  Of course, there are many other bids available to responder if playing 1NT forcing but we are addressing the handling of three or four card trump support with invitational values.  I believe this is standard operating procedure and the treatment of choice.

Now — arises the issue of private understandings!

3)  FORCING NT (100% FORCING AND UNLIMITED) with 5+ HCP to INFINITY.   If this treatment is in your repertoire, it must be on your convention card and announced!    SAYING SIMPLY ‘FORCING’ DOES NOT SUFFICE!   If there is no upper limit to your no trump range, the entire auction may differ from the standard handling and YOUR OPPONENTS ARE ENTITLED TO KNOW IN ADVANCE about the innuendos that ensue.   It helps them to understand the meaning of your bids, may enlighten their defensive thinking and prevents them from entering an auction (unsuspecting that the NT bidder could have a game or even slam) and ending up in the Intensive Care Unit of their local hospital.



Danny KleinmanNovember 12th, 2008 at 7:24 pm

I’m with you wholeheartedly about forcing 1NT responses. Here’s a positive suggestion for change. Let’s have the partner of any player who bids notrumps naturally announce a range. For example:

1D-pass-1S-pass-1NT. If a pair plays 15 to 17 notrump openings, responder can announce “12 to 14.”

1C-pass-2NT. If a pair plays the standard range, opener can announce “13 to 15.” If a pair uses the currently fashionable invitational jump to 2NT, opener can announce “11 to 12” (or “10 to 12” if that’s what it shows). If a pair uses a form of the Baron 2NT (as I do with most partners), opener can announce “16 to 18, may have a four-card major.”

1S-pass-2C-pass-2NT. If a pair plays this as showing a minimum (the currently fashionable treatment), responder can announce “12 to 14.” If a pair plays the old-fashioned way (as I do), responder can announce “a good 15 to 18.”

And of course 1H-pass-1NT. If played as forcing in the usual way, opener can announce “6 to 12” (or “5 to 12” as the case may be). Pairs that play Flannery should add “may have four spades” if they require five spades for a 1S response to 1H.

pimoNovember 15th, 2008 at 12:41 am

I love to play an unlimited, forcing NT over a major and I have for years, when playing this bid, gone out of my way to tell my opponents that not only is the bid forcing, but that it is our strongest response to an opening bid…I believe that they often think I’m kidding or that I’m trying to fool them, as in lying. Since we have two opening hands facing each other for this auction to come about, there is seldom a hand that an opponent will hold that is going to bid, but that never stops the continuous interruptions of our auctions by both opponents whose questions are simply an attempt to warn their partner that something unusually is going on. In fact, I cannot begin to tell you how many of our power club auctions are interrupted by opponents wanting to know what a bid means when they have absolutely no hand that would or could take action at that moment. Calling a director just adds to the grief and works further to be a waste of time. So, I like Danny’s simple explaination of a bid when it is made, but if he were to kibitz our auctions, he would be amazed at how many times our alert and remark ( such as artifical and forcing to game ) need further explaining to an opponent who is holding a four triple three hand with 0 to 6 HCP’s. Also, don’t get me started about how many times the partner of the opening hand on lead will ask a question about a certain bid while his partner is considering said lead…it seems that the lesser my opponents’ skill level, the faster they unknowingly err. As for an answer to all of the points made about bridge ethics, there could easily be a national exam required before anyone plays. At least, everyone would be on the same page…speaking of same page, it would be nice to see our tournament directors joining in on this effort…as in making the same ruling for infractions everytime, no matter whether the party involved were their friend or foe, famous or first time entrants…later

M BlumenthalNovember 18th, 2008 at 6:40 am

I played 1NT could be a very much stronger balanced hand than 6-11 with both Goldman and Lawrence. That’s a lot of hands, but I don’t remember it ever coming up. but that’s a long time ago. and I may have forgotten. At any rate, just alerting and saying ‘it cpuld be stronger than customary’ seems to sufice.

EvieDecember 5th, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I agree that your card should be clear as to the meaning of your bids