Forcing Pass


In almost all bridge bidding systems, the bridge player will discover some convention, treatment or method which includes the Forcing Pass. The 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 in certain bidding sequences.

Since a forcing pass is not always obvious, several generalizations have been established to describe a forcing pass situation. By clicking on the following .pdf file, a compilation of Forcing Pass Systems, written for the Internet by Mr. Jan Eric Larrson and Mr. Ben Cowling in June 2001, will, depending on your browser, either by automatically downloaded to your computer and automatically opened by Adobe Acrobat Reader or be automatically opened by your browser. See Weak Opening Systems

A. It is obvious in the auction that the opponents are taking a sacrifice. A pass by one's partner becomes a forcing pass and implies the desire to continue the bidding, but only if the partner asked is willing to bid higher. This implies that the partner may pass the forcing pass, if he so desires, but the partner may also double for penalty.
B. During the auction, a partnership realizes that the opportunity for a sacrifice is available. A pass by one partner indicates the desire to sacrifice, and therefore becomes a forcing pass. The forcing pass requests the partner to sacrifice in the case that he does not have the values or distribution to double the opponent's contract for penalty with any chance of defeating their contract.
C. After the auction has begun, it becomes clear to both sides that a certain safety level has been reached, and to proceed 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.
D. 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.
E. Certain bidding systems use a forcing pass as a form of an opening bid. According to some partnership agreements, if the partner opens the auction by bidding a suit or No Trump, then this bid indicates a hand with less than a normal opening bid range. In this case, if the partner has a normal opening bid range, he will pass. This is a forcing pass, and his partner must open the bidding with the knowledge that his partner has an opening range and good values. This systemic forcing pass may cause a disruption in the bidding process of the opponents, since this forcing pass is just the opposite of the usual bidding fashion.
    It must be noted that Case E., the use of the forcing pass to convey statistical information to one's partner, is not permitted in any ACBL sanctified events or in world pair tournaments, although they are allowed in certain other international bridge events.

The forcing pass is part of almost every bidding system, as mentioned above, and these generalizations might prove sufficient to provide the bridge player with information needed to comprehend the situations where they are generally applied. Above all else, a definite partnership understanding is necessary before employing the forcing pass.



If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.