The Forcing Pass vrs D.S.I.P.




I am not sure when forcing pass theory came about . I think sometime in the 1940’s . Experts put a meaning to a pass when their side owned the auction. The pass at higher levels above game meant a mild slam try or a “green light” for partner to bid again. There is a “pecking order” in forcing pass theory . The double shows the worst hand of all the alternatives. This bid shows a “bad “ hand . A bad hand can be a number of things in forcing pass theory. A bad hand could mean a doubleton in the opponents suit , so we are warning partner of two quick losers in their suit. Bad hand also could mean duplication of value in their trump suit similar to a trump stack double. Lastly a bad hand could just mean that your hand will be a disappointment for your partner in that your hand is a dead minimum for your previous bidding. Warn partner of your dog by doubling and just take your plus. 


Be careful though about the warning aspect of the double in forcing pass situations. If the auction dictates that partner is very short in the opponents suit , do not issue a warning about the length in your suit. Maurice & I had an auction recently where this came out and it was a disaster for the opponents. 1-3-4-4   5-P-P-5  X-P-P-P  . The doubler had a doubleton spade so was warning partner about his length in that suit. Partner had a void in spades and was worried that the double showed duplication so she passed. I made 5X and the opponents make 7 unless we cash our club Ace. I know its counter-intuitive ,  but trust the opponents to show their length in these types of auctions.


The 2nd best hand is shown by passing. This bid usually has no extra for slam purposes but partner feels that our game contract can make in light of the auction. A pass gives partner room to Q bid or the green light to bid. Usually the pass shows shortness in the opponents suit so this hand would rather play the hand than defend. The pass can also show a good opener and is getting out of the way for partner to Q bid or make a decision. Your pass is just describing your hand type to partner.


The 3rd best hand is shown by bidding your trump suit.  Remember by bidding you are prevent partner from doubling them , so you are probably have a very distributional hand unsuitable for defense. Also since you preventing partner from doubling them,  you are convinced that you can make the contract. The next best hand in forcing pass theory is a Q bid . This is an obvious slam try in the traditional Q bidding sense. The best hand of the bunch is shown by a pass and pulling partners double. This bid probably shows controls in both the unbid suits and just needs a suitable minimum hand by partner for a slam . Grand slams might be reached on these types of sequences. When you are at very high levels a pass shows 1st round control in the opponents and an interest in more . 


 I was playing with Maurice and held Jx AJ109 AKQxx Kx vul and the auction went p-p-2-x by me. LHO bids 3 and Maurice contracts for a vul 4 game . The vulnerability here and the type of auction turns on forcing passes. LHO now sacrifices to 4 and partner makes a forcing pass and around to you. Partner’s pass shows a willingness to play 5 hearts. So he is either short in spades or maximum for his bid with the club Ace and the KQ of hearts. Anyway if partner has given you the green light to bid , you certainly go for +650 with this hand. Not a tough decision in light of partners pass. 4x only goes for 300 so you save 8 IMPS due to partners forcing pass. Say the auction went a little differently . Say Maurice held xx xxxxx xx xxxx & of course he passes 3. I double again as I have 25 HCP’s and I force Maurice to a vul game. Maurice bids 4 . I pass and LHO sacrifices to 4 . Since my bidding has turned on forcing passes , Maurice must double to prevent me from bidding again. This certainly is a minimum hand so lets just take our plus !  I hold xx AQJ10 AKQx AKQ and his double prevents a minus in 5 . 4x goes for 500 which is much better then –100 in 5 . What if Maurice held x Kxxxx Jxxx xxx ? In light of this auction and his previous pass he actually holds a good hand ! He should make a forcing pass . I would bid 6 and we collect +1430 . 


You hold Kxx AQ109x x KJ10x and you are vul against non vul . Tom Gandolfo your vul partner opens 1. RHO bids 2 and you turn on forcing passes by making a slam try vulnerable with a 4 splinter. LHO is Steve Willard so of course he bids 5. Tom passes so what do you do ? Toms bid is only saying that in light of your bid I think we can make 5 but I am not interested in anything higher . You have your bid so there is nothing really extra for you to over rule partners decision. You bid 5 and collect +650 as Tom held Qx KJxxx xxx AQx . Tom held no duplication of value in diamonds so he felt that 5 could make and he was right. What If Tom held Ax KJxxx xxx AQx ? Still only 14 but the controls and no duplication of value shows an interest in bidding so by bidding it can be interpreted as a mild slam try . If Tom bid,  I would continue to 6 and that makes with that hand. What if I also held the stiff diamond Ace ? With Toms bid , I would be encouraged to make a grand slam try of 6 . Tom with his hand should bid 7 as he has nice controls for his 5♥ bid.


  Playing against opponents like Steve Willard and Alex Fowlie your forcing pass theory gets a work out but that’s why it was invented . This high level judgment is what partnership Bridge is all about . Forcing pass theory is just a tool to help deal with those type of players. The opponents are irritating you with their interference. Forcing pass theory fights back and uses the opponent’s interference to give information. Discuss with your regular partner so you are on the same wavelength.


A number of local experts are working on D.S.I.P. theory which is quite similar to forcing pass theory but differs in that you do not necessarily own the hand. The same type of discipline and judgment is required for D.S.I.P. theory. D.S.I.P. theory borrows heavily on forcing pass theory so it is essential that you really understood those principles before venturing into D.S.I.P. theory. The pass in forcing pass theory asks partners permission or gives partner the green light to bid . In D.S.I.P. theory , the double does that same function. The D.S.I.P. pass is similar to the double in forcing pass theory. All this comes about because we do not own the hand in D.S.I.P. theory and trump stack penalty doubles no longer exist in competitive auctions.


 Some experts call D.S.I.P. theory inverted passes and doubles because they have been assigned the opposite meaning to that of forcing pass theory. The D.S.I.P. double is the green light to bid rather then the pass . The pass says I would rather defend then bid and could mean a trump stack in the “negative double” sense and request partner to make a penalty double on his behalf with a suitable defense hand. You have to get your mind around both competitive theories of forcing passes and D.S.I.P. and why they are different .They are different because in one situation you own the auction and the other you are not sure if you do.


You are not sure because partners bidding can be very variable as to defensive values or playing strength. There was no definitive proclamation in the bidding that suggests you do own the auction but you might if partner is top of his range with defense. You double to convey your defense and offensive interests and find out that information by allowing his input into the decision. A double in D.S.I.P. is an asking bid but gives information . You are asking partner to do something intelligent by telling him you have some defense but you want to play the hand if partner permits it.   Stay tuned ….