THE FORCING PASS IS SUCH AN UNDER-USED BID........... ( Article by Howard Bigot-Johnson )
I am always perplexed as to why the forcing pass is never used as an opening bid. It has everything going for it simply because both your opponents are denied the option of sticking in a double , cue bid or Michaels convention. They are compelled to bid a suit or no trump knowing that the forcing pass bidder has a good opening hand, never having any information as to its shape , strength and major suit holdings.
If the opponents elect to stay quiet , partner has all the one level bids at his disposal to move the auction on. Why players haven't latched onto this opening forcing pass is beyond me. Far too many are wooden tops who simply haven't got a feel for this game , reluctant to adopt the cutthroat tactics needed to shaft your opponents in the bidding auctions. It is an incredibly powerful weapon but one which never involves you putting your head on the chopping block. That's fate belongs to the opponents when they step into the auction. Why the other day in first position I opened with a pass ( alerted as forcing ) , and the hand was passed out for a complete top. Partner had a miserable 2 HCPs opposite my 18 , and with no communication between the hands not even a one-level contract was possible our way.
So what are you required to do when dealt a hand , which is either mediocre or worse. Well , the following system is used :
1C shows a 0-7 points with a 5 card suit
1D shows a flat 0-7
1H shows 8-11 with a 5 card suit
1S shows a flat 8-11
1NT = 12-14
Pass ( Forcing ) =15-18 any shape
Weak hands with a 5-4 shape or better may well be suitable for a weak opening two.
Should the LHO pass , and finding partner with a weak hand , there's every opportunity to wriggle into a low-level contract . So even when the double arrives , with a big penalty to be incurred , there is every chance of a good result , especially if game is on for the opponents. I remember once I opened a club on 6 HCPs with a 5 card heart suit to the Q10. My LHO passed and partner with his miserable collection of points bid 1D ( weak and asking ). MY RHO opponent passed with the big hand , lying in wait and biding his time. I dutifully bid 1H , which partner thankfully had Jx in support . Pass ....pass.........DOUBLE!. This was left in for penalties which went for 3 off for minus 500 against their vulnerable game.
But what is really great about the opening forcing pass is that you get into ( and quickly out of ) the bidding in nearly every auction , an initiative which gives you a whole load of advantages and the opponents a whole load of headaches. Take this example for instance , I opened 1D in second position with 8 HCP only to see my LHO double straightaway. This bid now gave my partner ( or possibly me ) the advantage of using another grossly underused bid.....THE REDOUBLE. This bid in our system , says I just happen to have a very good suit of my own..... requiring me to bid 1H . This of course may well be left in , or converted to 1S/2C/2D. If however partner happened to a have flat hand himself, an immediate non-forcing 1NT would be the obligatory response. So being intensely irritated at not knowing a thing about our hands , the opponents took control of the auction to arrive at 3NT. I surmised that partner's suit had to spades , and the opening lead 9 from my doubleton put the contract for 2 off for another glorious top.