Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is Forcing in Standard American

How long is it going to be before 2/1 game forcing becomes part of Standard American? It is overwhelmingly the most popular system played at tournaments while at clubs it is probably still the preferred system for only about 40% of the players. It’s not really any more difficult than Standard American, and if we teach people 2/1 game forcing from the start, they’ll probably even get the hang of it quick because beginners like guidelines such as “don’t pass until you’ve bid game.” However, almost all beginning bridge classes and bridge books teach Standard American first so I guess we have to adhere to that. But I was playing SA a few days ago and realized that I don’t know what is forcing and what isn’t. I have become so accustomed to 2/1 game forcing or other funky systems that don’t use 2/1 game forcing (but it isn’t a big deal because opener’s and is limited in big club or small club or Polish club or Swedish club or big diamond systems).

I haven't played Standard American with any regular partner since I was 15 and a beginner so tons of things that I think a lot about now didn't even cross my mind back then. I had always heard that in Standard American, a 2/1 bid was forcing to at least 2NT or sometimes people would say responder promises a rebid when he makes a 2/1 (and 2NT is opener’s only non-game rebid he can pass). So, 1S-2D-2S would still be a one round force but 1S-2D-3C would not be forcing. Is that right? That doesn’t make sense. And is 1S-2C-2H-2S forcing? My instinct says no. Another one I’m not sure about in Standard American is whether jump rebids below game are forcing or not. Without new minor forcing or fourth suit forcing, I realized I don’t know how to bid hands as responder when I’m not ready to settle on a strain or level by the second round of bidding. I guess with the people I have taught, if they ever got to the level of being able to ask questions like this, it was time for them to play 2/1.

I looked up the Standard American system on the ACBL website. Jumps to 3 of a previously bid suit are all invitational (except when responder made a 2/1 and then jumped to 3 of opener’s first suit in which case it is forcing) and jumps to 3 of a new suit are game-forcing. 1D-1H-1NT-2C is natural and non-forcing. The booklet makes no comment on auctions where opener rebids 3m (but does not jump) but it does say that “Responder promises to bid again if he responded with a new suit at the two level unless opener’s rebid is at the game level.” I think that pretty well sums it up.

On another different note, what’s your style on what to bid over partner’s 1S holding: Txx, AQJx, AQJ, Kxx? Many people play that 3NT shows this kind of 4333 hand but usually has a range of 13-15 or so. This might be too good for that and most players probably don’t have such an agreement. Would you ever consider a forcing 1NT response (and then a jump to 4S next time) or a 2/1 (and if you make a 2/1, would you bid 2C, 2D, or 2H) or Jacoby 2NT? I think this is an interesting dilemma. My instinct is to bid 2D with this particular hand and bid a forcing 1NT with a similar hand but a few fewer high cards.

1 comment:

  1. I think 1S-2D-2S and 1S-2C-2H-2S are both non-forcing.

    With Txx, AQJx, AQJ, Kxx, I play the 3N response as showing 12+ to 15, and agree with bidding 2D with that hand.