Chuck Arthur

It is still forcing

This hand occurred during a club game at matchpoints; I was West.

Dealer: East

Vul: Both























West North East South
2 Pass
2    Pass 3   Pass 
3   Pass  6    All Pass


Isn’t that East hand beautful? It would be such a pity to have it go to waste.

My 2 hearts was our artificial negative: it showed less than 4 HCP or 1 King. I did not much fancy bidding 3 spades at my second turn, but thought it my duty since 3 clubs was forcing. Partner’s 6 spades ended what I thought was an efficient and fine auction. There was not much to the play. North cashed the Ace of hearts and switched to a diamond. I drew trumps and claimed, although I did have to ruff the club suit good.

I was somewhat astounded to find that we received such a good score on this deal. We played it on round 4, so it had only been played a few times by the time that we played it, but by then it was the top score EW. I did not think that we had done anything so wonderful to deserve it; to me, the auction and play were straightforward. Things changed somewhat; in the end, we received 21 out of 25 matchpoints. 5 of us were tied at 1430; 2 EW’s outscored us at 1460, obviously when NS forgot to cash their Ace of hearts. Take a look at the virtual traveller here. Notice all those EW pairs who played in 3 clubs and made 5 for +150. They almost certainly had the same start to the auction (up to the 3 club rebid) as we did, but then West passed. Clearly, those Wests looked only at their own measly collection and decided that this was not forcing. My recommendation is this: openers below game rebid (having opened 2 clubs) is still forcing for one more round. There are too many hands that opener can hold that he does not want to make a unilateral decision just yet.


Linda GottliebOctober 31st, 2010 at 6:08 pm

At my table on this hand, after the 2C opening, your hand responded 2D (waiting) so my partner could not double for a H lead. Then the 2c opener, bid 3Spades, disregarding her club suit and they played in 6 spades from the big hand, and naturally I never lead a H from my 3rd King, so they beat you and made 7.

Steve MackayOctober 31st, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Hi Chuck,

I agree with you that 3C should be forcing for one round, even after 2H negative. I also think that 3C should show a “good” hand (if you can’t stand to have partner push you one level higher, then open 1C!).

I will also recommend a gadget you may want to add to your arsenal. I think the 3S bid over 3C should promise at least five spades. I suggest that you use 3D over 3C as temporizing or “still waiting”. This allows opener to show a four card M when he has one and allows the partnership to find a 4-4 fit if it exists.

If opener has a similar hand with diamonds and a four card M (big enough that he is willing to go to 4D), he can show this hand if responder responds 2D by jumping to 3M. This is a Benito Garozzo treatment.

All the best,


Chuck ArthurOctober 31st, 2010 at 7:39 pm

That is a good idea, Steve. I doubt if many partnerships have discussed what happens after opening 2 clubs to this depth.

john cunninghamOctober 31st, 2010 at 7:45 pm

An immediate 2H negative is wasteful and inferior to the ancient 2nd negative regimen. Contemptuous. Mind you, my esteemed partner, on hearing a 3 diamond second negative, bid a bland six clubs. A well deserved poor score for a thoughtless call.. More could be said. But it IS all Hallows’ eve. The Dead walk.

Ross AndersonNovember 1st, 2010 at 8:07 am


I’m the one that made the thoughtless call and I agree with you that many partnerships do not discuss what is and is not forcing after a strong 2 club opener followed by a negative bid. That is heightened when your partner is someone you do not play with regularly. I would expect new suits to always be forcing but veryone does not see the world through the same eyes so rather than take a chance I bid what I thought I could make.Sometimes life sucks. I wonder what partner would have bid with xxx xxxxx xxxx x or better yet xx xxxxx xxxxx x. It’s always easy to figure things out after the fact.

Steve MackayNovember 1st, 2010 at 8:48 am

Hi all,

I agree with John regarding his endorsement of 2D waiting and his gentle rebuke of 2H negative. Nothing like experience to bestow wisdom and I think John has passed 40.

Wayne RuttanNovember 1st, 2010 at 9:17 am

Man! Was I ever surprised to get 21 out of 25 on this

deal. (so were my opponents). We do not use a bust

hand bid. Partner always owes me 2 bids when I open

2C. After her 2D response (no ace, max 1 king, 0-6 hcp,

italian system) I bid my long suit and then she shows

me her long suit. Bingo! 6 spades!

john cunninghamNovember 1st, 2010 at 9:39 am

Further to my rant against employing 2H as an immediate second negative, I would point out that Marshall Miles advocated using the bid as an artificial POSITIVE. He provides interesting follow up. One of the few Bridge Mentors, he.

David LindopNovember 1st, 2010 at 11:25 am

The 3C bid is 100% forcing in all (rational) methods. 2C was artificial, 2H (or 2D) was artificial, so it is the first bid that says “I have a strong – unlimited – hand with five or more clubs.” Responder can’t pass (the actual hand is an illustration of why).

Opener has to have a very strong hand to open 2C with a minor suit (for exactly the reason that it won’t be possible to stop at the three level in the minor suit). It is better to open 1C or 1D if the hand isn’t strong enough to go beyond 3 of the minor opposite a bust.

Playing 2H as an immediate negative worked well on this hand, since responder could safely bid 3S with a poor suit – having already denied a king or more. Playing 2D as waiting, the partnership needs an agreement on a ‘second negative’ (first negative, actually) after a 3C bid by opener (typically 3D is used) or a 3D rebid (awkward – 3NT is a bit ambiguous but all that is typically available to most partnerships). (The jump to 3H/S by opener to show 4 of the major and longer diamonds – as noted by Steve Mackay, is a way to get around this particular issue).

Anyway, nicely bid to 6S.

Roy HughesNovember 1st, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Years ago when I played Blue Club with Roy Dalton, we switched the 1D (0-5) and 1H (6+, <3 controls) responses, for the simple reason that the 0-5 response was extremely rare. I found this to be a significant improvement. Hamman & Soloway did the same thing. I like the 2H negative to 2C for the same reason, provided you make it rare enough: I play it shows no ace or king. This is mildly preemptive, but rare, and you avoid having to play the 2nd negative after 2D, which becomes game-forcing. In constructive sequences, it is best if bids become more specific, and less frequent, the higher they are. A 2S positive should have the least strict requirements of the suit positives, while 3D should have the most. That's more work than most people might want to do. David Turner and I play that the suit requirement for a 2S positive or 2N (=hearts) is KQJx/Kxxxx/xxxxxx, while 3C or 3D requires at least KQxxx

Debbie BennettNovember 5th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

It is my understand that following a 2C opener, players are forced to 1 below game i.e. 2nt,3 major, or 4 minor, ergo, 3c CANNOT be passed

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