Chuck Arthur


The game was matchpoints in a 21 table game, 20 top. I was South; West was the dealer; nobody was vulnerable. We were playing 2 over 1 forcing to game.














West North East South
Pass 1 1 2
Pass  2   2 3  
Pass  4   Pass  Pass

This one is for Bill Kertes. At the end of the auction, as the dummy was coming down, North asked “Was 3 hearts forcing?”. I replied that it was. Bill, who had been kibitzing, walked away from the table at this point and discussed something with another, I do not know whom. When he returned, at the end of the hand, he said that I should post this hand on my blog; that he had received a second opinion; that the person agreed with him… that 3 hearts was only invitational. For sure, had there been no interference, it would have been forcing, and would have shown a stronger hand than had I bid 4 hearts directly.

I am sure that you are going to tell me that at the point that I bid 3 hearts, 3 spades would have been a superior bid. Perhaps so, but I did not want to chance the auction getting too convoluted. What about it folks… was 3 hearts forcing?

To see the whole deal and the virtual traveller. click here.

To submit your answer, first decide on your answer; then click on the word Comment or Comments at the top of this blog entry. That will cause this blog entry to be isolated (with the comments that others have made) and to be displayed. At the bottom of those comments, there will be a frame displayed where you may key in your answer as a comment.


David LindopNovember 9th, 2010 at 1:46 am

3H was not forcing. In competition, responder may have to stretch to get into the auction. South would have to cuebid or bid a new suit to force after opener rebids 2H.

BruceNovember 9th, 2010 at 1:53 am

3H is not forcing and you were lucky that your P bid game. Your 2D bid was competitive showing values, but 3H was tentative with your 7 loser holding.

David CohenNovember 9th, 2010 at 5:31 am

3H was not forcing. A new suit would create a force. A qbid would also create a GF, but would also suggest something more.

Isn’t it possible that partner only has 5H on this auction?

Debbie BennettNovember 9th, 2010 at 6:40 am

not forcing, competitive. As you suggest, without competition, 2D would be game forcing and you proceed from there. Interference changes this scenario. 2D showed ‘some’ values. Holding

xx,Ax,AQ10xx,xxx, a player could have the same auction. New suit or cue bid only forcing options

Debbie BennettNovember 9th, 2010 at 6:44 am

P.S. I like the suggestion that pard could have only 5H. (S)he was backed into corner, 3523 or 2524 distribution, what would you do with minimum?

DoreenNovember 9th, 2010 at 7:54 am

For me 3 hts invitational only.Any comment is redundant since the fact has already been made that only a spade cue or new suit bid would create the forcing auction.

Steve GoldinNovember 9th, 2010 at 8:39 am

I believe that even if you and partner are playing 2/1, this auction falls outside those parameters. So…the first response showed 10+ HCPS and Diamonds. It should be considered forcing for one round, if unpassed. Because Opener has been forced, 2H is temporizing and may not promise 6 Hearts. Therefore Responder should utilize a forcing bid in order to find the correct strain (since an opening hand and a responding hand hand containing opening values need to be in game.} In this auction competitive auction a cuebid (3S) or 3C (new suit) should be forcing. I prefer 3C because it allows more space for the Opener to describe her hand. In the actual auction, 3H showed a hand that was only trying to compete (and hoped that Opener actually had 6 hearts). With only 2 card support for Opener and only the same 11 HCPS that Responder promised initially, perhaps Double would be best (“Do something intelligent, partner”). But with the game forcing values that Responder actually has, Double is premature.

john cunninghamNovember 9th, 2010 at 8:40 am

There is a loooong history of the default being forcing in American Bridge. (At one time major limit raises were banned) Not so in Europe.

I am biased in the opposite direction, at matchpoints especially.

Here, all 2 hearts promises is that partner heard your bid: you made him bid something; he has nothing interesting to say.

As Fats Waller wrote, “Sweetheart, he forced me.” I don’t think so.

(My kibitzee jumped to 4 hearts after the same start. THAT was odd.)

Abe BirenbaumNovember 9th, 2010 at 9:04 am

I am not a 2/1 player but I would have thought that your 2d response even in competition would be a game force. Over 4h I would still try 4s. Abe

Abe BirenbaumNovember 9th, 2010 at 9:10 am

2nd thought after seeing 4 hands , if 3h is non forcing why did N bid game. Abe

Hazel WolpertNovember 9th, 2010 at 9:36 am

I do not think 3 hearts is forcing because I have to be able to put in an invite and I can’t think of a way to invite other than 3 hearts yet there are many was to force.

Ross AndersonNovember 9th, 2010 at 9:45 am


I’m with Bill. How else do I show a good diamond suit and still invite with 2 card support and less than an opener. Having said this I think what matters is if you have any agreements with said partner. In the absence of any agreement (assuming you are playing 2 over 1) I think a bid of 2 clubs or diamonds on this auction shows 10 plus points and a good 5 card suit and 3 hearts therefore shows 10/11 points and probaby 2 card support as partner bids 2 spades with 3 or more hearts and 10/11.I like 3 spades and I hope partner can bid 4 clubs. If he does I will bid RKCB. Tough for him to do when I have 4 KEY CARDS INCLUDING the spade ace, and diamond A/K controls.

roger allenNovember 9th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I think that 3 hearts is non forcing. After all would you not bid the same way if the Ace of diamonds were (say) the Jack of diamonds.

Mike HamiltonNovember 9th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Bids can often convey specific information. They can also build on each other to tell the total story of the hand, so let’s go back to the initial response of 2D. Clearly had East passed, I would have bid 2D as a 2-over-1 response, forcing to game. When the opponents interfere, the meaning isn’t so clear because now ALL bids take on an air of competing for what may be no more than a partscore. Now I need my later bids to team up with my first response to build an accurate picture of my hand.

Each bid I make should take the auction up to that point into account as best as our bidding system allows. In that context, partner’s simple rebid of 2H is competitive. I expect a hand with a 6-card heart suit and minimum values (arguably defined as 12-15 HCP; some will use 11-14 HCP; others will substitute total playing points for HCP).

The key to interpreting the nature of the 3H bid is that once partner has limited hid hand, any raise of partner’s primary suit below game is either competitive or invitational in an uncontested auction. I would interpret 3H in this auction as showing a hand with invitational values that is willing to compete. It is not forcing and partner may pass. Partner will bid on only if he has extra values, and suit bids over 3H will begin to sound like cue-bids showing controls and expressing interest in slam.

This auction is an awkward progression for the South hand. A cue-bid over the 1S interference would have shown a limit raise or better in hearts. A direct bid of 1NT would get the spade stopper across but understate the strength of the hand. There is probably no other call that has been assigned more specialized meaning than 2NT, but if we’re playing 2NT as a forcing major-suit raise that is turned “off” in competition, then 2NT over 1S should revert back to its standard meaning and would have worked better than 2D here, showing a hand of 13-15 HCP and denying 3-card support for hearts.

Another bid that has evolved as a versatile tool for competitive auctions is the negative double. If 2NT doesn’t work over 1S as I described it above, how about a negative double? This call would deny the heart support needed for a direct raise and initially would show limited scattered values. But just as a takeout double shows greater strength when followed by a suit bid, so should a double when bid as negative. Now a double over 1S followed by 3D over 2H shows a 5+ card suit and extra values in a hand that couldn’t support hearts directly.

In my view, the principal interest in this auction is South’s first bid, not the meaning of 3H. The second point of note is that we have so many pairs using bids in so many different ways that auctions can become system-specific and harder to discuss in a forum setting.

What is assumed in the Master Solvers’ Club?

Mike HamiltonNovember 9th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Now that I have seen the deal, the theoretical best spot should be 4H by North with the 8-card fit and the fine 6-card primary suit. However 3NT by South also worked out because of the sure spade stopper, the running heart suit, and the friendly lie of the diamonds.

If 2NT has its standard meaning in a competitive auction, the auction might have gone

(Pass)-1H-(1S)-2NT / (Pass)-3H-(Pass)-???

Partner’s rebid of 3H over a now-standard 2NT shows a 6-card suit and minimum opening-bid values. Depending on my temperament, I have the flexibility to put in an advance cue-bid of 3S on the way to the heart game, bid 3NT directly to show the sure spade stopper, or raise hearts. I have a top-quality 15 HCP and a 5-card suit, but I also have bad clubs to be bidding past game. This is where judgement and experience come in. In this case, North’s aceless hand will deny any interest in slam shown by me.

If I start with a negative double, the auction might have gone

(Pass)-1H-(1S)-Dbl / (Pass)-2H-(2S)-3D / (Pass)-3S-(Pass)-3NT / (Pass)-???

Now partner’s 3S over 3D is a Western cue-bid asking for a spade stop that gets us to 3NT. Partner has a judgement call to make. He can either pass 3NT or bid 4H, trusting I have a doubleton heart to be looking for no-trump.


(Pass)-1H-(1S)-dbl / (Pass)-2H-(2S)-3D / (Pass)-3H-(Pass)-???

A rebid of 3H instead of the Western cue shows the 6-card minimum hand. I can raise to game with 2-card support or show the spade ace as before. There is less uncertainty here.

These sequences offer the partnership greater flexibility in the bidding. I can give partner a look at 3NT or a heart slam on the way to 4H.

Steve MackayNovember 9th, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Hi Chuck,

Whether or not you play 2/1 as GF, I think that a huge majority of players treat a 2/1 bid in competition as not GF. Had responder rebid 3D for example, very few would consider this as F. What aout 3H? Again, I suspect that the vote for “just competitive” rather than GF would be very high. It is not as if you have no way to force. But this may be your only way to compete.

Here’s a rule which you may or may not find useful. After a 2/1 bid in a situation such as this, the auction is no longer forcing whenever a suit has been bid twice – either bid and rebid or bid and raised. Partnersips would have to decide whether or not to treat 2NT by either partner as F or NF.

This “rule” can be applied usefully to a number of situations. Here is another situation:

Say you overcall and partner Q-bids.

(1D) – 1S – (P) – 2D – ??

Either partner might introduce a new suit at this point (which would be F for one round) but as soon as either partner rebids or raises (the original suit or a second suit), the auction is no longer F.

(1D) – 1S – (P) – 2D

(P) – 2S (NF)

(1D) – 1S – (P) – 2D

(P) – 2H – (P) – 2S, 3H (both NF)

Finally, a third situation in which I think the “rule” should apply:

Partner makes a TO double and you Q-bid. Most play a jump in response to a TO double as a reasonable hand, say 8 or 9 to 10 or 11 and some then play that the Q-bid is GF. Much more useful, I think, is to use the “rule” here. The Q-bid will deliver LR values (or better) but not necessarily GF values. If the Q-bidder just raises the TO doubler’s suit, this can end the auction. This makes it much easier to land in the right strain. Otherwise, the responder to a TO double may have to guess which M to bid whenever he has around 10 or 11.

gowdyNovember 9th, 2010 at 6:40 pm

!st of all 2D is forcing but just for 1 bid.

You got it with 2H.

2H is default perhaps 6 but perhaps just 5

( xxx kqjxx qx axx) or (xx kj10xxx xx KQxI s 3H forcing ……NO NEVER There is only 1 bid that makes sence 3S How can that lead to convolution?

Chuck GallowayNovember 10th, 2010 at 10:30 pm

For what it’s worth 2/1 GF is off in competition or you can’t handle many hands.

Chuck GallowayNovember 10th, 2010 at 10:32 pm

P.S. I mean when your RHO competes. It’s still on if he passes and your LHO competes.

Barry RigalNovember 13th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Strongly of the opinion that 2H response is non-forcing and thus the 3H bid is purely competitive.

If you want to play 4H you may be lucky enough to find a 4H bid in your box…and use it.

Blair FedderDecember 3rd, 2010 at 5:08 am

3 hearts is a better hand than 4 hearts….you have a cue bid available, which would require North to bid 3 NT with a spade stopper, Qx…2Nt shows this hand and it’s forcing. If you are playing 2/1 as game forcing and you have not made an agreement that in competitive auctions it’s off, then you must bid a game unless there is no fit anywhere

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