Simple 4th Suit Forcing
Simple bidding can become not quite so simple in some situations, which is why you need to have a way to keep bidding open by using the “fourth suit forcing” principle. “Fourth suit forcing” can be just that: if you bid the fourth suit after three have been bid, it is FORCING partner to bid, that’s all you need to remember at this stage of your bridge development. Let’s have a look at a very interesting deal from today’s session.
Board 11 from Wednesday 23/01/2019
Dealer S Nil Vul
West opens 1C and East responds 1H. Some Wests may now hide the spade suit and rebid 1NT (15-17) which will give East a different sort of problem, but let’s say West bids 1S. That is what I would do; there can never be a reason for hiding your spade suit in such a bidding situation.
So, after 1S from West, what should East do? With 11 HCP East’s hand is worth a bid of 2NT now, but that would also be hiding the fact that East has FIVE hearts. This is where ‘fourth suit forcing’ comes into play. East bids 2D. West, with only two hearts and a fine sixteen count, bids 3NT. Would 2NT in this sequence be showing a minimum hand? In case partner passes, bid 3NT which should be a breeze but some failed nevertheless.
On a low diamond lead, West should know that North has either the jack or king of diamonds, or both, so there is no danger there. After putting up the ten of diamonds, which forces out the king from South, declarer can win the ace and set about the heart suit, which will yield four tricks after losing the inevitable one trick unless North foolishly, or sleepily, does not put the king up on either the first or second heart lead. Lots of other ways to play this 3NT, but with care it should make an overtrick at least, and there should be no excuses for not making. Replay this board by clicking here.
Fourth suit forcing is something that nearly everyone plays, and you should also. Don’t worry about all the ramifications, you don’t need to agree any more than that with a sensible partner who should know why you are bidding the fourth suit, and respond accordingly.
Limited numbers of my earlier book, “Tips and Quips” are still available and should help your bridge development before you move on to more esoteric things such as my ‘improved Acol’ as featured in “Thirteen Tricks and Evil Acol” which is currently also available on request.