Phillip Alder
Phillip Alder

Source: ACBL: Phillip Alder is a columnist for The New York Times and a syndicated columnist for 22 years with United Feature Syndicate. His column appears in over 200 papers worldwide. He has also helped to produce the Daily Bulletins at various WBF Championships and is a member of the WBF Youth Committee. Alder is the Associate Editor of The Bridge World magazine.”

West North East South
Pass 2 Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass ?

Fourth-suit forcing bids cause much confusion among some players. In an uncostested auction, after three suits have been bid, if the responder mentions the fourth suit (see above), he is showing game-forcing values and asking for mor information from the opener.

If the responder is trying to get to 3NT, he probably will not have stopper in the fourth suit. So, the opener should bid notrump only with a stopper in the fourth suit. It is also likely; though not certain; that the responder has five cards in his first suit.

How should the opener react when his partner has used fourth-suit forcing? He makes the most natural bid available. By answering these questions, you’ll quickly get the idea.

After the auction indicated, what should the opener do with each of these hands?

  1. K Q 9 7 6 Q J 5 4 K Q 7 4
  2. A Q J 9 4 3 A Q 4 3 68 4
  3. K Q 9 7 6 Q J 5 4 4 K Q 7
  4. K Q 9 7 6 A Q J 5 4 A Q 7
  5. A Q 7 6 5 A Q 5 4 J 3 7 5


1)K Q 9 7 6 Q J 5 4 K Q 7 4

A: 3: Show your support partner’s suit. With another ace, you would jump to 4.

2)A Q J 9 4 3 A Q 4 3 68 4

A: 3: You cannot do anything else but rebid your six card suit.

3)K Q 9 7 6 Q J 5 4 4 K Q 7

A: 3NT: You have least one club stopper, so give partner that news.

4)K Q 9 7 6 A Q J 5 4 A Q 7

A: 4NT: This is not Blackwood because you haven’t agreed on a suit. It shows at least one club stopper and extra values: a hand too strong for a simple 3NT

5)A Q 7 6 5 A Q 5 4 J 3 7 5

A: 3: You have shown five spades and four hearts. You don’t have na club stopper. So, by a process of elimination, you have nothing better than 3. You don´t like to do this with only a doubleton diamond, but you have nothing better. Also, you have kept the bidding as low as possible to allow partner room to manoeuver.

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