Forcing Pass

General

The forcing pass is necessarily a key aspect of SPREAD. Frequent use is made of symmetric relays at a variety of level adjustments with respect to standard SCRAPE. An appreciation of the design of the structure is helpful when recalling the meanings of bids at the table.

Design Objectives

The following objectives were met in the design of the structure:
Symmetric relays are a well-known and effective tool for constructive auctions that may need specific details of shape and honour location for slam purposes. They are much more effective if the hand receiving shape information has length opposite shown shortages. The simplest way to increase effectiveness in this area is to have a balanced hand receeve shape description from an unbalanced hand, where such a choice exists. If a primary fit is found then the honour strength opposite any shortages is known for slam purposes (as in standard "splinter" methods). If a primary fit is not found, the honour strength opposite any shortages is again known for selecting the best strain. When referring to the two hands in a relay auction, the standard abbreviations of "R" for Relayer and "RR" for Relay Responder will be used.
In the structure below, all unbalanced shapes are shown one level lower than in normal symmetric methods. This is largely caused by the lower rank of the strong opening, but the ability to combine the flexible captaincy with preservation of constant level-shift is a bonus. Balanced hands are shown, on average, nearly two levels lower than in SCRAPE.
Notwithstanding the above, there exist freak hands that might wish to insist on a positive responder revealing their shape, and this can also occur.
Experience with SCRAPE has suggested that an approach that seperates full negatives from semipositive and positive hands is fruitful in stopping partscore hands at low levels, while retaining a reasonable invitational structure. Alternate approaches that give immediate shape description of semipositive hands would show gains when the fourth hand contests the auction (e.g. swap the roles of the 1D response below with all of the 1H and 1S+ responses and use the SCRAPE direct semipositive responses to the strong pass) but require some loss of parallelism between opener's and responder's unbalanced shape-showing, some loss of constant level-shifting and the use of some awkward semipositive relay structures.
For those making the transition from SCRAPE and related symmetric methods, the re-use of some structures will prove efficient. Indubitably, using a consistent degree of level adjustment in positive relay auctions will lead to more effective bidding in practice.
In a strong 1C style the auction need never be concerned with right-siding club contracts, for the declarer of clubs is already fixed. However in a relay auction after a strong pass there exist several cases where relevant minor suit(s) are unbid and it is appropriate to use a 1NT response to show a two-suiter with clubs, so as to maximise the right-siding of club and diamond contracts. This contradicts the SCRAPE style of making low-ranking bids with more cards in high-ranking suits, but does so consistently and for a clear objective. The two conditions for "on-the-fly" modification of relay structures discussed here are used, both in the design of the normal structure, and in any level-adjustment after interference.
Other 1NT relay responses show hands with major-suit holdings. This is advantageous, as it would be preferable to respond 1NT with hands that are less likely to end declaring notrump contracts. In the balanced structure, 1NT shows both majors or a 5-card major. In an unbalanced hand, 1NT shows both majors, with neither major suit having yet been bid.

Responding to the opening strong pass

After Pass

All hands with 15+ HCP

1C Positive 19+ OP, either balanced (including any 5332), or unbalanced with 4+H and 0-3S, or unbalanced with 4+D and 4+C
1D Balanced (including any 5332), or unbalanced with 4+H and 0-3S, or unbalanced intending to force responder to show shape
1H Positive 19+ OP, balanced
1S Balanced, or unbalanced intending to force responder to show shape (continuations here)
1NT 2-suited with H and C (symmetric continuations)
2C 2-suited with 4+H and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 2-suited with 5+H and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+H (symmetric continuations)
1S Positive 19+ OP, unbalanced with both minors (2- or 3-suited)
1NT Game-forcing relay
2C 3-suited with both minors (symmetric continuations)
2D+ Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with D and C (symmetric continuations)
1NT Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with H and C (symmetric continuations)
2C Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with 4+H and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with 5+H and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ Positive 19+ OP, 1-suited with 6+H (symmetric continuations)
1H Unbalanced 4+S 0-3H
1S Game-forcing relay
1NT 2-suited with S and C (symmetric continuations)
2C 2-suited with 4+S and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 2-suited with 5+S and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+S (symmetric continuations)
1S Unbalanced with 4+D and 4+C
1NT Game-forcing relay
2C 3-suited with both minors (symmetric continuations)
2D+ 2-suited with D and C (symmetric continuations) Note that the second condition for relay structure modification applies here.
1NT 2-suited with S and H (symmetric continuations)
2C 1-suited with 6+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 3-suited with both majors (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+C (symmetric continuations)
1D Any semipositive 15-18 OP
1H Relay, either GF or intermediate balanced (then SCRAPE shape-showing adjusted up one level)
1S Unbalanced 4+H (note the application of the first condition for relay structure modification)
1NT Unbalanced 4+S 0-3H
2C Unbalanced 4+D 0-3S 0-3H
2D Balanced with a 4- or 5-card major (First condition will apply to RR's lowest rebid)
2H Balanced with no major (First condition will apply to RR's second lowest rebid)
2S 3-suited with both minors (symmetric continuations)
2NT+ 1-suited with 6+C (symmetric continuations)
1S Unbalanced, 4+S, possible canape, rarely passed
1NT Minimum balanced or near-balanced; then Stayman and four-suit transfers (or anything by agreement)
2C Unbalanced, 5+C, normally 0-3S, non-forcing
2D Unbalanced, 5+D, normally 0-3S, non-forcing
2H Unbalanced, 5+H, normally 0-3S, non-forcing
1H Positive 19+ OP, unbalanced with 4+S 0-3H
1S Game-forcing relay
1NT 2-suited with S and C (symmetric continuations)
2C 2-suited with 4+S and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 2-suited with 5+S and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+S (symmetric continuations)
1S Negative 7-14OP
1NT Balanced or near-balanced or unbalanced with clubs; then two-level suit bids natural and non-forcing
2C Game force (continuations here)
2D Unbalanced 5+D
2H Unbalanced 5+H
2S Unbalanced 5+S
1NT Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with S and H (symmetric continuations)
2C Positive 19+ OP, 1-suited with 6+D (symmetric continuations)
2D Positive 19+ OP, 3-suited with both majors (symmetric continuations)
2H+ Positive 19+ OP, 1-suited with 6+C (symmetric continuations)

Responding to the opening strong pass (expanded version)

After Pass

All hands with 15+ HCP

1C Positive 19+ OP, either balanced (including any 5332), or unbalanced with 4+H and 0-3S, or unbalanced with 4+D and 4+C (step in)
1D Any semipositive 15-18 OP (step in)
1H Positive 19+ OP, unbalanced with 4+S 0-3H (step in)
1S Negative 7-14OP (step in)
1NT Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with S and H (symmetric continuations)
2C Positive 19+ OP, 1-suited with 6+D (symmetric continuations)
2D Positive 19+ OP, 3-suited with both majors (symmetric continuations)
2H+ Positive 19+ OP, 1-suited with 6+C (symmetric continuations)

After Pass 1C

(step out) Positive 19+ OP, either balanced (including any 5332), or unbalanced with 4+H and 0-3S, or unbalanced with 4+D and 4+C

1D Balanced (including any 5332), or unbalanced with 4+H and 0-3S, or unbalanced intending to force responder to show shape (step in)
1H Unbalanced 4+S 0-3H (step in)
1S Unbalanced with 4+D and 4+C (step in)
1NT 2-suited with S and H (symmetric continuations)
2C 1-suited with 6+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 3-suited with both majors (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+C (symmetric continuations)

After Pass 1C; 1D

(step out) Balanced (including any 5332), or unbalanced with 4+H and 0-3S, or unbalanced intending to force responder to show shape

1H Positive 19+ OP, balanced (step in)
1S Positive 19+ OP, unbalanced with both minors (2- or 3-suited) (step in)
1NT Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with H and C (symmetric continuations)
2C Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with 4+H and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with 5+H and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ Positive 19+ OP, 1-suited with 6+H (symmetric continuations)

After Pass 1C; 1D 1H

(step out) Positive 19+ OP, balanced

1S Balanced, or unbalanced intending to force responder to show shape (continuations here)
1NT 2-suited with H and C (symmetric continuations)
2C 2-suited with 4+H and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 2-suited with 5+H and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+H (symmetric continuations)

After Pass 1C; 1D 1S; 1NT

(step out) Game-forcing relay after showing positive 19+ OP, unbalanced with both minors (2- or 3-suited)

2C 3-suited with both minors (symmetric continuations)
2D+ Positive 19+ OP, 2-suited with D and C (symmetric continuations)

After Pass 1C; 1H 1S

(step out) Game-forcing relay after showing unbalanced 4+S 0-3H

1NT 2-suited with S and C (symmetric continuations)
2C 2-suited with 4+S and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 2-suited with 5+S and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+S (symmetric continuations)

After Pass 1C; 1S 1NT

(step out) Game-forcing relay after showing unbalanced with 4+D and 4+C

2C 3-suited with both minors (symmetric continuations)
2D+ 2-suited with D and C (symmetric continuations) Note that the second condition for relay structure modification applies here.

After Pass 1D

(step out) Any semipositive 15-18 OP

1H Relay, either GF or intermediate balanced (then SCRAPE shape-showing adjusted up one level) (step in)
1S Unbalanced, 4+S, possible canape, rarely passed
1NT Minimum balanced or near-balanced; then Stayman and four-suit transfers (or anything by agreement)
2C Unbalanced, 5+C, normally 0-3S, non-forcing
2D Unbalanced, 5+D, normally 0-3S, non-forcing
2H Unbalanced, 5+H, normally 0-3S, non-forcing

After Pass 1D; 1H

(step out)

Relay after any semipositive 15-18 OP

1S Unbalanced 4+H (note the application of the first condition for relay structure modification)
1NT Unbalanced 4+S 0-3H
2C Unbalanced 4+D 0-3S 0-3H
2D Balanced with a 4- or 5-card major (First condition will apply to RR's lowest rebid)
2H Balanced with no major (First condition will apply to RR's second lowest rebid)
2S 3-suited with both minors (symmetric continuations)
2NT+ 1-suited with 6+C (symmetric continuations)

After Pass 1H

(step out) Game-forcing relay after showing positive 19+ OP, unbalanced with 4+S 0-3H

1NT 2-suited with S and C (symmetric continuations)
2C 2-suited with 4+S and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 2-suited with 5+S and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+S (symmetric continuations)

After Pass 1S

(step out) Negative 7-14OP

1NT Balanced or near-balanced or unbalanced with clubs; then two-level suit bids natural and non-forcing
2C Game force (continuations here)
2D Unbalanced 5+D
2H Unbalanced 5+H
2S Unbalanced 5+S

Balanced Hands

There exist two situations in which unconstrained balanced hands need to show shape. One is when the hand is already known to be balanced, and the other is when balanced hands are part of a larger scheme of shape-showing. In the latter case two bids are used when initiating shape-showing, directly revealing the presence or absence of any major suit. This structure can be used to resolve shape when a balanced hand is already known (Step 1 shows the lower frequency no-major hand, with higher steps running on to the hands with major suits). However when a balanced hand is shown (after Pass 1C; 1D 1H; 1S), Step 1 is 1NT, which is an undesirable bid for a balanced positive hand lacking a major suit that is probably opposite a balanced hand! The solution that conserves memory effort is to omit 1NT and use 2C with no major and run on to higher bids with majors. However a more space-efficient approach is to use 1NT with those hands that are least likely to later declare notrumps (those with 5-card majors and both 4-card majors), and as few of those hands as is consistent with efficient use of bidding space. One can then obtain a structure with space-efficiency near the theoretical maximum. Partnerships should choose the approach most suited to them.

Structure for known balanced hands

Ordinarily in efficient symmetric relay structures the lowest relay response carries around as many hand shapes as all of the shapes shown at or above the third lowest response, or just over a third of all shapes to be shown. This is because an efficent structure has a Fibonacci-like decay of number of hands shown by increasing levels of response. However after the SPREAD; auction Pass 1C; 1D 1H; 1S there are almost always two facing balanced hands. Shape showing now begins with responder forced to show shape. Showing more than a third of all shapes with 1NT would lead to a significant frequency of 3NT being declared by the relay responder whose shape is known. To attenuate this phenomenon,
The resulting structure is very effective. Right-siding the declaration is no longer a concern, as all suits have been bid, but for consistency with other structures, the hands with 4M and 4m are shown with bids below the major suit. The average level at which the structure shows strength is minutely over 3D; 7 shapes show at 3C and 3H, 13 at 3D and 1 at 3S. The average would be 3D but for the accepted inefficiency in one structure noted below.
Using the "normal" relay structures to show all balanced hands in the context of a known balanced hand is inefficient in one of two ways. If 1NT is used to show balanced hands without majors then the bidding structure is an acceptable 10-6-4-3-2-1-1-1 but notrumps will be declared by a revealed hand very frequently. If 1NT is bypassed then the structure becomes 0-10-6-4-3-2-1-1-1 which compares poorly with the alternative described below.

After Pass 1C; 1D 1H; 1S

Both hands balanced, or opener is demanding responder's shape

1NT Any 5332 with 5S or any 5332 with 5H or 4S and 4H
2C Game-forcing relay
2D Any 5332 with 5S
2H Game-forcing relay
2S 5332
2NT 5323
3C+ 5233 (with zoom)
2H 4S and 4H
2S Game-forcing relay
2NT 4432
3C+ 4423 (with zoom)
2S 3532
2NT 3523
3C+ 2533 (with zoom)
2C 4S and 4m or any 4333
2D Game-forcing relay
2H Any 4333
2S Game-forcing relay
2NT 4333
3C 3433
3D 3343
3H+ 3334 (with zoom)
2S 4342
2NT 4243
3C 4324
3D+ 4234
This structure is inefficent compared with the optimal 3-2-1-1-1 distribution of shapes, however there is no way of achieving such a resolution without imposing a memory challenge. This structure shows strength at a net of one step higher than the ideal structure (over eight shapes), made up of one shape shown one step lower and one shape shown two steps higher.
2D 4H and 4m
2H Game-forcing relay
2S 3442
2NT 2443
3C 3424
3D+ 2434 (with zoom)
2H 5D(332)
2S Game-forcing relay
2NT 3352
3C 3253
3D+ 2533 (with zoom)
2S 4D and 4C
2NT Game-forcing relay
3C 3244
3D+ 2344 (with zoom)
2NT 3325
3C 3235
3D+ 2335

Relays with a very strong hand opposite a very weak hand

After Pass 1S; 2C

2D Third negative 0-2(3)HCP any shape
2H Natural not forcing
2S Natural, not forcing
2NT 23+ balanced (Puppet Stayman and transfers)
3X Natural game forcing
2H 4M and 5+m (neither suit specified)
2S Game-forcing relay
2NT 4S 5+D
3C 4S 5+C
3D 4H 5+D
3H 4H 5+C
Low-ranking bids promise high-ranking suits, consistent with remainder of the system.
2S Shows a hand describable with Puppet Stayman and transfers (all balanced, all long-major hands, both minors) and guarantees a rebid after any non-game bid by opener, who is not constrained to bid 2NT.
2NT Three-suited hand
3C Game-forcing relay
3D Three-suited with short clubs
3H Three-suited with short diamonds
3S Three-suited with short hearts
3NT Three-suited with short spades
3X Shows a single-suiter of (usually) at least 7 cards.