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The question arises from this example hand:. The whole hand is included for reference, although you get to see only your own cards when you bid.

You are North with (s) AK4 (h) Q98 (d)976 (c) AT86. South bids one diamond, and you respond 2NT (13-15, forcing). Partner bids three diamonds.

The cliche is that an "opening hand opposite an opening hand equals game." That implies that "13+13=26 points and is good enough for a major suit game. But it takes about 29 to make a minor suit game.

Suppose South has a bare minimum such as (s)J7 (h)42 (d)AK8542 (c)K43

Can a forcing bid such as 2NT be only "forcing to four" (of a suit)? That is, not to game in a minor if you can't see your way to the eleventh trick? If you bid three spades to show your strength in the suit, and South signs off at four diamonds, can you pass?

  • With this hand, I'd bid 3N. If you bid 3S, partner bypasses a 50%+ 3N with S: xxx H: J D: AKQxxx C:Kxx. – Alexander Woo Dec 25 '15 at 23:51
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Yes - many pairs play that "forcing to game" actually means forcing to 3N.

As always, this is up to partnership agreement.

  • One expression I've seen in system descriptions is "Forcing to 3N or four of a minor." – Adam Wildavsky Dec 26 '15 at 1:19
  • +1 for the last sentence. Any bid means what the partnership has agreed on it meaning; there is no can mean. – TimLymington Dec 26 '15 at 11:21

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