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How Alert Regs Could Cover Forcing Pass Auctions

In recent articles at Bridge Winners, much attention has been directed at the lack of concrete guidance provided by the ACBL in regard to alerts of forcing passes. I believe that it should be possible, and not even that difficult, to formulate a set of sensible, intuitive metarules that express when forcing or non-forcing passes should be alerted or should not be alerted.

As a test, I have constructed an example of the type of language that might address this for the opening side. See italicized matter below.

For the purposes of this regulation, auction sequences meeting the following criteria are considered game forcing for the opening side:

1) Opener's hand, by agreement, may or must exceed 11 HCP; and

2) At least one of the following has been met:

2a) A below-game bid by the opening side commits that side to game (e.g., a 2/1 unconditionally game-forcing response);

2b) A player of the opening side invites to game, and the player's partner makes a call that conveys acceptance of the invitation;

2c) At least one player of the opening side has shown a hand that is balanced (4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, or 5-3-3-2) or semi-balanced (5-4-2-2), and the opening side bids game;

2d) ...

Once an auction has met the above criteria,

1) A forcing pass by the opening side is not alertable.

2) A non-forcing pass by the opening side in direct seat following a bid by intervenor or advancer is alertable.

So long as an auction has not met the above criteria,

1) A non-forcing pass by the opening side in direct seat following a bid by intervenor or advancer is not alertable.

2) A forcing pass by the opening side is alertable.

The above might be refined according to whether opener faces a passed hand, and a set of metarules would be needed to define non-alertable forcing-pass sequences for the intervening side.

My primary concern here is not whether the above criteria seem sensible (although feedback on that is certainly welcome), but whether it's feasible to devise clear criteria that also make it seldom necessary to alert forcing/non-forcing passes. Having such criteria could be explored also for other types of passes/doubles.

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