~Fourth Suit Forcing (FSF)

Fourth Suit Forcing (FSF)

In a noncompetitive auction, when three suits have been bid,
responder may want to make the auction forcing and may do so by bidding the fourth suit no matter what that suit holding may be. Some partnerships play FSF as game forcing; others play it as a one-round force. Because opener did not make a 2nd bid that would have shown a forcing hand of 18+ points, opener is known to have 12-17 HCP. If opener has a sound opening bid, he knows from the FSF bid that game should be reached if a reasonable fit can be found.

~Opener’s first responsibility is to show 3-card support for responder’s major suit. Holding 3-card support, opener either rejects the game invite by bidding 2 of the major or accepts the invite with 14+ HCP by jumping to three of the major.
~When opener does not have 3-card support for responder’s major, the second priority is to bid notrump with a stopper in the fourth suit. With minimum values of 12-13 HCP, opener rejects the game invite by bidding 2NT. With greater values, opener must accept the invite and jump to 3NT.
~Priority three: when opener can neither show a 3-card fit nor bid notrump, he makes the most descriptive bid possible. Opener may rebid his first suit with 5 cards in the suit or support the fourth suit with 4-card support.

Opener can have one hand that cannot be described; holding four cards in each of the two suits bid and no stopper in the fourth suit, opener rebids the second suit, implying 7-5 shape (with 6 cards in a minor and 5 cards in a major, opener would open the major). Responder should realize that opener may be stuck for a bid and should allow room for opener to further describe the hand.

Another hand presents a potential problem. That problem is to assign a meaning to the 1S bid in the sequence 1C-P-1D-P, 1H-P-1S–is the 1S fourth suit forcing and what would a 1NT, a 2S, and a 2NT bid mean? My recommendation:
~1S: shows 6-10 points and a 4-card spade suit–not forcing.
~1NT: shows 6-10 HCP and a spade stopper  (or half stopper) but less than four spades–not forcing.
~2S: 11+ points and a 4-card spade suit and is forcing.
~2NT: 11-12 HCP and a spade stopper–invitational.

The idea is to make a minimum bid of 1S with 6-10 HCP and make a stronger bid (2S) with the invitational hand.

Responder could have the values for a game force or a slam invite. If none of the four bids shown are forcing, there must be a forcing bid. To make a forcing bid, responder must hold the values and shape for a game bid opposite a minimum opener. Responder can make one of the following bids:
~Responder can double jump to 3S, showing game points and 4 spades.
~Responder can double jump to 3NT implying either less than 4 diamonds or 4 spades but too strong to invite. By elimination, if holding four spades, responder denies a splinter–otherwise he would have bypassed 1D to bid 1S on his first bid.
~Responder can double jump to 4D as Keycard Gerber. This hand could have bid 2D/1C  (Criss Cross) to show 4 diamonds, a full opener, no 4-card major, and 3NT interest but missing a stopper in at least one major. By bidding 4D instead of 2D, responder implies a long diamond suit with slam interest.
~Responder can double jump to 4H.
~Responder can bid 4NT as RKC 1430 for hearts (the last bid suit).
~A single jump in opener’s major (3H) would be invitational.
~A single jump in opener’s minor (3C) would be invitational showing only 4-card support. With 5-card support in clubs and no 4-card spade suit, responder would have bid 2C (Inverted Minors) as his first bid.

Usually, the bidding sorts itself out in one or two bids after the FSF call.

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