In order to completely understand this month's discussion of 1NT Forcing (and/or Semi-Forcing), I suggest printing this out and reading it several times. It's not too easy to understand it with just a casual and quick read.
Last month, we started our exploration of the "1NT forcing response." We discussed that a 1NT response (by an Unpassed Hand) to 1 or 1 shows 6-12* points. This wide range is the downside of the system. Soon we will get into the actual 2-over-1 auctions and you will start to have some fun. Meanwhile, let's get the 1NT drudgery out of the way. Be sure you realize that this 1NT Forcing Response applies only to MAJOR-SUIT OPENINGS. If the 1NT bidder is a passed hand, then it is obviously no longer forcing (it can be up to 11 or a terrible 12 points, though). Also, if there is any interference after the 1 or 1 opening (a double or an overcall), then 1NT reverts to plain old 6-10.
There are two ways to play the 1NT response (by an Unpassed Hand to a 1 or 1 Opening):
A) Completely Forcing
B) Semi-forcing (To be visited in a future month)
You must choose one or the other with your partner. You can't play both. It is either A or B. If it is "A", then of course the opener must bid again. In ACBL-land, after a 1NT "Forcing" response, the partner of the 1NT bidder announces "Forcing". It is not an "Alert." It is an announcement like a Jacoby Transfer. Although I have a certain fondness for "B) 1NT Semi-forcing," the most common way to play the 1NT response is as "Completely Forcing." So, that is where we will focus our efforts. (In a future month, I will discuss my beloved 1NT semi-forcing.)
After 1NT Forcing:
Opener rebids "naturally," but 1NT can't be the final contract. Opener cannot pass with a balanced minimum. The rebid of 2 or 2 might be a 3-card suit. Opener is "stuck" if he opens 1 with, say:
K J 8 7 5
Q 5 4
Q 3 2.
He would like to pass a 1NT response to his 1 opening, but has to dredge up a rebid if 1NT is forcing. He has to rebid 2, his 3-card minor. (Anything else would be a worse lie; he can't rebid his 5-card major and he can't rebid 2NT which would show 18-19). When opener has that dreaded 5-3-3-2 minimum, he usually picks his cheapest 3-card minor.
What happens after opener makes his rebid? Since a 2 (or 2) rebid could be a 3-card suit, responder won't be too anxious to raise. Opener's new suit is NF. so opener can choose to pass (though he must be aware that it could be a 3-card suit).
Here is a look at what responder should do for his second bid after he has responded 1NT (completely) forcing:
Responders's second call after he has already responded with 1NT Forcing:
after 1-1NT-2: Pass (Yes, it might be a 4-3 fit)
New suit on 2-level: Non-forcing
After 1-1NT-2 : Bid 2
Preference to opener's Major: Typically weak, usually 2-card support
example: Q 7
A 4 3 2
J 8 7 6 4
: After 1-1NT-2: Bid 2
*Note: Later in this series we will discuss "constructive" raises, whereby this delayed raise could be a weak 3-carder.
Raise of opener's second suit: Invitational, natural (if 1NT was "forcing" the raise of a minor should show 5-card support).
A 3 2
6 4 3 2
K Q 10 8 7
: After 1-1NT-2: Bid 3
2NT Rebid: Invitational, Natural
Q 8 7 6
K 10 8 7 2
A 10 7
: After 1-1NT-2: Bid 2NT
Jump Raise of opener's major: 3-card limit raise
example: K 4 3
A 8 7 5
K J 3 2
: After 1-1NT-2: Bid 3
Now, try some yourself:
Quiz for responder after 1-1NT-2 (assume 1NT was forcing):
10 3 2
Q 5 4 2
A K J 6 4
|A 5 2
Q J 9 8 2
K 10 2
| Q 7
A Q 6 2
9 8 7 6
5 4 2
ANSWERS (with further clarification)
A) 3 (Invitational)
B) 3 (This sequence is used to show a 3-card limit raise)
C) 2 (This could be a very bad 3-card raise, but is usually a hand like this—a "false-preference")
D) 2NT (Natural, Invitational)
E) 2 (Natural, nonforcing)
*Note: Although the stated range for a 1NT response is 6-12, many players responder with fewer than 6 points (often for tactical reasons).
Next month we temporarily leave the 1NT response (thank goodness) and go back to the actual 2-over-1 responses. Much later in the series we will revisit 1NT responses and examine some finer points (such as bidding 6-4 hands, jumps in new suits and more). I just know you can't wait.
Larry's 2/1 Workbook
BMS 2/1 Webinars by Michael Berkowitz
Larry's audio presentation to the ABTA on 2/1 GF in New Orleans, 2010