Two-Over-One GF -- Part 2 Forcing 1NT

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 02/01/2011
Level: Intermediate


Last month, we started our exploration with a look at 2/1 auctions. We left many loose ends which will be revisited in future months.  This month, we forge right ahead to the worst part of the system--the 1NT response.

First of all, let's make sure we know the auction we are discussing. The opening  bid must be 1-of-a-MAJOR.  A 1NT response to a minor is not affected by this system (use what you use now). Furthermore, the 1? or 1? opening must be by the dealer or by the player in 2nd seat. We don't use "1NT forcing" after a 3rd or 4th seat opener.

So, the auction of the month is:


   1? or 1? Pass  1NT


Note that the opponent (East) passed. If there is interference, we don't use 1NT forcing. 

I am often asked, "Larry--do you like 1NT forcing?" The answer: NO. Nobody likes it. But, it is part of the 2/1 GF system and needs to be learned. We'll keep it as simple as possible for now.

In a nutshell, here is what/why this 1NT forcing animal exists:

In Standard, a 1NT response is 6-10 (because you can go to the 2-level with 11 or 12 or 13 or more).

In 2/1 GF, a 1NT response is 6-12 (because you need 13 to go to the 2-level).

Do you see the difference? The 1NT response in the 2/1 GF becomes a bit of a catch-all--it is for any hand up to 12 points. (In later months we will discuss if this means 12 HCP and how to count distribution. Also we will discuss if it can be done with fewer than 6 points). This 6-point wide range involves some problems.

First of all, can the 1NT response be passed by the opener?

The majority of players treat the 1NT response as completely "Forcing." That means opener cannot pass. (Incidentally, in ACBL-land, this 1NT response is not alertable, but is announced--like a Jacoby transfer. When partner responds 1NT, you just say "Forcing.") We'll discuss 1NT totally "forcing" and then mention a popular alternative.

If 1NT is totally forcing, opener CANNOT pass! If he has nothing special to say, he must invent a bid, typically in a 3-card minor.

For example, after 1? ? 1NT, if opener holds the following hand:

?A J 10 8 2 ?9 7 3 ?A 2 ?K J 2

, the appropriate rebid is 2?. Opener cannot rebid his major since this would show a 6-card suit. He cannot make a 2? call because a rebid of the other major shows at least a 4-card suit. Lastly, he can't pass if 1NT is forcing, and he cannot bid 2?, a 2-card suit. (Personally, I prefer to use 1NT as "semi-forcing"—so that opener can pass with a hand like the one above--more on that later.) In any event, this rebid in a 3-card minor is really the only "new" rebid to learn when using 1NT forcing.

Openers's Rebids after 1NT forcing:

2 of a minor – at least a 3-card suit (note: 2? can be exactly 4=5=2=2 if not strong enough to reverse)

     example: ?A Q 7 6 4
?K 3 2
?8 7
?A 8 7
 : Bid 1?-1NT-2? (because you cannot pass 1NT forcing)

2 of a new major – at least a 4-card suit (if a reverse, shows extras)

     example: ?K 10 8 7 5
?A Q 6 5
?K 7 6
 : Bid 1?-1NT-2? to show 4+? (just as in "Standard")

2 of the same major – at least a 6-card suit, NF

     example: ?K Q 8 7 6 4
?A 3 2
?K J 4
 : Bid 1?-1NT-2? to show 6+?  (just as in "Standard")

2NT – more than a strong notrump, balanced


?Q 8 7 6 4
?A Q
?A K 5
?K 10 8
 : Bid 1?-1NT-2NT to show 18-19 (just as in "Standard")

3-level – same as over a normal 1NT response


?A K Q J 7 6
?A Q 2
?10 9 6
 : Bid 1?-1NT-3? invitational (just as in "Standard")

Now, try these examples for opener after 1?-1NT (all answers at end):

A) B) C)
 ?A Q 9 8 2
?A 5 2
?Q J 2
?7 3
?Q J 10 6 5 2
?A 5 2
?Q J 2
 ?A K Q 5 2
?A K Q 10 2
?10 5 2



?A J 5 4 2
?A K 2
?K 2
?K 8 3


?A Q J 10 5 4 2
?A J 2
?K 2






ANSWERS (with further clarification)

A) 2? (But pass if playing 1NT as semi-forcing)
B) 2? (shows 6+ spades and a minimum)
C) 3? (Natural jump shift forcing to game)
D) 2NT(shows 18-19 balanced -- as does any 2NT rebid after a 1-level response)
E) 4? (Extra spades, extra points)

Next month, we will continue our discussion of the 1NT response (and delve further into 1NT "semi-forcing").

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