Two-Over-One GF -- Part 1 (Introduction)

2 over 1 hands.jpg
Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 01/01/2011
Level: Intermediate

Did any of you play bridge in the 1960's? You don't have to admit it. 

Back then, there was a move to switch from the STRONG TWO-BID to Weak-Two's. There was resistance at first, but eventually, everyone made the change.

Now, we face the same situation with the move from "STANDARD" to "2/1 GF."  [Note: "2/1" is short-hand for "Two-over-One" and "GF" stands for "Game Forcing."]

2/1 GF is by far the superior (and easier system). If teaching beginners, I would start out with 2/1 GF.  Most bridge teachers agree with me.

In "Standard," if your partner opens 1? and you respond, say, 2?, it is natural and 10+.  What possible reason could the fathers of our game have had for defining this 2/1 response as "10+?"  That number leaves you in "no-man's land." If opener has 12+ (or 13+) for his opening, and responder has 10+, then the partnership has 22+ (or 23+). What good is that? All it does is cause confusion as to whether or not game will be reached. It is hard to know if/when any player can pass below game.

In the superior system of "2/1 GF," the response of 2? to 1? promises an opening bid (13+). Now we have two opening bids facing each other, so game must be reached. Neither player can pass until game is reached.

There are many details to cover. Already I'm sure some of you are asking "Do you count only HCP or add distribution?" That will be covered. So will all of the many other small things you need to know (such as "what do you respond if you have 11 or 12 points?").

We have to start somewhere and this month it is with a quick look at the "2-over-1" responses.

In its simplest terms, the "system" described as 2-over-1 game-forcing refers to the following 6 bids :


1? - 2?    1? - 2?   1? - 2?    1? - 2?    1? - 2?    1? - 2?

These are the only 6 possible "2/1" auctions. Anything else would be either a raise, or a jump-shift (such as 1?-2? is a raise and 1?-2? is a jump-shift).  

This system is not on if the opponents interfere (either with a double or an overcall).

This system is not on by a Passed Hand.  (So, the opening must be by the dealer or the player in 2nd position).

When responder uses a game-forcing "2-over-1" bid he is informing opener that he, too, holds at least opening-bid values. Accordingly, the partnership may leisurely proceed to the optimum contract without fear of being dropped below game. Opener then should show his "shape," without implying # of HCP. Bidding is NATURAL.  That is the beauty of this system. Try not to jump (more on that in later months) and try to best describe your hand.  You'll be amazed at how simple it is.

Try it out:

As opener, what do you rebid?

1? Pass 2? Pass

(All answers/reasons given at the end)


A) B) C)
 ?5 4
?K Q 10 8 7 4
?A J 3
?K 4
 ?3 2     
?Q J 10 8 7
?A 4
?A Q 5 4
 ?A K J 2
?A Q 8 7 6
?A 5 4






♠A Q 3
?K J 8 7 6
?9 8 7 6


 ?Q J 2
?Q 9 7 6 4
?Q 9 2
?A Q


?A 2
?A K Q J 9 8
?K 7 6
?5 2

As responder, what do you bid?


1? Pass 2? Pass
2NT Pass ??  
G) H) I)
 ?K J 3
?A 2
?K Q 10 8 7
?4 3 2
 ?4 2
?A Q J
?A Q 8 7 6 5
?A 7
?A 5
?A K Q 10 8 7 2
?Q 3 2






♠4 3
?A Q 2
?K Q J 10 8 2
?5 2


?K Q J
?10 3
?A Q 10 8 4
?A Q 5






ANSWERS (with further clarification)

A) 2? (Repeat the 6-card suit. In future months we will discuss if 6 cards are promised.)
B) 3? (Forcing, of course—until at least game is reached. No extras promised--again, more in the future.)
C) 2? (Natural again – and just coincidental that you have extras. We will discuss "reverses" in the future.)
D) 2? (Just bid naturally--even though the suit is of poor quality.)
E) 2NT (Natural—also, not promising extras)
F) 3? (An unnecessary jump should show a solid suit. More on this in future months.)

G) 3NT
H) 3? (Forcing, of course. Leave room for investigation.)
I) 3? (No need to rush into Blackwood)
J) 4? (Most players use this jump to show a minimum with all the pictures in the suits bid. More on this in the future.)
K) 4NT (Quantitative)

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