Standard American with

2 Over 1 Game Force 


Welcome to this summary of  Standard American bidding with 2 over 1 Game Force and the Forcing 1 NT response, plus several popular conventions.

2 Over 1 Game Force

When it applies:
  • Opener in first or second position bids 1, 1, or 1.
  • The next player passes.
  • Responder bids a new suit at the two level without jumping.
  • Responder is not a passed hand.
A 2 over 1 response in this situation is at least game force and shows:
  • 13+ points including distribution points
  • 5+ cards for a 2 response
  • 4+ cards for a 2 or 2  response
A 2 over 1 Game Force does not apply when opener is overcalled or doubled, or when responder is a passed hand.

Opener Rebid after 2 over 1 Game Force

The 2 over 1 game force response sets in motion the effort to arrive at game contract or in a slam. The rebid by the opener is critical for the first objective which is to determine the "where" the contract is to be played.  Options are:
  • Support Responder's Suit - if this suit is  this requires 3+ card support, and usually establishes where the contract will be played.  If resonder's suit is a minor, the support requirement is higher, 4+. Playing in 5 of a minor is less attractive than playing in a major or notrump, but sometimes this is the best way to describe the hand. 
  • Bid a New Suit - always show a second 5-card suit.  Showing a 4-card is good as well, but be cautious with a minium hand when the bid would have to be made at the three level.  Opener may show a 4 card suit, but should avoid this with a minimum hand when the bid would have to be made at the three level.
  • Rebid a 6-card or Longer Suit  - this rebid, showing 6+ cards, should always be made at the 2 level, and is intended to help decide where the contract is to be played.  Any extra strength of the hand should be disclosed later.  This bid, in preference to showing a 4-card holding, is made when the long suit is strong and short suit is weak.
  • Bid Notrump - with limited support for responder's suit and a balanced hand, i.e. 5-3-3-2, bid 2NT.  A stopper in the unbid suits is desireable, but not necessarily guaranteed.  This bid defines the shape of the hand, but not the strength. Any extra strength may be shown after it is determined where the contract should be played.

Rebid by Responder

The rebid by responder after a 2 over 1 game force is important in that it is at this bid where the contract is to be played is often decided.  Options are:
  • Agree on a trump suit or notrump contract - the opener has had two bids to describe her hand.  From the information provided, if the contract  suit has not been established, now is probably the time.  The agreement is made when you rebid the opening suit with 3+ cards, the second suit offered with 4+ cards, or confirm notrump by bidding 3NT.
  • Rebid a 6-card or longer suit - if your 2 over 1 first response was made with a good 6+ card suit, it's likely worth repeating to show the length, especially if  the suit is .
  • Suggest notrump if there is no major suit fit - when the partnership can't find a major suit fit, it may be appropiate to suggest notrump even if a minor suit fit is found.  Often 9 tricks in notrump is easier than 11 in the minor.
  • Bid the 4th suit to get more information - the 2 over 1 bid was a game forcing bid, so bidding the fourth suit takes on diffferent meaning; most often the responder doesn't know what to bid or needs more information from the opener. The opener can also make this fourth suit bid.

Game or Slam? Which will it be?

After the partnership has agreed on a trump suit, the next question is are we going to play in game, or is slam possible?  To determine this in close cases, the focus must be on the combination of high-card points and distributional point - for a small slam, the partnership needs 33 point and for the grand slam they need about 37.  Consider dummy points when suit is set.

The fit - A slam is rare with distributional hands that don't fit.  Finding the fit comes before the search for controls.

The Controls - To make a small slam the partnership needs first round control (the ace or a void) in three suits, and second round control (a king or singleton) in the remaining suit. The two methods for locating controls are:
  • the Blackwood convention - use Blackwood when it is clear where the contact is going to be played, it is clear that there may be enough strenth in the combined hands to make slam, and the only unknown is the number of aces and/or kings held.  When you use Blackwood, you are taking over control of the hand - you are the captain.  In doing so, you should be reasonably sure that the partnership has either 1st round or 2nd round control of all four suits.  Be wary of Blackwood when the overall strength of the partnership is still uncertain. or when your hand contains a void meaning that knowing which aces your partner hold is important.
  • control showing bids - if Blackwood doesn't fill the bill for finding controls, you will have to resort to control showing bids.  So, after the trump suit has been agreed on, any bid of another suit is a control-showing bid with an interest in slam.  This process goes up the line starting with lowest ranking suit - showing first or second round control.  Once a control seeking bid is initiated, partner is expected to show any control below game level.  A rebid of the trump suit closes the control showing bids as the trump suit is not included in this.  Other ways of closing the control seeking bids is to bid Blackwood or by going directly to slam. Blackwood may be needed to clarify the trump suit control or level of a control (ace or king) in another suit.

One NT Forcing

The 2 over 1 game force, requiring 13 points, creates a problem when the responder hold 11 or 12 points. Apart from 1 over partner's 1 opening, the response to a major suit opening is very often going to be 1NT - there is no way to manage this apart from changing the meaning of the 1NT response.  This is resolved with 1NT forcing.

When the opening bid from your partner is 1 or 1 in the first or second position, and the next player passes, a response of 1NT shows 6 to 12 points and is FORCING for one round.

  • With 3+ support for the opener's major and 8-10 total points, bid 2 of the opener's suit.  Note that this limit raise is stronger than the normal 6-9.  Weaker hands with support  will be handled with 1NT forcing.
  • With 4 card support and 11-12 points, bid 3 of the opener's suit.  Note that this limit raise is one point stronger than the conventional 10-11.
One NT forcing doesn't apply
  •  over a bid of either minor suit;  
  • it is not forcing if responder is a passed hand; 
  • it is not forcing if  opponent overcalls or doubles ahead of responder.

Rebid After 1NT Forcing Response

Rebid as you normally would after a response of 1NT, except, with 12-14 points (a minimum hand), rebid longer of your minor suits, or, if the minor suits are of equal length, rebid 2.

With 15+ points, the option to pass is not available, but otherwise rebid as you normally would after a non-forcing 1NT response.

Reponder rebid when minimun hand is shown

Options with 6-7 points
  • Pass, with 4+ support for opener's second suit and no help with the major.
  • show preference to first bid suit.  This is the correct way to show 3-card support for the major suit when you have less than 8 points.  This bid can be made with as little as 5 points.
Option with 8-10 points
  • Raise oper's major suit to the two level.  This shows the 8-10 points, no
  • raise the minor suit to the 3 level with 10 points (showing 10-12 points and 5+ support)
Show 11-12 points by
  • make a 3-card limit raise to opener's major.  If you had 4-card support, a direct bid to the 3 level would have been made in preference to 1NT forcing.
  • bid 2NT with a balanced hand
  • Jump to a new suit at the 3 level (if possible) with strong 5+ card suit
  • raise the minor suit to the 3 level with 10 points (showing 10-12 points and 5+ support)

Open at the One Level in a Suit:

  • 13-21 high card and distribution (length) points. 
  • With a 5-card or longer suit, bid the longer suit
  • Bid the higher ranking of two 5-card or 6-card suits
  • Bid the longest minor, the higher ranking of two 4-card minors, or the lowest ranking of two 3-card minors.
  • 18-19 points and a balanced hand (no more than one doubleton) bid  one of a suit following the rules above, with the plan to jump shift to 2NT in the second round.

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Respond to opening 1  or 1  

0-5 points including short suit distribution - Pass 

6-10 points 

  • Bid a 4-card or longer major suit (1st choice) - with two or more- 4-card major suits, bit lowest ranking first.  With two 5-card suits, bid higher ranking first, or
  • Bid 1 NT - if no 4-card suit and some degree of balance i.e. at least two cards in each suit (2nd choice),  or
  • Use inverted minors (usually with 5-card support) if no 4-card major suit.  Bid 3 of partner's minor suit.
  • Over 1 with 4 card suit, bid 1 as the last priority with only 6-9 points - with a slightly stronger hand, this is elevated to a first priority.
11+ points
  • bid 1 of a 4-card or longer higher suit - with two  or more 4-card suits, bid lower ranking first.  With two 5-card suits, bit higher ranking first.
  • bid 2 NT with 11 or 12 points - denies a 4 card major.
  • Using inverted minors, raise parter's minor to the two level with 5-card support. This denies a 4-card major.
13+ points
  • bid a new suit with 4 cards or more.  With more than one 4-card suit, bid the lowest ranking, or
  • bid 3 NT with a balanced hand and 13-15 high card points -denies a 4-card major
  • with at least 13 points, bid 2 over 1 (2 over 1 game force).  This denies a 4-card major.

Respond to opening 1  or 1 :

0-4 points including short suit distribution - Pass

5-7 points and 3+ support for openers suit
  • bid 1NT forcing with the intend of supporting opening suit on the rebid.
8-10 points
  • Raise partner's major to the 2 level with 3-card support.  A direct bid of 2 of the major suit opening shows point count.
6-12 points
  • Bid the higher ranking major suit at the one level with a 4-card or longer suit, 1 over 1
  • bid 1NT forcing  without 3 card support for the bid major suit, and no higher ranking major to bid at the one level.  
10-12 points
  • raise partner's bid suit to the 3 level with 3-card support and 11 or 12 points.
  • raise partner's bid suit to the 3 level with 4+-card support and 10 points.  With only 3 card support, see the 8-10 point response above.
13+ points
  • bid a new suit at the two level, i.e. over 1, respond 2, 2 or 2; over  2 respond respond 2 or 2. These responses (2 over 1) are forcing to game.

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Open Bidding 1 NT

15-17 points (counting high card points ONLY,  and a balanced hand (no more than one doubleton) bid 1 No Trump (NT).

With a NT type hand containing 13-14 points, open one in a suit intending to bid 1 NT in the second round.

With a notrump type hand containing 18-19 points, open with a suit bid at the one level, with the intent to  rebid 2NT indicating this precise strength and balance.

Respond to 1NT Open

by assuming responsibility for placing the contract, i.e. deciding strain and level.  

Often, Jacoby transfers are employed so that the final contract is played by the stronger hand.  The rules of the convention are that a bid of 2
forces an rebid of 2 from the opener, and a response of 2 forces a rebid of 2 from the opener.  To make these responses, the responding hand must contain 5+ cards in whichever suit is called for by the convention response.  Responder then has the responsibility to place the contract at the appropriate level.  Additional information on Jacoby transferred is provided below.

The other convention used in responding to NT opening is the Stayman convention.  This convention is initiated, with 8+ points and at least one 4 card or longer major suit, by a response of 2
which asks the opener to bid a 4+ card major suit.  With no 4 card major, the opener must rebid 2, with one 4 card major, that suit must be bid.  With two 4 card majors, the first up the line is bid.  More details on the Stayman convention are provided below.

Responses to a 1 NT Open are:
  • 0-7 high card points, PASS with a balanced hand, or sign off  with a 5+ card major using Jacoby transfer.
  • 8-9 high card points, with a balanced hand, bid an invitational 2NT, or
  • 8-9 high card points, bid 2, Stayman, with strength in the majors.  The goal would be to find a golden fit that would normally score higher than no trump in partscore or game contracts, or 
  • 8-9 high card points, use a Jacoby transfer to disclose a 5+ major suit holding.  Depending on the dummy value of responder's hand the next bid will likely be 2NT, allowing opener to choose between NT and the major, or a direct bid to game in the major with 6+ in the suit.
  • 10-15 high card points and a balance hand bid 3 NT, or
  • 10-15 high card points, use Stayman to find a golden fit in the majors, or
  • 10-15 high card points and a 5+ card major, use Jacoby transfer to alert partner to holding.  With 5 cards, rebid 3NT allowing opener to decide on game in NT or suit, or sign off with 4 or  4 with 6+ trumps.

The Stayman Convention

A response 2 over the opening or overcall bid of 1NT is artificial,  forcing, and requires opener to bid a 4+ card major suit.  With no 4-card major, opener rebids 2 which is artificial, and denies the majors suit fit.  A 3 bid over 2NT, or a 4 bid over 3NT is also Stayman - and forcing.

Needed to respond in the Stayman Convention
  • 0-7 high card points and balance -  insufficient points to bid Stayman, normally pass.  
  • 4-7 high card points - With  two long major suits (9+ cards), Stayman would be a good gamble.  Placing  such hands in a major suit may significantly increase the total value of hand.  
  • 4-7 high card points - Another rare example of a good weak Stayman call would be a hand containing a singleton or void in , and 4 cards in each of the other suits.  Responder can safely pass the opener's rebid.
  • 8-9 high card points - A responder may use Stayman to invite game with as little as 8 points  and at least one 4-card major.  Support a golden fit inviting game.
  • 10+ high card points - this is game-going support.  Consider Stayman with at least one 4-card major suit and distributional values in a suit contract.
  • 10+ high card points - With a 5+ major suit, it may not be necessary to use Stayman.  A response of 3  or  3 is forcing and require opener to bid 3 NT or 4 of the major.
  • 10+ total points and a 6+ major you may respond at game in the major - a sign off bid.  This bid would likewise apply to hands containing only 8 high card points and distributional values.
Stayman - Overcall of Partner's 1NT Open
A cue bid of the overcall suit substitutes for the 2 Stayman call.  Opener rebids 4-card major or rebids notrump.

Other other responses are natural.  Natural suit bids promise 5+ cards in the suit bid and are not forcing at the two level, forcing at the three level.

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More on Jacoby Transfer after a 1NT Open
Super-acceptance occurs when opener has 4-card major and maximum values point-wise.  This prompts a rebid at the 3 level in the major suit.  This bid takes the uncertainty out of the midrange 8-9 point hands, and distributional values may help some 5-7 point responder hands arrive at a game contract.

Jacoby Transfer to Minor Suits
This is a weak bid trying to establish a partscore contract in a minor suit.
  • 0-7 points including distribution and a 6+ minor suit, bid 2 - an artificial transfer to 3 .  If your suit is , pass - if , correct to 3 as a sign off.
  • 8-9 points including distribution and a 6+ minor suit, skip bid to 3 in your minor suit inviting game.

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Preemptive Bidding

  • Preempt at the 2 level with less than 13 points (usually 8-12 points total points) and a 6-card trump suit headed by at least TWO of the top three honors or three of the top 5 honors, i.e. AJ10xxx.
  • Preempt at the 3 level with less than 13 points (usually 8-12 points) and a 7-card trump suit headed by at least TWO of the top three honors or three of the top 5 honors, i.e. AJ10xxxx.
  • Preempt at the 4 level with less than 13 points (usually 8-12 points) and a 8-card trump suit headed by at least TWO of the top three honors or three of the top 5 honors, i.e. AJ10xxxxx.

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Respond to Preemptive Open
First, reconsider  the value of your hand in support of partner's long trump suit, then bid with:
  • Hands that contain enough quick tricks to make a game contract likely.
  • Notrump type hands that includes entries to the preemptive suit.  Bid game in Notrump.
  • Avoid bidding another long suit at a higher level without game forcing strength.  Most common responses are pass or support partner's suit inviting game.  If you bid another long suit, understand that this is a game force bid.

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Overcall Opener

  • Overcall at the ONE level with 10-17 and a STRONG 5-card or longer suit.  
  • Overcall at the TWO level  with 13-17, a strong 5+card suit, and favorable or equal vulnerability.  At the low end of this range, a 6+ card suit is preferred.
  • Do not overcall or double with opening points when right-hand opponent opens with YOUR suit.
  • Overcall at 1 NT with a 15-18, balanced, and strength in the openers bid suit.  No weak Overcalls in NT.  
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Respond to Overcall by your Partner
Suit Overcall
  • 0-7 points -  Usually best to pass.
  • 8-9 points - respond naturally knowing partner's hand may not contain opening point count and is limited to 17 points.  Raise with support or bid another suit at the same level with a good 5-card suit of your own.
  • 8+ cue bid opener's suit promising 8+ points and support for the overcall suit.  Partner's rebid of overcall suit is weak - other bids show opening points.
  • 10-11 points - as above, but new suit at the next level is okay.
Notrump Overcalls
  • 0-7 points - with a balanced hand, pass.
  • 0-7 points -with 5+ card suit, respond using Jacoby transfer to majors or minor, intending to pass after overcaller's rebid.
  • 8-9 points - bid 2NT or use Stayman to find major fit, or with 5+ card major make a Jacoby transfer inviting game.
  • 10-15 points - bid 4  or 4  with a 6+ card suit.
  • 10-15 points - bid 3  or 3  with a 5 card suit.
  • 10-15 points - bid 2 (Stayman) looking for golden fit.
  • 10-15 points - balanced, bid 3NT.

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The Takeout Double

Made when neither the doubler nor the partner have  previously bid a suit or NT  - opponents have bid once or twice - it is the doubler's 1st or 2nd opportunity to bid.
  • 13+  (high card and dummy points) - use the takeout double when the opponents bid your short suit and you have 4-card, or at least very strong 3-card, support for each of the other unbid suits.
  • 18+ points - use the takeout double with any hand that is too strong to make an overcall bid (13-17)..  Responder may not have support for all unbid suits.
Note: when you open your side with a takeout double, you are asking partner to choose the suit.  Thus, the doubler's point count should be reevaluated including dummy points.

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Respond to the Takeout Double
  • 0-8 points - bid at the lowest possible level a 4+-card major suit (1st choice), or a 4+-card minor suit.  With 6 cards or strong 5-cards in the openers suit, you may convert the takeout double to a penalty double.
  • 9-11 points - as above, however, show the extra strength by jumping one level - over 1, bid 2 or 2 .  Same conversion to penalty requirement.
  • 12+ points - partnership has game points - responder should place the partnership in a game contract in a major suit (with 4-card suit) or Notrump, or invite game in a minor suit contract (with no 4-card major).

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Negative Double

This bid may be used when partner opens and the responder's right-hand opponent overcalls at the one or two level.  The negative double is a takeout double by the responder.
  • The double of an overcall up to 2 shows support in the unbid suits.  If there is an unbid major suit, it promises 4+ card support in that suit.
  • If the opponent overcall is at the one level, the negative double promises 6+ points.  If the opponent overcall is made at the two level, the negative double promises 8+ points.
  • After a 1 overcall of a minor suit, with 6+ points, responder should bid a 5 card spade suit, or use the negative double with only four spades.
  • The negative double allows responder to show some strength and holding with hands that would be too weak to introduce a new suit at the two or three level.

Big Openings - 2, 2NT & 3NT

  • 18-19 points, balanced with no more one one doubleton, bid one in a suit and plan a jump to 2NT with the rebid.
  • 20-21 points and a balanced hand (no more than one doubleton) bid 2NT.
  • 22-24 points, balanced with no more one one doubleton, bid 2 (artificial and forcing showing at least 22 points) and plan a non-jump rebid to 2NT showing a balanced hand.
  • 25-27 points and a balanced hand (no more than one doublleton), bid 3 NT
  • 22+ and unbalanced, bid 2

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Respond to 2 Bids

0-7 points
  • bid 2 (artificial)  Providing only point limitation.
8+ points and not balanced
  •  bid 2, 2, 3 or 3 with a 5-card suit headed by two honors OR a 6+-card suit.  Lacking a quality suit as described, bid 2 .
8+ points balanced and/or lacking the type of suit mentioned above,
  •  bid 2NT.
Rebid by opener will show preferred suit or a 22-24 notrump hand.
The bust hand second response (0-3 points) is 3

Respond to 2NT Bids

0-3 points 
  • without a 6-card major, pass
  • with a 6-card major, Jacoby transfer and PASS openers rebid.
4+ points 
  • with 4-card major, bid 3 (Stayman) followed by 3NT sign off if major fit is not found.
  • with 5-card major, Jacoby transfer planning to rebid 3 NT giving partner the major suit option or play in 3NT
4-10 points 
  • balanced, bid 3 NT (sign off)
11+ points  
  • slam potential - direct bid or Gerber convention.

Respond to 3NT Bids

  • 0-5 points balanced - pass
  • 0-5 points and 6+-card major - Jacoby transfer
  • 6+ points - explore or bid slam

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Roman Key Cards Blackwood

Roman Key Cards (RKC) is used to locate aces held by the partnership, and it goes further by including the King of the agreed on trump suit as a "key" card.  In some instances, the convention also locates the queen of the trump suit.  

To the convention initiating bid of 4NT, responses are:
  • 5 indicating zero or three key cards.
  • 5 indicating one or four key cards.
  • 5 indivating 2 or five key cards, but lacking the queen of the trump suit.
  • 5 indicating 2 or five key cards, and the queen of the trump suit.
If the parntership is missing two key cards, slam is unlikely.  If the partnership is missing a key card and the queen of trump, the slam is less than certain.

Gerber Convention

After a natural opening bid of 1NT or 2NT, or after a natural response or rebid of 1NT or 2NT, a bid of 4, the Gerber convention, is asking partner for the number of aces held.  Responses are:
  • 4 No aces or all four aces.
  • 4  One ace.
  • 4  Two aces.
  • 4NT  Three aces

Need to know about kings?  Bid 5
asking for Kings.  Responses are:
  • 5 No kings.
  • 5  One king.
  • 5  Two kings.
  • 5NT   Three kings.
  • 6  Four kings.

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