2-over-1 System – 1NT Forcing Convention

The Forcing Notrump convention is an integral part of every 2-over-1 forcing-to-game system. It's used by responder to describe a wide range of hands that have less than game-forcing values (5-11 points). For guidelines that apply to other parts of this bidding system, see The 2-over-1 Bidding System

Responder’s first bid:

If partner opens 1H or 1S and RHO passes, make your natural raise or 1-level response if available. With other hands, you can bid the Forcing 1NT to show:

If you play constructive raises (1H-2H promises 8-10 support points), you can also use Forcing Notrump auctions to show weaker 3-card raises. In the auction 1H-1NT-2C-2H, responder is showing either a doubleton heart or 3 hearts with bare-minimum values (fewer than 8 support points). 

Opener’s second bid:

After you open 1H or 1S and partner responds 1NT, you must bid again to allow him to complete the description of his hand. Your rebid will show your strength and tell partner something about your hand pattern. If you have extra length in your major or you hold a 4+-card side suit, you'll be making a natural, descriptive rebid. With many other types of hands, though, you may have to bid a 3-card minor. Here are your options for your rebid:

12-15 points:

15-18 points:

18 or more points:

When you rebid your major or raise notrump, you pinpoint your high-card strength. Bids of new suits have a much wider range. After 1S-1NT, your rebid of 2C, 2D or 2H could be made with as many as 16-17 high-card points. Partner can pass these rebids, but if he has a good responding hand (9+ points), he'll often stretch to bid again to keep the auction open for you. This will allow you to show your extra strength if you have it.

Note that all the ranges and recommendations above are subject to your judgment of your hand's actual playing strength. You'll often want to evaluate a hand "up" if it has very strong suits and distributional values.

If opener holds a 6-4 hand:

After 1S-1NT,  you have a dilemma when you hold a hand such as  KJ10854  K4 AJ83  3. Do you show your extra length in spades or do you bid the diamond suit?

If you have a bare minimum, you'll usually want to rebid your 6-card major, especially if your 4-card suit is a minor. This limits your point-count right away and simplifies the auction. If you have 6 spades and 4 hearts, though, it may be important to get the other major into the auction, so you can base your decision on suit quality. With weak spades and decent hearts -- a hand such as   K108654  KQ93  42  A -- rebid 2H.

With a powerhouse hand (18-19+ points), you can make a jump-shift into your second suit to force responder to bid again. The problem hand is one with moderate extra values (15-17 points). To show this strength, bid 2 of your 4-card suit and hope partner can bid again. If he does, you can then show your extra values by making a game-try bid.

For example, after 1S-1NT, rebid just 2S with  AQ10864  74  AJ82. If you instead hold  AQ10864  A7  AJ82, rebid 2C. If partner takes a preference to 2S, you can invite game by bidding 3S. If he bids 2D or 2H, you'll then bid 2S to show your extra length and strength (partner will know you have extra values because if you held 6 spades and minimum point-count, you would have rebid 2S over 1NT).

Responder’s second bid:

After opener’s rebid, you’ll clarify your strength. You have several ways to describe hands in two different point ranges.

With a weak hand (5-9 points):

With an invitational hand (10-11 points):


The Forcing NT is used only after partner opens 1H or 1S. If partner opens a minor and you respond 1NT (1C-1NT or 1D-1NT), your bid has the standard meaning (not forcing, 6-10 points).

The Forcing NT is “off” in competition. If your RHO bids or doubles, your 1NT response reverts to its standard, non-forcing meaning (7-10 points with stoppers in the opponent's suit).

This summary recommends that a 1NT response is forcing for one round and denies forcing-to-game values. Some pairs choose to play the 1NT response as unlimited by an unpassed hand. Others play it as semi-forcing (opener can pass with a balanced 12 or 13 points). These are areas for partnership discussion. 

If responder is a passed hand:

   ©  Karen Walker