Basic Two-over-One
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The two over one bidding system


I have been asked to write a page or two on two-over-one. The concept behind this sheet is for a player who is familiar with Standard American to be able to pick up 2/1 quickly. I have intentionally kept this article very short.


2/1 is very similar to Standard American but there are two major differences: -


A new-suit two-level response to a 1/ opening is forcing to game.


The response of 1NT to a 1/ opening is forcing.



A new suit at the two level


Suppose you have this hand and partner opens 1 . You play weak jump shifts and so respond 2 and partner bids 2. What now? Playing Standard you would probably jump to 4, but there may well be slam if partner has the Q. In 2/1 it's simple take it slowly with a bid of 3. The auction is absolutely game forcing.


And playing 2/1 makes life much easier for opener. You hold this hand and open 1 and partner responds 2. What do you do now? 3? 4? Playing 2/1 it's very easy, take it slowly with 2. This is just one of the great advantages of 2/1 there is no need to leap about to set up a game force.



The forcing No Trump


So what do you do with a hand of 10-11 points where you would have responded at the two level? The answer is the forcing 1NT. Over a / opening a 1NT bid is forcing; it may be virtually any shape and anything from 5 to a poor 12 points.


Partner opens 1. Playing Standard you would bid 2 and hopefully arrive somewhere sensible. Playing 2/1 you do not have the values for a game force and so you bid a forcing 1NT. If partner then bids 2, 2 or 2 you can bid 3 to show this hand type exactly.


Partner opens 1 and you respond 1NT. If partner bids 2 you bid 2 - to play; if partner bids 2 you pass; if partner bids 2 you bid 2 and play in the 5-2 fit; if partner bids 2 you pass and play in the 6-2 fit.



Responding to partner's forcing No Trump


Opener must respond. With a six card suit he can rebid it. With 54xx he can bid 2. A 5-card major is not usually rebidable and opener my sometimes have to bid a three card minor.


There is just one really awkward shape 4522. After a forcing NoTrump opener cannot reverse into 2 without full reversing values so this one is a problem. If the 5 card suit is very good then rebid it, otherwise bid 2. Flannery solves the problem but it really is a bit excessive to use the 2 opening just to solve this one rare problem.


If opener has a big hand with game potential then he can jump/reverse whatever as normal.



The Constructive Raise


Partner opens 1. Playing Standard you would bid 2 and pray that partner does not make a game try. Playing 'Constructive Raises' in the 2/1 system you show this poor raise by bidding 1NT and then 2 over partner's 2// response.


Partner opens 1. This time you have a decent raise and the way to show that is to bid 2 immediately.



A reverse by opener after a two-over-one response


What do you open with this hand? Playing Standard a 1 opening has its problems as you do not have the values for a 3 high reverse over 2/.


But playing 2/1 there is no problem. A 2/ response is game forcing and it's best to play that a subsequent reverse by opener does not show extras.


Here you open 1 and get a 2 or 2 response. Without agreement to the contrary a 2 bid would show 16+ points. Playing 2/1 it simply shows the shape and does not promise extra values.



The 11-12 point 2NT invitational bid


Partner opens 1 and you have a classic 2NT response; but most players play Jacoby 2NT. In Standard you would bid 2 followed by 2NT but that is game forcing in 2/1.


The answer is to bid a forcing 1NT and then bid 2NT over partner's response.



The three card limit raise


Partner opens 1. Playing Standard you would bid 2 and then 3 to show just three card support.


Playing 2/1 you start with a forcing 1NT and then jump to 3.



One No trump and two-level responses by a passed hand


Note that 2/1 only applies if responder is not a passed hand, so 1NT is natural if you have passed. If partner opens 1 / in 3 rd seat or 1 in 4 th seat then I like to play (two-way reverse) Drury. I do not play Drury if partner opens 1 in 4 th seat as that is always a sound opener (whereas 1 may well be on the light side - rule of 15) but play natural methods.

  Here are a few 2/1 books, and there are a few two-over-one book reviews in book reviews page 12.  
  Two Over One in a Nutshell: Modern Concepts for Winning Bridge - Dee Berry  
  Two-Over-One Game Force: An Introduction - Steve Bruno  
  Two Over One Game Force Quiz Book - Max Hardy  
  One no trump forcing (Championship bridge series) - William Flannery  
  One no trump forcing (Championship bridge series) - Alan Sontag  
  Limit Raises Forcing Raises Splinter Bids & The Forcing NT  

The books above are specific to two-over one and the forcing NoTrump. I strongly recommend "Standard Bridge bidding for the 21 st Century" and volume 2 ("Advanced Bridge bidding ...") by Max Hardy. They are general bidding books that assume two-over-one and certainly rank among the best bidding books ever written..
Borrow them from the club library or purchase them from Amazon.

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