First of all, my understanding is that no trump bids should be made within fairly narrow point ranges (2-3). Therefore, "6-12" looks like an awfully wide range for a single no trump bid.

Also, I feel that there is a world of difference between forcing and non-forcing. I prefer to use a 6-9 1NT bid as nonforcing, and opener can pass it there with a minimum. I would use a "two over one" sequence for 10-12, the upper part of the range.

So why do some bidders prefer such a wide "forcing" 1NT range of between 6-12 high card points instead of the above?

  • 1
    Do you want to miss game when opener has a big hand and a fit for your lower ranking suit which is their second suit? Being +110 in 1S when you should be +620 in 4H costs you 11 IMPs. Being -100 in 2S when you should be +90 in 1N only costs you you 5 IMPs. Dec 24, 2022 at 22:21
  • @AlexanderWoo: I fixed the question by asking why people prefer a forcing 6-12 range instead of breaking it up into two ranges, 6-9 (non-forcing) and 10-12 forcing. Even a big hand can rebid with a non-forcing 1NT (but a "small" one isn't forced to.) Will you remove your downvote (if it is yours) and/or address my new question?
    – Tom Au
    Dec 25, 2022 at 23:22
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    the answer is that most experts now prefer to play a 2/1 response as game forcing, and hence the invitational hands have to go in 1N. People feel that the gains from 2/1 being game forcing outweigh the losses from putting 10-12 hands in 1N. Dec 26, 2022 at 3:43

1 Answer 1


The forcing no trump response is sort of a hack. The key idea of the 2/1 game forcing system is that a non-jump new suit response at the two level to an opening one bid is forcing to game. In order to make that work, you have to take some of the hands that Standard American puts into 2/1 responses (specifically the non-game-forcing hands) and do something else with them. The 2/1 system chooses to put them into a 1NT response.

Why would you do that? Basically, 2/1's main advantage over Standard American is that it has improved accuracy in slam bidding. Because responder can often force to game at a low level, nobody needs to jump later in the auction with only moderate extra strength. This gives more room for slam exploration. The main disadvantage is decreased accuracy in partscore bidding, especially with regard to being able to stop in 1NT. Many people find that this is a good tradeoff at teams, and fairly neutral at pairs, so they play 2/1 instead of SA.

As to the "three point range" aspect of your question: All else being equal, it is good for one hand in the partnership to be able to show a balanced hand in a narrow range. That is why no trump openings and rebids by opener tend to show a balanced hand with a 2-3 point range. On the other hand, a 1NT response to an opening bid doesn't even promise a balanced hand (even in Standard American's nonforcing 1NT response). The forcing NT response asks opener to further describe their hand, rather than showing a specific strength or shape. While neither partner is yet captain, responder knows more about opener's hand than vice versa, so opener should describe further while responder looks for sufficient information to take full control of the auction.

  • Nicely described, though I'm going to nitpick "and fairly neutral at pairs". IMHO, it's less about being neutral at Pairs and more about team games being the prestige events at championships (perhaps because clients do better in them?). Thus systems are designed for team (and rubber) versions of the game, and the rest of us (non-experts) follow along because it's better than trying to design our own systems from scratch. It's over a generation ago now, but Barry Crane certainly proved that one can do very, very, well, even in team games, with a system designed for Matchpoints. Dec 26, 2022 at 16:16
  • I agree that teams being prestige events is why some pairs play the same system at IMPs and MPs, but many club players who never play anything but pairs also play 2/1. I think it's fairly neutral at pairs compared to Standard American because while some partscore hands will come with a worse result, the increased accuracy at game and slam bidding can make up for those.
    – ruds
    Dec 27, 2022 at 17:34

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