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When is 1N NOT forcing when you play 2/1?

When is 1N NOT forcing when you play 2/1?

Question 1: If partner opens 1H, RHO overcalls 1S, and I respond 1 NT, then according to Max Hardy (in his bidding book) my 1 NT is not forcing. Do you concur with this?

Answer 1:   Yes.  In this situation, your 1N bid shows about 6-9HCP and one and a half (or more) spade stoppers.  So, you ask, what is one and a half?   How about any of the following:


Additionally, you should have at most 2 hearts.  Why?  Because if you had more, you probably belong in a heart contract since you know you have at least 8 of them in the combined hands.

Your objective as responder should be to arrive at the best contract.  When RHO bids spades and you have spade holdings such as shown above, it’s probable your best contract will be in NT.  You also want tell partner where your values are, in case the bidding gets much higher.

Your RHO opponent’s bid cancels the 1N forcing restriction.  That isn’t to say partner can’t bid!   He can, and will when he has an appropriate hand to do so.

Question 2: If partner opens a major and I’m all set to bid a forcing 1N with a long, strong side suit but RHO pops in the bidding (either at the 1 or 2 level).  What now?

Answer 2:   Unless you play negative free bids (which are alertable and show less than the values for bidding freely on the 2 level), you need to make a negative double.  Normally that would show the other two suits but, in a pinch you can use it for one suit only.  You are holding S-KQ10985, H-64, D-K32, C-52 and the auction goes:

1H    2C    ?

You’d really love to bid 2S but if you do, the auction could easily get out of hand!  Partner will assume you have a much stronger hand.  Instead, make a negative double and then bid spades.

Question 3: So, do I always need a game forcing hand to bid on the 2 level when RHO comes in?

Answer 3:   You need to discuss this with partner!  Some partners will expect you to always have 12+ HCP for a 2 level bid when RHO comes in.  With others, the absolute requirement is off for you to have a game forcing hand.  With them, any 10+ HCP hand with a good suit is ok to bid.  How do I feel about it?  Whatever my partner wants is all right with me.  If we haven’t had a chance to discuss it, I assume when they make a 2 level bid that they have a game forcing hand.   Again, liberal use of the negative double will solve many problems.