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Best 2/1 book?

#1 User is offline   pretender 

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Posted 2015-October-13, 23:30

So I'm trying to get two players to sort of "learn" 2/1 together. Both are experienced card players, but one has played only 2/1 in recent years and the other has only ever played Standard American (or Goren). I want them both to kind of learn it together so that they can build a fresh partnership with understanding of the system and no lingering bad bidding habits from previous partnerships.

I've not been active in the bridge circles for many years now, and I remember that the Hardy 2/1 tended to be people's go-to "manual". Is there a newer or updated book that better suits my needs? I also get the impression that Audrey Grant's stuff is too beginner oriented.
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#2 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2015-October-14, 04:48

Lawrence's books are quite good although he goes a lot in details with hand evaluation and planning of the auction, and often discusses alternative treatments. So if you are looking for quick answers to queries about the meaning about a particular bid, they may not be optimal. Lawrence, by the way, doesn't play strict 2/1 in that
1M-2m
2suit-3m
can be passed. (Maybe he has changed that in recent editions?)

Hardy's book has less hand evaluation and is more densely filled with his proposed meaning of bids. Unfortunately some of his conventions are very non-mainstream.

Bergen's books are reasonably mainstream and strike a reasonable balance between the two.
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#3 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2015-October-14, 07:25

IMO get Mike Lawrence's 2/1 software CD. His older "Workbook on the 2/1 system" and out of print "Uncontested auctions" are also good if you can find them, but the CD is newer and more comprehensive than the workbook. No other book out of those I've seen really goes into the nuances of 2nd and 3rd round calls after a 2/1 in anywhere near the detail as Lawrence. The other books are very superficial and rarely get past the 2nd round of bidding. Some books about 2/1 are filled with pages of conventions that are really independent of whether you play 2/1 or not, with precious little discussion of 2/1 sequences themselves.

In the CD he now uses 2/1 as GF, no longer uses rebid of 2/1 suit as invitational as he does in his earlier printed works, using jump shift as invitational one suiters instead.
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#4 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2015-October-14, 20:12

You pick Hardy or Lawrence based on what you want to play, not writing style. Hardy and Lawrence might both call their approach 2/1GF, but they are not the same system. You might as well try reading about KS to understand Standard American. Not the same.

For my part, Hardy. IMO, Hardy is 2/1 GF, while Lawrence is Lawrence. A pro friend would say Hardy is 2/1 GF, while Lawrence is an idiot, but that would be wrong, just wrong.
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#5 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2015-October-14, 21:27

View Posthelene_t, on 2015-October-14, 04:48, said:

Lawrence's books are quite good although he goes a lot in details with hand evaluation and planning of the auction, and often discusses alternative treatments. So if you are looking for quick answers to queries about the meaning about a particular bid, they may not be optimal. Lawrence, by the way, doesn't play strict 2/1 in that
1M-2m
2suit-3m
can be passed. (Maybe he has changed that in recent editions?)

Hardy's book has less hand evaluation and is more densely filled with his proposed meaning of bids. Unfortunately some of his conventions are very non-mainstream.

Bergen's books are reasonably mainstream and strike a reasonable balance between the two.

The first version of 2/1 of which I am aware was presented as part of the Kaplan-Sheinwold (KS) bidding system created back in late '50s. The 1960 book "How to Play Winning Bridge" explained KS to the public. It covered the basic concepts of 2/1 in the chapter of the book on bidding after a (5+ card) major opening. In that version, the auction could be passed out if responder made a minimum rebid of his 2/1 response suit. (Note: KS is based on weak NTs, 5 card majors)

That feature of 2/1 was probably retained in the Standard American version of 2/1 that Lawrence played with the Aces in the '70s.

It's only been in more recent years that some experts have preferred that a 2/1 response should always be a game force. I believe Marty Bergen belongs to that camp.

At present, both versions coexist and have their adherents in the US bridge playing community. So, there is no one definitive way of playing 2/1.
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#6 User is offline   ifluffette 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 07:07

The best is Lawrence, practical, simple, down to earth. His 2/1 almost GF is the most flexible approach.
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#7 User is offline   Rain 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 08:48

I vote for Mike Lawrence's software too! It feels old but the content is still relevant, and it made it easy to pick up 2/1. I was very intimidated back then till I got the software.
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#8 User is offline   sner66 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 09:09

Another vote for the Lawrence CD. It is more current than his book and goes into much more depth on some advanced treatments. I think biggest difference with Hardy/some others is that Hardy says that opener's rebid of 2M promises six, while Lawrence says may be only five (to avoid having to rebid 2NT with suit(s) unstopped). I tend to like Lawrence approach better but there are advocates for the other side as well; I think ACBL bulletin discussed this issue a couple of years ago.
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#9 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 10:48

View Postsner66, on 2015-October-15, 09:09, said:

Another vote for the Lawrence CD. It is more current than his book and goes into much more depth on some advanced treatments. I think biggest difference with Hardy/some others is that Hardy says that opener's rebid of 2M promises six, while Lawrence says may be only five (to avoid having to rebid 2NT with suit(s) unstopped). I tend to like Lawrence approach better but there are advocates for the other side as well; I think ACBL bulletin discussed this issue a couple of years ago.

Hardy does say that a voluntary 2 M rebid by opener shows 6 of the major. However, at least some of his examples (in "Standard Bidding in the 21st Century") contain hands where a 2 M rebid is made on 5 as no other bid seems right.

The ACBL Bulletin did have some articles a couple years ago about 2/1. One of the major differences they highlighted was that Hardy advocated a 2 NT rebid didn't necessarily show stoppers while Lawrence's approach does require stoppers.

Another issue to be aware of is which opener rebids show minimum hands versus which imply extras in distribution or HCP. Not sure how much difference there is between Hardy and Lawrence on this. In the original KS version only 2 M showed a minimum range hand everything else showed extras. (In KS, 2 NT rebid had to show extras because 15-17 balanced 5 card major hands had to be opened 1 M instead of 1 NT.) The only exception was a 2 rebid after 1 opening which could still be minimum range.
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#10 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 10:49

View Postsner66, on 2015-October-15, 09:09, said:

Another vote for the Lawrence CD. It is more current than his book and goes into much more depth on some advanced treatments. I think biggest difference with Hardy/some others is that Hardy says that opener's rebid of 2M promises six, while Lawrence says may be only five (to avoid having to rebid 2NT with suit(s) unstopped). I tend to like Lawrence approach better but there are advocates for the other side as well; I think ACBL bulletin discussed this issue a couple of years ago.


With Hardy (at least for his older book), rebid 2M only promises 5. It's Bergen I believe that has 2M promise six, using 2nt as the catchall instead.

Difference between Hardy & older Lawrence books (not his newer CD) is the rebid 2/1 suit on some sequences invitational as mentioned earlier (forcing if opener reverses or rebid 2nt).

I don't think I'd really credit K-S as a 2/1 precursor. It has a forcing NT response, higher requirements for 1M-2m (but not 1S-2H), and more forcing rebids than old-fashioned SA, but still some sequences after 1M-2m that can stop short of game other than rebid of the 2/1 suit, and more so after 1S-2H. I think the path was more Roth-Stone -> Walsh / Western Roth-Stone -> 2/1.
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#11 User is offline   dlks 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 13:21

There is clearly no one "best" way to play 2/1 -- your method just has to be one that both you and partner are comfortable with. Other than the expert authors already mentioned, Paul Thurston wrote a good introductory book in 2002 called "25 Steps to Learning 2/1" with a forward from Kokish. The number of different and truly expert opinions on 2/1 led me to write this poem a while back....

Personal Thoughts on Learning 2/1 © Donna Sherman August 8, 2013
Lawrence, Hardy, Grant, Rodwell,
Thurston, Holland.... Ring a bell?
All of them experts, of this I am sure.
As to their differences: there is a cure!
Talk to your partner. Work out a plan
for 2/1 bidding. Then, when you can,
play it and play it and play it some more.
Tweak your agreements. Open the door
to debate and discussion and changes in methods.
If that doesn't work, at least you tried. Find another partner.

Good luck!
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#12 User is offline   WrecksVee 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 14:31

Another book to consider is "Washington Standard" by Steve Robinson. This is a total 2/1 approach except of one exception with 1 - 2 - 2 when 2NT is NF, to handle the invitational balanced hand. This a complete system with some optional treatments. It is used in whole or part by many in the DC area. While allowed in DC area the recent ACBL change made Robinson's defense to 1NT that uses 2 to show either major GCC legal.

Roth Stone came before KS. As originally presented 2/1 was 100% forcing and forcing 1NT response was used. KS used 2/1 GF if either partner raised the other OR bid NT. In effect this is the Lawrence method.

However much of both these systems goes back to ideas of S. Garton Churchill and his "one over one" approach. The original Roth Stone even followed this to the idea that no forcing opening was needed though unlike Churchill they played weak two bids in all suits. Churchill's ideas of the "utility" 1NT response, Opener's new suits rebids forcing and strong single raises are echoed in the forcing 1NT, KS use of new suits forcing on Responder and inverted raises. KS is the source as far as I can tell of the modern inverted raise treatment but its roots go back to Churchill.
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#13 User is offline   xeno123 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 15:14

There is also a free book available on the internet:

2/1 Game Force a Modern Approach

http://www.pitt.edu/...okGameForce.pdf

Lots of details on combining 2/1 with various types of Bergen raises and the like - it's aimed at intermediate players I would say.

Also a very nice description of a more sophisticated point count methodology (taking into account shape, A/K/10 vs Q/J, singleton/doubleton honors and how to best revalue your hand once a fit is discovered).

Beyond my pay grade to evaluate some of his choices and advice, but it's nicely written, comprehensive and FREE.
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#14 User is offline   HeavyDluxe 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 15:17

If you want a free resource to build on, google "Tallahassee Expert Standard". You'll find a set of system notes from a bundle of players in FL from a few years ago. It served as a good study guide to get me started in 2/1.
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#15 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2015-October-15, 19:08

This topic comes up every year or so. I second Stephen Tu's recommendation of Mike Lawrence's CD for the reason he gave which is that Mike's discussion and coverage of sequences after 1D - 2C, 1H - 2m, 1S - 2m/2H is more thorough than you will find anywhere in print or software except maybe in some 300+ page system notes on Dan Neill's amazing web site (peruse at your peril). Josh Donn used to post here a lot a number of years ago. Perhaps you've caught some of his excellent lectures on BBO. AFAIK, he has not lectured on 2/1 but maybe you and your partner can hire him for a few hours to help you sort this out. Good investment IMO if you can afford it, especially if you're planning to invest a lot of time in your partnership.
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#16 User is offline   SteveMoe 

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Posted 2015-October-17, 21:05

2 Over 1 Game Force (The Official Better Bridge) Paperback ?March 16, 2009
by Audrey Grant (Author), Eric Rodwell (Author)

Also Hardy's two books or Robinson's Washington Standard for more detail & gadgets after you master this.
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#17 User is offline   Flem72 

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Posted 2015-October-18, 07:55

Lawrence's CD (or, ahem, my Lawrence notes) and Robinson's Washington Standard (very complete SNT stuff). Also, if you can find a copy, Aces Scientific by Bobby Goldman, the true single-source precursor to 2/1.
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#18 User is offline   LFN20 

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Posted 2020-November-17, 09:05

View Postxeno123, on 2015-October-15, 15:14, said:

There is also a free book available on the internet:

2/1 Game Force a Modern Approach

http://www.pitt.edu/...okGameForce.pdf

Lots of details on combining 2/1 with various types of Bergen raises and the like - it's aimed at intermediate players I would say.

Also a very nice description of a more sophisticated point count methodology (taking into account shape, A/K/10 vs Q/J, singleton/doubleton honors and how to best revalue your hand once a fit is discovered).

Beyond my pay grade to evaluate some of his choices and advice, but it's nicely written, comprehensive and FREE.


Great tip. just to complement, the book is on the 6th. Edition:

The Two-Over-One Game Force System --- WITH CHAPTERS ON PRECISION (2018), Sixth Edition, Trafford Publishing.

http://www.pitt.edu/...okGameForce.pdf
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#19 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2020-November-18, 14:55

Hm. I've never met Dr. Timm, but I confess I had a negative reaction to his writing style. That was, if I'm not mistaken, an earlier version of this book. I also disagreed with some of his choices, but not, iirc, anything major.
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