ACBL15M – Bidding: Michaels Cue Bid           Ward Trumbull

                                   And Unusual Notrump                     Jul 8, 2012

                                                                                                                   Page 1 of 5




     The information in this handout is based on the excellent 1999 handout by Karen Walker called “Michaels Cuebids and Unusual Notrump Overcalls” and Mike Savage’s equally fine undated handout called “Michaels”.




      The Michaels Cuebid and Unusual Notrump are conventions that let you show two suits with one bid.  As a pair you would either play Unusual   

Notrump only, or you would play the Michaels/Unusual combined.  If the

former is the case, see ACBL15 “Bidding: Unusual Notrump”.  The latter is described below.


Micheals Cuebid (Walker)


      This is a direct cuebid of the opponent’s opened suit (e.g., 1 club by RHO and then 2 clubs by you) to show 5+ card length in two other suits.  One of your suits is always a major, but the exact two depends on the opening bid:    


            1. Over a mINOR-suit opening, a Michaels Cuebid (e.g., 1

                club – 2 clubs or 1 diamond – 2 diamonds) shows both the



            2. Over a major-suit opening, a Michaels Cuebid (e.g., 1

                heart – 2 hearts or 1 spade – 2 spades) shows the other

              major and an unspecified minor.


      The Michaels Cuebid replaces the Goren-style Strong Cuebid (16+ HCP).  Instead, if you have a very strong hand, you must start with a takeout double.


            ACBL15M – Bidding: Michaels Cuebid          Jul 8, 2012

                                   And Unusual Notrump                Page 2 of 5


Unusual Notrump (Walker)


      This convention is a direct jump to 2 notrump over an opponent’s opening bid (e.g., 1 heart – 2 notrump by you) to show the two lower-ranking unbid suits.


You should have at least 5 cards in each suit for this bid.  Note that one of your suits will always be a minor, but the exact two you promise depends on the opening bid:


            1. Over a 1 club opening, 2 notrump shows diamonds and



            2. Over a 1 diamond opening, 2 notrump shows clubs and



            3. Over a 1 heart or 1 spade opening, 2 notrump shows

                Both minors.


When Applicable (Ward)


      The Michaels/Unusual bids are only made as overcalls after the opponents have opened the bidding.  It is usually in the second seat but

can be in the fourth seat after two passes.  For example:


               1st seat              2nd seat              3rd seat              4th seat

               -----------              -----------              -----------              -----------   

               1 club                  2 clubs

               1 diamond           2 notrump

               1 heart                 pass                   pass                    2 hearts

               1 spade               pass                   pass                    2 notrump





            ACBL15M – Bidding: Michaels Cuebid             Jul 8, 2012

                                   And Unusual Notrump                    Page 3 of 5


Strength Requirements (Mike Savage)


      Mike Savage’s bidding based on hand strength is much easier to understand than Walker’s.  In generalities, he defines the suit strengths as “weak’, “intermediate” and “strong”.  He gives no specific point counts.  For this handout I have over simplified the counts as:


  1.  Weak - 6-10 HCP
  2.  Intermediate - 11-14 HCP
  3.  Strong - 15+ HCP




           With a weak hand you would bid Michaels and then pass after

           partner has made his choice of one of your suits.




           With an intermediate hand you would not use Michaels.  You would

           overcall the higher ranking 5 card suit with the intention of bidding   

           the lower ranking 5 card suit if the higher suit was not supported by





      With a strong hand you would rebid whichever of the two suits your

      partner has bid.


Picking a Minor


      If partner’s Michaels bid indicates a major and a minor suit, you should

try to bid the major suit.  You would do this with 3+ cards, an Ace x or King x.  If you can’t, you don’t know which minor suit it is.  So you bid 2 notrump asking partner to bid his minor suit at the 3 level.  What if you can’t support his minor suit?  That means you have 2-or-less of his major and 2-or-less of both minors.  Which leaves you with 7+ cards in the opener’s major.  In

            ACBL15M – Bidding: Michaels Cuebid             Jul 8, 2012

                                   And Unusual Notrump                    Page 4 of 5


Picking a Minor (continued)


which case you would pass, and partner will be the declarer in your major.


Responding Strength (Walker)


      The level of your response bid depends on your strength and trump support.  With a weak-to-intermediate hand, bid at the lowest level available.  With a stronger hand,  you can jump in one of partner’s suits to invite game or jump directly to game.          


Use Your Judgment (Walker)


      Like all bids, these overcalls give information to both your partner and the opponents.  If you don’t buy the contract, your bid may work against you because it gives declarer an almost perfect picture of your distribution.

For this reason, you should only use these bids when your hand meets all the requirements for suit length and playing strength.  


      Remember that partner’s Michaels/Unusual overcall is artificial.  If your

RHO passes, you cannot pass.  For all Unusual 2 Notrump overcalls and most Michaels Cuebids, you’ll know the exact two suits your partner holds, so bid your longer of the two.  You should almost always bid one of partner’s suits: don’t be tempted to suggest any other suit as trumps unless you have great length and strength.


Other Uses (Walker)


      You can also play that any “unusual” notrump overcall (even if not a jump) is the Unusual Notrump.  For example, after:


               1st seat              2nd seat              3rd seat              4th seat

               -----------              -----------              -----------              -------------   

               1 heart                pass                    2 hearts             2 notrump

Your 2 notrump would show both minors (lower unibid suits).  

            ACBL15M – Bidding: Michaels Cuebid             Jul 8, 2012

                                   And Unusual Notrump                    Page 5 of 5


Other Uses (Walker)           (continued)


      Another example would be:


               1st seat              2nd seat              3rd seat              4th seat

               -----------              -----------              -----------              -----------   

               1 heart                pass                    2 hearts              3 hearts


Your 3 hearts is Michaels showing a strong hand with spades and a minor.


Recap of Walker’s Notes (Ward)


      Opp. Open            Overcall Bid                         5/5 Suits

      ---------------            ----------------         ------------------------------------------       

      1 club                     2 clubs                hearts and spades

      1 club                     2 notrump           diamonds and hearts (2 lower)

      1 diamond              2 diamond           hearts and spades

      1 diamond              2 notrump           clubs and hearts        (2 lower)

      1 heart                   2 hearts               spades and a minor

      1 heart                   2 notrump            clubs and diamonds  (2 lower)

      1 spade                  2 spades             hearts and a minor

      1 spade                  2 notrump           clubs and diamonds   (2 lower)


Recap of Savage’s Notes (Ward Version)


  1.  With 6-10 HCP use Michaels and plan to pass.            (weak)


  1.  With 11-14 overcall your higher ranking suit.                (intermediate)  


  1.  With 15+ HCP use Michaels and plan to rebid.             (strong)


Attachment (Savage)


      I am also handing out copies of Mike Savage’s Michaels literature.  He

does an excellent  job of outlining the standard bids and responses in the

Michaels system, based on the strength of the hands.