Two-Suited Overcalls

Lesson Notes

Two-Suited Overcalls

Most modern partnerships have some agreement on how to enter the auction with two-suited hands – two five-card or longer suits. The advantage of intervening with a two-suited hand is that partner is likely to have a fit with at least one of the suits. If partner has a fit with both suits, the partnership may even make a game on very few high-card values. 

Michaels Cuebids
This is the most popular convention for two-suited hands, and shows either a weak hand (8 - 11) or a strong hand (17+). e.g. you hold this hand, and your right hand opponent opens 1♦:
♠ Q J 9 7 5
♥ K Q 10 6 2
♦ 5
♣ 4 3
If you bid spades, you may never get a chance to show your hearts because the bidding might become too high. Playing Michaels, you actually bid opener's suit, 2♦.
By agreement, this shows both majors. So, 1♣/♦ (2♣/♦) is Michaels. With a good fit for one or both suits, partner can compete to the three level, or even game. Without a good fit, pick the longer major.
If the opponents open a major 1♠ or 1♥, an overcall of that suit - 1♥/♠ (2♥/♠ overcall) shows the other major, and one minor. 

Responding to Michaels (1♣/♦, then an overcall of 2♣/♦ = both majors)

  • A preference to 2♥ or 2♠ shows no interest in game
  • A jump to 3♥ or 3♠ is pre-emptive (probably four trumps)
  • A jump to 4♥ or 4♠ is to play. It could be weak or strong 

Responding to Michaels after 1♥/♠ is opened. Bid the major suit that partner is showing or no trumps to ask which minor.  

The Unusual Notrump (1♥/♥ is opened and the overcaller bids 2NT)
It is rare that an overcaller would bid 2NT to show a balanced 20-21 points when the opponents open the bidding, so 2NT is used to describe two-suited hands. So, a jump to 2NT over an opening bid of one-of-a-suit shows at least five cards in each of the two lower-ranking unbid suits. (Over Major openings, it shows the minors, over 1♣ it shows diamonds and hearts, and over 1♦ it shows hearts and clubs, i.e. the lower unbid suits).

Here are some examples after East opens the bidding 1♥, and North-South are non-vulnerable:
♠ 4
♥ 3
♦ Q J 10 8 4
♣ K 10 9 7 6 3  
Bid 2NT. Shows a weak, distributional hand. It is a competitive bid, suggesting a possible sacrifice against the opponent’s contract. Here South doesn’t have enough to overcall 2♣, and an overcall of 1♦ might get the partnership to the wrong suit. A jump 2NT asks partner to choose between clubs and diamonds, the two lower-ranking unbid suits.

♠ 3
♥ -
♦ A Q J 8 7 3
♣ A K J 8 5 2
Bid 2NT. The unusual notrump can also be used with a very strong hand where  you plan to bid again. Once partner bids a minor, South intends to raise to game. If the opponents get in the way, South will double or show a strong hand.

Responding to the Unusual Notrump

  • A simple preference to one of partner’s suit shows no interest in game
  • A jump in one of the suits is weak and pre-emptive
  • A jump to the game level could be weak or strong.
  • 3NT is to play, and so is a new suit bid naturally

Coming up...
Preemptive Overcalls
Overcalls over 1NT Openings


Resources

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