Unusual over Unusual: Defense to Michaels/Unusual 2NT

To go along with our post re:  The Murphy’s law of bridge, here is a description of the so-called Unusual over Unusual convention, which is a defense to Michaels and Unusual 2NT.   This is not a convention for beginning players — do not attempt this convention until you are very comfortable with Michaels and Unusual 2NT as this convention is used to defeat those two conventions.    Take a look at this convention the first time you get a bad hand because you did not know how to bid your hand following opponent’s Michaels or Unusual 2NT call.

Unusual over Unusual allows responder to distinguish between strong and competitive hands in the two suits NOT promised by the Michaels/Unusual Two-Notrump bidder. Here it is:

Over Michaels, but only if the Michaels bid promises two known suits

Over 1♣ –  2♣ or 1♦  –  2♦ (Michaels, promising both majors), responder with length in either minor, bids as follows:

2♦ over 2♣

Natural, non forcing bid with long diamonds

2♥

Clubs & 10+ HCP (high card points). Responder either has a good club suit of his own if Opener bid 1♦, or Responder is making a limit raise or better in clubs if Opener bid 1♣

2♠

Diamonds & 10+ HCP. Responder either has a good diamond suit of his own if opener opened 1♣, or Responder is making a limit raise or better in diamonds if Opener bid 1♦

3♣ over 2♣

Non-forcing club raise. Less than limit raise values.

3♦ over 2♦

Non-forcing diamond raise. Less than limit raise values.
The idea here is that since Responder will never wish to bid either major suit naturally (since opener is promising 5+ of each), we will use 2♥ and 2♠ as game going bids in the minors.  Note these bids are generally not played as game forcing, but are highly encouraging.  With a minimum, Opener will simply revert to 3 of the minor; but with any interest in game, Opener should start cue-bidding his major suit stoppers or bid 2NT with both majors stopped, much as one would do while bidding out an inverted minor sequence.
Mnemonic for the convention:  “lower lower, higher higher”, since the lower major promises the lower minor; and the higher major promises the higher minor.
Note:  this convention is NOT on if the Michaels bid only promises ONE known suit (i.e. 1♥ — 2♥: promising spades and a minor).  In that event, the bid by responder of of the KNOWN suit (spades in this example) is a cue-bid limit raise.  The bid of either minor is natural and forcing for one round.
Over an Unusual 2NT Bid (promising the lower two unbid suits)
 
Similarly over 1M — 2NT   (M = either major suit), with 2NT showing the minors:

3♣

Hearts & 10+ HCP. Responder either has a 5+ suit of her own if Opener bid 1♠; or Responder is making a limit raise or better in hearts if Opener bid 1♥
 3♦ Spades & 10+ HCP. Responder either has a  5+ spade suit of her own if Opener bid 1♥; or Responder is making a limit raise or better in spades if Opener bid 1♠

3♥

Competitive only:  a heart suit or heart support; opener may pass

3♠

Competitive only: a spade suit or spade support; opener may pass
Again, the mnemonic for the convention is:  “lower lower, higher higher”, since the lower minor (clubs) promises the lower major (hearts); and the higher minor (diamonds) promises the higher major (spades).
If you try this out and it works (or even doesn’t work) for you, send us a note.  We’d love to hear from you.
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