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The Big Fizzer

Do you play “Michaels” and/or “Unusual No Trump”, and if so, HOW do you play them? When I glanced at the hand records while directing last night, and saw Board 22, I thought: “Wow, there will be some fireworks on this one”. But when I looked at the results this morning, these fireworks turned out to be nothing more than a damp squib.

Board 22 from Thursday 4/10/2018
Dealer E EW Vul

Board#22 04/10/2018

I have no doubt that every South would open this hand 1H, but what then? If you play the “Unusual 2NT” then a jump to 2NT by West would show the two lowest suits, and that is what West has. But West is very strong as well as having the minors. Most people play the Unusual NT as weak, some play it as either weak or strong (as they do with the Michaels cue bid), which is better but still not perfect. With some of my partners I play what some people call “Leaping Michaels” and “Leaping Unusual NT” though I suspect that it is never carried to the levels that I like to do it, which is EVERY level. Thus, a jump to 2NT is quite good at the given vulnerability, a jump to 3NT is better, and a jump to 4NT very very big, about four losers, which is what you can expect from the West hand. Calculating your losers is not all that easy to do, I just guess, and with the West hand I would guess: one diamond, one club and one spade, given that partner will produce some, even minimal, support for one minor. Is that not reasonable? Therefore, a jump to 4NT is warranted. What would East do then? East can cover at least TWO of West’s losers in a club contract: the king of diamonds and a club for sure, and the club length means an extra club loser can be accounted for. The only problem is the major suit losers, so East should be conservative and bid 5C. Too many people will look at the East hand and when they see partner make a bid that shows both minors, simply look at their point count and decide that a six count is not great, without appreciating the fact that these six points are huge, being where they are.

There is, in fact, an even better way to bid the EW hands if you have an experienced partnership, and that is without any leaping around other than the initial 2NT. When West jumps to 2NT, East bids 3C, not knowing how strong West’s 2NT bid is. West now bids 3H which is a cue bid that could be looking for a heart stopper for 3NT. East has such a huge hand in support of clubs but nothing in hearts, so jumps to 5C. That is all that West needs to hear to bid 6C.

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