## Wednesday, July 21, 2010

### Michaels Rethought (yet again)

I have been thinking again about Michaels.  I think I have an easy tweak that y'all might like.

Partner cuebids spades, showing hearts and an unknown minor.

2NT asks for the minor. BUT, partner bids the OTHER MINOR. Advancer will bid 2NT with either a weak, LONG minor (trying to get out) or an INVITATIONAL hand (where he wants to explore game but primarily wants to know WHICH MINOR).

Example #1:

1♠ - 2♠ - P - 2NT!
P - ?

If partner has hearts and diamonds, he bids 3♣ (diamonds).  If you have the hand with long, weak clubs, you
PASS.  If you have the hand with long, weak diamonds, you bid 3.  If you have the invitational hand, you bid whatever you would bid had partner bid 3 to show his diamond suit: 3 = wrong minor; 4 = right minor.

If partner instead has hearts and clubs, he bids 3 (clubs).  If you have the hand with long, weak diamonds, you PASS.  If you have the hand with long, weak clubs, you bid 4♣ (trust that the 12-card fit is sufficient for that level).  If you have the invitational hand, you bid whatever you would bid had partner bid 3♣ to show his clubs.

You can see that the 2NT call, if tweaked to show the OTHER MINOR, works extremely well to handle any hands with a long, one-suited minor (wanting to get out) without any real problems. Partner almost always bids your long minor, which is fine. He should get the lead anyway.

But, what about the hand where you simply want to escape into partner’s minor? Bid 3♣, a WEAK pass-or-correct bid. This speeds up these sequences half of the time, which is a good thing, and it is ever-so-slightly more preemptive. Splitting the asks and the escapes between two bids helps somewhat if Opener intervenes. For example, consider these two auctions:

1♠ - 2♠ - P - 2NT!-3♠

versus

1♠ - 2♠ - P - 3♣!-3♠

In the second, Advancer is known to have no interest in game, which helps the Michaels Cuebidder to better guess what to do.

In the former, Advancer cannot be certain which focus Advancer had, but he may be able to guess. With shortness in spades, however, he likely has at least tolerance for the weak-get-out-one-suiter scenario and can more comfortably bid four of his shorter minor, “accepting” the game try with the hedge of playing in four of that minor if Advancer had the weak one-suiter holding. Advancer might, for instance, bid 4♣ with ♠x AKJxx AQJxx ♣Qx.

This approach would also free up another call – a 3 call. Because 3 is not a call needed to show long diamonds and a weak hand, this could show a general invitational hand (or perhaps some other range) with support for partner’s major and no particular interest in the minor (not critically fit-dependent). So, compare these sequences:

1♠ - 2♠ - P - 3 = to play
1♠ - 2♠ - P - 3 = heart support, values (whatever range makes sense)