Friday, April 6, 2018

Michaels Not Always the Best Way to Show a Two-Suited Hand


Here’s your hand, sitting South:

J
Q
AJ98652
KQ98

Here’s the bidding:

Auction:
West
North
East
South
1D
2D*
P
?

·         Michaels, showing a hand containing at least 5 hearts and 5 spades

Ah, this is a puzzle. Partner has cue bid your seven card suit! But it’s a conventional bid, Michaels, showing two five card majors. What to do?

This was a hand I played with my former partner, Mille Garrison, in a four section, two game event in the 1996 Palms Springs Regional Tournament against some of the best players in the world. Millie was sitting West and I was sitting East.

In this hand, this South passed. Millie, West, also passed so North had to play the hand in 2D, a suit in which he was void.


North
AKT9654
A97643
Void
Void


West
73
K
KQT74
AJ732


East
Q82
JT852
3
T654


South
J
Q
AJ98652
KQ98



Auction:
West
North
East
South
1D
2D
P
P
P




Bidding: This is a shining example of why Michaels is not always the best way to show a huge 2-suiter. People think that if they have a two-suited hand, they should always use it. I don’t agree. North misbid. There is no way that his partner could know he had a hand that was 7-6. He should overcall Millie’s 1D with 1S and then jump to 4 hearts with his second bid, letting partner choose which suit. And partner, given two singleton honors, should take him back to his first suit.

If North bid Michaels, as here, and if East passed, as here, then South should bid 2 spades. Partner can’t possibly know the shape of that hand. Here, who wouldn’t be tempted to pass 2 diamonds with a seven card suit headed by the AJ, even if LHO did open 1D?

However, since his LHO, West, opened with South’s 7 card suit, there’s a good possibility that West has four diamonds (you know she has at least three), so how many diamonds could North have? He’s already shown an unbalanced hand, so the chances of him having more than one are slim and the chances of his being void are excellent. So if you think about it, you shouldn’t be tempted to pass and take the chance that your partner will be forced to play this in a suit in which he is obviously horribly short. If partner shows two 5-card majors (which is all Michaels promises), and your RHO passes, make a choice between the two, even if you have two singletons.

Play: As East, I led the 4 of clubs, Millie taking South’s king with her ace. She smothered the singleton queen of hearts by leading her king. While South could get rid of one club on the AK spades, South was doomed to play the hand out of her hand and we got 2 club tricks and 4 diamond tricks for down one. Because Millie had five clubs, she could always take South’s diamond lead and force him to ruff and lead into her again. My club ten backed up by three other clubs was a huge card for the defense, keeping South from getting any club other than the queen.

Other tables were playing the hand in 4 spades, making, losing a spade and two hearts. I don’t know how they bid it. We were the only table at which North played the hand in 2D. It was the last hand of the day for us. We set it one trick and it gave us the best score in the room on this hand which was enough for us to win the 64 table event.