Quick summary

"My overcall says I've got two 5-card suits".

2NT (unusual !): I've got 2 good minor suits, or the missing minor + a random Major (call enemy's suit to enquire which one)

2 of the enemy's suit: I've got 2 good Major suits, or the missing Major + a random minor (call 2NT to ask me which one) 

Your rebid clarifies if weak or strong (8-15HCP).

Response: It's forcing unless there's an intervening bid: choose best of the two, jumping to encourage; bid opener's suit to force to game; or 3NT if strong and stopped in the other 2 suits.


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal

«  0170  »

2-suited Overcalls - I've got two 5-card suits

Unusual No Trump and the Michael's Cue Bids

If the opponents have opened the bidding, it can be difficult to bid effectively when you have length in two suits. And yet such hands have enormous potential if your partner has a fit in one (or both) of your two suits.

Here is a way of telling your partner about this 2-suited opportunity, by using two otherwise almost totally meaningless bids:

  • an overcall of 2NT is called the Unusual No Trump, and is basically looking for minors;
  • an overcall in opponent's suit is called a Michael's cue bid, and is basically looking for Majors.

The bids can also be used to tell your partner when you have 2 long suits where one is a Major the other a minor.

The two systems work in much the same way. You need about 8-15 points (similar strength to a normal overcall) and two good suits containing honours.

These bids are forcing, and therefore they can also be used on strong two-suited hands. If the overcaller has more strength than the normal level, he can show this in his next bid, after his partner has responded.

Both of these bids can be used as destructive devices, as they take away bidding space from the enemy.     

Unusual 2 No Trump

Hey, I've got two 5-card minors. Give me your best

Well, at least that's what it means when the 2NT overcall was after a Major. If the overcall was after a minor, then it guarantees 5-cards in the other minor, and an unspecified Major.

If the Unusual 2NT bidder has a strong hand (up to 15 HCP), the Unusual 2NT bidder can show the strength by re-bidding an agreed suit at a higher level.

Responding to the Unusual 2 No Trump

Responder to the 2NT overcall should bid on the assumption that partner has minimum strength.

  • you have to respond, unless there's an intervening bid;
  • without a good fit for either of partner's suits, bid the one you like best (or dislike the least);
  • with a good fit, make a jump in the suit, depending on your strength;
  • (with an even better hand, you can force to game by bidding the enemy's suit);
  • NT ? With a strong hand, and good stoppers in the 2 suits your partner hasn't promised, especially the enemy's suit, you can bid 3NT;
  • a reply of 3 in the enemy's suit (diamondclub) asks partner which Major is held, after bids promising only one minor (i.e.1club-2NT-pass, or 1diamond-2NT-pass);
  • a bid in a suit not promised by partner is natural and non-forcing, based on a very long suit. Overcaller will generally pass.


The principles are similar to the responses to a Michael's cue bid, so fewer examples are needed to illustrate.

When your partner has overcalled with 2NT ("unusual no trump"), after an opening minor bid, and you wish to find out which Major suit he holds, you should bid the enemy suit as a request for partner to specify his Major suit.

If the bidding goes like this; West: 1diamond, North: 2NT, East: Pass. . .. . .. what should South now bid ?

Hand 1
S K J 10 9  

3diamond. North's bid showed 5-cards in clubs and a Major suit. But which one? You want to play in the Major, so bid the enemy suit, 3diamond, to ask partner which Major he holds. He will bid either 3heart or 3spade and you can then pass if you want.

H J 10 6 2
D 6 5 2
C 4 3

The redundant bids you are replacing

When the opponents have opened the bidding, an overcall of 2NT traditionally used to show a balanced hand of 20-22 points, just like an opening bid of 2NT. Unfortunately, when one of the opponents holds opening strength, the chances of you having a strong hand like this are slim. In fact, the opportunity to make this 2NT overcall (showing a balanced 20-22 points) comes up so rarely that it makes sense to use the bid in an unusual way. Hence the name.

Similarly, an overcall in the opponent's suit (Michael's Cue bid) (e.g. 1heart- 2heart) was used to show a hand with enough strength to insist on game. Such hands are rare, and can usually be bid by starting with a (forcing) takeout double.


170. 2-suited overcalls (8-15 HCP, 2 good suits)
Openers bid Overcallers bid (8-15 HCP) meaning responder bid responder clarifying bid
The simple and obvious case
heartspade 2NT 2 minors best minor  
clubdiamond 2 of same suit 2 Majors best major  
Mixed majors and minors
heartspade 2 of same suit other Major, + a minor Major, or 2NT 2NT = "clarify which minor"
clubdiamond 2NT other minor, + a Major minor or clubdiamond clubdiamond = "clarify which Major"
Responder (always bidding his preference, if no intervention) assumes minimum from overcaller: jumps if fit is good, bids enemy suit to force game, or 3NT if strong and stopped in the other 2 suits. Responder seeks clarity as above if interested in the 2 unspecified suits.
Overcaller passes if not forced, or bids higher if top end.
Add to your customised cribsheet


About us   Contact us     Terms & conditions of use      Log in      Comment on current page

© Bid and Made. Nothing on this website may be reproduced without written permission from Bid and Made. Just drop us a line, and we'll almost certainly say yes.