The Michael’s cue bid is a very popular bidding convention to show distributional hands…hands usually with at least 55 shapes (5521).

This Michael’s cue bid is usually used in the direct position, i.e., immediately after an opponent has made their bid.

All these direct overcall bids are known as Michael’s cue-bids:-

Opening BidDirect OvercallShows
1♣2♣5+ hearts and 5+ Spades
125+ hearts and 5+ Spades
125+ spades and 5+ unspecified minor
1♠2♠5+ hearts and 5+ unspecified minor

For example if your right-hand opponent opened 1and you bid 2, your 2 call would be a Michael’s cue-bid. This would show at least 5 spades and at least 5 card in either clubs or diamonds.

If your right-hand opponent opened 1♠ and you bid 2♠, your 2♠ call would be a Michael’s cue-bid. This would show at least 5 hearts and at least 5 card in either clubs or diamonds.

Better still if your right-hand opponent opened 1♣ or 1 and you bid the Michael’s cue-bid.

This would specifically show 5-5 (or longer) in the majors. This is better for you as you know exactly what two suits partner has.

What about points?

So that’s the shapes and the suits…but what values should you have for the bid?

Typically I imagine a hand like:

♠ KQ1072
KQ1073
4
♣ 75

You can play several methods but usually either a weak hand (say, 6 to 11 points) or a strong hand (a good 15 or more high-card points). Hands with intermediate strength should simply overcall at the one level, with the hope that the second suit can be shown later in the auction. Why do this? It’s to give partner some indication of our strength and involve him in the decision process as to how high we compete (sacrifice).

Responding to the Michael’s cue bid

So after 1♣ – 2♣ showing at least 5 / 5 in the majors….

ResponseMeaning
2Natural, good diamond suit (usually 6+) Non-forcing.
2Sign-off…may be equal length as spades.
2♠Sign-off…must be longer in spades than hearts though.
2NTNatural and invites partner to bid 3NT
3♣Artificial, game / slam interest in hearts or spades. Forcing.
3A very strong diamond suit (6+ cards). Forcing
3Preemptive, usually with 4 hearts
3♠Preemptive, usually with 4 spades
3NTTo Play

So after 1 – 2 showing at least 5 / 5 in the majors….

ResponseMeaning
2Sign-off…may be equal length as spades.
2♠Sign-off…must be longer in spades than hearts though.
2NTNatural and invites partner to bid 3NT
3♣Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Artificial, game / slam interest in hearts or spades. Forcing.
3Preemptive, usually with 4 hearts
3♠Preemptive, usually with 4 spades
3NTTo Play

So after 1 – 2 showing at least 5 spades and a minor suit as of yet unspecified.

ResponseMeaning
2♠Sign-off.
2NTAsks for the minor
3♣Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Forcing
3♠Preemptive, usually with 4 spades
3NTTo Play

So after 1♠ – 2♠ showing at least 5 hearts and a minor suit as of yet unspecified.

ResponseMeaning
2NTAsks for the minor
3♣Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Preemptive, usually with 4 hearts
3♠Forcing…usually slam interest in hearts.
3NTTo Play

Bidding in 4th position

You can also use it to show 5 / 5 in the other two suits like:

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass1♠2♣*

Now the 2C bid shows 5 /5 in diamonds and hearts.

OR…..

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass12♣*

Now the 2C bid shows 5 /5 in diamonds and spades.

You could also have a different meaning for the other cue-bid:-

OR…..

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass12*

Now the 2 bid shows 5 /5 in diamonds and spades….but a stronger hand 15+

Another alternative….

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass12*

Now the 2 bid could show longer spades than diamonds at least 6/5. This is because you have bid the higher cue-bid.

And now….

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass12♣*

Now the 2♣ bid could show longer diamonds than spades at least 6/5. This is because you have bid the lower cue-bid.

So the Michael’s cue bid is a great way of letting your partner know your shape using just one bid….of course it does tell the opponents as well which means they might stop out of a game if they know the splits are bad. Quite often these bids can be used to find a good sacrifice.

Make sure you have an agreement with your partner…like I said a common one is to show the hand as either weak OR strong.