The conventional defense method of Unusual Over Unusual is a defense method against an immediate overcall of the next player in rotation, which defines the limits and support of the responder to partner. The origin of this defense method remains unknown.
Description of the Unusual No Trump Concept
In order to employ the Unusual Over Unusual conventional defense method the immediate opposing player must overcall with a bid of 2 No Trump. Such an overcall generally is explained and defined as meaning two suits and this web page follows this definition of the 2 No Trump overcall following a suit opening bid by the previous player. This conventional defense method by the opponents is outlined below. The general consensus is that both intended suits be 5-card suits. However, owing to vulnerability and working cards in both suits many partnerships have reduced this parameter to a distribution of 4-5 either way.
South West Meaning 1 2 NT This overcall determines the higher-ranking suit and the lower-ranking suit, namely Hearts and Diamonds, both red suits. 1 2 NT This overcall determines the higher-ranking suit and the lower-ranking suit, namely Hearts and Clubs. 1 2 NT This overcall determines both Minor suits, Clubs and Diamonds. 1 2 NT This overcall determines both Minor suits, Clubs and Diamonds.
The most important feature of the Unusual No Trump conventional competitive method is the fact that both suits are known. This fact is truly important in relating any information to partner following this overcall.
Outline of the Unusual Over Unusual Concept
Note: The Unusual Over Unusual conventional method is only employed if both suits are know. Therefore, any conventional method, such as Michaels Cuebid of any Major suit, which shows only one specified suit and one unspecified suit, is not considered under the Unusual Over Unusual conventional method.
Technically this conventional defense method is indeed a defense method to a conventional method of the opposing side, which constitutes a competitive action. As soon as the opposing player makes the overcall of 2 No Trump and the two intended suits are known, then the responder can make use of these two intended suits to communicate information to partner by cuebidding these known two suits.
Note: The responder must hold competitive values before initiating the Unusual Over Unusual conventional method, and, if not, then the responder should decide to defend and pass unless partner continues to compete and possibly force a preference bid.
These bids of the responder plus the defined cuebids are outlined below. Note that the letter M stands for a Major suit.
South West North Meaning 1 M 2 NT The immediate overcall promises a 5-5 distribution in both Minor suits, namely Clubs and Diamonds. 3 M Any supporting bid on the three level in the suit of partner is competitive, but shows no game interest. 3 M If the opening bid is Hearts, then a response of 3 Spades, a non-adverse suit, is non-competitive and non-forcing. If the opening bid is Spades, then a response of 3 Hearts, a non-adverse suit, is non-competitive and non-forcing. Values are fewer than necessary to open the holding, and the minimum is about 8-10 points depending sometimes on the vulnerability and distribution. This action promises 2 or fewer cards in support of partner's Major suit. 3 A cuebid of the opponent's lower-ranking intended suit, namely Clubs, promises an invitational limit raise with a minimum of 3-card support. The cuebid of the opponent's lower-ranking intended suit, namely Clubs, also implies a possible 5-card side suit in the other non-adverse suit. 3 A cuebid of the opponent's higher-ranking intended suit, namely Diamonds, promises a game forcing raise, and again most likely with a 5-card side suit in the other non-adverse side suit. (See Example below). Double This is a pre-penalty double, which promises values in at least one of the opponent's suits. The general consensus is that following any subsequent competitive bidding a double by the partnership is for penalty only. With a double the responder informs partner that no support for the opened Major suit is present, but the double does not inform partner about any additional feature of the holding.
Note that all splinter bids in support of the opened Major suit by partner must be on the four-level. Although considered unlikely and/or infrequent the partnership may indeed bid and make a slam contract. Since the holding of the Unusual No Trump bidder may contain minimum values, even as few as 6 points (QJ10xxx - QJ10xx), a slam contract should not be considered impossible.
Note: Since the features of the Unusual Over Unusual conventional response method are flexible several variations have evolved and have become part of this particular conventional response method. The outline above with corresponding definitions reflect mainly the original and basic response method.
Example of Slam Bidding
As mentioned it is possible to reach a satisfactory slam contract despite the competitive overcall of 2 No Trump, the meanings of which are defined above according to the intended suits. Below is an example of a competitive auction, whereby the responder informs partner not only of support for the opening Major suit but also an implied 5-card suit in the other Major suit.
KQ75 A7654 Q9 K6
AJ1084 KQ3 AK10 87 South Opponent North Meaning 1 Promises opening values. 2 NT Unusual No Trump conventional method promising a competitive distribution of 5-5 (5-4) in both Minor suits. 3 A cuebid of the opponent's higher-ranking intended suit, namely Diamonds, promises a game forcing raise for partner's Hearts, and a strongly implied 5-card side suit in the other non-adverse side suit, namely Spades. 3 South shows generally a 4-card support in Spades, which is the strongly implied suit of the responder. Pass Since the advancer (partner of the overcaller) would have to bid on the four level in order to compete by any vulnerability, any action would seem very unlikely. Even a double of the 3 Diamonds cuebid, which could show Diamonds via partnership agreement, would not stop South from bidding since the responder has shown game values. 4 North attempts slam by cuebdding (control-bidding) Diamonds promising first round control. 4 A control bid showing first round control of Hearts. Although this control bid might seem ambiguous since Hearts is the opening suit, the opener could have signed-off with 4 Spades following the 3 Diamonds cuebid of the responder, thereby showing no interest in a slam contract. Therefore, the control-bid of Hearts cannot be construed as a sign-off bid. Pass 5 Promises a second round control in Diamonds. Possible Final Contracts 6 South knows that responder holds not only support in Hearts, but also in Spades. South also knows that one control is missing, which is the Ace of Clubs, meaning that a grand slam is not possible. 6 South knows that responder holds not only support in Hearts, but also in Spades. South also knows that one control is missing, which is the Ace of Clubs, meaning that a grand slam is not possible. However, South knows of a 9-card fit in Spades, but only an 8-card fit in Hearts, and selects Spades as the final contract. 6 NT Bidding 6 No Trump is not a gamble since South knows that 5 tricks in Spades are almost guaranteed, and that 5 tricks in Hearts are most likely, and that the responder holds both the Ace and King of Diamonds. Even if the lead is a Club, then South loses only 1 trick.
If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should be or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.
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