Page 0025

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August 2017 English Bridge

www.ebu.co.uk

You might be worried on this hand that if partner

has just the king of diamonds, then the opponents

can lead through it and take two diamond winners

immediately. In my experience this is not a problem

worth worrying about, since partner will often have

some additional strength such as the queen which

makes his control bullet proof. Even if he does have

the empty king you will only go down if the

opponents lead this suit AND the ace lies over the

king, a very low chance of combined odds. If the

opponents do have strength lying in wait over

partner's king they will often double his cue-bid

and tip you off - caution can then be exercised.

On Hand 3 you have much better diamonds than

clubs and 30 years ago it would have been very

much the style to cue-bid 4t and wait to hear if

partner could control the hearts. However that is no

longer correct and the right bid is 4®. The reason

for this is that if you skip out a suit to cue-bid,

partner can instantly know that you don't have a

control in that suit and it will help you identify the

hands where you can't make a slam. (More

importantly it will help you identify the hands

where you can't make 11 tricks - there is nothing so

embarrassing as cue-bidding your way to the 5-level

in search of a slam and then going one down!)

When you cue-bid 4® partner will either cue-bid

4™ and you can then use Blackwood, or he will sign

off in 4´ and you know he (and you as well) are

missing a heart control. The final option is that

partner will cue-bid 4t (if he has a singleton there)

in which case you will bid 4´ highlighting the heart

weakness once again.

By now you have got the hang of cue-bidding and

you might think that the right bid on the 4th

example hand is to cue-bid 4® - it's not. A good

rule of thumb is when partner makes a limit raise

(raising 1´ to 3´ showing 10-11) you should not

try for a slam when you are balanced. Even a good

balanced hand of 19 points has little chance of

making 12 tricks facing a limit raise.

Don't believe me? Let's construct a few hands for

partner to have and compare:

This hand needs the club finesse, no heart ruff, no

5-0 spade break and diamonds to play for no

losers - combined odds of almost nothing.

A few final words of caution about cue-bidding

before we review what we have learnt. I mentioned

that to be a cue-bid a bid has to be above the level of

3NT but there is one exception:

1™-3™-3´

This is a cue-bid, showing a control in spades. It

commits you to game, and you have explicitly

agreed an 8-card major suit fit so it wouldn't make

sense for it to be a try for 3NT.

Compare and contrast with this sequence:

1t-3t-3´

The 3´ bid here is simply showing some strength

and looking for the best game, it might well be a

second suit or stopper such as K-J-x. It might not

have any slam ambitions at all, just probing for 3NT.

Hand 4 - example A

´ A Q J 6 ´ K 10 8 4

™ K J ™ A Q 9 4

t Q 9 5 4 t J 3

® A Q 3 ® J 4 2

W E

This hand is off the first two diamond tricks.

Hand 4 - example B

´ A Q J 6 ´ K 8 5 3

™ K J ™ Q 4 3

t Q 9 5 4 t A J 4 3

® A Q 3 ® J 5

W E

The Dos and Don'ts of Cue-Bidding

Do use a cue-bid if you are considering going to a

slam and want to identify whether or not

partner has a control in the suits where you

are weak.

Do cue-bid controls by going up the bidding

ladder, skipping out any suits in which you

don't have a control.

Do use Blackwood as a final check if you are

confident that you have a control in every

suit and enough fire power

Don't carry on cue-bidding if you identify a suit

in which both you and partner are weak -

you won't make a slam.

Don't try for a slam if you and partner hold a

balanced hand and at most 30 points

between you; for every miracle slam you

reach there will be eight or nine that just go

down slowly. r

Michael's cue-bid quiz is online, page 72

Index

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