Cue Bidding To Slams. By Ron Klinger

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1 Cue Bidding To Slams By Ron Klinger

2 CUE BIDDING TO SLAMS Cue bidding is a method of exploring slams by showing precisely which aces and kings are held. It is also able to locate singleton and void holdings and is thus superior to mere Blackwood 4NT or Gerber 4. In order to use cue bidding, a trump suit must be agreed. WHAT IS A CUE BID? A cue bid is a change of suit after suit agreement in a game-forcing auction. East s last bid in each of these auctions is a cue bid There are no cue bids in the trump suit itself. A bid in the agreed trump suit is a sign-off. It says. No further cue bid to make. I am unable or unwilling to go higher. WHEN SHOULD YOU CUE BID? A cue bid is appropriate when the bidding reveals slam potential and an ace ask via Blackwood is unsuitable. Hands with a void or with an unguarded suit are particularly suitable for cue bidding. Hands which need to discover whether partner holds a specific ace or a specific king are also ideal for cue bids. 2

3 WHAT DOES A CUE BID SHOW? Cue bids aim to reveal control of suits outside trumps. To say that you have control of a suit means that you hold the ace or king of the suit or a void or singleton in the suit, so that the opponents are unable to cash two quick tricks in the suit. FIRST ROUND CONTROL = Ace or void SECOND ROUND CONTROL = King or singleton WHEN DOES CUE BIDDING START? The first cue bid normally occurs at the 4-level. However, with hearts trumps (e.g. 1 :2, 3...), 3 will be the first cue bid. Where a minor suit has been raised (e.g. 1, 2 :3 ), bids at the 3-level are played as stoppers for 3NT, not as cue bids. PRIMARY CUES A primary cue bid shows first round control of the suit bid. The first cue bid made is a primary cue. A new suit cue bid is a primary cue unless the ace or void of that suit has already been shown or denied. RULE 1: Do not differentiate between an ace or a void when making a primary cue available, bid the cheapest possible. By passing a suit (except trumps) denies first round control of that suit. Rule 2: With more than one primary cue available, bid the cheapest possible. Bypassing a suit (except trumps) denies first round control of that suit. 3

4 (1) (1) 3 is a primary cue. It promises the ace of spades or a void in spades (2) (2) 4 is a primary cue, showing ace or void in clubs and denies A or void in spades (3 bypassed) (3) (3) 4, a primary cue, shows ace or void in diamonds, denies A or void and denies A or void. WEST EAST A K Q J K Q J 2 A A K Q PASS 4 and 4 are primary cues. 4

5 WEST EAST A K Q J A K Q J A K Q PASS 4 denied the A. No A= no grand slam. WEST EAST A K Q J K Q J 2 A A K Q PASS 4 and 4 are primary cues. WEST EAST A K Q J K J K Q J A K Q J PASS 4 denied A and A. No A = no grand slam. 5

6 SECONDARY CUES A secondary cue shows second round control of the suit bid, that is, either the kind or a singleton. A cue bid is a secondary cue if- (a) It is a bid in a suit in which a primary cue has already been made, OR (b) It is a bid in a suit which the bidder previously bypassed to deny first round control. RULE 3: Do not make a secondary cue if you can make a primary cue. RULE 4: Do not differentiate between a king or a singleton when making a secondary cue bid. RULE 5: With more than one secondary cue available, bid the cheapest possible. Bypassing an outside suit to make a secondary cue denies second round control in the suit bypassed and 4 are primary cues, 4 is a secondary cue, showing K or a singleton spade, 4 also denies 1st round control of diamonds, as 4 was bypassed (Rule 3). 6

7 and 4 are primary cues, 5 is a ( K or singleton),and denies 1st round control (Rule 3) and 2nd round control ( 4 bypassed. Rule 5) and 4 are primary cues. 4, a secondary cue, shows K or a singleton. 4 is a secondary cue as 4, bypassing 3, denied 1st round spade control and 4 are primary cues, 5 is secondary cue ( K or singleton) and denies 2nd round control in spades and clubs, bypassing 4 and 5 (Rule 5). 7

8 WEST EAST A K Q K Q J 2 A A Q PASS 4, 4 and 4 = primary cues, 5 = secondary cue, as 4 was a primary cue. 7 with only 25 HCP! WEST EAST A K Q K Q J 2 A A Q PASS 4, 4 and 4 are primary cues. 4 (trump suit) denies the ability to make another cue, so, no K, no club singleton. Therefore, 7 is too risky. TERTIARY CUES A tertiary cue shows third round control of the suit bid, that is, either the queen or a doubleton. The rules and guidelines for tertiary cues are equivalent to the rules for secondary cues. Hands which can locate third round controls are rare as the bidding is usually too high. The main objective of cue bidding is to find specific first round and second round controls. 8

9 MAJOR SUIT AS TRUMPS Situation A: Suit agreement at the 3-level, two or three primary cue bids followed b a sign-off in 4- Major. Message: Only mild slam interest. Slam not clearcut. 1 2NT and 4 are primary cues. 4, is a signoff, indicating West has only mild interest in slam. East is allowed to bid on, especially with high cards in opener s second suit, hearts and 4 and 4 are primary cues. 4 is a sign off by East, indicating East no significant additional values. West s allowed to bid on if holding slam-going values. Situation B: Suit agreement at 4-level, 2 primary cue bids followed by a signoff in 5-Major. Message: Strong slam interest but no control in the unbid 9

10 suit. Ask partner to bid 6 with control in the missing suit, pass with no control is a primary cue, showing slam interest. 5 is also a primary cue. The 5 signoff = no heart control. This asks East to bid 6 with heart control or to pass 5 without heart control is a primary cue, showing slam interest. 5 is also a primary cue. The 5 signoff = no club control. This asks partner to bid 6 with heart control or to pass 5 without heart control. Situation C: Suit agreement at 3-evel or 4-level, primary cues and secondary cues in two suits only, followed by signoff in 5-Major = I have no control in the unbid suit. 10

11 Message: Pass if you have no control in the unbid suit too, bid on if you have control and 4 are primary cues. 5 and 5 are secondary cues. The 5 signoff = No spade control. Message: Pass if you also have no spade control, bid on if you do and 4 are primary cues bids. 5 is a secondary cue. The 5 signoff I do not have control in diamonds. Message: Pass if you have no control in diamonds, bid on if you do. WEST EAST J A K Q J

12 K 2 A Q A Q 6 5 K J and 4 are primary cues, 4 denying 1st round spade controls. 5, a secondary cue, shows 2nd round control in diamonds and denies 2nd round control spades and clubs (bypassing 4 and 5 ). East hand control in spades and can thus bid 6. MINOR SUIT AS TRUMPS Situation A: Minor suit agreement at the 4-level responder bids 4-of-opener s major = natural bid to play, not a cue bid. For example East 4 is intended as a natural bid not forcing. It Is not a primary cue. Responder has a genuine spade raise. Situation B: Minor suit agreement at the 4-level, 3 primary cue bids followed by a signoff in 5-Minor. Message: One borderline slam interest. Bid on only with extra value. 12

13 is a primary cue (3 would be stopper bid for 3NT). 4 and 4 are primary cues. The 5 signoff = I have no extra values, just a minimum opening Bid on only if you have the extras yourself. WEST EAST J 6 A K A K Q PASS A K Q J is a primary cue, showing slam interest and 1st round spade control and denying 1st round diamond control. 6 = No chance for grand slam as the suit is missing, but enough for the small slam. Situation C: Minor suit agreement at the 4-level two primary cue bids followed by a signoff in 5-Minor. Message: No control in the unbid suit. Please pass if you also have no control, bid on if you have control. 13

14 and 4 are primary cues. The 5 signoff = I have no control hearts. Bid 6 if you have heart control pass without heart control. WEST EAST A K J 5 Q A K A K Q J PASS 4 and 4 = primary cues. The 5 signoff I have no control in hearts. West s pass = I have no control in hearts either. CUE BIDS AT THE 5-LEVEL AND AT THE 6-LEVEL A cue bid at the 6-level is looking for a grand slam (since you are already committed to the 6-level) and promises that no first round controls are missing. The same applies to a cue bid at the 5-level ABOVE the agreed trump suit this also commits you to the 6-level anyway and is therefore looking for a grand slam and guarantees that no first round controls are missing. WEST EAST A Q J

15 7 A J A K Q A 6 5 K Q 9 PASS 4 is a primary cue, showing slam interest. 5 is a secondary cue but because it is at the 5-level ABOVE the agreed trump suit, it simultaneously promises first round control in all unbid suits. Thus it shows the A and A as well as second round heart control. This is enough to enable east to bid 7. The 5 cue is far more efficient than a primary cue of 4. BLACKWOOD AFTER CUE BIDDING It is possible to revert to Blackwood 4NT after one or more cue bids have been made. The reason may be to check on the ace of trumps or to see whether a primary cue bid was a void or an ace. The replies are the normal replies used by the partnership. WEST EAST A K Q K Q J 2 A K Q J A 7 6 4NT J PASS 4 is a primary cue. West s 4NT asked for aces. 5 showed 2 aces which must be the A (shown) and the A, since 4 denied the A (RULE 2). Had East bid 4 over 3 (no cue available), West could still bid 4NT. If East shows one ace, it must then be the A. 15

16 WEST EAST A K Q K Q J K Q J A 7 6 4NT A J 9 6 PASS 4 is a primary cue, showing the A. 5 showed 2 aces. Since one of these is the A. one red ace is missing. Therefore, West knows 6 is the limit. If East had shown only 1 ace in reply to 4NT, West would stop in 5, After 4. West needed to find East with the 3 missing aces in order to bid the grand slam. WHEN TO STOP CUE BIDDING Once cue bidding has begun, it continues until one partner or the other has sufficient knowledge to place the contract. If you know that 6 is a good chance but 7 is impossible, stop the cue bidding and just bid 6. If there is still a chance for 7, keep cue bidding. Persist with cue bidding only if you need more information. CUE BIDDING BY INFERENCE A 1NT opener or a 2NT bidder can make a cue bid without express trump agreement. 1NT: 3 No support for partner: Rebid 3NT,? With support for partner: 2NT: 3 (a) 4 = Weak raise. Minimum hand. 16

17 ? (b) 4 / 4 /4 = Cue. Strong raise. Maxmimum values, good spade support, ace in suit bid. 2NT: 3, 3 = Heart support and ace of spaces 2NT: 3, 4 = Heart support, A but no A 1NT: 3, 4 = Spade support, A but no A Where a change of suit is forcing, a jump-shift to the 4-level can be used as a cue, agreeing partner s suit by West would have been forcing. 4 = Good support for hearts, the values to raise to at least 4 and the ace of clubs. LOCATING THE TRUMP HONOURS The 5NT Trump Asking Bid: After cue bidding has commenced, a bid of 5NT (without using 4NT first), asks partner for the A, K, and Q of trumps. The 5NT Trump Ask should be used only if there are no losers outside the trump suit and a grand slam is possible. Replies to 5NT: No top trump: Bid 6 of your trump suit. 3 top trumps: Bid 7. 1 top trump: Bid 6 (6 if clubs are trumps) 2 top trumps: Bid 6 (but bid 6 if diamonds are trumps) 17

18 ROMAN KEY CARD BLACKWOOD If 4NT is available and convenient, Roman Key Card Blackwood can be used to locate trump honours. The basic replies to Roman Key Card Blackwood are: 5 = 0 or 3 key cards 5 = 1 or 4 key cards Roman 5 = 2 key cards, no queen of trumps 5 = 2 key cards plus the queen of trumps (The key cards are the 4 aces plus he trump king.) RAISING TO 5-MAJOR If the bidding has reached 4 /4 (the agreed major), raising to 5 /5 says, Bid 6 with strong trumps. WHEN TO CUE, WHEN TO BLACKWOOD YOU SHOULD CUE BID If you hold a void. 2. If you hold a non-trump suit in which you do not have the ace, king or singleton. 3. If you need to discover whether partner holds a specific king. 4. If you need to or hope to find third round control in a critical side suit 18

19 5. If the small slam or the grand slam requires a key singleton or a key void in partner s hand. YOU SHOULD BLACKWOOD 4NT If the problem is the number of aces held, not their location, or the number of kings held and not their location. 2. If you can tell that you cannot discover what you need to know by cue bidding. On most slam going hands, the cue bidding approach is superior to asking for aces with Blackwood 4NT. 3. If you have slam potential but no possible cue bid. 4. If you can tell that you cannot discover what you need to know by cue bidding. On most slam-going hands, the cue bidding approach is superior to asking for aces with Blackwood 4NT. 19

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