Cue Bidding to Slam
What does a cue bid mean? The Encyclopaedia of Bridge defines it as: “A forcing bid in a suit in which the bidder cannot wish to play” Every person at the table – opener, responder, overcaller, and their partner - is entitled to make a cue bid, but the most popular ones are those when you're interested in slam.
These cue bids are about controls - i.e. cards you hold that will prevent the opponents taking too many tricks in a suit. An ace is a first-round control as it will win the first round of a suit led. A void is a first round control in trumps too, because you can trump the lead. A king is a second–round control. The opponents might win the ace, but the king will stop them on the second round. In trumps, a singleton is the same as a king – a second-round control.
To bid a small slam, the partnership needs first-round control in three suits, and at least second-round control in the fourth. To bid a grand slam, the partnership needs first-round control in all four suits.
Blackwood (4NT) will help the partnership find how many aces, but not which aces. It will keep you out of slam when too many aces are missing. The time to avoid Blackwood is when you hold
(1) Two or more cards in an unbid suit with no ace or king
(2) A void
Now you need to know which aces or voids your side holds. Blackwood won't tell you this, and a cue-bid will...In turn, partner will show a control too, and the bidding continues back and forth until there’s enough information to either bid the slam, use Blackwood or realise there are not enough controls for slam, and stop bidding at the five-level.
When is it a cuebid and when is it simply a new suit?
When your partnership has found a fit, and is committed to game, a new suit (out of the blue) is a cuebid, showing interest in slam. With a choice of cuebids, make the most economical (cheapest) cuebid first.
eg 1♠ p 3♠ p 4♦ This would be a cue bidding showing first round control of diamonds and denying a control in clubs, and interested in a spade slam.
The partnership needs a way to stop below slam with no more controls to show, so the trump suit is not included in the cue bidding process. A return to the trump suit says “I have no more to show”. It doesn’t necessarily end the auction, but it allows the partnership to stop in game. That’s why we can then use Blackwood to find out about controls in the trump suit.
Here are some tips about the cue –bidding process: Once the trump suit has been clearly agreed and the auction is game forcing, the bid of a new suit is a cue bid.
- Both first and second-round controls can be shown.(Show aces/voids first, and Kings/singletons next)
- With a choice of controls to show, start at the lowest ranked suit, leaving the maximum amount of room
- Controls are not shown in the trump suit; to bid the trump suit is the way to stop the cue-bidding sequence
- Use Blackwood.when you need to know about the trump suit.
Looking for more information? These books will help you learn the basic skills required to play bridge.
Test your knowledge
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