Advanced Bridge


Lesson 11




     A Cuebid; i.e., a bid of a suit previously bid by the opponents, can mean different things at different times.  They come in all shapes and sizes, denominations and bidding levels.  A cuebid must always be considered within the framework of the bidding in which it takes place.  It is, always, a forcing bid, and is usually in a suit in which the bidder does not wish to play, unless it is a natural bid as illustrated in the four examples listed in Section # 8., herein.  Cuebids are sometimes alertable, but usually not.  Cuebids can:


a)      show a Control for Slam Purposes

b)      show a Two-suited Hand (Michaels)

c)      show a Strong (Limit Raise or Better) in Partner’s Bid Suit

d)      create a Force to Game

e)      create a Force for One More Round

f)       ask for a Stopper

g)      evidence a Stopper

h)      Long-(Help-)suit and Short-suit Game Tries (Not herein discussed)


1. Cuebids By the Opening Bidder



     A. Cuebids Above or At Game Level – The level at which any cuebid is made is a vital consideration.  At, or above the level of game, there can be no doubt that such a bid is a slam try.   A cuebid used under these circumstances is also sometimes called a Control Bid in that it evidences First Round Control of the opponent’s bid suit.   After a Major suit agreement at the 3-Level or higher, or a Minor suit agreement at the 4-Level or higher, new suits are slam-oriented cuebids showing first round control.  Such bids are not alertable.


                             West       North       East       South


                2H        3H” (Limit Raise or Better in Support of Spades)       

                                      Pass       “4H”


     South has already committed the partnership to playing in at least a game level in Spades, so his/her bid of “4H” must, indeed, be a slam attempt.  In such circumstances, a cuebid here guarantees first round control of the Heart Suit (either an Ace or a void) and asks partner to proclaim his/her next cheapest first round control.  Absent any, partner then rebids the agree-upon suit, Spades in this instance. 

                             North     East     South     West


                              1D       Pass      4D       Pass

                             “4S” (A slam-oriented cuebid)        


- 28 -                                        



     B. Cuebids Below Game Level are much less precise.  Under such conditions, a cuebid may or may not show slam ambitions, and the cue-bidder may, or may not, have a control in the cuebid suit.  Such bids are not alertable. 


               West       North       East       South


                1H         1S         Pass       “2H”



     All North can tell at this stage is that South has an enormous hand and wants to be in at least a game-level contract.  Indeed, hypothetically, if South liked Spades and wanted to be in a Spade contract below game, South could have made a competitive bid of 2S, or a one-trick-better-than-opening bid of 3S.   Here, however, South is either exploring for a contract higher than game in Spades (with holdings as in Example {a}), or is looking for a Heart stopper for a 3NT game (as with a holding as in Example {b}).



              {a}    AQ74                   {b}     A5

                     64                             75

                     A6                             AJ5

                     AKJ54                          AKQJ86



     North must make the most helpful bid he/she can conjure.  If holding a Heart stopper, North must bid NT.    In example {a} it would have been wrong for South to go immediately to 4S.    South plans, however, to bid 4S on his/her next bid whatever the response from partner.  A delayed or slow arrival to game always signifies a stronger hand than does a fast arrival.  In {a} if North signifies a Heart stopper by bidding NT, then South will be interested in Slam.  Absent a Heart stopper 4S is the optimum contract.  In {b} South is seeking a Heart stopper for a 3NT contract else, absent one, a 5-Club contract appears to be the preferred game.



     The use of a cuebid to seek a stopper (sometimes referred to as a Western Cuebid) is quite common.  South holds the following hand:

                                    West       North       East       South

  86                                                                                                               1C

  J5                                 2S         3H         Pass       “3S”


  AKQ864        The only way for South to determine if a 3NT contract be viable, would be

                        To ascertain whether North were to have, or not have, a Spade stopper.  If

                        South had had a Spade stopper himself/herself, he/she could have simply bid

                        3NT directly.







- 29 -                                        

2. Cuebids By the Responder


     A. Cuebids by Responder in a Competitive Auction Scenario; i.e., where there is overcall interference by the Direct Seat Opponent signifies support for partner’s suit and guarantees a limit raise (11-12 HCP’s or its equivalent; i.e., 8 Losers or fewer) or better in terms of point count.  There is no upper limit to the strength of the cuebid when used under these conditions, and such bids are not alertable.  


                West       North       East       South


                1S         “2S”


     Notice here that 2H, 3H, and 4H bids were also available.  The consensus, however, in these circumstances, seems to favor a 2H bid to be constructive (7-10 HCP’s; i.e., 9 Losers) – and 3H or 4H bids to be pre-emptive (0-6 HCP’s) holding four (4) and five (5) pieces of Hearts respectively.  The cuebid thus becomes an invitational or better holding with trump support for opener while supporting directly in opener’s suit is either competitive or pre-emptive.



     B. A Double Jump Shift (“Splinter Bid”) guarantees (1) support for Partner’s last-named suit, (2) opening count or better, (3) and either a singleton (Not a singleton Ace) or a void in the Suit in which the jump was made.  Such unusual jumps guarantee game and suggest the possibility for a slam.  (Note: Such bids can be made by either Responder or Opening Bidder.  Splinter bids are alertable.


          West       North       East       South

           1H         Pass       “4D”        Pass  (Here, East shows support

                                                   for Hearts, 13 or more

                                                 HCP’s, and a singleton or

                                              void in Diamonds.)



          West       North       East       South

           1H         Pass        1S         Pass  (Here, West shows support

          “4C”                                     for Spades, 20 or more

                                                 HCP’s, and a singleton or

                                               Void in Clubs.)



     C. “Fourth-suit Forcing” – A bid by Responder of the only unbid suit at Responder’s second turn, such bid being at the two-level or above, is an artificial force to game.  Such bids are alertable.  (Note: At the one-level, The “Up-The-Ladder” Principle applies and does not constitute a “fourth-suit forcing” scenario. Example: 1C, 1D, 1H, 1S)


                           West       North       East       South

                            1H         Pass        2C         Pass

                            2D         Pass       “2S” (Fourth-suit Force)


     East is clearly looking for a Spade-stopper.  He/she would have bid NT himself/herself if a Spade-stopper was present in this otherwise obvious misfit hand.  

- 30 -                                        

3. Cuebids By an Overcaller



     Charles Goren originally conceived that an immediate cuebid overcall, in the second seat relative to opener’s bid; i.e., 2C/1C, 2D/1D, 2H/1H, or 2S/1S was the equivalent of an opening forcing bid, guaranteeing a game.  Today, such cuebids are two-suited take-outs commonly known as Michaels Cuebid.  Such bids are not alertable.



     A. Cuebids of Opener’s suit used in either the Direct or Balancing seat to signify a two-suiter with either 0-10 HCP’s or 16+ HCP’s.   The distribution is usually 5-5 or better in the two suits held.


   West     North                         West       North


    1C      “2C” (Hearts & Spades)         1D         “2D” (Hearts & Spades)



   West     North                         West       North


    1H      “2H” (Spades & Minor)          1S         “2S” (Hearts & Minor)





     B. Leaping Michaels. – A special type of Michaels bid made after an opponent’s opening weak 2-bid in a Major suit (Hearts or Spades).  A jump to four (4) of a Minor suit under such circumstances shows the other Major suit and the bid Minor (probably 5-5 or better) with Game values.  There bids are alertable.



    West     North                          West      North


     2H      “4D” (Spades & Diamonds)        1S        “4C” (Hearts & Clubs)





4. Cuebids By the Responder to an Overcaller



     The only forcing bid that a Responder to an overcaller can make is a cuebid of the opponent’s bid suit.  Such a cuebid shows primary support for partner’s bid suit and an interest in game (a limit raise or better in HCP’s).  Such bids are not alertable.


.               West       North       East       South


                1S         Pass       “2H” (Limit raise or Better in support

                                                of Spades)




- 31 -    

      When the opposition has bid two suits, however, and their first bid suit is a Minor, then a cuebid of their Minor suit is natural and a cuebid of their second bid suit a cuebid with support for partner’s suit, as before. 


.               West       North       East       South

                                                                       1C or 1D

                1H         1S         “2S” (Limit raise or Better in support

                                                of Hearts)



                West       North       East       South


                1H         1S         “2C” (A natural overcall with 10 or

                                            more HCP’s and a 6-card or

                                            better Club suit)



                West       North       East       South


                1H         1S         “2D” (A natural overcall with 10 or

                                            more HCP’s and a 6-card or

                                            better Diamond suit)





5. Cuebids in Response to Partner’s Take-out Double



          A jump response to partner’s take-out double evidences a good hand with 10 HCP’s or more.  Such jump responses, however, although a positive and encouraging response, is not forcing to game.  Indeed it is not even forcing for one round.  The doubler is invited to move towards game if he/she has extra strength, but much of the time, he/she will pass the jump.  Bids stronger than such jump responses are, therefore, needed.   A cuebid of the opponent’s bid suit initiates such encouragement.  Such bids are alertable.


                                                       West       North       East       South


   South Holds:                    1H         Dbl.       Pass        “2H”



      XXX     (With this hand worth 15 points, South is too strong for a

      AQJXX     jump to 2S, or to 3D, for, indeed, the doubler might pass.

      X         South desires to be in game, but where?   The way to find

                Out is to cuebid.   If doubler answers 2S, South will jump

                to 4S.   If he/she answers 3C, South can now bid 3D without

                fear of being passed there, for South will have described a

                hand too strong for an immediate jump.





- 32 -                                        

6. Cuebids as Part of the Lebensohl Convention



     A cuebid of the opponents suit with which they interfered over partner’s opening bid of 1NT, is used as a game-forcing Stayman bid evidencing a 4-card Major, 11+ HCP’s, but without a stopper in the opponent’s suit. (See Lesson on The Lebensohl Convention – Other Cuebids exist within the Lebensohl Convention.)  All Lebensohl cuebids are alertable.


                                West       North       East       South



                                   1NT        2H         “3H” (4 Spades, 11+HCP’s but NO Heart  







7. Cuebids on the Way Towards 3NT When:



     A. The Opponents have bid only One Suit:  Under this circumstance, such a Cuebid is an ASKING BID, inquiring whether or not partner has a stopper in the opponent’s bid suit enabling the partnership to afford a 3NT final contract.  Such bids are not alertable.


                                   West       North       East       South


                                     1D          1H         2D         Pass

           “2H” (ASKING East for a Heart Stopper on the way to 3NT.   A 3D

                   Response by East would deny a Heart Stopper.  A NT bid

                   By East would proclaim a Heart Stopper.





     B. The Opponents have bid two Suits:  Under this circumstance, such a Cuebid is a TELLING BID, proclaiming a stopper in the bid suit of the opponents and inquiring whether or not partner has a stopper in the opponent’s other bid suit thereby enabling the partnership to afford a 3NT final contract.  Such bids are not alertable. 


                                   West       North       East       South


                                     1C          1H         2C          2D

           “3D” (TELLING East that West has a Diamond Stopper, and asks for

                  a Heart stopper to enable a NT contract.  If East bids 3C

                  he/she would, in effect, deny a Heart Stopper.)


     When the opponents have bid one suit, a cuebid asks, when they have bid two suits, a cuebid tells.



- 33 -                                        

8. Natural Cuebids


     There are four specific situations in which cuebids are natural; i.e., evidencing an interest in the particular suit, or telling of a stopper in the new suit which has been bid.  None of these circumstances require an alert since all of the following bidding scenarios are natural.


     1. When the Opponents have Bid Two Suits:


                West       North       East       South                                                                 

                1C         Pass         1S         2C (A Natural Overcall

                                                       with 6 or more Clubs)




     2. When a Player has Passed and then Bids the Opponent’s Suit:



                West       North       East       South                                                                 

                 1D        Pass         1H        Pass

                 1S         2D (A Natural Overcall with 6 or more Diamonds)




     3. A Jump Minor Suit Cuebid:   Because a Minor suit cuebid is a Michaels Cuebid as previously mentioned, and because an opening bid of a Club or a Diamond by the opponents can, in reality, be as few as three (3) pieces in the bid Minor suit, it is important for a would-be overcaller to be able to evidence a natural Minor suit overcall with the requisite HCP’s and a 6-card or better Minor suit holding.  A jump to three of the Minor is used for that purpose, and is NOT a Michaels Cuebid, but rather a natural Minor suit overcall.


                West       North       East       South


                 1D          3D (A natural 6-card Diamond suit with a good

                                    11+ or more HCP’s)         




                West       North       East       South


                Pass       Pass         1C          3C (A natural 6-card

                                                         Club suit with near

                                                         Opening count or                 

             ---------------------------------------------------------                better)


     4. A new suit mentioned after a Minor suit Agreement at the 2- or 3-level.   Such bids offer a stopper in the bid suit and ask for a stopper in the unbid Major(s) for a possible 3NT final contract.

                West       North       East       South                                                                 

                 1D        Pass         3D        Pass

                 3H (Claiming a Heart stopper, requesting a Spade stopper in 

      order to finalize a make able 3NT contract.  Absent one, East bids 4D.



- 34 -