Q109xxxxAKJxxx and you're playing with me and we
have agreed to play limit raises with no other discussions. It goes by us only 1
(limit raise) - 4. What would you
expect me to have for my 4? If
you were playing with your clone, what would you expect your clone to have?
There are three ways to play 4.
Shortness, length or shows a diamond control and denies a club control. It would
be nice to know which method your partner is using. Since very little has been said
about this subject, it’s usually a guess what partner has. What you shouldn’t do
is to look at your hand to try to tell what partner has.
I don’t like the third method where you don’t know what KQxx is worth. It’s golden
opposite length but worth very little opposite shortness. I think some experts were
persuaded looking at the AK of diamonds. What I should have done is to reverse the
minors. Have partner bid 4
and have you hold
QJ9xQJxxxKQxx. You can make 7
AKxxxAxx-AJxxx but can be held to 4
AKxxxAKxxxxxA. I have always played that unless a bid specifically
shows shortness, it shows length. 1
shows length in hearts and therefore shortness in clubs.
- 2, 3
shows length. The way you show shortness is an unusual jump. These are general principles
and if you
come to a specific sequence that hasn’t been discussed, you try to apply the general principle. I can’t
understand how partner is going to work out what
to do if you can have either length or shortness.
Most experts play 4
as a help suit slam try.
is diamond help-suit slam try. I would bid 5
over it with this hand.
---Whether playing with you or my clone, partner's bid
is more of a need help slam try than a cue bid. He suggests something like
A with another x in clubs or hearts. I
could not have a better hand, so we make at least a small slam with any of the above.
Playing with you, Steve, I would bid 6
, confident that you would play me for the
hand I have or something a little worse, perhaps
my clone, I would bid 5NT, which says, "I'd like to bid seven, but I am not allowed
to bid more than six," and guarantees a fit for diamonds. This is what I call, "an
impossible NT bid," where a limited hand jumps to 4NT or 5NT to show an incredibly
good hand that would like to bid one level higher than permitted.
---Playing with Edgar Kaplan, (I do not have enough
experience with you) I would expect this to be an "interest" bid, focusing my attention
on diamonds for slam purposes. He might hold something like
my magnificent diamonds I would raise to 6
. Playing with me I would expect a diamond
control and no club control in a serious slam try. For example:
Since I have no club control, I would sign off in 4
---Very interesting problem. Normally, I'd play
lowest control bids in a cue-bidding sequence. However, a case can
be made for 4
being a second suit, something like
a help-suit slam try. Playing
this treatment, perhaps 3NT should not be an offer to play but 'rolling' and beginning
a cue-bidding sequence. Can't be 'serious' as responder is already limited. Playing
lowest controlled suit, you'd have to have something like
which is hardly descriptive, but with that agreement 4
by responder is clear; 4
in addition to a heart control, would also promise a club control as opener has
denied one. Absent all that, I'd expect you to have the first hand and would bid 5
, also my most descriptive call - all my stuff in your suits and a suitable hand
for slam. If you had the second hand, we'd need to agree on one or the other, probably
after going minus in slam!
---I’d expect you to have Diamonds! My clone would have
I wonder who would win an argument if one played with one’s clone.
---It is certainly arguable that it is a second-suit-slam
try. With my partners I play that a relay asks for a singleton so if you are not
looking for a singleton in partner's hand I would think a second suit, it certainly
gives me something to discuss with partners.
---Your hand is touching on an important part of high-level
bidding. Most of the time, after a trump suit is agreed on (and understood to be
by both partners), further bidding is based primarily on what in the modern bridge
world is now called control bidding. After all, since all variations of Blackwood
are only used (100%) to keep from bidding a small slam with more than one cashable
ace (or in KCB the king of trumps) outstanding and, of course, a grand slam with
no cashable ace (or in KCB the king of trumps) outstanding, then the only other
possible slam bidding device is to show side length in one particular suit so that
partner can judge his hand accordingly.
I think your question has uncovered a high-level truth. It might read, similar to
after a Jacoby jump raise to a one-of-a-major opening and then a jump response to
four-of-an-unbid suit by opener to show a side five-card suit. Perhaps this new
innovation could read: "When the known stronger hand begins his (and the partnerships)
first cue bid at the four-level or higher it becomes a side suit, not a control
bid, and partner then evaluates his holding in that suit, rather than his own side
controls and/or his trump holding to determine slam interest". If so in this hand,
he has an easy raise to five or six diamonds to show a great holding in that suit
and enlighten partner to where his side values lie. Incorporate it, patent it and
call it Robinson, but I really like it. Obviously I have slipped behind the times
in the development of expert slam bidding updates. Thanks for reminding me that
it is alive and well.
---The first cue bid should be length, to help partner
evaluate. You need helpers in your suit(s) and side aces. The value of side kings
is uncertain. Side queens are marginal at best. In the given auction you might have
Ax, which makes 6
(on 3-2 diamonds) but not 6
would raise to 5
and let you drive it in yourself if you have that hand. In my style the one thing
you will NOT have is a void (or a singleton), so my AK must be golden cards.
“American style” cue bidding is quite different from “European style”. They tend
to cue bid up-the-line indiscriminately, both shortness and length, and both first
and second round controls. That style can be effective in pinpointing a missing
control early enough to stop in game. If partner skips a control, you don’t cooperate
unless you have that control, regardless of how good your hand looks. Our style
is better for overall evaluation and for uncovering secondary fits, as in your example.
---I would expect you (or my clone) to have a hand where
secondary diamond values in my hand should be upgraded. A typical hand might be:
KQx. If partner has such a hand, on a scale of one to ten my hand
is a ten. Thus, I would drive to a slam via RKC. At the end I would bid 6
since a potential 4-4 diamond fit might be better depending upon partner's
shape and cards in hearts and clubs. He should be well placed to make that determination.
call definitely does not show a singleton or a void.
A or some such thing, perhaps a
5-5 with a similar hand. Clearly you want me to focus on my diamonds, otherwise
you would have bid 4
... looking for a cuebid, or an eventual last train. On the
hand you've given me I have a clear slam drive.
---Most of the time that you can logically bid a slam
after a one bid and a limit raise is when opener is has distributional value and
the hands fit well. In order to explore the quality of the fit, opener needs ways
to show two basic hand types. One is a two-suiter (5-4, 5-5, 6-4, 6-5, etc) where
you want partner to look at the quality of the fit in the two suits. The other is
a one suited hand with shortness somewhere to get partner to focus on the fit in
both of the other suits. We use a one step relay to show the shortness and bid immediately
to show the second suit. (This can be reversed). So, playing with Richard Freeman,
my partner would be showing diamonds as his second suit. Obviously, I have a huge
hand if this is what he has, and I would bid so as to insure getting to slam and
try to explore a grand. 7
needs 3-2 trumps opposite
A, and he could
have a better hand. If he showed a one-suiter with shortness in diamonds, I would
treat my hand as poor and bid only 4
. By the way, this bidding method does not
deal with what to do with a balanced hand that might make slam opposite a limit-raise.
Cue bidding with such hands is not such a great way to proceed and these hands will
be less frequent than the distributional ones. We would show such a hand by bidding
I would assume that you had a side suit, without an agreement. Based on that, you
should drive to slam. However, since I am not certain, a wiggle could be to bid
and then pass 5
and bid 6
---No discussion? My feeling is that to try for a slam
after a limit-raise you need a singleton or 5-5. Without discussion, I would assume
5-5 and raise to 5
(a safety bid). I should raise to 6
My clone would have a
singleton diamond (on frequency) and I would return to 4
---I would suspect a Zia psych such as
However, if partner were an honest citizen he would have
You will not get very far if you don’t trust your partner. If 4
promises the ace
or king, then partner is psyching, however most experts don’t have that specific
---My answer is the same to both: I expect controls
up the line on the four-level (ace or king, not shortness) after a limit raise,
with the next higher suit of the limit- raise asking for shortness. So I couldn't
hold AKJx opposite partner's 4
would deny club control and request a heart
cuebid, only with club control:
If you’re bidding controls up the line and 4
denies a club control, then 4
promise a club control and say nothing about hearts. If you knew you were off a
club control you would signoff no matter how strong your hand was.
---I would not cue bid a short suit as my initial
slam try as partner is going to like a card there so my clone has
or better. Actually I think that is what you should have, so I will give you 6
I expect we are off a club control but if you have both club and heart control you
might be able to bid seven.
--- I believe the practice among almost all experts
is to avoid initial cue bids with void suits and singletons. It would help to know
my partner's style, but I would treat 4
a bluff. I would expect you to hold a
hand with two or three low diamonds, and you'd be trying to discourage a diamond
lead against an eventual slam. That is probably what I would have since no other
interpretation makes sense.
If the opponents have bid a suit, then a cue bid in that suit could easily be shortness.
---Without the agreement that 3NT should be for something
(I like a one-suited type slam try). Then I would imagine that new suits should
be as natural as possible. Cue bidding shortness just makes it impossible for partner
to determine what is going on unless that is your agreement. I would expect something
Presumable most experts without
discussion would assume something like this but that is my opinion.
---I don't think we're on the same wavelength. 4
is either natural or a high-card cue bid. If it's natural you must hold something
That's unlikely but possible. My limit raises occasionally
are made with three trumps and a singleton, so it's important to be able to play
slam in another suit.
---This is a tricky question. Playing 3NT as non-serious
or serious slam try comes into play as it would force a 4
cue bid out of partner--- If playing those methods I would play 4
as a second suit otherwise it would deny a club control. Partner could have
A. The first hand is a make five hand,
the second is a make seven hand
--- My feeling is that my partner can have a stiff
or can have a diamond suit by agreement. Since I do not care which treatment is
in effect I can only hope that my partner and I have discussed this situation. I
will have agreed to partner’s opinion. It is very useful to have had this conversation.
If we have not had this discussion, I vote for a stiff, which is my guess, which
is what I think many players would have. Sorry for the waffle. PS. I seem to remember
that you prefer it to be a natural ‘cue bid’ showing a weak second suit. If so,
what was your definition of this suit?
K2 a possible hand?
I don’t think I have ever discussed this situation in print before.
---Looking at my diamond holding, partner on this hand
is showing a second suit, quite possibly five cards long. Without seeing my hand,
I would take it either as a second suit or as the Ace of Diamonds. It would NOT
be a void, because partner is allowed to cue bid the king of diamonds. So on this
hand I would bid 6
. That should
show the AK of diamonds.
---On such an auction, I would assume that 4
showed a first- or second-round control of diamonds and denied any such control
in clubs. Mind you, it seems clear from my hand that partner is likely to have a
different understanding. When the bidding starts 1
, the only hand type that can
consider a slam opposite a single raise is a massive two-suiter. So, I would then
assume that 4
showed the other half of the two-suiter.
In the Bridge World's lexicon, that 4
-bid is perhaps a control-bid; it is not a cue-bid, which is a bid in a suit that the opponents have bid or shown. The Bridge World avoids that terminology, as, e.g., 1
, as usually treated, is also "a limit raise" with the usual meaning of the words. For 3
, we use "game-invitational raise."
Here I would need to guess. A lot of players use control-bidding where I would be showing a second suit. I would expect my clone to have Diamonds. I'd bid six diamonds--maximum values, all in spades and diamonds, four diamonds. I'm not sure how I'd show five diamonds without special discussion, maybe five notrump.
---I would expect that my holding in your cue bid
suit should be powerful. Without any discussion, I would not expect any shortness,
unless it was a jump. It would seem that this hand would be worth a jump to 6
showing two top honors.
---I would expect that 4
was a help suit slam try,
Ax, or better and I would be trying for 7
. I would play 3NT asks shortness,
but these days people play 1
- 3NT is a 10-12 splinter which would leave 1
- 3NT available to ask for a feature like my diamonds.
The following experts bid controls up the line. There is a big difference between
a singleton and Axxx.
---Such bids would be controls -- not second suits.
Given my diamond holding, 4
would be a void or singleton. It would also deny a club control. Given that there
is slam interest, then opener has something like:
xx. Partner needs a club control, for starters.
---This is an interesting problem given my massive diamond
holding. When partner cue bids, he normally has a control in the suit in the form
of an Ace or King but could be shortness. Probably fishing for a return cue bid
in the next ranking suit. Since I cannot comply, I will leave my values on the shelf
and not venture to the five-level.
---Maybe this was a commercial for short-suit slam tries.
One could use 3NT by opener to suggest slam interest with 6322 or 5422, which is
quite rare opposite a limit-raise.
---Finally an easy problem for me to answer. My partner
would have a slam try with no club control a typical hand would be
Qx. Since I have no club control, I would not cooperate.
This is a style of cue bidding that I like to play.
So you would bid 4
AKxxxAQxxAxxx and partner would know what to do
---This is by far the easiest problem you have ever asked.
is slam try cue bid and DENIES a club control. Responder may not sign off with a
club control. I expect something like
xx. If I was playing with my clone (or my regular
partners), I would use 3NT as a demand cue bid and hope to hear partner cue bid
clubs. That would give us a little more space to sort things out on the four-level.
---Based on my AK, opener has shortness. I play and
teach: After a limit raise, "forget about slam unless you have a short suit. Therefore,
I play that all control bids here are zero or one card in that suit.
If both partners are on the same wavelength I have no problem playing the first
cue bid as shortness. What I don’t like is playing that it shows a control, which
could be shortness or could be length.
---I would expect it to be a cue bid without a club
stopper but it doesn't make sense looking at my hand.
---Without discussion partner has a void or singleton
---I would expect a diamond control and no club control,
A hand such as
xx. Since I have no club control, I would sign off in 4
---I would take it as a cue bid, looking for club
The following interpretation is not acceptable. How is partner supposed to evaluate
KQxx if you could have the Ace or shortness? If partner has QJxx, that is good opposite
length but worthless opposite shortness.
---Ace, king or shortage. With my older partnerships,
I preferred to use only first round control bidding but that is apparently too old-fashioned
these days so I have moved to second round acceptable.
---No diamonds, no first round club control, probably
big two-suiter or could be 5-4-4.
---Diamond shortness with you and my clone, more likely
a void than a stiff.
---I would expect that to be a slam try showing some
kind of control and since my mother didn't raise no dummies, I would know that it
was not the ace. A void does not enhance my holding. I would not expect it to be
a second suit or some kind of help-suit slam-try because my clone would know I'm
not smart enough to figure that out without discussion. Since we never agreed to
play exclusion, he may be preparing to bid Blackwood by taking diamonds out of play.
Say he held
KQJ or something similar. Or
A --a grand slam could be on if we
take diamonds out of the picture. Meanwhile, if my diamonds were hearts, I would
The problem is that if you had the AK of clubs, you would expect your partner or
clone to have the ace of diamonds.
A cue bid in an opponent’s suit can be shortness. In other auctions it’s important
for partner to know how his hand fits with yours. Help suit slam tries, such as
in this problem, gives partner the ability to judge the fit. The majority of the
experts as well as this author agree with this understanding.