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Cue Bids

What percentage of you / your club members play Cue Bids?  By Cue bid I don't mean Michaels and the like I mean straight forward Cue Bids showing first and second round controls after a suit has been agreed.

Why do I ask?  Recently I have spent some time playing on line and discussing issues on a Bridge Forum.  I have had remarks like "how could you possibly hope to bid slam without playing Cue Bids" and "Nobody plays Gerber and Blackwood (except perhaps RKCB) anymore."   I believe members of my Club are an average group and I only know 2 pairs who play Cue bids (less than 8%). 


  • edited January 2015
    How do you know how many people play cue bids? They come up only on potential slam hands, ie relatively infrequently. I have no idea how many people at my club play cue bids, but I suspect most do.

    Gerber and regular Blackwood are also widely played, but again they hardly ever come up. Gerber applies only over a 1NT or 2NT opening bid, and regular Blackwood is generally used only over an opening bid of one of a suit. As these bids preclude exploration of other strains or an exchange of information about the partnership assets, their use is very infrequent.
  • I guess that it depends on the level of club, but yes, I would expect most players to use some form of cue bid. The question is which style of cue bidding they use - most cue bid first round controls before second round controls, but increasingly pairs bid controls up the line (first or second round).

    All pairs will use some form of Blackwood, most will use RKC Blackwood. Gerber is becoming obsolete, I haven't come across a Gerber bid for a long time.

    Potential slam hands are not that infrequent, I would expect us to be exploring slam a couple of times on a typical evening and bidding at least one slam.
  • edited January 2015

    Help me Cue Bid this hand . . . . show me the bids step by step (there are no interference bids and no vulnerability) (Playing standard modern Acol 4cm wknt)

    North (13hcp)                        South (17hcp)

    S   A Q x x x                           K J x

    H   K x x                                  x x

    D   x x x                                        A K Q J x  

    C   A x                                           K x

  • It depends on your cue-bid style. If you are happy to cue bid first or second round controls then:

    1S (1) - 2D (2)

    2S (3) - 4C (4)

    4H (5) - 4NT (6)

    5S (7) - 6S (8)


    (1) A reasonable alternative is to open 1NT with a balanced hand (even with five spades).

    (2) I don't like to jump in diamonds without a six-card suit (but this suit is so good that 3D would not be silly).

    (3) Five-card suit minimum opening.

    (4) Cue bid (first or second round control) in clubs. [If you play this as a splinter bid you will need to bid 3C first].

    (5) Cue bid (first or second round control) in hearts. Note that this also denies first or second round control in diamonds since this suit has been skipped.

    (6) 4NT= Roman Key Card Blackwood. It also suggests a control in diamonds!

    (7) Two key cards + the Q of spades.

    (8) Missing one key card, no need to look further.

    If you prefer to bid first round controls before second round controls then it is hard to bid. My best attempt is:

    1S (1) - 2D (2)

    2S (3) - 3C (9)

    3NT (10) - 4S (11)

    5C (12) - 5D (13)

    6S (14)


    (9) I don't like this bid, but 4D is natural and North needs to make a forcing bid before agreeing Spades.

    (10) To play - showing a heart stop.

    (11) Shows a hand too strong to bid 4S on the last round.

    (12) North now knows that South is looking for a slam and shows a first round control (ace or void) in diamonds. 4NT would be a reasonable alternative.

    (13) First round control in Diamonds.

    (14) Slam looks reasonable.

  • Thanks Tram

    I am learning Cue Bids and it's a bit of a moving target when there are different options e.g. I didn't know you could bid second round controls before first round controls.

    From my reading and understand so far I have formed the view that:

    1.  There must first be an agreement on fit (although I don't know if that needs to be seen on the table).

    2.  There must then be some means of communicating strength or indicating slam interest, how do you do that?

    On the hand in question (presuming first round controls must be bid first) after a natural opening of 1S South's only natural bid is S or D.  If South bids D, how does he then later bid them as a Cue bid.   If he bids S does he not risk partner passing?

    Tram - in your post South bids 2D, North bids 2S and south bids 3C - what does 3C mean?

  • The method where you cue bid either first or second round controls is often called Italian Cue Bids. This style of cue bidding is becoming increasingly adopted.
    Yes, you need to agree a fit. This can be explicitly agreed (1C,1S; 3S,4D spades have been raised and 4D is a cue bid). The fit can also be agreed by inference (1S,2D; 3S,4C opener shows a good quality long suit by his jump rebid, a natural 4C is not particularly useful, but a 4C cue bid is! It will take some practice and partnership understanding to recognise these types of cue bid).
    Yes you need to indicate strength. Controls are only one requirement of a successful slam. Often a cue bid will be used to suggest additional values.
    3C was "natural". As I said, I don't like it, but it creates a game forcing situation and keeps the auction going.
  • edited January 2015

    Thank you Tram for bidding this hand for me and the explanation.  Even with my limited knowledge of Cue bids I understand this is a difficult hand to bid and it may be that some hands present greater difficulties for one bidding system over another.  I have been convinced by others that to improve my game I need to learn and use Cue bids (and in fact my initial question here suggests that most other use Cue Bids).  So, at the risk of becoming an irritant I would like to pursue the question . . .

    On the hand in question South has the hand which give rise to interest in a slam.  Unless South bids something to convey strength and slam interest, North has no reason to go looking for a slam (Cue bid).  It seems to me (and I may be wrong) that to get North to start the Cue bidding process somehow South has to communicate to North that the suit is agreed and that South has slam points or shape.  How is this done?

  • I suggest that you need to read some books covering the topic of slam bidding. Many general books on bidding will have chapters on slam bidding and all but the most basic will cover cue bidding as one tool for slam bidding. There are also a number of books aimed specifically at slam bidding - I remember reading "Slam Bidding for You" by Andrew Kambites, but that was many years ago and I have no idea if it is still in print.

    There are many ways to indicate a strong hand depending on your methods including Strong Two Openings, Jump Shifts, Reversing, Fourth Suit Forcing, Splinters, Jacoby ... the list is almost endless!

    There is a subtle difference between the strategy for using Blackwood and that for cue bidding. When you use Blackwood (whichever style) you need to find out FIRST whether the combined values are sufficient to take 12 tricks. The Blackwood bidder takes control and announces to partner that the values are present for a slam and all that is left to do is check that there are not two fast winners.

    Cue bids are more collaborative, you do not take control when you make a cue bid but you do start a discussion with partner as to whether a slam is possible. A cue bid below game indicates that the values for slam MIGHT be present as well as indicating the control. This means that a cue bid is one further way of indicating strength.

  • "Slam Bidding for You" by Andrew Kambites, - Thanks for that, found it on Amazon, it's in the post
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