This is an article originally posted in Eric Kokish and Beverly Kraft Kokish his wife, Bridge Column: Just Bridge.
Readers tell us that they are not familiar with some of the bids they find in Just Bridge columns. In many cases, these are bids in relatively short suits with surprisingly weak holdings. Let’s explore together today.
South’s 2 «cue-bid» is unrelated to hearts. Because bids like 2, 2, 2NT and 3 would not be forcing, South must use this bid in the opponents’ suit to keep the auction alive. Most often, South will have some sort of fit with overcaller’s suit, but with other strong hands, the cue-bid may be the only forcing action available to him. This cue-bid is not forcing to game; the partnership may stop if it becomes clear that the combined values for game are not present.
Here East could force with 2 or 2 and (by agreement) a jump to 2NT. The only hand type that cannot be described with a different natural bid is a hand with genuine support for opener’s suit (hearts) and no significant side suit worth introducing. If you treat a jump to 3 as encouraging but not forcing, the most popular modern approach, you must cue-bid 2 on a game-going hand with heart support. Again, your spade holding is not relevant. Some prefer to treat a jump to 3 as purely obstructive. These pairs would have to bid 2 with most hands containing primary support and at least 10 points in high cards.
East-West have agreed on spades as their trump suit. A bid by either partner in a suit other than spades is a try for slam usually showing the ace or a void. It is acceptable to cue-bid a king in partner’s suit or a suit in which partner has already cue-bid the ace. Some prefer to cue-bid first-round controls (aces, voids) and second-round controls (kings, singletons) economically. The idea is to identify as early as possible a suit in which the opponents could take the first two tricks, then stop at a safe level.
South’s 2 says his hand is too strong for a simple (0-8 points) suit response and either too strong or inappropriate for a jump response (about 9-11 points). South does not promise a strong heart holding. The partnership must keep bidding until a suit has been bid and supported. Most often these auctions lead to a game contract after natural bidding.
Once, this cue-bid simply showed a very strong hand. Today, North would double for takeout with support for the other suits even with a powerhouse. He would double or bid game with most strong one-suited hands. The direct cue-bid, then, is most commonly employed to indicate a strong two-suited hand, at least five-five. North does not guarantee a spade control (but will usually have one).