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Bridge 8/8

Cue-bids can keep options open

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    Inexperienced players have great difficulty with deals like this one, which occurred during a Swiss Team event last month in St. Louis.
    Look at the North hand. The dealer on your right opens two diamonds, weak. A takeout double would be a gamble with only two hearts, so you pass. It then goes pass — three clubs — pass. What would you do now?
    Yes, South might have doubled, which in particular would have kept two diamonds doubled in the picture. But he was nervous about his doubleton heart.
    Because North has a hand worth game, a jump to five clubs is one option. It is better, though, to cue-bid three diamonds. This says that North has an unexpectedly strong hand, probably with club support, and interest in either slam or other strains. Here, South would rebid three spades. Then North could control-bid (cue-bid) four hearts to show his heart ace and slam potential for spades. This would give North-South a chance to reach six spades, which makes because trumps are 3-2. South would draw trumps and pitch North's low heart on the fifth club, collecting four spades, one heart, one diamond, five clubs and a heart ruff on the board.
    At the time, North bid a cautious four clubs. South might have moved on, but he understandably passed because he knew his partner had a stronger sequence available. Four clubs making five lost 11 international match points against four spades plus two at the other table.
    When your side has bid only a minor, a cue-bid of the opponent's suit shows a good hand and uncertainty about either the strain or the level.
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