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Bridge 6/21
From one cue-bid to two cue-bids
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    This week, we are looking at ways of finding out if three no-trump is a playable contract, and when it proves not to be, heading into that despised contract: five of a minor.
    The key bid usually occurs at the three-level. No major-suit fit has been found, perhaps there is a minor-suit mesh, but our partnership still has all four eyes squarely on three no-trump. Then, bids at the three-level in previously unnamed suits show values there; a cue-bid in an opponent's suit asks for a stopper in that suit. This deal contains two different Northerly cue-bids.
    North's two-spade cue-bid opposite a takeout double only shows a strong hand: at least a good 12 points opposite a balancing double. On the next round, North's three-spade cue-bid is an attempt to get into three no-trump. But when South proves not to have a spade stopper, North is left with little alternative but to place the contract in five clubs.
    West leads the spade ace.
    If West plays out his three top spades, declarer ruffs the last one low, cashes the club king (since only 12 points are missing, West must have the club queen), and finesses in clubs through West to make his contract.
    A more resourceful West spots one chance for the defense — if East can produce the club four. After cashing two spade tricks, West leads a low spade, hoping that East will realize what is expected of him. If East does ruff with — uppercut with — the club four, West must win a trump trick for down one.
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