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Funeral For the Strong Cue-Bid

  by Richard Pavlicek

Add a little spice to your game! Bridge can be more fun if you adopt some of the popular bidding conventions that have proved to be effective. Usually these gadgets allow you to bid more often, and that should strike a chord with almost everyone. Anyone who likes to sit there and pass is destined to be a loser.

When was the last time you made a strong cue-bid directly over an opponent’s opening bid? Probably not lately; and even when you hold a hand strong enough, it is usually better to begin with a takeout double, then cue-bid on the next round if desired. Therefore, the strong cue-bid is essentially wasted. Go out in your back yard, dig a hole and bury it forever. Now you can play something that’s fun.

The Michaels cue-bid, after an opponent’s minor-suit opening bid, shows a weak hand (typically about 6 to l0 HCP) with both major suits. Usually this requires at least 5-5 shape, but it is acceptable with 5-4 shape if the four-card suit is sturdy. Partner simply bids his longer (or stronger) major suit, which becomes the final contract. On today’s deal South gambled to jump to game, because he held excellent trump support and opening-bid strength.

4 H South
E-W Vul
S J 8 7 3 2
H A Q 10 8 2
D 2
C 5 4
1 D
2 D
4 H
S K 10 4
H 6 4
D A K 10 9 3
C A 7 6
TableS Q 6 5
H J 3
D J 8 6
C Q J 10 9 2

Lead: D K
S A 9
H K 9 7 5
D Q 7 5 4
C K 8 3

West led the diamond king and found the best defense with a trump shift. Declarer won in dummy to make the key play in spades: low to the nine, allowing West to win the 10. The desired effect was to keep East off lead, else a club lead would trap declarer’s king. West could do no better than return another trump. Declarer won, unblocked the spade ace, ruffed a diamond and ruffed a spade. When the spade suit split 3-3, declarer was home, as two clubs could be discarded on the good spades.

Another advantage of the Michaels cue-bid is also seen here. Notice who became declarer; not North with the longer heart suit but South, which put the opening bidder on lead. If you’re not convinced, try to make four hearts as North with the club-queen lead.

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© 1990 Richard Pavlicek