Poll #26, Cuebidding slam Bridge contracts, lead directing doubles, 01/12/2011

Learn cuebids in slam Bridge contracts, make lead directing doubles

On today our poll, we offer everyone a diversion from our usual quantitative question to seek a more qualitative philosophical perspective.  And we all know Bridge players each have a perspective, right?

See our online video commentary of bidding with card animation.

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Most opening lead situations are difficult; at least the professionals seem to think so.  So when the opponents have bid up, up and away to a 6 level slam contract, most likely your lead is “all or none.”  So carefully review the bidding, weigh all the inferences, evaluate the opponents bidding tempo.  Mix this all together with your knowledge and it’s time to face your opening lead. You are sitting West and it’s your lead with the following auction: 

West

North

East

South

2 ♣

Dbl

Pass!

Pass

2 ♠

Pass

3 ♠

Pass

4 ♣

Pass

4

Dbl

4

Pass

4 ♠

Pass

Pass

Pass

Without looking at your hand, do you have a lead in mind?  Well, since:

1. We aren’t letting you go wayward by looking at your hand

2. Bridge is a partnership game

So leading a Diamond should keep you in good graces with your partner.  But we are jumping ahead of ourselves – let’s go back and kibitz the bidding by North/South.  Here are their hands. 

♠ 10 9 8 7
Q 10 8 6 4
A 4 2
♣ 2

♠ —

9
♣ —

N

W

E

S

♠ —


♣ —

♠ K Q J 6 5 3
A K
6 5 3
♣ A K

South is the dealer with unfavorable vulnerability.  With 20 High Card Points plus 2 distribution points for the excellent self-sustaining Spade suit, open a strong 2 Club bid.  Even when partner only holds a poor Spade or two, South should hold 9 tricks in hand (4 losers).

North should refrain from bidding 2 Hearts – that suit is “moth eaten” with holes between every card!  Most players agree that after a strong 2 Club opener, responder should not be a “real suit” to show slam interest without a very good 5+ card suit.  “Very good” is typically defined as 2 of the top 3 honors in the suit, values the responder values to quickly take tricks on the road to slam.  For sure, North’s hand simply doesn’t qualify for a 2 Heart call -  bidding 2 Diamonds waiting is a better call for now.

East gets in the action, doubling North’s 2 Diamond artificial bid.  Looking at the opener’s hand, South is not surprised and continues with 2 Spade.   North had intended to show Hearts on the second bid but South’s 2 Spade bid stops the responder.  Now North reevaluates the hand as 6 HCP plus at least 3 for the singleton Club.  With South opening 2 Clubs with 22+ total points plus North’s 9 playing points, North has visions of grandeur – aka slam territory.  Using modern “slow shows” (extras) and “fast denies,” North responds 3 Spades to show extra values.  With lessor values North would bid 4 Spades – fast arrival shows minimum values with no interest in slam.

South likes the 3 Spade call but wisely does not make a Blackwood Ace-asking call for two reasons:

1. A player should not bid Blackwood when missing 2 controls (both the Ace and King) in a suit.  With 3 losers in Diamonds, South should instead begin cuebidding controls.

2. Declarer South should not be tone deaf to the opponents bidding.  Hearing East double partner’s 2 Diamond artificial call, South is expecting an opening lead of a Diamond.  And if there’s one suit South does not want led, it certainly would be Diamonds.  Back to cuebidding, South cuebids controls “up the line,” beginning with 4 Clubs.  North’s responds in kind bidding 4 Diamonds – typically showing an Ace but in this auction it might be a King since both can be worthy controls to quickly take tricks (South may hold an Ace or Queen).

Not wanting to signoff in 4 Spades, South rebids 5 Clubs, showing a second control – this time the Club King.   This is bad news for North who already has a second round of control in Clubs (the singleton).  With wasted values and also mindful of East’s double of 2 Diamonds with “Ace and out” to say nothing about a 5 card Heart suit that’s full of holes, North elects to bid 4 Spades in-lieu of making a 4 Notrump Blackwood Ace-asking call.  Thinking long and hard, a wise and conservative South will pass. 

However, in our so-called modern times, the words “Bridge” and “conservative” are seldom mixed in the same sentence – certainly not in the context of slam bidding!   For our more aggressive bidders, South would give the bidding one more try, rebidding 5 Hearts to show one more control – the Heart King.   While considerate and pondering a wide range of scenarios, a considerate North will still signoff in 5 Spades.  Remember that the foundation of a solid slam contract is predicated on suit controls as well as strength and fit.  Earlier, North evaluated a hand with great Spade support and 2 controls.  But then reality struck hard when South bid 3 Clubs, later followed by 4 Clubs to show both the Ace and King.  Suddenly, one of responder North’s controls fizzled into thin air – bummer.  Back at the bidding box, even if our aggressive South bidders try a 5 Heart rebid to induce responder into 6 Spades, it’s simply not going to happen with North’s cards.  Okay, let’s look at the hands, add a few more comments on how East/West would participate in the auction.

But before diving in, let’s cover today’s poll. We tend to:

1. Aggressively lead away from a useful honor (King or Queen) when opponents are in a suit contract at the 5 or 6 level
2. Make passive leads when opponents are in a Notrump slam – let them find your honors.
3. Lead partner’s double of opponents’ artificial suit call – a safe lead bound to pay dividends (if not by setting the opponents, at least keeping harmony with partner).

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Warm Regards,

Michael
BridgeHands

Comments

  1. Christel says:

    so were they in 4 S or 6? In either case, you obviously lead pd’s suit – the one s/he doubled when they were bidding artificially ….

    • BridgeHands says:
      As we learned, 6 Spades was too high unless the opponents do not find the killing lead. Even still, the declarer had some luck that the Hearts broke favorably and the dummy had entries to promote the suit and pitch declarer’s poor Diamond suit. While the video commentary was a bit loose to identify the best bidding sequence, in our Members area we discuss the preferred bidding sequence where responder attempts a 4 Spade signoff, opener rebids 5 Clubs to try again with responder once again signing off in 5 Spades (the Club King is valueless opposite a singleton Club in dummy).
      Regards, Michael
  2. BridgeHands says:
    Well, Bridge friends we certainly have a clear majority on this poll:
    .
    77 percent – The suit partner doubled after an artificial bid by opponents
    .
    Good for all of you partnership-centric Bridge players. For some reason selected the answer “When opps are in 6 Spades, an aggressive lead away from a King or Queen.” Actually, this can work out well when partner is silent, but after partner has asked you to lead a suit (doubling opponents cuebid), it’s usually best to trust your partner. Of course, if you have hidden assetts of our own then you may still continue to make your own best lead.
    .
    Happy trails,
    Michael

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