East west vulnerable

Play Bridge: Cuebid seeks a stopper

"This week, the cuebid asks partner for a stopper. This is called the Western Cuebid."

This is the last of the series on competitive bidding. There were two different cuebids in last week’s column. One showed support of partner’s suit with values and the other showed control and slam interest. This week, the cuebid asks partner for a stopper. This is called the Western Cuebid. The Eastern Cuebid is the opposite and shows a stopper, but a bid of No Trump does the same thing so Western Cuebid is more useful.

Even if one does not play the Western Cuebid, a cuebid, at the very least, is forcing and asks partner to say something more.

The bidding: West, with 13 points and at least five Hearts, opens One Heart. North looks at his hand, and he does not simply see 18 points. He sees nine tricks which is sufficient for Three No Trump if partner can stop a run of Hearts.

Furthermore, partner needs to declare the contract so the lead comes up to him and not through him.

If North bid Two Hearts that would show five Spades and five of another suit. However, North bids Three Hearts asking partner for a stopper. Partner has one and bids Three No Trump. If he did not have a stopper, he would have bid Three Spades or Four Clubs and partner would have corrected to his long minor.

The Play: West knows where the King of Hearts is, declarer has it. He also suspects North must have a running minor, Clubs. Partner unlikely has an entry in diamonds so he leads a suit in which he has nothing with the hope partner does. He leads the Spade Two with the hope declarer will think he is underleading an honour.

Declarer wins the Ace and cashes his nine tricks making Three No Trump. If declarer was foolhardy to try the Spade finesse, East will lead the Eight of Hearts and when he keeps the lead, he leads the 4. West will take six tricks in addition to the King of Spades for down three.

If West leads the Ace or Queen of Hearts, declarer will make an over-trick.

Note: There are many examples of Western Cuebid, but One of a minor followed by Three or Four of the same minor is not Western Cuebid, but is a minor pre-empt. This example works only for either major. Someone might pre-empt in a minor when the Right Hand Opponent could only have three but nobody would pre-empt if that opponent was guaranteed to have five as is the case for a major.

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