Tuesday, November 15, 2011


One concern with cuebidding is that the more you reveal to partner in a cuebidding sequence to fine-tune the contract, the more you reveal to the defense.  This is a tough problem to resolve.

So, I got to thinking on this problem.  There might be a way to structure cuebidding sequences so as to avoid disclosure of useful defensive info until after we have resolved less useful data sufficiently to warrant entering the extended discussion.  How?

Well, consider a normal cuebidding sequence using my methods.  Partner opens 1H, you bid 2C GF, partner rebids 2D, and you agree hearts with 2H.  Cuebidding now starts.

Using my methods, 2S is a cue showing spade control, 2NT is a trump quality denial cue, 3C is a cue of an interior suit -- clubs, and 3D is a cue of an interior suit -- diamonds.  Or:

Step 1 = spade cue
Step 2 = trump denial cue
Step 3 = club cue
Step 4 = diamond cue

Why the "Steps" analysis?  Well, the cue definitions are, in fact, steps.  But, the steps are defined by the call made rather than by some pre-ordained rules tied to steps.  Defining the cues by the call made means that the structure of cuebidding, if observed from the standpoint of steps, is not necessarily ideal.  (This same type of issue arises with showing stiffs, where the steps approach might be low-middle-high, but the strain approach might make the steps become low-middle-high or high-low-middle or middle-high-low, depending on the sequence.)

Well, suppose that one organized cuebidding by steps instead of by strain?  Maybe the acronym AORTA might work -- Agreed suit, Opener's suit, Responder's suit, Their suit, Asking bids.    In that structure, consider, again, the basic auction 1H-2C, 2D-2H.  Now:

2S = A = Trump denial cue
2NT = O = Diamond cue
3C = R = Club cue
3D = T = Spade cue
(4NT = A = RKCB)

This, then, could be reciprocated.  For example, consider the basic auction after 1H-2C, 2D-2H, 2NT (trump denial cue).  Responder uses the same AORTA approach:

3C = A = trump denial cue
3D = O = diamond cue
3H = R = club cue
3S = T = spade cue

This then kicks back even again.  Suppose 1H-2C, 2D-2H, 2NT(denial)-3C(denial), ?  At this point, we know that the partnership is missing a trump honor, at least.  Opener would restructure again:

3D = no trump honors
3H = diamond cue
3S = club cue
3NT = spade cue

In contrast, a step can become "closed."  E.g., 1H-2C, 2D-2H, 3C(diamond cue, but the 2NT bypass promises two top trumps)-3H(diamond cue, plus the bypass promises the missing third trump).  As Opener has shown two top trumps and Responder the third, the trump suit is "closed."  As Opener also showed two top diamonds and Responder the third, the diamond suit is also "closed."  Thus, with Opener next to bid:

3S = R = club cue
3NT = T = spade cue
A suit can become "closed" by cueing all cards or by a complete denial. 

Using this appproach, plus bypasses as denials, would seem to prioritize resolution of the solidity of trumps first, the solidity of Opener's second suit second, the solidity of Responder's suit third, and then lastly control of the fourth suit.  That might be ideal, in theory, as it might avert disclosure of useful info until later in the cuebidding auction.  As the steps approach simply restructures the sequences, the same number of calls would be available and used, such that it seems that the steps approach would be as efficient.

The tricks, though, would be:

1. Determining the best acronym, meaning the best structure of priorities (not really priorities in the sense of importance but in the sense of least-damaging-disclosures).
2. Deciding when serious (or frivolous) enters in as a step.
3. Thinking through the possible auctions and any nuances that develop from this sort of structure.
4. Maximizing the usefulness of jump cues in this structure.

Just thinking out loud, though, it seems easy enough to cuebid using this technique without much adjustment.  Simply make the trump denial cue (normally 2NT) the first step, use AORTA because it is easy to remember and sounds good, and keep 3NT as serious when you get to that point in the auction. 

If anyone likes this idea and tries it out, let me know how it works, even if trying it out means running through deals on your own and seeing what happens.

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