Introduction to Cue Bids

To make your life miserable, the expression “cue bid” is used in two different ways:

  • A bid of the same suit as an opponent bid.
  • A bid of a suit showing you have first round control in that suit, when trying for slam. In this usage, the opponents may or may not have bid that suit. I suggest using the more modern phrase “control bid” or “control-showing” bid for these.

Cue bids are ALWAYS forcing, and rarely alertable because it is obvious you do not mean it as a natural suit bid. Here are some of the purposes of bidding their suit.

Limit Raise

You open, your left hand opponent overcalls, and your partner bids their suit. This is the most important and frequent case.

For example, 1♥ - (1♠) - 2♠ shows a limit raise or better in hearts (10+ points, 3+ hearts)

Western Cue

The second most common use of a cue bid is to bid their suit (usually at the 3-level), saying to partner that we ought to be in a notrump game, but you have no stopper, so partner should bid 3N if he has one.

Michael’s Cue Bid

If your RHO opens a suit and you immediately bid 2 of their suit, you are showing a two-suited hand. In a minor, it shows 5-5 or better in the majors. In a major, it shows 5 of the OTHER major and a minor.

Your partner bids 2N to ask you to name that minor because he hates the other major.

Be aware: advanced players have variations that are not Michael’s Cue Bid, and they do not have to alert it because it is a cue bid. You can ask them about their agreement either right away, if you might bid, or at the end of the auction.

Powerful Hand

A cue bid can be the most powerful bid you can make. When every bid you can think of is an underbid, bid their suit. Perhaps the most frequent case is when you make what looks like a takeout double, but you are actually doubling because you have too many points to overcall (a good 17+). After partner bids, a cue bid shows a huge hand:

(1♥) - X - (P) - 2♣
(P ) - 2♠ big hand with spades
(1♥) - X - (P) - 2♣
(P ) - 2♥ huge hand

Doubling and bidding again is big; doubling and then cue bidding is huge.