One tool used by advanced to expert players to explore for slam is the cue bid. Often a slam will depend on specific cards or controls to have a viable play. Cue bids, like a rapier, are often preferable to that reliable broadsword, Blackwood. Still, problems and misunderstandings can arise. Here’s a simple sequence:
One Heart – Three Hearts.
When this sequence is played as forcing either partner could start a cue bidding sequence in the second round of bidding. There are several problems that can arise. The opener may have no interest in slam and bid a straightforward four hearts. The responder may now cue bid, but note that a full level of bidding is used up before slam exploration begins. This could either propel the partnership too high before they realize a slam is not in the making or leave insufficient room to determine that a slam is possible. The inefficient use of space also may allow a partnership to bid a small slam but be unable to determine if a grand slam is in the offing.
Enter The Serious Three No Trump.
When a forcing auction with an agreed trump suit has been established a three no trump bid by the first partner that could cue bid declares slam interest and requests a cue bid from the other. An immediate cue bid is simply an advance cue bid that shows no real slam interest. It is made to conserve bidding space on the chance that the second partner has slam aspirations.
Here are some examples
One Heart Three hearts
Three No Trump
One Heart Two No Trump (Jacoby)
Three Hearts Three No Trump
One diamond Two Spades
Three Spades Three No Trump
In each of the above sequences the trump suit and a game force has been established. Three No Trump therefore demands that the bidder’s partner cue bid an ace, if possible. It guarantees slam interest, even if mild. If there is no cue biddable ace the partner simply rebids in the agreed trump suit.
A cue bid made after a game force and suit agreement is simply an advance cue bid and shows no extra values.
Here are some examples:
One Spade Three Spades
One Spade Two Hearts
Three Hearts Four Diamonds.
In each of the above sequences the cue bid denies any real interest in slam, but is made as a “courtesy” to conserve space should the second partner have slam interest.
Here are the three key points to remember:
A game force must be established.
A trump suit must be agreed upon.
The agreed suit should be a major suit, When minor suits are involved three no trump is too often a final destination and is too valuable a bid to use as an occasional slam exploration tool.