The Unassuming Cue Bid
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A Limit Raise or Better when Partner Overcalls


Let's start with the situation where partner opens the bidding (no intervention). You are West and partner opens 1. You clearly have a sound raise to 3 and so that's what you bid (either directly or via a forcing NoTrump or whatever treatment you use to show a sound raise to the three level with 3 trumps) opposite an opening hand.

West East West North East South
        - pass 1 pass
KJ3 AQ642 3 pass 4 all pass
KJ3 AQ        
64 752        
QJ852 AK6        

East has a good opener and 4 is an excellemt contract. West can afford to invite at the three level because he knows that partner has opening values, so 12+ point (or equivalent with distribution).

  But it's different when partner has overcalled. You have this same West hand and the bidding goes:  
West East West North East South
        - 1 1 pass
KJ3 AQ642 ?      
KJ3 Q8        
64 752        
QJ852 J106        

This time West has simply overcalled and does not promise an opening hand. In fact he could have anything from 7 to 16 points. With this actual East holding (a decent 1-level overcall) a 3 contract would be too high.


So if West cannot bid 3 then how does he show the values for a 3 raise should partner have a good overcall? The answer is The Unassuming Cue Bid. Playing this convention West cue bids the opener's suit to show a sound raise to 3 (or better). With this actual East hand East would simply bid 2 , and if he had the 15 pointer above he would bid 4.


So playing the Unassuming Cue Bid we can stop at the two level if partner has a minimal overcall. And playing this treatment has additional advantages in that direct raises of partner's overcall are pre-emptive.

  Let's have a few examples, LHO has opened 1 and partner overcalls 1 : -  
Hand 1 Hand2 Hand3 Hand4 Hand5 Hand6
KJ7 KJ7 KJ73 KJ763 KQ76 AK762
KJ32 643 853 3 Q32 2
64 64 3 532 85 82
QJ52 Q8532 85432 Q854 AKQ7 AQ732
Hand 1: Bid 2 showing a limit raise and pass if partner retreats into 2.
Hand 2: Bid 2 of course.
Hand 3 Bid 3. This is pre-emptive with normally 4 card support.
Hand 4: Bid 4. This is pre-emptive with normally 5 card support.
Hand 5: Bid 2, but see This is a sound raise to 4 even opposite a minimal overcall and we show the sound raise by cue bidding and then by bidding 4 if partner attempts to sign off.
Hand 6: Here you have options. You can do the same as hand 5; or you can splinter with 3 if you play that as a splinter; or you can bid 3 if you play that as a fit-showing jump, or you can use the Jump Unassuming Cue Bid to show 4 trumps.

Note that the Unassuming Cue Bid still applies if RHO bids over partner's overcall. So after -

West North East South
- 1 1 2

a 2 bid by West would simply be competitive, 3 or 4 would be pre-emptive and 3 would show the limit raise or better. You would have to agree what 3 means, it's probably best to use it to show 4 card trump support but some players simply cue whichever suit they are stronger in and make a jump cue bid to show 4-card support.


The Jump Unassuming Cue Bid

Hand 7 This hand is very similar to hand 1 and many would bid 2, an Unassuming Cue Bid, showing a sound raise to 3.

The 4 th trump, however, is very important – especially in a competitive situation (partner needs to know how many trumps you have).


So most experienced players now bid 3 – a jump unassuming cue bid – to show a sound raise to the three level or better with 4 trumps. But you need to agree this as otherwise partner may take it as a splinter.

  Note that the Jump Unassuming Cue Bid forces the partnership to the three level, but that is a sound prospect even if partner has a minimum as there is a total of nine trumps and the Law of Total tricks applies.  

Further extension of the Unassuming Cue Bid

– by Paul Quodomine

The Unassuming Cue bid, as taught to me many years ago it is exactly that - “unassuming”. A cue bid of an overcall in response to one of an opening suit is unconditional, a limit raise or better. But in response to an overcall the “Unassuming cue bid” is precisely that – don't assume. You cannot assume support for the overcall though that will be right 90% of the time. The exception is when advancer has a hand too good for a non-forcing but constructive new suit bid, rare but how does one force? Cue bid and introduce the suit forcing for one round. All calls thereafter are natural and aimed toward the best contract.


A perfect example is 1 opened in first seat-overcalled 2 and passed. Advancer holds x AKJ10xxx Ax xxx. 3 should be pre-emptive and 4 too committal even if it is not interpreted as a splinter for 's. So cue bid 2 and over partner's 3 (or pass of a double or whatever he bids ) bid 3. Partner will know you have a GOOD hand and a very good heart suit.


If your partnership adopts this philosophy you will seldom go wrong.

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