The aim of this article is to improve on the use of a cue bid after partner has made a takeout double. We shall start by reviewing standard methods, then explain why these methods are in need of improvement, and finally present an improved version.

Standard methods are as follows:

1-X-P-1 = 0-7 pts

1-X-P-2 = 8-10 pts

1-X-P-2 = 11+ pts

The last sequence is `forcing to suit agreement', hence:

1-X-P-2, P-2 = Forcing since no suit is agreed

1-X-P-2, P-2-P-3 = Non-forcing.

1-X-P-2. P-2-P-3 = Forcing.

There are three basic problems with the use of the cue-bid in standard methods:

(a) The bidding can get too high (to 4 if you are agreeing clubs.)

(b) The sequence 1-X-P-2 may or may not include 4 spades, so that a minimum 4-3-2-4 doubler is fixed.

(c) There is a traditional view that a takeout double should show opening values, whilst an overcall need not. This leads to people overcalling on hands that would be better suited to a double, or passing and doubling later (at a time when it is actually more dangerous to come in, and involves giving your own side `the last guess', rather than opponents). If you are to double more frequently it is even more important to be able to stay low.

**Suggested methods**

Let's see how these methods can be improved. The meaning of the natural calls will remain the same, save that the sequence 1-X-P-2 cannot be 4-4 in the majors.

One of the main ideas is to use 2NT to show some of the weak hands. The key in the following sequences is that if partner has a natural no trump he should have bid it earlier. Thus:

1-X-P-2, P-2 = Forcing (does not require extra strength)

1-X-P-2, P-2NT = Weak, partner picks a minor

1-X-P-2, P-3/ = Forcing

1-X-P-2, P-3NT = 19-21 balanced.

1-X-P-2, P-2-P-2NT = Weak with a minor (by the responding hand this time)

1-X-P-2, P-2-P-3/ = Forcing

Over a 1 opener it works in much the same way. Over the minors, the cue now only shows 8-10 points with both majors, or 11+ any shape.

1-X-P-2, P-2//3/ = Non forcing (eg 3 is invitational opposite 8-10).

1-X-P-2, P-2 = Forcing (may be minimum, but it is better though not necessary to bid 2 with both red suits and less than 14 pts)

1-X-P-2, P-2-P-2 = 8-10 both majors

1-X-P-2, P-2-P-2 = Forcing, 11+ pts

1-X-P-2, P-2-P-2NT = Non-forcing (but with 4 hearts, else the response would have been 2NT instead of 2).

1-X-P-2, P-2-P-3 = Game-forcing

1-X-P-2, P-2-P-2 = Forcing

1-X-P-2, P-2NT = 19-21.

Over a 1 opener it works similarly, though in fact I prefer to play that 1-X-P-2, P-2NT is weak without a major.

As you can see, these methods need a little more thought and partnership discussion, but I think you will find the accuracy of your bidding is improved. Give it a go!