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First or Second round controls ?

#1 User is offline   jexa_ 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 07:24

Hey all. Currently using first round controls for slam investigating which is what most do i think. However I ve heard people bidding controls that mean First or Second round control.

So, which one do you think is better ?


Is it worth it to play first round controls but when opps intefere cuebidding their suit could mean First Or second round control ? ( to assure you dont have 2 loosing tricks from leading ).

edit : Actually title should be First or First/Second round controls.
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#2 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 10:45

Both methods work to some extent, but both have problems with certain hands.

The biggest difference is that if you cue using any control, then you need to use some ace asking bid (typically RKCB or 1430) to be sure your not missing two first round controls. OTOH, bidding any control can let you indicate slam interest with certain hands that it would be impossible to do when constrained to beginning cueing with 1st round controls first. Sometimes, using this methodology, it can become difficult to show a key control(s) below the necessary 4 NT ace ask which makes it more difficult to bid slam.

Showing first round controls first is easier to understand and is not constrained by the need to use 4 NT for ace asking (although some people who use this methodology still do). So, in certain hands the ability to show a key control at the 5 level below 5 of the agreed suit may let slam be bid. OTOH, sometimes it gets difficult to show all required controls because showing 1st round controls before 2nd round controls can chew up bidding space.

Some people who bid 1st round controls first, like myself, use some methodology to make cueing in this style as efficient as possible. It involves using NT bids and trump suit bids as waiting bids. In certain instances, jumps can be used to show multiple controls. But getting this methodology down takes a bit of work. On certain hands, it overcomes the difficulties in showing all required controls low enough to allow slam to be bid.

My sense is that there has been movement towards showing any control versus 1st round controls.
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#3 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 17:31

The most important thing, as always, is to have firm agreements.

Personally, I prefer first or second round controls.
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#4 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2016-October-31, 07:38

The most popular way these days is to use 1st or second round controls at the 4 level to check that no side suit has 2 losers and then RKCB at the 5 level to check that 2 key cards are not missing. If suit agreement is at the 5 level then things are a little different. Now 1st round controls is much more popular than after 3 level agreement.
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#5 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2016-October-31, 07:58

Control bidding serves a number of purposes:
1: to make sure that you don't have two immediate losers in any suit.
2: to show (or deny) general slam interest
3: to help partner re-evaluate his hand
4: to make sure you don't miss two first-round controls
5: to make sure you don't miss any first round controls for grand slam

For 1, obviously mixed controls are the way to go. Except that a king is dubious in some situtations such as when LHO has bid the suit and when you are going to be dummy.

For 2, mixed is better since otherwise you could have a hand with which you have no first round controls to show but still want to show slam interests. You could then agree to jump to 5M (or use 4m as slow arrival) with those hands, or to allow second round controls only by the weaker hand. But playing mixed controls throughout is easier. You have a dilemma, though, if you should make control bids whenever you have them or only with hands with serious slam interest. Conventions like Last Train and (non)Serious 3NT help.

For 3, you would need to be flexible. Show a king (or even a queen) in a suit in which partner is likely to be interested in your help. Show shortness in a suit in which partner is likely to have weakness. This could lead to help suit slam tries instead of control bids if you take this to the extreme.

For 4, first-round controls work fine when one of you have a void which may or may not be opposite an ace (so that the total number of first round controls needed is unknown and you need to talk about specific suits). However, you still need to have a way to show (or ask for) top honours in the trump suit.

5 should not have a high priority but you might agree that any bid which is clearly a grand slam try shows a first round control (unless the number of keycards has already been clarified). Usually, though, we make grand slam tries after having asked for keycards and in that case, grand slam tries usually show kings.

So the technically best system is probably "it depends on the situation", but if you want something reasonably simple I would suggest:
- RKCB with void-showing responses so that first round controls are not usually necessary.
- Mixed controls
- Try to sort out the slam potential of at least one of the two hands before the 4-level so that you don't have the dilemma mentioned under 2:
- Don't make a control bid which is unlikely to be helpful, such as a singleton in partner's strong suit or a king opposite his likely singleton.
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#6 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2016-October-31, 09:52

Helene for president! Posted Image
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#7 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2016-November-01, 09:23

Scottish players employ what they call Italian cue-bids:
  • In general, bid the cheapest control, whether it be 1st or 2nd.
  • Cue-bids at the 5-level tend to show 1st round control.
  • Cue-bid Qx(x) in a side-suit, bid naturally by partner.
  • When bidding space is restricted, board the last train, showing some slam interest, but not necessarily control e.g. with A Q x x x x x x A x x x x, after 1 - 4 (splinter) - ??, you might compromise with 4.

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#8 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2016-November-01, 10:02

I agree with Helene, but I want to add one more point:

When partner skips RKCB, this means he or she doesn't care about key cards for slam. You must take negative inference from this, and the negative inference is that one of the following applies (and it's usually clear which (or it doesn't matter)):

a) Partner has a void.
b) Partner already knows you have first-round control in every suit except one, but doesn't know if there are 2 quick losers in the last suit.
c) There are no issues with controls, but there is some question as to where the 12th trick might come from.
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#9 User is offline   jogs 

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Posted 2016-November-01, 17:21

View Postjexa_, on 2016-October-29, 07:24, said:

Hey all. Currently using first round controls for slam investigating which is what most do i think. However I ve heard people bidding controls that mean First or Second round control.

So, which one do you think is better ?


Is it worth it to play first round controls but when opps intefere cuebidding their suit could mean First Or second round control ? ( to assure you dont have 2 loosing tricks from leading ).

edit : Actually title should be First or First/Second round controls.


First follow the guidelines by Helene.

By a strong(at least opening hand strength) hand the first cue bid is nearly always an ace.
By a limited hand(less than opening hand strength) the first cue bid is an ace or a king with an ace in our suit.
Never is the first cue bid a void or singleton. Cueing shortness just confuses partner.
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