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CRO

This is a bridge acronym standing for:

  • Colour
  • Rank
  • Other

It’s similar to the Unusual NT and the Michael’s cue bid all wrapped in one. I think some people (me) have also called it Modified Ghestem as well.

It’s used to specify 55 distributions when the opponents have opened at the 1 level…the difference is you can specify exactly what suits the 55 are in where you might be left guessing using the Michael’s cue bid.

Same Colour (C)

So the Cue-bid (C) show at least 55 in two suits of the same colour…

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣2♣Shows 55 in the red suits
12Shows 55 in the black suits
12Shows 55 in the black suits
1♠2♠Shows 55 in the red suits

Same Rank (R)

This time the 2NT bid shows two suits of the same rank. Soif they bid a minor…you have at least 55 in the majors and if they bid the majors then you have the minors again at least 55.

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣2NTShows 55 in the majors
12NTShows 55 in the majors
12NTShows 55 in the minors
1♠2NTShows 55 in the minors

3♣ – The Other bid (O)

This one usually takes a bit more thinking about to work out but it’s easy when you get used to it!

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣3♣Shows 55 in diamonds and spades
13♣Shows 55 in clubs and hearts
13♣Shows 55 in diamonds and spades
1♠3♣Shows 55 in clubs and hearts

So the advantage of using CRO over say the Michael’s Cue Bid is partner knows what the other minor is:-

So if the bidding for example goes:-

Using a Michael’s Cue Bid

NorthEastSouthWest
1♠3♠4♠?

Suppose east has made a michael’s cue bid showing hearts and an unspecified minor. West might have a good sacrifice in Clubs but not have a sacrifice in hearts or diamonds…so he’s forced to pass as otherwise he’d be guessing to bid at the 5 level which could be a worse score than them making 4 spades.

This time using CRO

NorthEastSouthWest
1♠3♣4♠5♣
PassPassDoublePass
PassPass

This time West is able to bid clubs and find a good sacrifice…North south collect 300 for the doubled club contract but they could have made 4 spades vulnerable for 620!

The disadvantages of CRO are:

  • You tell the opposition what the other minor is
  • It’s slightly more stuff to remember
  • You lose the 3♣ bid as a natural bid
  • The opposition can use the minor as a cue bid as well

It sounds like i’m putting more negatives than positives but personally I think it’s worth it as I’ve found loads of sacrifices in the minors using this system and for me that outweighs some potential gains.

Typical hands To use CRO

So these hands you could use CRO to describe your hand

  • ♠ 4 KQ1076 AJ1073 ♣ 72
  • ♠ AJ987 KJ1086 J7 ♣ 7

So I tend to visualise a hand with about 10 points

Hands NOT to use CRO

You wouldn’t do it with these hands:

  • ♠ AQ 107654 J10873 ♣ K
  • ♠ AKQ KJ1086 65432 ♣ Void

The first hand you don’t have 10 points in the two suits…but you have some defensive values. The second hand again has a lot of your points in the other major.

Specific Ace Ask

Very simply you can open 4NT which asks partner if they hold an ace.

ResponseMeaning
5♣No aces
5The ace of Diamonds
5The ace of Hearts
5♠The ace of spades
5NT2 aces
6♣The ace of clubs
6Three aces!?

Alternatively you can play a step response:-

ResponseMeaning
5♣No aces
5The ace of Clubs
5The ace of Diamonds
5♠The ace of Hearts
5NTThe ace of spades
6♣Two aces
6Three Aces!?

Again the most important thing is make sure you agree what you are playing with partner…as the specific ace convention doesn’t arise very often I would suggest you play the first alternative described here.

Please make sure you can handle any response…if you hold:-

Now the opposition are bound to lead a red suit and take you one off in 6♠.

Whereas if you have this you can cater for any response:-

Michael’s Cue Bid

The Michael’s cue bid is a very popular bidding convention to show distributional hands…hands usually with at least 55 shapes (5521).

This Michael’s cue bid is usually used in the direct position, i.e., immediately after an opponent has made their bid.

All these direct overcall bids are known as Michael’s cue-bids:-

Opening BidDirect OvercallShows
1♣2♣5+ hearts and 5+ Spades
125+ hearts and 5+ Spades
125+ spades and 5+ unspecified minor
1♠2♠5+ hearts and 5+ unspecified minor

For example if your right-hand opponent opened 1and you bid 2, your 2 call would be a Michael’s cue-bid. This would show at least 5 spades and at least 5 card in either clubs or diamonds.

If your right-hand opponent opened 1♠ and you bid 2♠, your 2♠ call would be a Michael’s cue-bid. This would show at least 5 hearts and at least 5 card in either clubs or diamonds.

Better still if your right-hand opponent opened 1♣ or 1 and you bid the Michael’s cue-bid.

This would specifically show 5-5 (or longer) in the majors. This is better for you as you know exactly what two suits partner has.

What about points?

So that’s the shapes and the suits…but what values should you have for the bid?

Typically I imagine a hand like:

♠ KQ1072
KQ1073
4
♣ 75

You can play several methods but usually either a weak hand (say, 6 to 11 points) or a strong hand (a good 15 or more high-card points). Hands with intermediate strength should simply overcall at the one level, with the hope that the second suit can be shown later in the auction. Why do this? It’s to give partner some indication of our strength and involve him in the decision process as to how high we compete (sacrifice).

Responding to the Michael’s cue bid

So after 1♣ – 2♣ showing at least 5 / 5 in the majors….

ResponseMeaning
2Natural, good diamond suit (usually 6+) Non-forcing.
2Sign-off…may be equal length as spades.
2♠Sign-off…must be longer in spades than hearts though.
2NTNatural and invites partner to bid 3NT
3♣Artificial, game / slam interest in hearts or spades. Forcing.
3A very strong diamond suit (6+ cards). Forcing
3Preemptive, usually with 4 hearts
3♠Preemptive, usually with 4 spades
3NTTo Play

So after 1 – 2 showing at least 5 / 5 in the majors….

ResponseMeaning
2Sign-off…may be equal length as spades.
2♠Sign-off…must be longer in spades than hearts though.
2NTNatural and invites partner to bid 3NT
3♣Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Artificial, game / slam interest in hearts or spades. Forcing.
3Preemptive, usually with 4 hearts
3♠Preemptive, usually with 4 spades
3NTTo Play

So after 1 – 2 showing at least 5 spades and a minor suit as of yet unspecified.

ResponseMeaning
2♠Sign-off.
2NTAsks for the minor
3♣Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Forcing
3♠Preemptive, usually with 4 spades
3NTTo Play

So after 1♠ – 2♠ showing at least 5 hearts and a minor suit as of yet unspecified.

ResponseMeaning
2NTAsks for the minor
3♣Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Natural usually shows 6+ cards. Non-Forcing
3Preemptive, usually with 4 hearts
3♠Forcing…usually slam interest in hearts.
3NTTo Play

Bidding in 4th position

You can also use it to show 5 / 5 in the other two suits like:

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass1♠2♣*

Now the 2C bid shows 5 /5 in diamonds and hearts.

OR…..

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass12♣*

Now the 2C bid shows 5 /5 in diamonds and spades.

You could also have a different meaning for the other cue-bid:-

OR…..

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass12*

Now the 2 bid shows 5 /5 in diamonds and spades….but a stronger hand 15+

Another alternative….

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass12*

Now the 2 bid could show longer spades than diamonds at least 6/5. This is because you have bid the higher cue-bid.

And now….

NorthEastSouthWest
1♣Pass12♣*

Now the 2♣ bid could show longer diamonds than spades at least 6/5. This is because you have bid the lower cue-bid.

So the Michael’s cue bid is a great way of letting your partner know your shape using just one bid….of course it does tell the opponents as well which means they might stop out of a game if they know the splits are bad. Quite often these bids can be used to find a good sacrifice.

Make sure you have an agreement with your partner…like I said a common one is to show the hand as either weak OR strong.

Alternatively you can play a bidding convention called CRO (Colour/Rank/Other). Using the CRO bidding convention you can specify what the other minor is.

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