I had not seen Holmes for some time. I had been busy with my own affairs and he had been abroad on some investigation about global fraud and funds for hedges. I called at his rooms where he was languid as ever and regaled him with a tale of the card table.
“You see Holmes, twice my Partner opened 1H, overcalled on my right by 1S, and on both deals I was desirous of bidding 3H but for entirely different reasons. It’s all a bit of a muckle, ain’t it old boy?”
Holmes perused the two hands in question, sighing the while:
a) . xx
b) . xx
“I see the quandary in which you mired yourself, Watson. With the first hand, having the required points for an invitational raise to 3H (10 -12) you made that bid, even though the opponents had intervened.
“Then when the second hand occurred you were, correctly, ready to pre-empt the opponent on your left by bidding 3H with a much weaker, more distributional hand. Had you done so your partner could only have inferred that you had hand like the first one. Did you bid 3H?”
I nodded assent that I had.
“I thought you might’ve. Partner had a rock-crusher, pushed to 6H and you went 2 down I dare say?”
I nodded again in the affirmative that he was jolly well spot right on.
“When opponents intervene, you as responder, are Snookered. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The answer is to get out your Cue when you have a good hand and leave it in its case when you don't.”
“Eh?” I snorted, “Get what out, Holmes?”
“To distinguish between a pre-emptive raise and a GOOD raise we need two different bids. If 3H is pre-emptive then what can we bid with a good hand? The answer lies in the cue; as in cue-raise. You merely bid the opponent’s suit. Now you are no longer snookered. You can bid a pre-emptive 3H with a weak hand – less than 9HCP and make a cue-raise with any 10+ HCP hand with 4 card support.”
When opponents intervene you are in a “competitive auction”. This is different from a “constructive auction” when they are silent. Therefore your aims are different. Either (1) you want to tell partner you have a good fit and 10+HCP, or (2) you want to pre-empt them out of their safety zone.
Remember, get yer retaliation in first!