Bridge Tips No 9



            Roman Key Card Blackwood  (RKCB)


Old fashioned Blackwood uses a bid of 4NT to ask partner how many aces are held to avoid bidding a slam with two aces missing but if the following suit has been

established as the trump suit:


            A9753             T864


then, despite having all the aces, a slam is doomed to failure.  Clearly, the king of trumps is a very important card when considering a slam and so too is the queen of trumps to a slightly lesser degree.  RKCB is a modified version of  the original Blackwood, designed to overcome the problem highlighted above. This is achieved by including the king of trumps as a fifth key card along with the four aces.

The responses to an RKCB 4NT are as follows:


                                    5C = 0 or 3 key cards

                                    5D = 1 or 4 key cards

                                    5H = 2 key cards without the trump queen

                                    5S = 2 key cards with the trump queen


So, if you hold:

                                    S  AQ7

                                    H  A642

                                    D  K83

                                    C  KQ6


and, after agreeing a trump suit, partner bids 4N (playing RKCB):


                    If spades are trumps you bid                 5S = 2 key cards and the SQ

                    If hearts are trumps you bid                   5H = 2 key cards without the HQ

                    If diamonds are trumps you bid             5C = 3 key cards

                    If clubs are trumps you bid                    5C = 3 key cards


If all five key cards are held and the 4N bidder is interested in a grand slam he can bid 5N to ask for kings exactly as in Blackwood but, of course, there are only 3 kings to worry about since the trump king has already been accounted for. If the response to 4N is 5D or 5C (which say nothing about the trump queen) it is possible to ask about the trump queen by bidding the lowest available suit which is not the agreed trump suit. In response to this asking bid partner signs off in 5 of the trump suit without the trump queen and bids 6 if holding the trump queen.


Here is an example of RKCB in action:


            West                East                                          W        E

            JT98                Q5432             The bidding:      1C       1S

            86                    AKQ5                                      2S       3H

            A7                   KQ6                                         4S       4N

            AKJ62             7                                              5H       5S



West has shown a good 7 loser hand to which East adds his 4 losers to conclude that the hands are good for a small slam and maybe a grand slam. Using ordinary Blackwood the 5H bid shows that an ace is missing so East may bid 6S and go down because both the ace and king of trumps are missing. Using RKCB, East knows that two key cards are missing and signs off in 5S.