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The Kickback Convention

  ‘Everybody' these days plays Roman Keycard Blackwood (RKCB), and quite right too – it is far superior to the standard version and it is used in most situation within this site. However, whenever you use Blackwood (whatever variety you choose) there is always a problem with the lower ranking suits as trumps because the reply may get you too high. In fact, you may even have a problem with RKCB when 's are trumps: -  
  West   East West   East    
KQ762 J 1   2   (1) RKCB
KQ8 AJ109765 3   4NT (1) (2) two key cards + Q
AJ54 KQ 5 (2) ? (3)  
10 KQJ          
  The point is that 4NT does not work as RKCB when 's are trumps. East justifiably had visions of slam but now 5NT at (3) would be asking for kings and we are too high! The problems are even worse with a minor suit and you may also get problems when asking for the trump queen. The only real way to solve this is to ensure that you have 4 steps between your Blackwood asking bid and the trump suit.  
  There are a few solutions; 4-of-the-minor as Blackwood for minor suits is one of them. But probably (I believe definitely) the best is Kickback; this uses the suit above trumps as the key card ask. So in this actual example 4 at (1) would be RKCB and then East would pass the 5 response. Kickback was conceived by the American expert Jeff Rubens, published in The Bridge World, starting in 1980 under the title "The Useful-Space Principle…". It was subsequently made a bit more popular by author Marty Bergan in his 1985 book Better Bidding With Bergen Vol I, Uncontested Auctions but has not, to date, received the merit that it justly deserves - it probably is light years ahead of 'standard' methods. In my book on Advanced No Trump Bidding I use Kickback throughout - there really is no sensible alternative.  
  Pattaya Bridge Club -
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