Roman Keycard Blackwood
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Roman Keycard Blackwood


This is a brief summary. When a suit has been agreed (or if no suit is agreed then it's the last mentioned suit) then 4NT asks for keycards. There are 5 keycards, the four aces and the king of trumps.

  Responses are: -  
5 = 0 or 3 keycards
5 = 1 or 4 keycards
5 = 2 keycards without the trump queen
5 = 2 keycards plus the trump queen

Once the number of keycards has been ascertained then you may then ask for kings by bidding 5NT. There are (at least) two alternative approaches here, note that the king of trumps is not included.


Number of kings - some reply with simply the number: -

  6 = 0 king
  6 = 1 king
  6 = 2 kings
b) Others bid the suit of the cheapest king (with a return to the trump suit denying a king) with cue bidding often following. This is my preferred treatment.

If the response to 4NT was 5 or 5 then asker does not know if responder has the trump queen or not. If he does not have it himself he may ask for the trump queen. The asking bid is the next cheapest bid (but not 5 of the trump suit which is a sign off). Note that asker has to make a decision here he cannot usually ask about the trump queen and later ask about kings or vice-versa!


However, that is not always a problem, as the responses to the trump queen ask shows the cheapest king if the trump queen is held. The answers to a trump queen ask are: -


Return to the trump suit

= No trump queen
5NT = The trump queen but no outside king
A suit bid at the 5/6 level = The trump queen and the king of the suit bid
2 2

6 at (1) acknowledges the Q, denies the K and shows the K

2 3  
4NT 5 Had the bid at (1) been 6 then that shows the Q and the K but says nothing about the other kings.
5 6 (1)

Had the bid at (1) been 5NT then that shows the Q. But denies the possession of any other king

    Had the bid at (1) been 5 then that denies the Q and says nothing about kings

There are variations on the response to the trump queen ask and I have given a simple one. Note that the asker has to be careful about asking for the trump queen if he is not seriously looking for a grand slam. If he is missing the trump queen and also the king of a suit higher ranking than trumps he may get a response of 6 of that suit and so be forced into the grand (or 6NT). There are various way to try to circumvent this problem but they are beyond the scope of this brief summary.


Lying about the trump queen.


If you have one more trump than partner expects (so that you know that the total is 10 or more) then you can acknowledge the trump queen even if you do not have it as it should drop if partner does not hold it.


Lack of room for a queen ask?


Suppose 's are trumps and you ask with 4NT and get a 5 response. Then you need to bid 5 to ask about the trump queen and are committed to a slam. This problem is meant to be partially solved by using 1430 responses but that just moves to problem elsewhere and does not solve it. The only real solution is to use Kickback.


1430 responses to RCB


Using 1430, the meanings of the 4/ responses are interchanged. There is sometimes an advantage when you need to ask for the trump queen but it is minimal. There are a few lines about 1430 in Section 3 of the conventions page.


Void responses to Roman Keycard Blackwood

5NT = 0 or 2 keycards with a useful void
6X =

1 or 3 keycards with a void in suit X if X is lower ranking than the trump suit.

    If the void suit is higher ranking than the trump suit, then bid 6 of the trump suit.

Note that you should only use these void responses to RCB if the void is useful and if your hand is good enough (in light of the previous bidding) to reasonably expect at least a small slam to make. Note also that giving a void response does not enable partner to establish if you have the trump queen or not, and it also does not enable him to ask for kings (but one would normally cue bid kings after a void response).

I am in the middle of writing a more comprehensive booklet on RKCB and I'll hopefully publish it sometime soon.  
There are a few books about RKCB on the market, but Eddie Kantar is undoubtedly the acknowledged expert. His book is, however, extreemly advanced.  
    Buy from


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