We present here the tenth in an occasional series on Roman Keycard Blackwood (RKC).

Sometimes those nasty people sitting to your left and right decide to enter the auction after you bid RKC - usually they will have bid a suit before bidding above 4N, but not always. For example, if the auction begins 1S-(P)-4C (splinter)-(double) and you bid 4N, RKC, LHO may decide to enter with a bid of 5C. Or the auction may begin 1S-(P)-4N (RKC) and LHO throws in a double (which we play as asking for the lead of the lowest suit you couldn’t have otherwise asked for, here clubs). It’s good to know what you’re doing here.

There are three relevant acronyms: DOPI, DEPO, and ROPI. DOPI stands for “double zero pass one.” Until very recently we would have told you that the meaning was obvious: if you double you are making the bid that would have shown either three or zero keycards had the enemy passed (the second step if you play 1430, the first step if you play 3014); if you pass you are making the bid that would have shown one or four keycards. But in Toronto one of us played with a good partner who, even though we were playing 1430, thought that double showed the first step. There’s no theoretical advantage to playing either way, but it’s probably worth the three seconds it will take you to clear that up before you start playing.

ROPI stands for “redouble zero pass one.” Again, pre-Toronto we would have thought that the meaning was obvious, but apparently not - as above, at least one Canadian player thinks that double shows one or four, even when playing 1430. Obviously ROPI is only relevant when the enemy doubles 4N.

DEPO stands for “double even pass odd.” Fortunately there’s no ambiguity about what an even number of keycards is and what an odd number is (except that zero is an even number for these purposes; if you’re a mathematician and are aghast at what we just said please understand that we’re speaking bridge, not math).

So if the enemy bids over your bid of RKC the only remaining question, if you play both DOPI and DEPO, is which one applies. You’ll be happy to hear that the answer is simple: if you can still bid 5H to show two keycards without the queen of trump you play DOPI; if not you play DEPO. An example should make this clear: If partner opens 1S and you hold J10xx KQ KQJ10 AKQ you might well bid 4N - if partner has three keycards with the queen you’ll bid a slam, otherwise you should be safe in 5S (surely he has to have at least two keycards) . But what if the enemy throws in a 5H bid - obviously partner can no longer bid 5H to show two without, but if you didn’t play DEPO and switch here, partner could bid 5N to show two keycards with the queen (double being the step that shows three or zero and pass being the step that shows one or four), leaving you forced to bid 6S anyway, even knowing that you’re off two keycards. (As an aside, it seems to be fashionable these days to bid slam missing a keycard and the queen; maybe that’s not so bad when you know we have at least nine trumps - the odds of bringing in a nine card suit to the ace-king missing the queen for no losers is 52% - but it’s still considered proper to have at least four of the five keycards!)

Up next: Bids other than 4N asking for keycards (Redwood, Kickback, and Minorwood).

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