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

Sometimes bidding 4N as RKC is too dangerous because a disappointing answer may take you beyond what you can make. We have looked at Redwood and Kickback as possible solutions, but even they are not always good enough. For example, if you hold S xxx H KQJxx D AK C AKQ and partner opens 3S you’d like to bid a small slam if he has two keycards, but if 4N is your only keycard ask you’re not going to like your result if he bids 5D, showing no keycards.

To deal with this problem Special RKC was developed: Over any preempt other than 3C a bid of 4C, even when it’s not a jump, asks for keycards. But since partner preempted he is very unlikely to have more than two keycards, so the responses are different (hence, “special”). The first step shows no keycards but doesn’t deny having the queen of trump; the second step shows one keycard and denies having the queen of trump; the third step shows one keycard with the queen of trump; the fourth step shows two keycards without the queen of trump, etc. After a response showing zero (the first step) the RKC bidder may ask about the queen of trump by bidding the next step, and partner responds as always (he signs off in our suit without the queen, shows a king if he has the queen, and jumps in our suit if he has the queen with no kings).

In the one special case - when partner opens 3C, where 4C just furthers the preempt - you bid 4D, as if it were Redwood, but partner responds with the Special RKC steps given above.

Up next: Responding with a void when you’ve shown shortness during the auction.

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