By Steve and Kitty Cooper

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

Continuing with our final three columns on RKC, which comprise non-standard treatments that we think are superior, we discuss here why you may want to ask for kings even when you don’t have all the keycards (credit is due to Kit Woolsey for teaching us this treatment).

Suppose you hold S Axxx H KQ D AQJ109 C KQ, open 1D, and hear partner bid 1S. Let’s say you eventually bid RKC and hear partner say that he has two keycards with the queen of trump. So you bid a confident 6S and go down when LHO has J10xx of trump and an ace (or gives his partner a ruff on the go). Unlucky! On to the next hand. But wait: partner’s hand is S KQxx H Axx D Kxx C xxx. Darn it! If only you had known you would have bid and made 6N.

So why not ask for kings? A small problem: As we said when discussing the specific king ask, in standard RKC this invites partner to bid a grand if he has a suitable hand. If partner held instead S KQJ109876 H AJ10 D x C x he would jump to 7S, expecting you to have the three aces he doesn’t have and enough other cards to cover his two potential heart losers.

Kit’s solution is simple: Just play that asking for kings does not necessarily promise all of the keycards. If partner wants to be in a grand when we have all of the keycards, he bids 6N; otherwise he shows his lowest ranking king. So in the second example hand he would bid 6N and you would pass because you know that we’re missing a keycard; on the other hand, if you had one more ace (the missing ace of clubs) you would bid 7S or 7N over 6N. Rather than asking for specific kings, you might even be able to ask about partner’s holding in a specific suit (we covered specific suit asks earlier in this series) and bid 6N if he has the critical holding. Note that 6N by the RKC asker is to play.

In our final column on RKC we’ll address when and why you may choose to show the ace and king of a suit in which the RKC bidder said he was void.

RE-ALERT! Responding in this way is logically superior, but don’t assume you can spring it on partner without discussion.

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