By Steve and Kitty Cooper

We present here the seventeenth and final in our series on Roman Keycard Blackwood (RKC).
In this column we discuss what to do when partner bids Exclusion and then asks for kings when you have none but do have the ace and king of the excluded suit.

Say you hold KQx — AKQJ10 Axxxx, hear partner open 1S, and decide to ask for keycards excluding the ace of hearts, so you bid 5H. Good news! Partner has one keycard (which must be the ace of spades since you excluded the ace of hearts and you have the other three keycards) - if you’re playing 1430 partner bids 5S to show one or four. Now you bid 5N, asking him to bid his cheapest king; if he has the king of clubs you’ll bid 6H, Last Train, asking him if there is anything else in his hand that suggests that we might make a grand - he knows you are void in hearts, so you can only be looking either for extra spade length or the queen of clubs. In standard RKC, if he has neither he signs off in 6S.

But what if he has the ace and king of hearts? Why not bid 6H when partner asks for kings to show that, hoping that he can use that information to bid a grand (or at least that he can use it to bid 6N, which scores better and is safe from ruffs). We call this the Zombie RKC Response because the suit that was dead - here hearts - comes to life again. And notice what a difference it makes if partner has AJ10xx AKx xxx xxx, where you have 13 easy tricks in NT (five spades, two hearts, five diamonds, and one club) rather than AJ10xx KQx xxxx x, where only 6S makes on a club lead (without a club lead you have time to set up a heart trick).

Some people play that if you have the ace of the excluded suit, even without the king, you may show it in response to the specific king ask if you have no outside kings. That is a perfectly reasonable way to play.

RE-RE-ALERT! Playing Zombie RKC Responses is logical, but don’t assume you can spring it on partner without discussion.

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