We present here the ninth in an occasional series on Roman Keycard Blackwood (RKC). The issue we address is what it means when the RKC bidder bids six of a suit other than our agreed trump suit.

Sometimes, even usually, it’s easy to know what trump is - you open a suit, partner raises, and you bid RKC. But sometimes suit agreement doesn’t come until later in the auction - e.g., 1H-1S-3C-4C. What does it mean if partner first bids RKC for Clubs and then jumps to 6H? (This one is actually pretty easy - opener has an independent heart suit, and 6H is where he wants to play; he jump shifted into clubs because he needed to create a force - perhaps he has a hand such as S A H KQJ109876 D AK C Ax (and yes, we know, he should have opened that hand 2C); when you showed one keycard in response to RKC opener knows that we’re missing either the king of clubs or the ace of hearts so signs off in 6H.)

Sadly, there’s not too much guidance we can give you here. But there are two useful rules: First, if the RKC bidder asks for the queen, you say you don’t have it, and he now goes back to a previously bid suit that’s to play; you are not invited to go back to the suit in which he asked for the queen. For example, if the bidding has been 1H-1S-2S-4N-5C (one or four keycards)-5D (queen ask)-5S (no queen) 6H is to play. However, if you denied having the queen by your answer to the keycard ask (bidding 5H to show two without) the bid of a suit, whether previously bid or not, is a try for a grand slam, not an offer of a place to play. The reason for the difference should be clear - when you, unasked, tell partner that you don’t have the queen the news may not be surprising to him since he’s looking at it. But if he asks for it and you say you don’t have it a grand is no longer possible - if it were partner shouldn’t have asked about the queen.

Second, if you jump to the six level in a previously bid suit after hearing partner’s response to RKC you are offering a choice of slams - partner’s response to RKC told the asker that a grand was not possible (else he would have asked about kings or made a specific suit ask), so he is simply suggesting that you might want to play in this other suit.

Up next: Enemy interference over RKC.



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