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

Suppose that partner asks for keycards and you have a void. Depending on what partner has, the void may be just what he needs to bid slam or it may be almost useless - say, if he has Axx in that suit. Unless you know for sure that your void is useless to partner (more on that anon), you will simply tell partner about the void. Here’s how:

If you have an odd number of keycards (one or three) you jump to six of your void unless it’s above six of our suit, in which case that’s what you jump to. Caveat one: Before deciding to jump to the six level with one keycard make sure that nothing in your bidding might have convinced partner that he could safely ask for keycards when holding less than three - e.g., if you have reversed with a 6-5-2-0 without many points partner, holding AKQ and AK in your short suits, may think it safe to ask for keycards; it’s safe to say he’ll be disappointed to hear that we’re missing two keycards in your suits.

Caveat two: When your void is one below our agreed trump suit - for example, if our suit is spades and you’re void in hearts - partner won’t be able to ask for the queen of trump when you bid 6H; on the other hand, if you’re void in diamonds partner may bid 6H over 6D to ask about the queen (without it you sign off in 6S and with it you cuebid a king on the seven level, bid 6N with no kings but an especially good hand for your bidding to date, or jump to 7S). So if you have a void plus the queen you have to decide which is more important for partner to know about; the usual rule of thumb is that the queen is.

If you have an even number of keycards (zero, two, or four) and a void you bid 5N. Usually you won’t show the void with zero (a possible exception is if you’ve shown extreme weakness during the auction so that you’re known not to have two keycards but your hand is otherwise good for slam), and usually you won’t have four keycards when partner bids RKC. If you haven’t shown shortness (e.g., by splintering) during the auction, so that partner doesn’t know where your void is, he bids the next step (6C) to ask or the step after that (6D) as the queen ask (obviously, he can only ask one of the questions). If you’ve shown shortness during the auction there’s no need for partner to ask where your void is, so the first step (6C) asks for the queen.

When might a void not be useful, so that you won’t show it but rather simply answer how many keycards you have? This is an area where judgment is required. One easy case is where partner has shown five cards opposite your void and you don’t have four or more good trumps. Another case where you shouldn’t show your void is when you have a weak hand with fewer than three trumps (if you have a strong hand with fewer than three trumps your void may be useful not as a source of tricks but as a control while partner goes about setting up your hand).

Up next: Bidding RKC when you have a void (a.k.a. Exclusion).

Marsha Sirkin noticed an error in our last RKC column. The RKC bidder held S AKQxx H Kx D Kx C AKxx and the point was that after finding that our side has all the keycards you need to know what partner has in clubs - if partner has xxxx you obviously don’t want to be in a grand, but if he has Qxxx you do. Inadvertently the club holding in both cases - where we said the grand was cold and where we said you didn’t want to be in it - were printed as the same. Thanks, Marsha.

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