Main Page - Lesson Deals - Play Technique Previous - Lessons - Next Bidding Conventions LESSON 23Slam Bidding Conventions

(
Down - Top)

BR 23.1 - Blackwood Convention

As explained earlier bidding conventions are predetermined coded messages in the auction (using regular bids) to convey special features of a hand.
The Blackwood Convention (intBG-13) starts with a bid of :

• 4 NT which conveys the message :
"Partner, how many Aces do you hold in your hand?"

• Partner replies :

These bids tell absolutely nothing about the suit bid, but only indicate the number of Aces held in Partner's hand.
When the 4NT bidder discovers his side holds all 4 Aces, he me follow on with a bid of :

• 5 NT - this shows that the side holds all 4 Aces and conveys the message :
"Partner, how many Kings do you hold in your hand?"

• Partner replies :

The Blackwood convention is used in trump contracts where some of the 33 points required for a Small Slam may include 4 or more shortages points, and the Opponents may therefore hold 2 Aces. The Blackwood Convention guards against this.

The bid of 4NT is not Blackwood when it is a response to a NT opening bid. In such case it is an invitation bid for Slam (1NT - 4NT - ?   or 2NT - 4NT - ?)

Enemy Interference
When the enemy tries to spoil the party with an interference bid over Partner's Blackwood 4 NT responses follow the so called DOPI procedure.
For example after 4NT - (5D) - You ?

 Double Pass (5 in next suit) 5H (5 in suit after that) 5S = 0 or 4 Aces   (D = 0) = 1 Ace   (P = 1) = 2 Aces = 3 Aces

3NT Blackwood
After a Game-force raise :   1♥ - 3♥ - ?   or   1♠ - 3♠ - ?   it is highly unlikely that the Partnership would want to end up in a 3 No Trump contract.   This bid can therefore be use as a 3NT Blackwood Convention bid instead :

1♥ - 3♥ - 3NT - ?     or     1♠ - 3♠ 3NT - ?

Responses are exactly as after 4NT, only one level lower.   This has the advantage that after a negative response the Partnership can still sign off with a Game bid in a major suit at the 4 level.

Jazclass Recommendation
When a major suit trump fit has been revealed (in whatever manner) a bid of 3NT by either player is the Blackwood or the RKC Blackwood Convention (intBG-13).

(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 23.2 - Roman Keycard Blackwood

Roman Keycard Blackwood (intBG-13) is a useful variation on the standard Blackwood conventions and includes asking for the King and Queen of the trump suit. if no trump suit has been agreed upon the last bid suit counts as the trump suit.

The key cards are the 4 Aces plus the trump King.
The responses to 4NT then are :

After a 5C or 5D response the cheapest bid (excluding the trump suit) asks for the trump Queen. The cheapest response to that denies the trump Queen. The next higher bid promises the trump Queen.

A subsequent bid of 5NT asks for the Kings as in standard Blackwood, but the trump King is not shown again.

Against enemy interference use DOPI
For example after 4NT - (5D) - You ?

 Double Pass (5 in next suit) 5♥ (5 in suit after that) 5♠ = 0 or 3 key cards   (D = 0) = 1 or 4 key cards   (P = 1) = 2 key cards without the trump Queen = 2 key cards with the trump Queen

3NT Roman Keycard Blackwood
After a Game-force raise :   1♥ - 3♥ - ?   or   1♠ - 3♠ - ?   it is highly unlikely that the Partnership would want to end up in a 3 No Trump contract.   This bid can therefore be use as a 3NT Blackwood or Roman Keycard Blackwood Convention bid instead :

1♥ - 3♥ - 3NT - ?     or     1♠ - 3♠ 3NT - ?

Responses are exactly as after 4NT, only one level lower.   This has the advantage that after a negative response the Partnership can still sign off with a Game bid in a major suit at the 4 level.

Jazclass Recommendation
Whenever a major suit trump fit has been revealed a bid of 3NT by either player is the Blackwood or the RKC Blackwood Convention (intBG-13).

(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 23.3 - Cue bidding

Blackwood and Roman keycard Blackwood are useful tools for investigating the possibility of a Slam contract for many hands. However for some unbalanced hands these conventions may not produce the required answers.
Take this hand for example :

♠ A J 10 9 8 6 4     ♥ -     ♦ A Q 2     ♣ K Q J

Bidding 4NT Blackwood is fine if Partner holds both Aces, but what if he only holds one ? The Ace of Hearts is not of much use with this hand, while the Ace of Diamonds will make all the difference.
This is where cue bidding becomes most useful.

1. When a trump suit has been found

2. and Game has been reached or a Game forcing situation exists

3. any bid of a new suit is a cue bid, showing first round control in that suit

First round control is either an Ace or a void
Second round control is a King or a singleton
Cue bids are bid up the line, cheapest first round control first. Skipping a suit denies first round control in that suit.
After first round control have been bid, later cue bids show second round control.

Controls in the trump suit are not shown. Bidding the trump suit is a sign off saying : "I have nothing more to show at this point Partner."
After the cue bidding you still can bid 4NT Blackwood if required, for example to distinguish between Aces and voids.

Here is a typical example.
 West ♠ - A J 10 9 8 6 4 ♥ - ♦ - K Q J ♣ - A Q 2 East ♠ - K Q 5 2 ♥ - 7 5 3 2 ♦ - A 8 ♣ - K J 9

The auction, using cue bids, goes like this :

 West   1S   (Ace of Clubs)     4C   (void in Hearts)     4H   (Trump Honours ask)   5NT   7S East -   3S -   4D     (Ace of Diamonds) -   5C     (King of Clubs) -   6H     (2 of top 3 trump Honours)

West's 5NT is asks for East trump card Honours as outlined in the Chapter below.

Cue bidding is the best way on investigating Slam possibilities when you hold a void, or suspect that your Partner may hold a void or singleton.

(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 23.4 - Showing a Void with Blackwood (or with RKC Blackwood)

Cue bidding is the most obvious method for revealing a void ("first round control") in your hand. But there is another way using Blackwood or RKC Blackwood (whichever method you use).

When holding both one or more Aces and a void, bid your Aces one level higher than you normally would. However use this method only when Partner can identify the void and/or the void will make a positive contribution to the proposed contract.
For example when Partner (who opened the bidding) bids 4NT and you hold the following hand :

♠ K J 10 8     ♥ - A Q 9 5 2     ♦ A 10 8 6     ♣ -

Reply at the 6 level : 1♦ - 1♥ - 1♠ - 3♠ - 4NT - you 6♥ -   showing 2 Aces and a void in Clubs (the unbid suit).

Note that by using this method you will miss out the possibility of asking for Kings (with 5NT).
This is where 3NT Blackwood (or RKC Blackwood) have a distinct advantage, as positive void responses are made at the 5 level.

With above hand reply : 1♦ - 1♥ - 1♠ - 3♠ - 3NT - you 5♥ - 5NT (asking for Kings).

(Note : above hand would also qualify for a splinter bid :   1♦ - 1♥ - 1♠ - 4♣ -     showing Spades trump support plus a void in Clubs, see Lesson 26.)

(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 23.5 - Trump Honours asking bid

A 5NT bid, not preceded by a Blackwood 4NT, is a trump asking bid, asking Partner how many of the top 3 Honours (A, K and Q) he holds in the trump suit.
Replies are :

This is a most useful Convention when used in conjunction with cue bidding, where the trump controls are not being investigated.

(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 23.6 - The Gerber 4♣ Convention

The Gerber 4♣ bid is (like Blackwood) an ask for Aces. Responses are :

4♦ = 0 or 4 Aces       4♥ = 1 Ace       4♠ = 2 Aces       4NT = 3 Aces

Likewise a follow on bid of 5♣ is an ask for the Kings :

5♦ = 0 or 4 Kings       5♥ = 1 King       5♠ = 2 Kings       5NT = 3 Kings

The Gerber 4♣ bid can be ambiguous (is it Gerber or is it natural ?). It is also incompatible with Cue bidding, Splinter bids, Slam Trial bids, etc.

Gerber is therefore not used by top players and is not recommended for students who wish to adopt any of the conventions and methods dealt with in this and following lessons of this course.

(
Down - Up - Top)

BR 23.7 - Deals 81 to 88

Deals 81 to 88 are examples of bidding as outlined in this lesson.
Choose between Roman Key card Blacwood and Cue bidding in all these hands. In a few hands the Trump asking bid can also be used in conjunction with Cue bidding.

BR 23.8
Quiz 23 - Answers - Review

(Up - Top - Links page)