The Blackwood Convention

Bidding Conventions are predetermined coded messages in the auction (using regular bids) to convey special features of a hand (BG-12).
The Blackwood Convention starts with a bid of :

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

    In "1NT - 4 NT" , and "2NT - 4NT" the 4NT is not Blackwood but a natural invitation to Small Slam.
Partner replies :
  • 5 C - with 0 or 4 Aces
  • 5 D - with 1 Ace
  • 5 H - with 2 Aces
  • 5 S - with 3 Aces
These bids tell absolutely nothing about the bid suit, but only indicate the number of Aces held in Partner's hand.
A follow up bid of :
  • 5 NT shows that the side holds all 4 Aces and conveys the message :
    "Partner, how many Kings do you hold in your hand?"
Partner replies :
  • 6 C   - with no King
  • 6 D   - with 1 King
  • 6 H   - with 2 Kings
  • 6 S   - with 3 Kings
  • 6 NT - with 4 Kings

The Blackwood convention can be useful 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 can guard against this.

Many players, especially beginners, go into Blackwood as soon as they sniff a Slam possibility. This is usually totally unnecessary. Checking up on Aces and Kings is entirely a precautionary measure. In most cases it is more useful to the opponents, and it will never create more points!

Copyright © 2006 Michael Furstner (Jazclass).