By Peter Rhead
As we all fight COVID-19 in one way or another, Bridge Clubs across North America are taking a hit. After all, Bridge is a social game and separation from your partner and opponents is not part of the game. Do you need your Bridge fix? If your club is temporarily closed, one thing you may not have thought of is online competition. From the ACBL Bridge website, you can hook up either to live people or to robots and test or mould your Bridge skills. At ACBL.org just click on “Play Bridge” and follow the prompts for various choices.
In the meantime, I will continue to try to challenge you with my Bridge column. Remember, a convention is supposed to solve a problem that you and your partner have found in your bidding system. You may find only a couple of conventions useful to you and your partners, which is fine. However, knowledge of other conventions is handy. If your opponents use a particular convention, you then may have some idea of what to expect. So here we go again!
Last week we reviewed the second of three Blackwood Conventions used in suit contracts. It was Roman Key-Card Blackwood (RKC), where the Ace of trump is considered a King. It was developed for slam bidding by players who considered the King of trump to be as important as any other Ace. Therefore there are five Aces and three Kings.
This week we investigate Exclusion Blackwood, a more sophisticated version of RKC. In it, players attempt to work around voids when trying for a slam. Sometimes a void is helpful and sometimes it is useless. Exclusion Blackwood helps to sort out the difference.
Consider the case in a suit contract where you have a void in one suit in which partner has the Ace. The Ace has wasted value because you have control already of your void suit with your trump.
So, with Exclusion Blackwood you find out which Aces your partner has to help you make a slam decision? Instead of bidding Four No-Trump you bid five of the suit where you have a void and thus do not care about that Ace. For example, you have a void in Diamonds so you do not care about the Ace of Diamonds. You already have established Spades as the trump suit so the King of Spades is considered an Ace when counting.
When you bid Five Diamonds, partner knows you are trying for slam but you do not want to hear about the Ace of Diamonds. Partner will answer up the line Five Hearts or Five Spades showing RKC 1430 (one or four and three or zero Aces respectively) without counting the Ace of Diamonds. To show two Aces without the Queen of trump bid Five No-Trump (next step up the line) and six Clubs will show two Aces with the Queen of trump but again not counting the Ace of Diamonds.
You are the Captain. With the information you have now, you bid Five Spades or Six Spades or Seven Spades.
Note that Exclusion Blackwood applies only to a suit contract. Note also that it makes full use of Roman Key-Card Blackwood. You and your partner have to agree to play both conventions if you play Exclusion Blackwood. And warning! Your Five Diamond void bid might be mistaken by a forgetful partner as wanting to play Diamonds. The forgetful partner passes and you have a disaster!
For additional information, read Exclusion Blackwood in Barbara Seagram’s 25 More Bridge Conventions, page 83.
Next Week: An Example of Exclusion Blackwood
If you wish to promote an activity in your Bridge group or ask a Bridge question, send the information to email@example.com and I will try to include it in this column.
Looking for more bridge tips? You’ll find them here.
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