By Peter Rhead
Example of Exclusion Blackwood
Consider this beautiful hand that you have been dealt.
You open One Spade. Partner bids Three Spades showing four-card Spade support with a limit raise of 10-12 points. Now you know you may be in slam territory even though you are missing four Key-Cards: three Aces and the King of trump. You need only the right two Key-Cards from partner for your slam try. If you bid Four No-Trump Blackwood and partner responds three Aces, you are off to the races. But if partner responds two Key-Cards, what do you do? If one of partner’s two Aces is the Ace of Hearts, your slam is scuppered, losing two tricks to either the Ace or King of trump or Ace of Clubs.
Over the last three weeks we reviewed three Blackwood Conventions used in suit contracts. One was Roman Key-Card Blackwood (RKC), where the King of trump is counted as an Ace. 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. RKC Blackwood will be used today.
Today we also use Exclusion Blackwood, a sophisticated extension 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 that you hold today’s sample hand. If you ask partner for Aces and he gives you two Aces, what do you do? If one happens to be the Ace of Hearts, you slam interest goes down the drain. So how do you know? 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 showing that you do not care about that Ace.
So, with your hand you bid Five Hearts. This tells partner you are interested in slam (you already have established the trump suit as Spades). It also tells partner to exclude the Ace of Hearts in his response, a wasted value, because you have a void in Hearts (thus Exclusion Blackwood). Remember, the King of Spades is considered an Ace when counting.
Partner will answer up the line Five Spades or Five No-Trump showing RKC 1430 (one or four and three or zero Aces respectively) without counting the Ace of Hearts. To show two Aces without the Queen of trump bid Six Clubs (next step up the line). A bid of Six Diamonds will show two Aces with the Queen of trump but again not counting the Ace of Hearts.
You are the Captain. With the information you have now, you bid Five Spades or Six Spades or Seven Spades. In our example, knowing partner has two Aces not counting the Ace of Hearts, you bid Six Spades. And Voila! You have your probable slam unless you are unlucky enough to find the opponents lead into a void of their own!
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 a warning! Remember, your Five Hearts void bid might be mistaken by a forgetful partner as wanting to play Hearts. 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: Splinter Bids
Remember, as we all fight COVID-19 with social isolation, if you want your Bridge fix, there is Online competition available for all skill levels. From the ACBL Bridge website, you can hook up either to play with 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.
If you wish to promote an activity in your Bridge group or ask a Bridge question, send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to include it in this column.
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