This slam bidding method was devised and developed by Mr. Stewart W. Bowers of New York, New York, United States. Additional information about Mr. Stewart Bowers is not available and any contribution would be greatly appreciated.

Note: The designation of Bowers Variation of Blackwood and Bower's Convention is also employed to describe this concept.

Note: Mr. Stewart Bowers wrote three articles for the magazine The Bridge World in the year 1956 regarding his topic Contract's Stepchild: The Passed Hand. These three articles were published in issues April 1956, Vol. 27, No. 6, Vol. 27, No. 9, and Vol. 27, No. 9.

The Bower conventional method is a variation on the Blackwood concept and is also triggered by the bid of 4 No Trump by either partner, with or without competition from the opponents.

Principle of the Concept

The method allows the partnership to locate specific Aces in some instances, which is an additional feature not available in the original version of Blackwood as developed by Mr. Easley Blackwood.

The following diagram shows the possible responses and their meanings. Source: The OEofB, 1971, p: 39.

5 : Shows no Ace.
5 : Shows 1 Ace in a suit not bid by the partnership.
5 : Shows 1 Ace in a suit bid by the partnership.
5 : Shows 2 Aces.
5 NT: Shows 3 Aces.
6 : Shows 4 Aces.

As the bridge student can recognize, the possibility for asking about the number of Kings is not possible with all responses of the responder. The bids 5 No Trump and 6 Clubs do not allow the Ace-asking partner to inquire about the number of Kings.

An illustration follows to clarify the bidding sequence:

South   West   North   East   Meaning
1   Pass   3   Pass   North shows a game-forcing raise in Hearts.
4 NT   Pass           South initiates the Bowers conventional method and asks for the number of Aces.
        5       Shows 1 Ace in a suit not bid by the partnership. The Bowers-asking partner can determine the exact location of the Ace held by partner when holding all other three Aces. When holding two Aces, the Bowers-asking partner is unable to determine the suit.
K976
QJ108
A6
K43
                 
        5 NT       Shows 3 Aces. The Bowers-asking partner is unable to continue asking for the number of Kings since the King-asking bid is still 5 No Trump.
K976
QJ108
AQ
K43

Bowers King-Asking

Since the Bowers conventional method does allow King-asking bids following several of the responses, the responses follow the same pattern as that for asking for Aces as shown in the following:

South   West   North   East   Meaning
1   Pass   3   Pass   North shows a game-forcing raise in Hearts.
4 NT   Pass           South initiates the Bowers conventional method and asks for the number of Aces.
        5       Shows 1 Ace in a suit not bid by the partnership. The Bowers-asking partner can determine the exact location of the Ace held by partner when holding all other three Aces. When holding two Aces, the Bowers-asking partner is unable to determine the suit.
K976
QJ108
A6
K43
                 
5 NT               Since the first response to the Bowers-asking bid of 4 No Trump is below the bid of 5 No Trump, then the 5 No Trump bid becomes the Bowers King-asking bid. The same pattern is followed as with the Ace-asking responses.
        6       Shows zero Kings.
        6       Shows 1 King in a suit not bid by the partnership.
        6       Shows 1 King in a suit bid by the partnership.
        6       Shows 2 Kings.
K976
QJ108
A6
K43
        6 NT       Shows 3 Kings.
        7       Shows 4 Kings.

It is unrealistic to expect that the Bower King-asking partner to hear a response higher than 6 Spades. As in the Blackwood conventional method a continuance of the slam bidding auction with 5 No Trump guarantees the possession of all four Aces, so also does the Bower King-asking bid of 5 No Trump guarantee the possession of all four Aces.

It is also, therefore, not realistic to believe that the Bowers King-asking partner to inquire about the number of Kings held by partner when holding only one King, meaning that any response would not exceed the bid of 6 Spades. In the case that the established trump suit is Spades, then the partnership can easily afford to inquire about the number of Aces. However, if the established trump suit is Hearts, then the partnership must take extraordinary caution if the Bowers King-asking partner holds only two Kings.

Bowers Roman Blackwood

A variation on the concept of Mr. Stewart W. Bowers exists and is based on the principle of Roman Blackwood. The responses to an Ace-asking bid are as follows.

Note: The Revised Roman Responses to Blackwood (shown below) may be employed either separately or in conjunction with the Bowers Conventional Responses. This is a partnership agreement, but the presentation on this page deals only with the partnership agreement that both conventional response methods are employed together.

Note: If the established or implied trump suit is a Minor suit, then the Bowers Roman Blackwood conventional responses do not apply. The responses are only designed if the established or implied trump suit is a Major suit.

South   West   North   East   Meaning
1   Pass   3   Pass   North shows a game-forcing raise in Hearts.
4 NT   Pass           Bowers Roman Blackwood. South initiates the Bowers Roman Blackwood conventional method and asks for the number of Aces.
        5       Shows either 0 or 3 Aces, or 1 Ace without the King of the trump suit.
        5       Shows either 1 Ace with the King of the trump suit or 4 Aces.
K976
KJ108
A6
K43
                 
Following a first response of 5 Clubs the asking partner does not know whether the responder shows 0 Aces, 3 Aces (presumably), or 1 Ace without the King of the trump suit. Therefore, the continuances of the 4 NT bidder are as follows:
5 : The 4 NT bidder (asking partner) signs off on the five level of the established or implied trump suit. If the responding partner holds 3 Aces, then the responding partner bids slam in the agreed trump suit.
If the 4 NT bidder requires the information as to whether the responding partner has either 0 Aces or 1 Ace, then the 4 NT bidder rebids 5 Diamonds. The responses of the responder are as follows:
South   West   North   East   Meaning
1   Pass   3   Pass   North shows a game-forcing raise in Hearts.
4 NT   Pass           Bowers Roman Blackwood. South initiates the Bowers Roman Blackwood conventional method and asks for the number of Aces.
        5   Pass   Shows either 0 or 3 Aces, or 1 Ace without the King of the trump suit.
5   Pass           The 4 NT bidder asks the responder to clarify whether the holding contains 0 Aces or 1 Ace without the King of the trump suit.
        5       The responder shows 0 Aces.
        5       The responder shows 1 Ace without the King of the trump suit.
        5 NT       The responder shows 1 Ace plus the Queen of the trump suit.
        6       The responder shows values for a slam and also the King of Clubs.
        6       The responder shows values for a slam and also the King of Diamonds.

Note: Once the responder shows a game-forcing holding and the trump suit has either been established or implied, then the responder to the Ace-asking partner may by-pass the inquiry showing of either 0 Aces or 1 Ace without the King of the trump suit and bid a feature on the six level. This feature is generally not an Ace, but rather a second-round control, which is normally the King of the bid suit below the trump suit.

Note: Under certain circumstances the feature on the six level may also be a void in that suit. Whether or not this is the case, this possibility cannot be determined on the six level, or slam level.

Note: As mentioned above the Bowers Roman Blackwood conventional responses only apply if the established or implied trump suit is a Major suit. If the established or implied trump suit is a Minor suit, then the partnership agreement may be that the responses are in conjunction with the Revised Roman Responses to Blackwood. These responses are shown below and are applied only by partnership agreement if the established or implied trump suit is a Minor suit. Source.

South   West   North   East   Meaning
1   Pass   3   Pass   North shows a game-forcing raise in Diamonds and established the Minor trump suit.
4 NT   Pass           Revised Roman Responses. South denies any interest in a 3 No Trump contract. South initiates the Revised Roman Blackwood conventional responses to ask for the number of Aces.
Example
QJ
AQJ
AK986
KQ
        5       Shows either 0 or 3 Aces.
        5       Shows either 1 or 4 Aces.
        5       Shows 2 Aces without the King of the trump suit.
        5       Shows 2 Aces with the King of the trump suit.
        5 NT       Shows 2 Aces with the King and the Queen of the trump suit.

Continuances by the Asking Partner

If the Ace-asking partner is seeking a grand slam after discovering that all the Aces are accounted for, then this player rebids 5 No Trump, if this rebid is still open. If the responder has responded 5 No Trump, which shows 2 Aces with the King and the Queen of the trump suit, then the Ace-asking partner must make a guess since there is no possible bidding room to request a grand slam bid.

If, however, this rebid is still open, then the responder will deny interest in a grand slam following a 5 No Trump rebid by the Ace-asking partner by rebidding the Minor trump suit on the six level.

If the responder is interested in seeking a grand slam following a 5 No Trump bid by the Ace-asking partner, then the responder bids a feature if this bid is below the agreed Minor trump suit. If the feature is above the agreed Minor trump suit, then the partner can bid this feature if the contract of 6 No Trump is guaranteed.

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

 


     
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