This conventional method was developed by Mr. Jean Marc Roudinesco of Paris, France, (1932 - 2001), who was an author, bridge theorist, and bridge expert on the international scene. His perhaps most famous publication is The Dictionary of Suit Combinations, 1996, Publisher: Guy Tredaniel, ISBN: 2857078250 / ISBN-13: 978-2857078258.

Fundamental Concept

The concept behind Progressive Key Card Blackwood is the feature, whereby the responder is able to show a void in addition to the number of Keycards, however not their location.

The conventional method is always initiated by either partner with a bid of 4 No Trump after the establishment of a trump suit or the strong inference of a trump suit. The responder counts all four Aces and the King of trumps as the Key Cards. This information is communicated in the following manner:

5 Clubs: Shows 0 or 3 Key Cards.
5 Diamonds: Show 1 or 4 Key Cards.
5 Hearts: Shows 2 or 5 Key Cards.
5 Spades: Shows 1 or 4 Key Cards plus a void in a side suit. This side suit may be higher-ranking or lower-ranking than the trump suit.
5 NT: Shows 2 Key Cards plus a void in a side suit. This side suit may be higher-ranking or lower-ranking than the trump suit.
6 Clubs: Shows 3 Key Cards plus a void in a side suit. This side suit may be higher-ranking or lower-ranking than the trump suit.
     

Continuations

Following the responses communicating the number of Key Cards held, the 4 No Trump bidder can continue to ask for Kings. The King-asking bid is based only on the responses of 5 Clubs, 5 Diamonds, and 5 Hearts. In order to ask for the number of Kings the No Trump bidder employs the next higher-ranking suit or No Trump, excluding the trump suit, to ask for the number of Kings. The responses are then given in steps in the following manner.

First Step: Shows zero side Kings.
Second Step: Shows 1 side King; information about the location is not provided in the response.
Third Step: Shows 2 side Kings; information about the location is not provided in the response.
Fourth Step: Shows 3 side Kings; information about the location is not provided in the response, and is not necessary in this instance.

An illustration should clarify this action:

South
Spades AJ108
Hearts KQ6
Diamonds QJ3
Clubs AQ7
 
North
Spades KQ97643
Hearts A53
Diamonds AK
Clubs 8
South   North   Meaning
1 Clubs       South has opening values.
    1 Spades   North has sufficient values to respond.
3 Spades       South has a limit raise, but is unable to bid game owing to insufficient values.
    4 NT   North has additional values and, after a fit has been establishes, initiates the Progressive Key Card Blackwood convention.
5 Hearts       This response shows 2 or 5 Key Cards.

At this point in the auction North knows via the response of South that South holds the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Clubs. North has the remaining three Key Cards, which are the Ace of Hearts, the Ace of Diamonds, and the King of trump. However, North would like to explore the possibility of a grand slam and initiates the King-ask by bidding the next higher-ranking suit or No Trump. The continuation is as follows:

South   North   Meaning
5 Hearts       South shows 2 or 5 Key Cards, which are the four Aces and the King of Spades.
    5 NT   North is unable to ask for side Kings by bidding Spades, the trump suit. This would be a sign-off bid. North has to exclude Spades and bid 5 No Trump to ask for side Kings. South responds in steps according to the schematic above.
6 Diamonds       In order to show 1 side King South must employ the Second Step.

Summary: North now has the information that South holds the Ace of Spades, the Ace of Clubs, and either the King of Hearts or the King of Clubs.

Queen Inquiry

After communicating the number of Key Cards and the number of side Kings the partnership may wish to inquire about the Queen of trump. This is accomplished by bidding the next higher-ranking suit following the response to communicate the number of side Kings. In this example the continuation would be as follows asking for the Queen of trump:

South   North   Meaning
6 Diamonds       South shows 1 side King by employing the Second Step.
    6 Hearts   By bidding the next higher-ranking suit, (always excluding the trump suit in other bidding sequences), North is asking about the possession of the Queen of trump.
6 Spades       By bidding the trump suit South denies the Queen of trump.
6 NT       By bidding two steps higher South can show the possession of the Queen of trump. At this point in the auction North, the asking partner, may decide to sign-off or continue. (It is possible that the partnership, via the asking bids, arrives at a response, at which the contract is in jeopardy, and it is essential that the partnership keep this is mind.)

An interesting feature of the Progressive Key Card Blackwood conventional method is the fact that the asking partner, after determining the number of held Key Cards and the number of side Kings can not only inquire about the Queen of trump by bidding the next higher-ranking suit, including the trump suit as a denial bid, but also about all four side Queens by bidding the second higher-ranking suit or No Trump following the suit showing the number of Kings held by partner, excluding the trump suit.

In several slam auctions the partnership may wish to discover the number of Queens held by the partner. This is generally the case if the asking partner holds the Queen of trump. If the asking partner does not hold the Queen of trump, then the first obligation is to discover whether or not partner holds this honor card.

However, when the asking partner does hold the Queen of trump, and there is sufficient bidding space that allows for such an action, then the same principle of using steps to discover the number of Queens is employed. The Queen-ask bid is then the second higher-ranking suit or No Trump, excluding the trump suit. In oder to show the number of Queens, South follows the same guidelines as for responding to the number of Kings with the exception that all four Queens must be accounted for.

First Step: Shows zero Queens.
Second Step: Shows 1 Queen; information about the location is not provided in the response.
Third Step: Shows 2 Queens; information about the location is not provided in the response.
Fourth Step: Shows 3 Queens; information about the location is not provided in the response, and is not necessary in this instance.
Fifth Step: Shows 4 Queens, which automatically communicates the possession of the Queen of trump.

In this particular bidding sequence it would be prudent of North to attempt to discover whether or not South holds any side Queens and how many. However, the bidding space is shrinking, which will be a frequent occurrence with Progressive Key Card Blackwood. The following continuation shows the Queen-asking bid by North and the corresponding response by South:

South   North   Meaning
6 Diamonds       In order to show 1 side King South must employ the Second Step.
    6 Hearts   Note: This bid becomes the Queen-asking bid for the trump Queen only. If the next higher-ranking suit is the trump suit, then this suit is excluded and the next suit or No Trump is employed as the Queen-asking bid.
    6 NT   In order to ask for the number of side Queens held by partner, North is unable to bid the trump suit since this would signify a sign-off bid. North must by-pass the trump suit and bid No trump, which then becomes the Queen-asking bid.
7 Spades       South shows the possession of three side Queens by bidding the Fourth Step.

At this point in the auction North now knows, via the responses of South, that South holds the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Clubs, either the King of Hearts or the King of Clubs, and holds the Queen of Hearts, the Queen of Diamonds, and the Queen of Clubs.

With this communicated information North can safely, securely, and with total assurance bid either the grand slam in Spades (by passing) or bid the better contract of 7 No Trump, which would provide the partnership with an additional ten points.

Queen Asking Bid - Intentionally By-passing the King-Asking Bid

In the case that the Progressive Key Card Blackwood bidder is not interested in asking for the number of Kings held by partner, then this asking partner has an immediate opportunity to engage the Queen-asking bid. The same example is used to illustrate how this action is accomplished:

South
North
Meaning
1 Clubs
 
South has opening values.
 
1 Spades
North has a minimum of 4 Spades and sufficient values to respond.
3 Spades       South shows a limited values promising at least 4 cards Spade support and 15/16-19 points, insufficient values to bid game.
    4 NT   North initiates the Progressive Key Card Blackwood convention. The established trump suit is Spades.
5 Hearts       South shows 2 or 5 Key Cards, which are the four Aces and the King of Spades.
    6 Clubs   At this point in the auction North is not interested in the number of held Kings. For example, North holds all four Kings and it would be pointless to ask partner if he held any Kings.

A feature of Progressive Key Card Blackwood allows the asking partner to by-pass the King-ask and inquire directly whether partner holds the Queen of trump. The condition is that the asking partner does not hold the Queen of trump.

In this particular auction the King-asking bid would be 5 No Trump since Spades is the trump suit. Bidding the Spade suit would be a sign-off.

In order to ask directly for the Queen of trump, the asking partner would bid the second higher-ranking suit, or 6 Clubs, to inquire about possession of the Queen of trump.

6 Diamonds       Denies possession of the Queen of trump.
6 Hearts       Shows the possession of the Queen of trump.

The partnership must be mindful of the fact that the responses are based on this presented particular auction. The answering bids change according to the asking bids, and the asking bids change according to the answering bids. The partnership must be mindful also of the fact that the trump suit is normally excluded and by-passed in the step responses and/or asking bids, but may be included in several particular bidding sequences only for the answering bids.

 

 

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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