R O M A N   K E Y C A R D   B L A C K W O O D
How Many Keycards Do You Have?

Eddie Kantar wrote four different books trying to describe how to overcome the problems with this form of Blackwood, and numerouse auxiliary conventions such as Kickback, Redwood, Minorwood, etc, have been devised to compensate for the failures inherent in it, but it is still one of the world's most popular conventions.  Four books!  And yet, two players will sit down to play for the first time and one will ask, "fourteen thirty or the other?"
"No, I play zero three one four."
And with that they go on to the next item on the card.  So much for Eddie's four books.

Good and Bad
The idea of making the king of trump equivalent to an ace was a great improvement over the old standard Blackwood, and being able to ask about the queen is almost as valuable.  RKC works wonderfully well when your trump suit is spades, but not so well with hearts and is awful with the minors.  Let me show you a disaster caused by the agreement.  This hand occurred at BBO, BridgeBase Online.

The Problem
I'm pretty sure you can see the problem without me pointing out the obvious... Declarer was committed to slam off two aces because the trump suit was hearts and not spades, which could have been passed.  Like I said, the convention works great when you have the master suit.

Three Suggestions
  • Read Kantar's four books and then tell your partners what you learned, because they won't read them
  • Give up RKC - but keep the idea of the king of trump being a keycard and use a modified standard Blackwood
  • Take a look at MSK, Major Suit Keycard, which is just as complicated as RKC but solves this problem

    Major Suit Keycard - MSK (Created by Roy Wilson)
    Major Suit Keycard is a modified Blackwood that is optimized for majors, hence the name.  It will also work for minors, but a partnership would do better using Gerber or Minorwood when the trump suit is clubs or diamonds.

    4NT is the asking bid:
      5     Zero or one Keycard
      5     Two Keycards but no Queen
      5     Two Keycards with the Queen
      5     Three keycards or two with an unspecified void
      5NT     Four keycards
      6     Three Keycards and a void specifically in clubs
      6     Three Keycards and a void specifically in diamonds
      6     Three Keycards and a major suit void
    5NT is the asking bid:
      5     Zero or one King
      5     Two Kings
      5     Three Kings
    NOTE:  When the response to 4NT is 5 showing zero or one keycard, the asking partner can bid 5 to discover which it is.
      Retreating to five of the major denies a keycard, but bidding a new suit shows one keycard with the queen of trump and jumping to six of the trump suit shows one without the queen.

      The same agreement can be used with the 5NT asking bid after a response of 6.

    Now take another look at the hand at the top of the page and bid it again, using MSK.

    If you would like a more complete explanation of Roman Keycard try:  

    Roy Wilson