Keycard Blackwood

Bidding a slam requires a certain amount of strength. Regardless of how many points you have, barring any voids, aces are losers we are unlikely to avoid. The Blackwood convention was one of the first ever made... it is a tool to prevent us from bidding slams off two cashing aces.

The trump suit is a suit which must be tackled in order to make your slam. If you are missing the King or Queen of trumps, they are a major threat to take a trick. Once we are off 1 ace, it is too dangerous to bid a slam missing the K or Q of trumps. Keycard blackwood is a small adjustment to the original convention which allows us to ask not only for aces, but also include the K and Q of the trump suit.

Keycard just replaces the old version... it is still 4NT asking and still the same bids are used as responses.   The only major difference is that we now have 5 keycards... (the 4 aces and the king of trumps)

You will often hear people ask "Do you play 1430 or 0314?"
Here are the responses if you agree to play 1430:

5 = 1 or 4   (hence 14)
5 = 0 or 3   (hence 30)
5 = 2 without the queen of trumps
5 = 2 with the queen of trumps

The reason we do not include the queen as a keycard is because sometimes we have enough trumps that we don't need to worry about the queen.  Also it is possible that you may be bidding keycard in 1 suit, but then choose to play a different suit (or NT) as a final contract making the queen a less important card.

How do we find out about the queen after a 5 or 5 response?
We bid the first available step...

W
N
E
S
1
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
?

In this auction 5 says, "Do you have the queen"
Responses:
5 of our trump suit = NO (In the example auction, 5)
6 of our trump suit = YES (In the example auction 6)

It is important to be aware, partner may be checking for the queen before making a grand slam try, so using up an entire bidding level to say I have the queen may not be a good idea.  The way we avoid this problem is, when we have the queen of trumps, we assume partner is looking for 7 and give extra information along the way to 6, just in case.  If partner is looking for 7 their next question would be, "Do you have any kings?"   What we do is answer this question at the same time...

5 or 6 of a non trump suit =  YES + I have this king

W
N
E
S
1
P
3
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
?

5* = I have the Q + the K
6* = I have the Q + the K and I do not have the K
6* = I have the Q + the K and I do not have the K or K
5NT = I have the Q + I dont have any kings, but I have extras

NOTE: BLACKWOOD IS NOT A SLAM TRY

Keycard blackwood will help you avoid bidding slams and grand slams missing key cards which are potential losers.  Even though Keycard is a tool used to bid slams it is actually more of a ' slam avoidance tool '.  The point at which you use blackwood you should be committed to bidding slam after you find out you are missing no more than 1 of the 5 keycards and the queen of trumps.

This convention is commonly played in conjunction with Specific Kings .