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The Origins of RKCB

I have observed some postings that mention the origins of Roman KeyCard Blackwood, assigning some of the credit to the inventors of Roman Blackwood.


David Yates wrote of a deal from the 1957 Bowl:

This was before (Roman - yes, “they” invented it) keycard Blackwood...


Rohit Gupta wrote, in

Who invented the following conventions?...

... Key-Card Blackwood...

And the answer to this was David Burnstine (Bruce).

But in my circle people are saying KCB was invented by the Italians, to which the prefix Roman was later added


My opinion was that Roman Club methods had nothing to do with the concept of key-cards (four aces and the king of trumps). Roman Blackwood used only the four aces and, for a reason I never understood, allocated responses to identify which two aces responder had. Who cares about that and why?

Now, Gupta's comment about David Bruce is interesting, given that Bruce retired from tournament bridge in 1939. What does pre-war bridge have to do with a convention that was popularised by Eddie Kantar in a series of Bridge World articles (July->September, 1980)?

David Beer commented:

Key-Card Blackwood is mentioned in March 1965 issue of The Bridge Journal but there is no information about who invented it or when.

We are no closer to knowing its origins... but, fortuitously, I happened to be reading a recent bridge magazine...

The Bridge World, September 2019:

The idea of what we now call Key-Card Blackwood had been suggested by Oswald Jacoby in an obscure context in 1935 (it was virtually totally ignored), then recollected in a 1956 Bridge World article (and largely ignored), when it was recommended again by Jeff Rubens in an article in the September 1969 issue. One difference the third time around was that the author delved into the theory of why it was a good idea. Another difference was that this time it caught on. Rubens also suggested a new Blackwood-linked idea, replacing the inept bulk-king-showing with a specific-king-ask after Asker confirmed that all the aces/keys were present by bidding five notrump, but this did not start catching on until it reappeared as part of the Useful-Space Principle series, more than 10 years later.

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