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Why Not 1340 Roman Keycard Blackwood?

No, the title does not contain a typographical error. No need for a {sic}. I did not mistype either 3014 (also known as 0314) or 1430, the popular Roman Keycard Blackwood conventions.

Several months ago, an advancing player asked a local bridge email discussion group (not on the global scale of about the theoretical advantages when comparing 1430 to 3014 keycard responses. “Partner’s preference” was the most popular answer given for choosing either one, while some suggested that 1430 is theoretically superior. I’ve read statements that 1430 is better if the strong hand is asking, and 3014 is better if the weak hand is asking.

What keycard responses are the least helpful?

Let’s try to take a fresh look and ask ourselves, when asking for keycards, what answers would be the most helpful to hear (or see)? Probably not 0 or 4. You probably shouldn’t be using 4NT to ask for keycards if you’ll need partner to have 4 or 5 of them to make a slam likely and you don’t have a good idea from the prior auction how likely this holding is. My premise for this statement is that your auction has approached 4NT and you haven’t yet learned enough about partner’s honor holdings through either control bids or strength-showing bids like jump shifts, jump raises, reverses, or NT bids or rebids.

Alternatively, if partner's response could show no keycard, you should generally know what to do without asking for either the trump queen or kings outside of trump. 0 is the most discouraging response. (I'll assume you've agreed that the partner who shows 0 or 4 will automatically carry on (Autowood) holding 4 when the asker attempts to sign off.)  Rarely you may be holding all 5 keycards and still want to initiate a keycard sequence, but do you want to hinge your system on having such a holding?

What keycard responses are the most helpful?

As the answers showing 2 keycards are constant in each convention, if the extreme answers of either 0 or 4 are less helpful, then the keycard answers you’re probably most interested in hearing are 1 or 3. If your lowest step response shows 1 or 3, partner will have more room to gather information, for example by using the next lowest bid to ask for the trump queen. It seems to me that 1340 Keycard responses leave more room to get more information when you’re more likely to want more information.

So why are 1430 and 3014 so popular? What have I overlooked?  Feel free to explain your answer.

1. I already play 1340 Roman Keycard Blackwood.
2. I think I'll give 1340 a try.
3. Any theoretical advantage of 1340 isn’t worth the memory burden.
4. I see no theoretical advantage to 1340 and prefer either 1430 or 3014.
5. I prefer 1430 to 3014 and 1340.
6. I prefer 3014 to 1430 and 1340.
7. I use both 3014 and 1430 in the same partnership depending on the auction.
8. My keycard response system is better than any of these. (Please explain.)

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