xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> Mountnessing Bridge Club Featured Hand

Mountnessing Bridge Club


Perfect for Exclusion...



Hand played on 

August 2008

Board number

Brighton Mixed Pivot Teams




Game All

Submitted by

Ian Moss

Total IMP scoring


Most bridge players are familiar with Roman Key Card Blackwood which treats the four Aces and the K of the agreed trump suit as key cards.  The wheels are set in motion with a bid of 4NT and responder shows how many key cards he (or she) holds on a step-wise scale.


Occasionally ace-asking is inconvenienced by possession of a void.  Using Exclusion Key Card Blackwood to find out what key cards partner holds outside of the void suit the asker jumps to 5 of that suit.  Responder then ignores the Ace of his partner’s void if he holds it and responds on a step-wise scale to show any other key cards.


The following deal was a perfect hand for this treatment. It occurred in the Mixed Pivot Teams at the recent EBU Summer Congress.





H AQT986

D 9

C –


East opened 1D at most tables and this was passed round to North where there was a wide variety of actions.  In at least one match North tried a subtle 1S on the basis “this will not get passed”.  It was.  Others, more sensibly, started with a Michaels cue bid of 2D showing both majors: weak or strong!  After a 2H response from South, North has the perfect solution for his next action.  In order to bid 7H he needs to know if South holds the Ace of Diamonds and the K of hearts.   Normal or Key Card Blackwood does not help as South may have the Ace of Clubs and not the Ace of Diamonds.   Where North-South were playing Exclusion Key Card Blackwood North now jumped to 5C and South’s response of 5S showed two key cards excluding any in clubs - i.e. the Ace of Diamonds and the King of Hearts.  North was then able to bid 7H with confidence.





S 8752




S 3

H K52

D A752

C 95432

S J6

H 743

D J64

C QJ876

However, best laid plans can sometimes go wrong. At one table South thought 5C was natural and passed!


Your writer introduced a different approach after his partner’s 2H response to Michaels.  I tried a cue bid of 4C and got a cue of 4D in return.  It was about now that I realised I could have used Exclusion Key Card Blackwood, but I knew my partner’s style. She would not cue Diamonds immediately with poor hearts…I hoped!  I then bid 4NT (probably superfluous but “just in case”) and when partner confirmed two key cards I bid the Grand Slam.


Worryingly, after a short pause, East doubled.  At pairs a redouble would be automatic but at teams the possibility that West has made a lead directing double with a void in spades led me to pass. (The possibility that he held the King of Hearts after all was not for contemplating!)  On reflection, if West had a lot of shape he probably would not have passed my Michaels cue-bid, so he is just doubling in pique.


In the event West led a Club.  My partner, also recognising the possibility of a void in Spades with East, ruffed in dummy and played Ace of Hearts felling the Jack from East.  Partner then thought for what seemed forever before playing Ace of Spades and a Spade ruff. To my relief, declarer then played the K Hearts and West slipped his cards back into the board.  We recorded +2470 and with our team-mates only registering -710 a welcome 18 IMP came in.


If West risks a 1NT response, rather than passing East's 1D opening, (having support for both minors) or raises Diamonds life is more difficult for North-South.  North should try Michaels at lowest level again then some cues and Blackwood but will South get the right message?


Points of interest arising from this deal:


  1. When you have good playing strength tell partner as quickly as possible, don’t risk a pass-out.

  2. Exclusion Key Card Blackwood is a rare bird but its value makes it worth having in your armoury.

  3. Have agreement whether partner’s key card response includes or excludes any Ace he has already shown via a cue bid.

  4. Have agreement whether a cue by a partner who has been forced to choose a trump suit shows better trumps than he might have had.

  5. Strive to bid when you have support for partner even with a marginal hand like West’s above.