ACBL09 – Bidding: Roman Key Card         Ward Trumbull

                                    Gerber and Blackwood                     Apr 24, 2012

                                                                                                                Page 1 of 5


Only Ten Words


      To remember Roman Key Card Gerber or Blackwood you must

memorize just 10 words:


             zero or three,   one or four,   two no,   two yes

                1   2     3         4    5    6        7   8       9    10


What is Roman Key card?


      When the slam contract is going to be in a suit contract, the ace/king

responses to Gerber and Blackwood follow the ten word rule above,

explained below.  If the trump suit has not been agreed upon, then the last bid suit is the implied trump suit.  If no suits have been bid, the standard Gerber/Blackwood ace-asking responses are used.  See ACBL08.


      With Roman Key card responses for a suit slam, the king of the

implied suit is added with the aces (total 5) for the meaning of the response.  These five cards are referred to as CONTROLS.  This response

convention assumes that the responder would never have all the aces and the king of the implied trump suit.  That is, the asker would have at least one control.  Thus the responder could only indicate from 0 to 4 of the five controls.


      An additional nuance of this convention is that the responder can sometimes indicate whether or not he/she has the queen of the implied trump suit.


Roman Keycard Control Responses

                                  Gerber           Blackwood    Controls

  1st response suit       4 diamonds             5 clubs          0 or 3   

  2nd response suit      4 hearts                  5 diamonds   1 or 4

  3rd response suit       4 spades                5 hearts         2 w/out the queen

  4th response suit       4 notrump               5 spades       2 with the queen

            zero or three,   one or four,   two no,   two yes

                        ACBL09 – Bidding: Roman Key Card             Apr 24, 2012

                                     Gerber and Blackwood                       Page 2 of 5


Roman Key Card Responses (continued)


NOTE: There are additional bidding techniques after the first two

            responses (0 or 3, 1 or 4) to query about the queen of trumps, but

            we’ll leave that to the pros for now.  


Roman Key card King Responses


      You don’t ask for kings unless you have all 5 controls between the two hands.  If you ask for kings after asking for controls, there are only three kings left.  The response follows the standard Gerber/Blackwood king response pattern  --  except there is no 4th king


                                  5 Clubs          5 Notrump

                                  Gerber           Blackwood       Kings

     1st response suit     5 diamonds           6 clubs                0   

     2nd response suit    5 hearts                6 diamonds         1

     3rd response suit     5 spades              6 hearts               2

     4th response suit     5 notrump             6 spades             3


Examples (controls and kings)


     1. You have             K x x     A x x      x x x x      A x x     (11 HCP)


.        The bidding         Partner              You           Comments

                                         1 spade             3 spades         limit raise

                                                                                          (10-11 incl dist)  

                                         4 clubs              4 diamonds      0 or 3 controls

                                         6 spades


                                         Your pair has 8+ spades, the spade king and

                                         probably three or all four aces.  Partner may also

                                         have the spade queen.


           Special Note:  If partner thinks it’s zero controls and bids 4

                                     spades, you should bid 6 spades anyways.

                     ACBL09 – Bidding: Roman Key Card               Apr 24, 2012

                                  Gerber and Blackwood                         Page 3 of 5


Examples (continued)


     2. You have             x x     A J x x x x     A K Q J      A    (19 HCP)


.        The bidding           You              Partner         Comments

                                         1 heart              3 hearts           limit raise

                                                                                          (10-11 incl dist)  

                                         4 notrump         5 spades         2 controls and

                                                                                          the heart queen


                                     6 hearts/notrump   pass    


          Note: You can now count 12 tricks:      1 spade (partner’s ace)


                                                                         6 hearts ( 9 hearts headed

                                                                                       by A K Q J)  


                                                                         4 diamonds (A K Q J)


                                                                         1 club (your ace)


           Special Note:  No need to ask for kings because partner’s Limit

                                     Raise (10-11) was used up by the ace of spades

                                     and the queen/king of hearts (9 HCP).  Going to 7

                                     hearts would be foolish.


Confusion Factor


      There are two Roman Key card response patterns in vogue nowadays.

They are referred to as 3014 (standard RKC) and 1430.  It’s important that you and your partner are on the same wave length on this point.  These numbers refer to the meaning of the first two responses on controls.  In our case that is:


       First response suit      = 0 or 3

      Second response suit  = 1 or 4

                        ACBL09 – Bidding: Roman Key Card              Apr 24, 2012

                                     Gerber and Blackwood                       Page 4 of 5


Confusion Factor (continued)


      I teach the standard Roman Key Card responses:


             zero or three,   one or four,   two no,   two yes

                 0          3         1         4


      Change the first three words and the meaning is still the same:


             three or zero,   one or four,   two no,   two yes

                 3           0        1         4


       Thus this standard version is called 3014.  The other version is called

       1430 with this format:


             one or four,   three or zero,   two no,   two yes

               1         4         3           0


      It makes no difference which system you partnership uses as long as

      you both are playing the same one.
















                        ACBL09 – Bidding: Roman Key Card              Apr 24, 2012

                                     Gerber and Blackwood                       Page 5 of 5




Visual Aids Sometimes Help



                                                    RKC Responses

     RKC                 -------------------------------------------------------------------        

    Query               0 or 3          1 or 4           2 no               2 yes

--------------            -----------        -----------        ------------        --------------

4 clubs                 4 diams        4 hearts        4 spades        4 notrump


4 notrump            5 clubs         5 diams         5 hearts         5 spades