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Blackwood is the most well-recognized convention for slam bidding. When a player is interested in slam but afraid of missing two aces, and hence two tricks, he can bid 4NT to ask his partner how many aces he holds. The responses to 4NT are:

Response Meaning
5 Shows 0 or 4 aces
5 Shows 1 ace
5 Shows 2 aces
5 Shows 3 aces

All of the rebids made by the Blackwood bidder are natural, with the exception of 5NT. If the Blackwood bidder is contemplating a grand slam and needs to know how many kings his partner has, he can rebid 5NT. The responses to 5NT are:

Response Meaning
6 Shows 0 or 4 kings
6 Shows 1 king
6 Shows 2 kings
6 Shows 3 kings

There are a number of ways to show aces if 4NT is overcalled. One method is DOPI, which stands for "Double = Zero aces, Pass = 1." The cheapest available bid shows two aces, the second-cheapest bid shows three aces, and the third-cheapest bid shows four. Another method of showing aces is DEPO, which stands for "Double = Even number of aces, Pass = Odd number of aces."

Note that on occasion the responder to a Blackwood inquiry will have a void somewhere in his hand. Voids should not be treated as aces; how they are treated instead is up to partnership agreement.


Blackwood gets its name from its inventor Easley Blackwood, the late American player and writer.

See also

  • 5NT Pick a Slam
    A conventional 5NT bid that asks partner to choose a small slam.

  • Baby Blackwood
    A conventional 3NT ace-asking bid after a major-suit fit is found.

  • Gerber
    The convention for asking for aces in no-trumps slam auctions.

  • Grand Slam Force
    A 5NT bid as a conventional grand slam try.

  • Roman Blackwood
    The Italian variation of Blackwood upon which RKCB is based. The responses to 4NT include the rank and colors of the four aces.

  • Roman Key Card Blackwood
    A popular variation of Blackwood that asks for aces and the king of trumps.

  • DEPO
    A conventional Blackwood response after interference: Double = Even, Pass = Odd.

  • DOPI
    A conventional Blackwood response after interference: Double = 0, Pass = 1.

  • ROPI
    A conventional Blackwood response when the opponents double 4NT: Redouble = 0, Pass = 1.