Exclusion Blackwood (aka Voidwood) is a variation of Roman Keycard Blackwood. It may arise when a player wants to ask for key cards while holding a void. The convention was created by the late American world champion Bobby Goldman.

After a trump suit is agreed, jumping to another suit at the 4- or 5-level says "Partner, I have a void in this suit. I'm interested in slam, and I don't care if you hold the ace of this suit. Please show me how many key cards you hold excluding this ace."

For example:


Opener
1H
4S

Responder
3H


Here, 4S shows a spade void. It asks partner to show key cards excluding the spade ace.

Another example, this time at the 5-level:


Opener
1S
5D

Responder
3S


Opener's 5D bid shows a void in diamonds, and asks responder for key cards excluding the diamond ace.


Responder's Bids

Exclusion Blackwood uses step responses. The specific steps depend on whether the partnership employs 1430 RKC or 0314 RKC. If playing 1430, the responses are:

  • 1st step - 1 or 4 keycards
  • 2nd step - 3 or 0 keycards
  • 3rd step - 2 keycards without the trump queen
  • 4th step - 2 keycards with the trump queen

If playing 0314 RKC, then the 1st and 2nd steps are simply flipped.

Examples of 1430 step responses:


Opener
1H
4S

Responder
3H
4NT


4NT is the 1st step available, and therefore shows 1 or 4 key cards.


Opener
1D
4H

Responder
3D
5C


5C is the 3rd step available, so it shows 2 key cards without the trump queen.


Asking for the Trump Queen

After hearing partner's reply, it is possible to ask her for the trump queen. This is done by making the cheapest bid outside of the trump suit. For example:


Opener
1C
4S
5D

Responder
3C
4NT


Partner's 4NT showed 1 or 4 key cards. The 5D bid is the cheapest rebid outside the trump suit (clubs).

Partner's responses to the queen ask are the same as regular RKC.

Bidding the trump suit   No trump queen
5NT The trump queen, but no kings (the king of trumps doesn't count)
Bidding any non-trump suit   The trump queen AND the king of that suit


Examples

The following examples assume a 2/1 game-forcing system with 1430 RKC.

OpenerResponder
A43S--
HAKQ932JT8
D53AKJ842
C87AKQ3

Opener
1
3H
5S (3)
   Opp 1  
Pass
Pass
Pass
   Responder  
2D (1)
4S (2)
7H
   Opp 2
2S
Pass
All pass

  1. Game-forcing
  2. Exclusion Blackwood
  3. 2 key cards with the queen of trumps


OpenerResponder
AKT982SJ65
HKQJA52
DAKQ597
C--Q9532

Opener
2 (1)
2S
5C (3)
5H (5)
6S
   Opp 1  
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
   Responder  
2D (2)
3S
5D (4)
5S (6)
All pass
   Opp 2
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

  1. Strong, artificial
  2. Waiting
  3. Exclusion Blackwood
  4. 1 or 4 key cards
  5. Do you have the queen of trumps?
  6. No


In Competition

Partnerships should discuss Exclusion Blackwood in competition. For example:

Opener
1H
4S
   Opp 1  
Pass

   Responder  
3H

   Opp 2
3S


Is 4S simply a cuebid showing a 1st-round control? This warrants discussion.

Another possibility is that the opponents double or overcall the Exclusion Blackwood bid. In that case, response treatments like DEPO, DOPI and ROPI must be used.

An example of DEPO in action:

Opener
1H
4S
   Opp 1  
Pass
5C
   Responder  
3H

   Opp 2
Double


Over 5C, responder's pass shows an odd number of keycards (1 or 3).


Other Considerations

Lastly, it's worth agreeing whether to use Exclusion Blackwood in conjunction with cuebids or splinter bids. For example:


Opener
1H
4C

Responder
2H


Is 4C a splinter? Since 5C could theoretically be used as Exclusion Blackwood, it may be possible to play both conventions. Again, this needs partnership agreement.

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.

  • Blackwood
    The original 4NT convention invented by Easley Blackwood to ask for aces.

  • 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.

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