Thursday, March 10, 2011


Today’s post is not a new topic to Andre’s blog: exclusion blackwood. Yes, it is something that is not too frequent; however, how many times have you held a hand but didn’t bid exclusion because you weren’t sure if your partner would be on the same page? Or you don’t know what the responses would be? This is a fairly common problem with exclusion.

My personal least favorite thing about exclusion is just how high it is, especially if I am void in hearts. I always feel like I don’t bid exclusion because almost no matter what my partner has I am committing us to slam. On the bright side this problem can easily be solved! Andre and I have started to play a new way of exclusion that is still at the 4 level. When you splinter you have a hand that might have mild slam interest but not enough points to take another bid over partner’s presumed signoff bid – with a stronger hand we would start with Jacoby. So if we splinter and then bid 4NT over partner’s signoff it is exclusion in the suit we splintered in: 1-4; 4-4NT would be exclusion in hearts. I really prefer this method of exclusion because you are not taking away a bid that was previously defined; I assume most people would take this as standard RKC, but that isn’t really a necessary bid in this auction – why splinter if you were going to keycard over a signoff anyway? It also keeps me at the standard blackwood level.

Over this 4NT Andre and I use 1430 as our responses, but I also want to mention another way of answering. This way loses some of its value if you are playing 4NT as exclusion, but for anyone who may not be convinced enough to switch it is a good thing to think about. The responses are 0 key cards, 1 KC without the Q of trump, 1 KC with the Q of trump, 2KC w/o, 2KC w/, 3 key cards – abbreviated 011223. This seems a little strange at first, but since you are void in a suit there are fewer key cards to be concerned about. Plus, the Q of trump is often a more valuable card that you don’t have room to ask for nor do most people have agreements about. Many people use this response structure over preempts but it may be worth considering over exclusion.

Take the auction: 1-2; 2-3; 5. Opener has a very strong hand with hearts and a diamond void while responder has a game force with clubs and some heart support. Responder is not very likely to have 2 key cards when opener has this powerhouse, but he could have something like Qx KQ Kxxx Axxxx. Playing standard 3014 responses the auction would continue 1…5-5. Opener has no knowledge of the Q which could easily be the card that would sway the odds in favor of 6. With 011223 responses you would respond 5NT and you could investigate grand if you want to. These responses can get you higher than you are expecting which means you can only bid exclusion if you are willing to go to slam with 1KC and the Q usually, but I think the benefit of knowing about the Q is well worth while.

Anyway I’m writing this on my flight to Louisville for the Nationals where Andre and I will be playing the IMP pairs. This is one of my favorite events and although Andre does love his matchpoints I do think he is fond of IMP pairs as well. Should be a good long weekend before headed back to school!

1 comment:

  1. The tournaments Megan and I have played in around here have all had IMP Pairs events. If you play a bunch of KOs or Swiss Teams and feel like your losses are always your teammates' fault, then I guess this is the event for you!