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KCB or RKCB

#1 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 10:19

One of my partners is probably at novice level when bidding but a good player of hands. He is keen to progress and we spend an hour a week discussing our system away from the bridge table. He has learned standard Blackwood but has asked about Roman Key Blackwood as he hears so much about That is where we should be heading in due course but I have been wondering whether we should start with standard Keycard as an interim step - it is easier to remember and the continuations are straightforward. As far as I could see we would just need to reach agreement on when the trump suit has been implicitly / explicitly agreed. I found it easier to get my head round RKCB (queen ask and responses) after I had played KCB for a couple of years.

When I check on line resources I rarely find anyone mentioning KCB. It seems to be always standard Blackwood for beginners but stressing that RKCB is much superior and strongly recommending moving straight to itas soon as possible.

Is there any merit in the Standard -> KCB -> RKCB progression or should we at some point just skip straight to RKCB?
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#2 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 10:51

What is KCB? I know ordinary Blackwood, Roman Blackwood and Roman Keycard Blackwood, and I know variations therein (Roman with and without CRO, for example, or 3041/1430 for RKCB). But KCB? That is a new one on me. Are you sure it is not just some simplified form of RKCB specific to your local area?

OK, I checked online before posting and found a reference to KCB being responses of 04-15-2-3. I suppose if you find this easier you might use it; for me it seems pretty pointless and more a way of confusing players than enlightening them.
(-: Zel :-)
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#3 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 11:13

I think that the Mr Bridge magazine advocates "Key card Blackwood", but I have never seen it suggested anywhere else and see little merit in it.
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#4 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 11:25

I've never heard of Key Card Blackwood either. That's probably owing to it being inferior to Roman Key Card Blackwood. If your partner is a novice at bidding but a better player of hands, surely it's better to introduce him to RKCB to help him than to resort to a halfway house of a lesser-known convention that is rarely used? It's not as if RKCB is difficult.
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#5 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 11:46

View PostZelandakh, on 2017-December-15, 10:51, said:

What is KCB? I know ordinary Blackwood, Roman Blackwood and Roman Keycard Blackwood, and I know variations therein (Roman with and without CRO, for example, or 3041/1430 for RKCB). But KCB? That is a new one on me. Are you sure it is not just some simplified form of RKCB specific to your local area?

OK, I checked online before posting and found a reference to KCB being responses of 04-15-2-3. I suppose if you find this easier you might use it; for me it seems pretty pointless and more a way of confusing players than enlightening them.


I learned it from Mr Bridge in my first year playing bridge. There are other references that suggest it was popular for a time before being overtaken by RKCB.
http://www.bridgeguy..._blackwood.html
https://www.bridgeha...d_Blackwood.htm
So presumably it had some merit, but from the comments so far, not a lot.
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#6 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 12:08

Could you be referring to the two different variants of Roman Key Card Blackwood? Typically Roman Key Card Blackwood refers to the variant where 5 shows 0 or 3 keycards and 5 shows 1 or 4 keycards.. The other variant is most often referred to as "1430" and refers to where 5 is 1 or 4 keycards and 5 is 0 or 3 keycards. Both variants use 5 as 2 keycards without the trump Q and 5 as 3 keycards with the trump Q.

My sense is that more good players play 1430, but I've played it both ways with various partners.

As newer players, it probably doesn't matter which you choose, just decide on one way to do it and use that one.

As for when it's on, start with some simple, but hard and fast rules about what the "trump suit" is. After you've used it for a while and are confident with the responses, then maybe you can adjust those agreements.

I'd recommend that where no suit agreement has occurred, the last bid suit is "trump", where more than one suit has been agreed upon the last agreed suit be "trump". It may mean that sometime you might not be able to get the information you need, but it keeps things simple and let's you concentrate on using the convention correctly.
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#7 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 12:18

In speech, players often use "key card Blackwood" or just "key card" to save time when they really mean Roman Key Card Blackwood. So in writing they might use KCB or even KC instead of RKCB.

For me, though, Key Card Blackwood (KCB) is a more general concept than RKCB that also covers e.g.

* Exclusion Roman Key card Blackwood (ERKCB) (which is slightly less general than Exclusion Key Card Blackwood (EKCB))
* 6-Ace Roman Key Card Blackwood (6ARKCB)
* Kickback
* Parity Key Card Blackwood (PKCB) (which I use a lot).
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#8 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 12:21

View Postrmnka447, on 2017-December-15, 12:08, said:

Could you be referring to the two different variants of Roman Key Card Blackwood? Typically Roman Key Card Blackwood refers to the variant where 5 shows 0 or 3 keycards and 5 shows 1 or 4 keycards.. The other variant is most often referred to as "1430" and refers to where 5 is 1 or 4 keycards and 5 is 0 or 3 keycards. Both variants use 5 as 2 keycards without the trump Q and 5 as 3 keycards with the trump Q.



No, it is just the same as Standard Blackwood but with the trump king being treated on the same level as an Ace, so that the absence of two of the five 'aces' would suggest abandoning slam ambition. 5C = 0 or 4, 5D = 1 or 5, 5H = 2, 5S = 3. Seemed like a very simple and logical extension of standard Blackwood, and it was very easy for me to move on to RKCB from there. My biggest problem with moving to RKCB was not unlearning KCB but remembering 1430 / 3014 and the steps after the queen ask, and whether the the third step showed the cheapest king or a specific king. I had two partners and they played different versions. At least with KCB there was only one version.
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#9 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 12:27

Who else do you know who currently plays what you call "KCB"? You would be doing your partner a disservice by teaching/playing KCB when the rest of the world is playing RKCB. Since he eventually needs to learn RKCB if he continues in duplicate bridge, he might as well start with RKCB and not have to unlearn KCB responses.
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#10 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 12:42

View Postjohnu, on 2017-December-15, 12:27, said:

Who else do you know who currently plays what you call "KCB"? You would be doing your partner a disservice by teaching/playing KCB when the rest of the world is playing RKCB. Since he eventually needs to learn RKCB if he continues in duplicate bridge, he might as well start with RKCB and not have to unlearn KCB responses.


This is all very interesting. I can see trouble ahead!! Some more Bernard Magee bashing.
Quite a few players at my local clubs play KCB. Perhaps it's because of the influence of the Mr Bridge magazine in the UK, and its 'expert', Bernard Magee, who advocates KCB. In fact in this article he suggests that RKCB is for more advanced playersand suggests that your average Mr Bridge reader should stick to KCB.
http://www.mrbridge....ing_Part_1.pdf.

Larry Cohen also warns about the dangers of moving to RKCB unless you are an experienced player. He says:
"RKC is a useful tool for experienced players. It is probably the method that causes the most accidents. Be prepared to have some catastrophes if you use this convention."
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#11 User is offline   steve2005 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 13:33

Never heard of anyone playing this KCB. Don't see the point of learning it if few if any of your potential partners play it.
It isn't horrible but either 3014 or 1430 is better. You don't usually want to be in slam off a keycard and Q of trump. 1430/3014 shows if have Q with 2 trumps and often can ask for Q with less or with 3 or 4.
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#12 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 13:49

View Poststeve2005, on 2017-December-15, 13:33, said:

Never heard of anyone playing this KCB. Don't see the point of learning it if few if any of your potential partners play it.
It isn't horrible but either 3014 or 1430 is better. You don't usually want to be in slam off a keycard and Q of trump. 1430/3014 shows if have Q with 2 trumps and often can ask for Q with less.


I have never heard of it either, but the OP has said that a lot of his local players play it. So I guess it really depends on whether these people will tend to be potential partners, though if they are adaptable and willing to play RKCB then this would be the better choice.
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#13 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 14:06

View Poststeve2005, on 2017-December-15, 13:33, said:

Never heard of anyone playing this KCB. Don't see the point of learning it if few if any of your potential partners play it.
It isn't horrible but either 3014 or 1430 is better. You don't usually want to be in slam off a keycard and Q of trump. 1430/3014 shows if have Q with 2 trumps and often can ask for Q with less.


These replies have really surprised me. I have obviously learned a Blackwood variant that I thought was fairly standard but is in fact very localised. Reappraisal time!

A wholly hypothetical question then. If RKCB is too advanced for a beginner's introduction to Ace asking conventions, would Key Card Blackwood not be a better starting point than Standard Blackwood, as it requires very little extra to learn it - just five aces instead of four so highlighting the value of the trump king, and an understanding of how the trump suit is agreed/implied, both of which seem like good preparation for RKCB for not much additional effort. In other words, ignore standard Blackwood altogether.
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#14 User is offline   steve2005 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 14:50

View PostLiversidge, on 2017-December-15, 14:06, said:

A wholly hypothetical question then. If RKCB is too advanced for a beginner's introduction to Ace asking conventions, would Key Card Blackwood not be a better starting point than Standard

You could leave out Queen ask for now, is more advanced.

If people use this convention in your area may not be as bad but nobody plays it (or even heard of it) where I am.

I always found straight Blackwood not often helpful even as a beginner. Someone suggested showing how to cuebid. This may be more helpful. People overuse Blackwood and KC anyways.


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#15 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2017-December-15, 19:01

View PostLiversidge, on 2017-December-15, 12:21, said:

No, it is just the same as Standard Blackwood but with the trump king being treated on the same level as an Ace, so that the absence of two of the five 'aces' would suggest abandoning slam ambition. 5C = 0 or 4, 5D = 1 or 5, 5H = 2, 5S = 3. Seemed like a very simple and logical extension of standard Blackwood, and it was very easy for me to move on to RKCB from there. My biggest problem with moving to RKCB was not unlearning KCB but remembering 1430 / 3014 and the steps after the queen ask, and whether the the third step showed the cheapest king or a specific king. I had two partners and they played different versions. At least with KCB there was only one version.

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#16 User is offline   msjennifer 

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Posted 2017-December-16, 02:01

The question asked was whether to move to RKCB directly or via KCB first? If your partner is a beginner then let him go through KCB.RKCB with its two way 0/31/4 or 1/4 0/3 is putting a strain on his memory.When he gets to intermediate level he on his own will ask to learn RKCB if he wishes to progress beyond the local level.Spiral is far too complicated for him and I doubt if it is used by many as it has to be used carefully and judiciously. A slow approach is very useful for progressing beginners and overburdening and confusing their memories only leads to their developing a sense of self disbelief which must be avoided .
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#17 User is offline   Oldjewells 

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Posted 2017-December-16, 04:56

KCB is a good interim step between Blackwood and RKCB until you find a regular partner with whom you can play RKCB.
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#18 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2017-December-16, 05:06

View Postmsjennifer, on 2017-December-16, 02:01, said:

The question asked was whether to move to RKCB directly or via KCB first? If your partner is a beginner then let him go through KCB.RKCB with its two way 0/31/4 or 1/4 0/3 is putting a strain on his memory.When he gets to intermediate level he on his own will ask to learn RKCB if he wishes to progress beyond the local level.Spiral is far too complicated for him and I doubt if it is used by many as it has to be used carefully and judiciously. A slow approach is very useful for progressing beginners and overburdening and confusing their memories only leads to their developing a sense of self disbelief which must be avoided .

That chimes with my thinking. I have been reflecting on the responses and still feel that KCB is an easy and useful step to take. Partner is quick on the uptake and when we have used it a dozen or more times I am sure he will want to find out more about RKCB and we can then discuss it. No doubt a board will appear where knowing the whereabouts of the trump queen will have been a key factor and that will be a good time to talk about it. As one poster has said, we might first try RKCB without the queen ask. Partner is sensible enough to judge whether to just go for it in one or in two stages.

We will need to be careful about the responses to the queen ask. There are at least three variants I know of that appear in bridge books and I found it confusing when I first agreed to play it with a former partner. In the end we both bought a copy of the same book and worked from that.

One minor problem is that although KCB is quite common in our area, it does not feature in any current books on bidding but I do have a handout that covers it, including how and when the trump suit is/is not agreed.
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#19 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2017-December-16, 05:12

View Postmsjennifer, on 2017-December-16, 02:01, said:

The question asked was whether to move to RKCB directly or via KCB first? If your partner is a beginner then let him go through KCB.RKCB with its two way 0/31/4 or 1/4 0/3 is putting a strain on his memory.

1430 does not even need to be mentioned so no strain there. Where RKCB causes problems is possible ambiguity between 0 and 3 or 1 and 4, and with the queen ask after a 5m response.

My suggestion would be for beginners to ignore kings, SSAs and voids to start with. Add kings only when the sequences for 5 keycards and trump queen are completely understood and well practised; the rest can wait until the player reaches an advanced level.

One side-effect of this is to simplify the queen ask a little - now we respond in the agreed suit (5M except the specific sequence ... - 4NT - 5 - 5 with agreed) without the queen and 5NT with it. This makes for an easy transition to kings later, as the unused responses are just adding something extra.

For the ambiguity, one solution is to teach that we never play 5M with 3 or 4 keycards (unless having opened 2), so a 5M sign-off is treated as a queen ask for the higher number. That is probably a little too tricky for a real beginner but not too difficult once the player has grasped the basics and is discovering the issues.
(-: Zel :-)
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#20 User is online   RD350LC 

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Posted 2017-December-16, 14:50

View Poststeve2005, on 2017-December-15, 14:50, said:

You could leave out Queen ask for now, is more advanced.

If people use this convention in your area may not be as bad but nobody plays it (or even heard of it) where I am.

I always found straight Blackwood not often helpful even as a beginner. Someone suggested showing how to cuebid. This may be more helpful. People overuse Blackwood and KC anyways.

There is much truth in this. I prefer control showing bids, and so did Easly Blackwood. There is much truth in the statement "A player's skill at bridge is inversely proportional to the amount he uses blackwood."
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