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Slam bidding with key card after partner preempts

Bidding after partner has made a preempt is nott always easy. In this video we look at a modified ace asking or keycard asking convention some players use in this situation which can be helpful.

Key card over a preempt

Preempts are supposed to make bidding difficult for the opposition but they take up our bidding space, too! We can save some space if we're thinking about a slam using a modified key card convention.

Key cards are the aces plus the King of trumps so there are actually five key cards.

In response to 4♣ over a preempt, 4 shows no key cards. 4 shows one key card. It all looks a little bit like Blackwood or Gerber at the moment but here's the twist. 4♠ shows one key card plus the Queen of trumps. 4NT shows two key cards and 5♣ shows two key cards plus the Queen of trumps.

Those of you who play normal 4NT key card will see the responses are a little bit different here. The thing is that the preempt is a weak hand, so the preempter isn't going to have three key cards. So we modify our responses.


- 3N = no fit
- NS = fit, cue bid

4om = KC
- Response steps 0,1,1+Q,2,2+Q


Bridge Card Game

North opens 3♠, East passes and we have a pretty good hand. So we're certainly going to game and maybe we've got a slam on if North has got decent spades. But just how good are North's spades here? We can't quite tell. Now I don't normally talk about conventions much, but there is one which I think is quite useful if you've got a good partnership going. You will need to discuss this with your partner. We are talking about key card over a preempt.

On this hand we are really only interested in the ♣A, the ♠A, and the ♠Q. We bid 4♣, keycard, and North bids 4, one key card but not the Queen of trumps. So we are missing one ace and the Queen of trumps. This slam's going to be close. If trumps break 2-2 we're probably going to be okay. Maybe partner's got the ♠J.

Bridge Card Game

It's close so it would be reasonable to stop here in 4♠.

This time North shows one keycard plus the Queen of trumps.

Bridge Card Game

That key card might be the ♣A or it might be the ♠A. It's probably going to be the ♠A given that North opened with a preemptive 3♠ bid. But this time North does have the queen of trumps so we can be pretty confident about bidding 6♠ this time.

Bridge Card Game

4♣ key card over a preempt is pretty useful convention. It doesn't come up a lot, but when it does it's really helpful. One thing to watch is that if the preempt is 3♣ then we use 4 as key card.

tags: #preempt #slambidding

I thought this convention was going to be too hard to remember when I was first introduced to it. Actually, the responses are quite logical so it's easy enough.

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