Improve Your Play

By Larry Matheny
Fort Collins, Colorado



The bridge Blackwood convention was dev-eloped in 1933. It’s a surprise to many players to learn it was created to keep you out of bad slams rather than help you bid good ones. When used properly it’s a valuable tool.


♠QJ74                    ♠K52
♥42                          ♥63
♦AJ102                    ♦K85
♣943                       ♣108752


South  West    North    East
2♣     Pass      2♦       Pass     
3♥     Pass      3♠       Pass
3NT   Pass      4♥       Pass
Pass   Pass                 
Opening Lead: ♦A

Bidding: With ten tricks in his hand, South started with a strong 2♣. North’s 2♦ response was artificial, showing values. South’s jump to 3♥ set the trump suit and asked his partner to cuebid first or second round controls. North showed a spade control, but after the 3NT bid asking for more information, North denied a minor suit control.
South reluctantly stopped in game.
Play: West led the ♦A, but no matter the lead declarer had two diamond losers. At several tables South fell in love with the hand and after a Blackwood sequence showing only one ace was missing, the ill-fated slam was reached. As this hand demonstrates, Blackwood should not be employed without a first or second round control in every suit.
Once this is determined (usually by cuebidding), Blackwood may be used to discover the number of aces.