Voidwood bridge bidding convention

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Voidwood bridge bidding convention is an exotic bidding convention designed to find out if a Small Slam or perhaps even a Grand Slam is possible – even when the partnership may be missing an Ace (or in extreme cases maybe even two Aces). Obviously, such Slams are only possible if one of the partners has a void in a suit. In such cases, it is of vital importance to find out which Aces partners have and in which suits they are void. “Voidwood” helps determine just that.

The Voidwood bridge convention (also sometimes called the “exclusion Blackwood” convention because it “excludes” the Ace of a void suit) is a combination of Blackwood and key-card bidding to be used in asking for Aces to determine a possible Slam fit in case you have a void. It’s essential to find out if you have enough to bid a Small Slam or especially a Grand Slam when you have a void, which is when it’s essential to find out which Ace (if any) your partner has. If he/she happens to have the Ace in the suit that you’re void in, it’s a useless Ace to you. This system is designed to find out exactly which Ace your partner has.

Here’s how it goes:

It only applies in cases with big hands and a void. In a case when the bidding has been enthusiastic between both partners or when one partner has a huge hand and opens with 2 Clubs, 2 No-Trump, or some such super-bid, and there could be a possibility for Slam in the air, after establishing the trump suit, the partner with the void in his/her hand then skips and bypasses 4 Clubs (Gerber) or 4 No-Trump (Blackwood) altogether and bids 5 of the suit in which he/she is void. The other partner is then supposed to answer by giving the number of “key cards” he or she has, and key cards are defined as Aces — except the one in the suit bid by the partner at the 5 level — and the King of the established trump suit. The very next bid from the 5 bid asking for key cards means 0 key cards, the following bid is 1 key card, etc. etc.

Here’s an example:

Say you have 22 or more points counting your void in Clubs as 4 points and you get a fairly enthusiastic response of 2 Spades indicating 10 or more points from your partner. You now want to go Slam, but you have to establish a trump suit first. So you bid 3 Diamonds. If partner likes your Diamonds, he/she will say 4 Diamonds, so now Diamonds have been established as the trump suit. If partner did not like Diamonds, he/she might say 3 Hearts, and if you like Hearts you may then jump to the 5 level to use Voidwood. You can assume that the last suit bid is the preferred trump suit. So after establishing the trump suit, you then bid 5 Clubs, telling partner you have a void in Clubs, but you’re asking for key cards.

Let’s say partner has the King of Diamonds (trump suit) and the Ace of Hearts. He has 2 key cards. So he/she bids 5 Spades (5 Diamonds would be 0 key cards, 5 Hearts would be one and 5 Spades is 2). Since the opener has the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Diamonds in the trump suit, by process of elimination he now knows that partner has the Ace of Hearts. Opener will now bid at least 6 Diamonds, and depending on how strong he/she is elsewhere, he/she may actually bid 7 Diamonds. If partner had the Ace of Clubs (the suit in which opener was void), partner should have given opener only one key cards (the trump King), so now opener would know he/she would lose at least one trick in Hearts and therefore cannot go to 7 Diamonds.

It’s the only system that can give you some degree of assurance for a Grand Slam when there’s a void in play.

This is one of the rare exotic bids that the Bridge Burglar actually likes and has adopted into his repertoire with most of his partners. It has allowed him to get the biggest single score ever in a Swiss tournament – 2,940 points on a hand for a redoubled 7 Hearts contract. An opponent doubled because she had the Ace of Spades and thought she was assured of one trick. But I knew we had a void in Spades and would be able to ruff her lead of the Spade Ace. After that, the contract was cold.

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