RKC 12: Kickback & Minorwood

By Kitty & Steve Cooper

We present here the twelfth in an occasional series on Roman Keycard Blackwood (RKC).
Last time we discussed Redwood, a way of asking for keycards when our suit is a minor without bidding 4NT and risking getting too high. This time we address two similar conventions: Kickback and Minorwood.
Kickback is easy: When hearts is our agreed suit a jump to 4♠ is RKC, with the usual 1430 responses: 4NT is 1/4, 5♣ is 3/0, 5♦ is two without the queen, and 5♥ is two with the queen. Laying out the steps like that should make clear what the main advantage of Kickback is: it allows you to bid RKC with only one keycard since the response showing two with is 5♥, not 5♠ as it would be if you had to bid 4NT as RKC.
So if 4♠ is RKC what's a jump to 4NT? There are two basic possibilities: First, you could play it as RKC, as it was before you learned Kickback. This is probably not a bad idea for the first few times you play Kickback. Second, you could play it to replace whatever the 4♠ bid would have been back in the day. And again, there are two possibilities: it could be Exclusion (which is how we play a jump to 4NT) or it could be a splinter.
Minorwood is perhaps a little less easy: a simple way to play it is that when a bid of three of a minor would be forcing a jump to four of the minor is RKC in that minor. But while you are unlikely ever to get Kickback wrong - a jump to 4♠ when we've agreed hearts sounds unusual and is likely to wake you up that it's not natural - a jump to four of a previously bid minor sounds natural.
Another issue with Minorwood is deciding when a jump to four of a minor is RKC. Some people play that any jump when three of the minor would be forcing is Minorwood, and some play that any forcing bid of four of a minor which has been set as trump is Minorwood. We don't. Take this common auction: 1♣ - 2♣ (inverted) - 4♣ - this can be played as asking for keycards or as just as saying that responder is interested in slam and wants opener to cuebid (Our answer is that it's natural and forcing since 3♣ wouldn't have been forcing; if you want to ask for keycards you can jump to 4♦, Redwood.)
But consider this auction: 1♠ - 2♣ - 2♥; here a jump to 4♣ is Minorwood since a bid of 3♣ is forcing (assuming you're playing two over one); another reason to play Minorwood here is that a jump to 4♦ is better used (in our opinion) as a splinter for hearts (and if opener rebids 2♠, showing six or more, 4♦ should still be a splinter).
What if opener bids a new suit at the three level - e.g., 1♠ - 2♦ - 3♣ - or jump rebids his suit at the three level - e.g., 1♠ - 2♣ - 3♠ - so that responder can't rebid his suit at the three level? We think that rebidding his suit at the four level should be natural; in fact, here's our rule: When you bid two of a minor over opener's bid of one of a major (or 2♣ over opener's 1♦) and he rebids at the two level - either his first bid suit, a new suit, or 2NT - a jump to four of responder's minor is Minorwood. Notice that if opener rebids 2NT after 1M - 2♣ your bid of 4♣ could be either Gerber or Minorwood; we play that since responder showed five or more clubs he must care about the king and queen of clubs, so it's Minorwood.
Next time we'll have to complicate things a bit by discussing when a non-jump bid can be Redwood or Kickback.