Ask the Experts Volume 1, Number 3


Phyllis Bausher of West Haven writes “I have a question for the Expert Panel. It has to do with a key card auction in response to 4 NT. The question assumes that a 5 response shows 2 key cards without the trump queen, a 5 response shows 2 key cards with the trump queen, and a 5NT response shows 2 (or even number) of key cards with a void. If you have the trump queen and two key cards with a void, which is more important to show?"


Jeff Goldman goes with showing a useful void:

2 with void, assuming the void is not in partner’s suits


Rich DeMartino leads off for those who will tend to show the void but will consider the situation:

Good question and the answer might depend on the hand but I would tend to show the void. Partner may know we have 10 trumps so the Queen may not be critical. Of course, if partner has the Ace in our void suit, the void is not critical either. As I said earlier, good question.


Steve Becker, similarly:

To me, this would be a judgment call, depending on my hand and the preceding auction, but in the long run, I think it would be more useful in the majority of hands to show the void.


John Stiefel gives some nice examples of situations where he might choose one or the other depending on which is most likely to be helpful to partner and hints at some possible science to do both:

It depends on the hand (unless you want to get overly fancy and come up with a Queen-asking bid if there's room after partner shows the void).

Example 1 - I open 1 - you bid 2NT (Jacoby), I bid 3 showing shortness (0 or 1), you bid 4NT (RKC), I would probably show the void (instead of the Queen).

Example 2 - I open 1, they overcall 2, you bid 4NT (RKC) and I'm void in diamonds, I would probably show the Queen as partner is likely to have the Ace of diamonds to launch into RKC so suddenly.

Bottom line --- I show whichever I think will be most helpful to partner.


Larry Bausher concurs about using judgment and continues down the path toward science to find out about both:

I have never had to be concerned about this problem, so in the absence of a specific agreement, I think it would depend on your judgement of the hand which might be more useful to partner.  I doubt many partnerships have an agreement about which to show, so I would suggest the agreement be to show the void, since some situations might arise where partner could bid another suit at the 6 level below the agreed suit to ask for the Queen if that is all partner needs to bid a grand.


Linda Green relates an experience when a specific scientific approach worked well:

I remember a while ago playing against Mike Passell’s team with a similar hand where they got to 7 and we stopped at 6. They got there because they were playing void-showing 1430 starting after the last answer in a normal response, i.e. after 5S. Their 5NT would show 1 or 4 key cards, 6 3 or 0 key cards, 6 2 without the Q and 6 2 with the Q.  Worked for them beautifully!