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RKCB – The Queen Ask
By way of introduction to the Queen Ask, here’s a recap of the RKCB responses, the 30/41 variety.
5♣ 0 or 3 Key Cards
5♦ 1 or 4 Key Cards
5♥ 2 Key Cards, without the Queen of Trumps
5♠ 2 Key Cards, with the Queen of Trumps.
Whenever we have 2 Key Cards, the responses also allow us to show or deny the Queen of trumps (QT). But, when we don’t have 2 Key Cards, the presence of that QT remains a mystery. Which is why they invented the Queen Ask:
After an RKCB response of 5♣ or 5♦, the cheapest non-sign off is the Queen Ask.
The auction goes as follows:
4♣ was a Splinter, agreeing Hearts. Then, after the 5♦ RKCB response, 5♠ is certainly the “cheapest non-sign off”, so it has to be the Queen Ask. These are the responses:
6♥ Returning to the trump suit denies the QT
5NT This shows the QT
What about responses of 6♣ and 6♦? Can we not give them a useful meaning? Yes, of course, and the most common meaning is for side-suit bids to show the QT and the King of the bid suit. So, the full set of responses in this auction would be:
5NT QT, but no side-suit King.
6♣ Shows QT and K♣
6♦ Shows QT and K♦ (and denies K♣)
6♥ Denies QT (and says nothing about side-suit Kings)
6♠ Shows QT and K♠ (and denies both minor suit Kings)
Queen Ask in Action
♠ KT653 ♠ AQ4
♥ 8 ♥ A96
♦ A5 ♦ K7632
♣ KQJ83 ♣ A2
In the above auction, 3♠ was forcing (and stronger than 4♠ directly). 4NT was RKCB in Spades, of course, and 5♣ showed 0 or 3. Now, 5♥ is the Queen Ask, and 6♦ showed the QT and the K♦ (and denied the K♣). It looks like 7NT might make, but 7♠ has some extra chances (for example, if Clubs break 5-1, we can maybe make our 13th trick by ruffing out the Diamonds).
When we have a 10-card fit, possession of the QT becomes less important, because, on usual breaks, the enemy’s QT will come down in two rounds. So, we can pretend that we hold the QT whenever we have reason to believe that our side has a 10-card fit. Here is an example:
♠ KJ865 ♠ AT432
♥ K5 ♥ A87
♦ KQ7 ♦ A432
♣ AQ7 ♣ 6
Here, we have another Splinter sequence, with 4♣ showing Spade support, game-going values, and Club shortness. 5♣ showed 0 or 3, and 5♥ was the Queen Ask. Responder does not have the QT, but, if his side is playing 5-card majors, then he knows that the partnership holds at least 10 trumps, making the QT an unnecessary luxury. So, he bids 6♠ in response to the Queen Ask, pretending to have the QT, and denying all of the side-suit Kings.