John Maloney of Spring Hill FL developed this agreement to pinpoint specific high honors when searching for game.

Below-Game Asking Bids

These are bids of 3C and 3D that are used immediately after you and partner have confirmed an 8+-card major-suit fit at the two-level. The asking bid can be used by either partner.

After the major suit has been raised, a bid of 3C or 3D asks about the ace of that suit. The replies confirm or deny possession of that ace. If responder holds that ace, he can also show a king in that suit or one of the other two non-trump suits. If responder has neither the ace nor king of the suit named in the Asking Bid, he retreats to three of the agreed trump suit (3H or 3S).

Occasionally, you may use the Asking Bid when you have the Ace of that suit but want to know if partner holds the King. When responder has the King of the asked suit (but not the Ace), the reply is 3NT.

When the opening bid is 1S and 3C is the Asking Bid, the outside kings are the King of Diamonds and the King of Hearts. Responder bids 3D to confirm the possession of the Ace of Clubs and the King of Diamonds. A reply of 3H shows the Ace of Clubs and King of Hearts, but denies possession of the King of Diamonds. A reply of 4C shows the Ace of Clubs and denies possession of an outside king.

Here's an example auction and a summary of the meanings of the replies:

   1S                        2NT = (Jacoby Forcing Raise) (9-card fits work too!)

   3C (Asking Bid)  3D  =  Ace of Clubs and King of Diamonds

                               3H  =  Ace of Clubs and King of Hearts (no diamond King)

                               3S  =  No Ace or King of Clubs

                               3NT =  King of Clubs, but no Ace of Clubs

                               4C   =  Ace of Clubs, but no outside kings (King of Diamonds or King of Hearts)

If 3NT is available after the reply to the Asking Bid, it is a Trump-Asking Bid. In reply:

    4C = No high trump honor (Ace, King or Queen)

    4D = One high trump honor (Ace, King or Queen) 

    4H = One of the top two trump honors (Ace or King) and two of the top four trump honors. Five holdings are possible: AKx, AQx, AJx, KQx or KJx.

Comments or questions about this method can be sent to the author, John Maloney (