If your partnership use either Blackwood Convention (4NT/5NT) or Gerber Convention (4C) for asking Aces, Key Cards or even Kings, one of the defensive bidding that you need to have is to still answer the convention even the opponent has disrupted it with some sacrifice bidding. DOPE/ROPE Convention is one of the nice complimentary of Blackwood/Gerber.
The Convention: ROPE/DOPE
DOPE is shorts for Double is Odd, Pass is Even.
ROPE is shorts for Redouble is Odd, Pass is Even.
That’s would be the answer of partner’s question of “How many keycard you have” or “How many Aces you have” via Gerber/Blackwood convention
Yes, you need to alert opponent for this artifical bid.
Let see the convention in action:
- Your partner (North) open “1NT” strong, 16-18 HCP, balanced distribution no 5 cards major
- Your RHS (Right Hand Side) – East opponent passed
- You (South) have 19 HCP balance distribution 4-4-3-2. So, you are thinking either 6NT if partner has 2 Aces or maybe 7NT if he has 3 Aces. So you bid Blackwood convention asking for Aces “4NT“! See illustration below:
ROPE/DOPE in Action Dealer: N Vul: NS AT8765432 ♠ 765 ♥ – ♦ 4 ♣ ♠KQ ♥K93 ♦AKT4 ♣KJT7 South West North East 1 NT pass 4 NT 6♠ ??? .
- Your LHS (Left Hand Side) – West opponent, apparently holding 9 cards Spade headed by A and T, 3 cards Heart, void diamond with singleton club, ask your partner “Blackwood?”. When your partner nodded, he bid “6♠”
Advance sacrifice. He was ready for doubled and short 5 tricks for -1100 non-vulnerable vs your vulnerable 6NT of 1440
- Using ROPE/DOPE convention, partner “Pass” to indicates even holding of Aces. From your point of view it is clear that partner has 2 Aces. Cannot be zero as total HCP between you and partner is already 35 HCP. The point missing will not be more than 5 HCP. And cannot be 4 as you hold one Aces with you.
- Hence, you confidently bid 6NT to play.
There are other variation for this convention such as DOPI/ROPI (Double/Redouble = zero, Pass=1 and subsequent bidding is 2, 3, 4 etc). So , with above example North should reply with “6NT” to indicates 2 holdings as 6NT is the next bidding after 6♠.
The problem with DOPI/ROPI is that if partner has more than 1 Aces/Key Card, partner need to bid something, hence literally preventing opponent to be penalized instead.
For example: on above example, how about if West bid 7♠. instead of 6♠. (which is still good: X-6 for -1400. Still better than -1440 if you making 6NT). Using DOPI/ROPI partner need to bid 7NT which hardly can be made and opponent will score +100 instead of -1400. In contrary, using ROPE/DOPE, partner simply “Pass” to indicates even holding just like above, and when it comes to your turn you, just bid “X” – Double for penalty: +1400 instead of +1440, but much better than -100.
Remember the Convention
It’s effectively known that you will remember something much better if you associate it with something. Furthermore, just this convention you can see the possible convention as it can be: DEPO/REPO, DOPE/ROPE, PEDO/PERO, or PORE/PODE, etc
But, I will give you a mnemonics to never ever forget this convention:
“Rope A Dope”: Rumble in A Jungle – Muhammad ‘The Greatest’ Ali vs George ForemanOn 30-October-1974 in Zaire, a boxing fight known later as “Rumble in A Jungle” took place. It was between that time’s current heavy weight world champion George Foreman against the challenger Muhammad Ali.
For this big fight, Ali used what then called “Rope A Dope” where he just lay himself again the rope of the ring letting Foreman to punch him repeatedly to drain his energy, while Ali cover himself in protective posture. So, what Foreman hist just his protective arm. And it works ! Foreman become tired and the rest is history.
So, “Rope A Dope” is to be used after Gerber/Blackwood and you would not even able to forget it anymore, once you remember Ali’s story !
Update your convention !