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What do you do with a 9-card Suit?

How, one of my advanced students asked me, might E/W reach a spade slam?

When West opened 4S, East must have been tempted to bid on, but I agree with her that pass will probably prove right most of the time. A 4S opening bid could easily just be eight spades headed by KQJ and an outside king or queen.

What else might West open? Although she has 9 playing tricks, to open 2D (as those who play Weak 2s in the major suits must) gives the opposition a chance to enter the auction. N/S here, for example, can make 5H!

It might work here if West starts with 2D and then gets a chance to re-bid 4S.

West is not permitted to open a game-forcing 2C. That must show a minimum of 14 HCP. It's an absurd rule, but a rule it is.

When I was first asked about this hand, I felt that opening 4S was the only sensible choice but, actually, with such a strong hand, perhaps opening 1S is better. With a 9-card suit the bidding will never stop in 1S, and starting low allows you to discover a bit about your opponents' hands as well your partner's hand.

The auction might then run:


- - - 1S

2C 2D 4H 4S


If West's spades are good enough to re-bid at the 4-level, surely East's heart void is now worth mentioning? If East does cue-bid 5H, West should find it easy to bid 6S.

With Qd falling, all roads lead to 13 tricks, but let's not worry about the Grand Slam. Bidding 6S would have been a triumph, but these extraordinary distributions are always tough very hard to judge.

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