It is difficult to bid really long suits accurately. The methods for bidding 7 card suits are well known but using them with 8 or 9 card suits leaves one a bit anxious about the extra, undisclosed length. When a 10 card suit makes an appearance it is scary. These are very rare, occurring about once every quarter of a million hands. To get that in context, if you play 25 hands per day, seven days per week with extra sessions on some weekends, 52 weeks per year and keep this up for 25 years then you will be approaching the quarter of a million hands mark. At the VBA congress event, early this month, I picked up my second 10 card suit with the first having been more than 40 years previously while at university. Look at the West hand. You are the dealer and you feel every emotion from excitement to panic as you try to decide what to open. Most of the field opened 4H ( or 4C Namyats), North doubled and South bid 5C. Now the auctions started to deviate. Most Wests felt they hadn’t bid enough with 4H and so backed in with 5H. One pair played it there redoubled making 13 tricks! Others faced an unsound 4S overcall and had to pass partner’s penalty double to collect 800 or 1100 rather than bidding 5H. Of those who opened 5H, some played there and some had to make a decision after North’s double and South’s 6C bid. If they passed, the penalty for 6CX was a paltry 500.
Are there any other bidding options? There is an exotic option to pass and try to judge what to bid on the next round since we cannot be shut out. I tried that and North opened 1S. Partner, a well- known operator, made a strong 1NT overcall despite the singleton QH! Now 6H seems quite attractive although partner’s eyes certainly bulged as I pulled the 6H card from the bidding box. North led the AS and followed it with a small one. The KS is going to let us avoid the diamond finesse so declarer must take care to not let East ruff it if the spades are 6511. Play small and ruff in hand and then claim 12 tricks after what turned out to be a good auction.