How do you de­scribe a long, long suit?

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - GOINGS ON - By PHILLIP ALDER

Jon Bon Jovi re­put­edly said, “Suc­cess is fall­ing nine times and get­ting up 10.” Today’s deal fea­tures some­thing very rare: a nine-card suit. It was played six times in a du­pli­cate in Florida. With East-West vul­ner­a­ble, South opens one heart, and West passes. What should North do?

The nor­mal re­sponse with this hand is five di­a­monds. Four of the six play­ers in that du­pli­cate did just that, and it ended the auc­tion. Three made the con­tract, los­ing two spades. One North went down, I can­not imag­ine how.

Two Norths bid only three di­a­monds, a weak jump re­sponse. One South sen­si­bly passed — mis­fits are mis­er­able — but it did not work well here. The sec­ond South re­bid three no-trump and got a top.

If West had been psy­chic and led the heart eight, the de­fend­ers could have taken the first four tricks via ei­ther three hearts and one spade or two hearts and two spades. (Note also that three no-trump by North could have been de­feated with a low-heart lead.) Un­der­stand­ably, though, West led the spade three. South won with her jack and ran the di­a­monds. Dur­ing the avalanche, East and West dis­carded clubs, so South took the last three tricks with her clubs. Plus 520 outscored all of the 400s.

Many ex­perts would have dif­fi­culty with this deal be­cause a five-di­a­mond re­sponse would not be nat­u­ral. It would show a big heart fit and a di­a­mond void and ask for key cards aside from the di­a­mond ace. This is called Ex­clu­sion Key Card Black­wood. I guess here North would re­spond two di­a­monds, then re­bid five di­a­monds.

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