My Favorite Hand

In a 1999 district-level qualifier for what was then the North American Open Pairs, I dealt myself the following hand, red on white at matchpoints:

S A K Q J 10 9 H - D - C K J 9 8 7 5 3

What do you do with this thing? I chose to open 1C. Not 1S, because I am much more interested in partner's club holding than his spades, and certainly not 2C, because I expect a lot of bidding and want to get my suits in. I was not surprised when LHO overcalled 4H, passed back around to me.

I bid 5H. That woke everyone up. LHO asked my partner, Eugene Hung, what that meant. "I have no idea," said Eugene.

After considering, LHO tossed in a double, and Eugene bid 6C. RHO bid 6H I passed. It had to be forcing after my 5H bid. Eugene bid 7C.

LHO doubled and led the DA, whereupon Eugene tabled S x x x x H x x D x x x C A Q x x

What a partner! I quickly claimed thirteen tricks for +2330.

This was not quite a top. Another table conducted a similar auction, except that the player with my cards got greedy and redoubled 7C. The opponents got cold feet and ran to 7H, whereupon my hand bid 7S --- introducing the suit for the first time at the seven-level. This too was doubled and redoubled, and made for +2940 on the diamond-ace lead. However, opening leader could have set 7S-XX by giving his partner a club ruff! Meanwhile, spades broke 2-1, so 7C was laydown.

Last updated Wed 8/10/05 8:00 PM