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"I know spouses can disagree," a fan writes. "After all, one definition of marriage is when you spend your life sleeping in a warm room with someone who thinks it's too cold. My hubby and I have no thermostat problems but can't agree on bidding. I thought he should bid five diamonds over my three hearts; he thought he had to try three no trump.

"Five diamonds is easy," my reader continues, "but at three no trump he took the ace of spades and immediately led a diamond to dummy's queen. That lost, and the defense ran the spades to beat him."

Ma'am, your bidding would doubtless seem to improve if your husband handled the dummy better. The only thing wrong with three no trump lay with his play.

South must start by taking the top hearts; if hearts split 3-3, he has nine tricks. When hearts break 4-2, South tries the ace, queen and king of clubs. When clubs break 3-3, he takes the ace of diamonds and the 13th club for nine tricks.

If the clubs didn't break, South would finesse in diamonds.

You hold: A 6 5 4 3 6 5 4 3 2 K 5 4. Your partner opens one spade, you respond one no trump and he jumps to three clubs. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: A horrible problem. You can't pass (partner's jump is forcing to game), raise the clubs with only three trumps or return to spades. Nor can I recommend a bid of three no trump with no stopper in either red suit. Bid three diamonds, hoping to do something intelligent at your next turn.

North dealer

North-South vulnerable
8 5 4
A Q 7
A Q 3 2
K J 9 7 3
10 7
10 9 8
9 7 6
Q 10 6 2
J 9 8 2
J 10 8
6 5 4 3
6 5 4 3 2
K 5 4
North East South West
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 3 NTAll Pass
Opening lead -- 7

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