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A reader needs advice on today's deal.

"I sat East," she says, "and wasn't sure what to do when partner doubled five diamonds. I didn't know whether her double was for takeout or for penalty. I passed. I thought three tricks on defense were more likely than 11 or 12 as declarer.

"When South ruffed the king of clubs, I was sure I'd goofed. South drew trumps and started the spades. When I got in with the king, I led a heart, and West took two hearts.

"We collected 200 points but would have been plus 680 at five hearts or plus 1,370 at six clubs. West said I should have bid. Is she right?"

West's double said she could beat five diamonds; if East took out the double, she was on her own. I fear I'd have passed also. To bid anything would have been speculative.

Still, East's pass would have been disastrous (on this deal) if South threw a spade at Trick One instead of ruffing. South could then set up the spades without letting East get in, making the contract.

You hold: Q 8 A Q 10 4 6 3 A K 10 8 4. You are dealer. What sequence will you use to describe this hand?

A: No ideal sequence exists. If you open one club, what will you say if partner bids one spade? A rebid of two clubs would show more clubs, and a rebid of two hearts more strength. A rebid of 1NT might be best. A few players would open one heart, but since the hand has a good five-card suit and two tens, I'd suggest opening 1NT as the least evil.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable

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

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