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"Have you ever had a partner who was impossible to deal with at the table?" a club player asked me.

"Quite a few," I acknowledged. "Most partners will negotiate, but I've had partners who wouldn't listen to a word I said."

My friend was today's North. "When West bid five hearts," he told me, "I liked that too much to double. My partner then bid six diamonds - 'cheap insurance,' he called it - and we were minus instead of being plus.

"My partner was upset with me for not doubling what was in front of my nose. I said the enemy could make five spades - and might run there from five hearts doubled - but he was in no mood to negotiate."

South's six diamonds was an atrocity. After he preempts, North is in charge. I'm not sure East-West would have run from five hearts doubled: I suspect East might huddle, thinking of running, and then if he passed, West would be ethically bound to pass also. Still, it's usually wrong to double the only contract you can beat.

You hold: 7 T 8 2 A K Q J 8 7 6 4 10 5. Today's South opened five diamonds with this hand. Do you agree with his action?

A: Many experts would agree, but options exist. Some players are reluctant to preempt with a completely solid suit and would open one diamond. That might work well if partner had scattered values, and 3NT was the only makable game. In fact, some experts use a "Gambling 3NT" opening bid with this type of hand.

South dealer

E-W vulnerable





NORTH

10 3

T Q 10 5 4

10 5 2

A K J 8



WEST EAST

K 9 8 5 2 A Q J 6 4

T A K J 9 7 6 T 3

3 9

4 Q 9 7 6 3 2



SOUTH

7

T 8 2

A K Q J 8 7 6 4

10 5

South West North East

5 5 T Pass Pass

6 Pass Pass Dbl

All Pass

Opening lead - T K