Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

A 7
J 6 3
J 5
Q J 9 6 4 2
West East
Q J 9 3 8 4 2
A 4 Q 10 2
K 9 8 7 3 2 Q 6
K A 10 8 7 3
K 10 6 5
K 9 8 7 5
A 10 4


South West North East
1 2 2 Pass
Pass 2 3 Dbl.
3 All Pass    

Opening Lead: Ace

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,

But to be young was very heaven!”

— William Wordsworth

At the Las Vegas Cavendish in 1999 Jeff Meckstroth won the Best Played Hand of the Year on the following deal.


Tim Cope led ace and another trump against three hearts, after Meckstroth had opened systemically on very light values. Declarer now knew West had four spades and six diamonds and inferred that each opponent had a top honor in each of the minor suits.


At trick three he led his singleton club, won West’s return of the spade queen in dummy, and advanced the club queen, covered (ducking would be a better play) and ruffed.


At this point, playing on diamonds does not work: East will win and draw a third round of trumps. Similarly, ruffing a spade in dummy brings in only eight tricks. Meckstroth found the spectacular coup of leading the spade 10 from hand. Be honest — would you have thought of it?


If West takes the trick and leads a spade back (a diamond is no better), declarer wins in hand, pitching a diamond from dummy. He plays the diamond ace, ruffs a diamond, ruffs a club, and leads his losing heart. East is endplayed, forced to lead a club at trick 12 into the tenace in dummy.


In fact, West ducked the spade 10, hoping his partner had the king. That let Meckstroth cash the spade king to pitch a diamond. Then he could take the diamond ace and a diamond ruff and cash the top club in dummy, with a heart trick to come, for plus 140.

ANSWER: When your partner doubles a pre-empt, he is forcing you to bid, even with a Yarborough. When you have extras, as here, you must show them by making more than a minimum call. The logical bid now is five clubs; you can do no less. If you were playing matchpoints and wanted to try for a swing, you might try three no-trump, but it would be hard to explain to your partner if you were wrong!


South Holds:

A 7
J 6 3
J 5
Q J 9 6 4 2


South West North East
  3 Dbl. Pass


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact