Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday July 23rd, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: South


A 7

J 6 3

J 5

Q J 9 6 4 2


Q J 9 3

A 4

K 9 8 7 3 2



8 4 2

Q 10 2

Q 6

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: Heart ace

“To give an accurate and exhaustive account of that period would need a far less brilliant pen than mine.”

— Max Beerbohm

Jeff Meckstroth produces breathtaking coups with remarkable regularity — put yourself in his shoes as declarer in the following deal from the Cavendish pairs.

Against three hearts, Tim Cope led ace and another trump after Meckstroth had opened systemically on very light values. Meckstroth could now infer that West held four spades and six diamonds, with a probable singleton club honor (no club lead) and with the diamond honors split (no top diamond lead).

At trick three he led his singleton club, won the return of the spade queen in dummy, and advanced the club queen, covered and ruffed. What next?

Playing on diamonds lets East win and draw a third round of trump. Similarly, ruffing a spade in dummy will bring declarer to eight tricks, but not to nine. 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, pitching a diamond from dummy. He plays the diamond ace, ruffs a diamond, ruffs a club, and leads his losing heart to endplay East, who has to lead a club into dummy’s tenace.

At the table West ducked the spade 10, hoping his partner had the king. That simply let Meckstroth cash the spade king to pitch a diamond, then take the diamond ace and a diamond ruff and cash the top club in dummy with a heart trick to come, for nine tricks.


South holds:

K 10 6 5
K 9 8 7 5
A 10 4


South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: With your decent diamond support and useful ruffing values, the chances for making game look fractionally too good to me to suggest simple preference to two diamonds, and you are somewhat short of trumps for a limit raise to three diamonds. The middle position is to invite with a call of two no-trump. You can still get to either red suit if it is right to do so.


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


JaneAugust 6th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Hi Bobby,

Just a question- if west takes a leap of faith and leads a diamond at trick four, instead of a spade, then the contract can not be made, right? Also, how bad could it be for east to raise to three diamonds right away? With a heart lead from either side, it looks like there are no heart losers, quite possibly allowing East/West to make three diamonds. Risky, maybe, but even down one it is not so bad a board if not doubled, and it does not look like it would get doubled. (Well, OK, maybe you would double it!) Spade ace and a spade back makes declarer sweat a little more, but then north does not have a good lead back.

Thanks in advance.

Bobby WolffAugust 6th, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Hi Jane,

No, after West wins his singleton club king at trick 4, if he then switches to diamonds, he will in effect be giving declarer a diamond trick, holding declarer’s losses to 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 1 club, declarer being able to ruff one spade and throwing the other losing spade on a manufactured good club in dummy.

EW were vulnerable and, more importantly, would not have bought the contract at 3 diamonds since NS aggressively bid up to 3 hearts.

However, I agree with you that East might have raised his partner to 3 diamonds while holding only Qx.

This hand was chosen to show Jeff Meckstroth’s imaginative declarer’s play, not to feature the very bold competitive bidding which often occurs when two good pairs are playing each other.

Sometimes, by reporting what really does happen at the table, the bidding will scare some less daring players and even intimidate them into not wanting to play against them for fear of being trampled.

In reality that playing experience might be just what they needed to understand the competitiveness of the high-level game.

Thanks for your continued interest and good luck in your bridge career.