Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell one of the most feared partnerships in bridge by Zia Mahmood


The Guardian,

Americans Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell are one of the most feared partnerships in bridge. A factor in their success is the dread they instil. Opponents feel they need to take big risks simply to compete on level terms.

Look at today’s deal from the Spingold tournament, being played in Las Vegas. East-West vulnerable, dealer South.

Jeff Meckstroth & Eric Rodwell
Jeff Meckstroth & Eric Rodwell

A humdrum deal – North-South have 26 high-card points, stoppers everywhere, and an easy game in no trumps. You’d expect eleven tricks to be made for a score of 460 to North-South. Meckstroth and Rodwell did indeed obtain a score ending in 60, but it was not 460. You might like to guess what it was before reading on.

This was the bidding:

West North East South
1diamond suit1
Pass 2NT Pass 3heart suit2
Dbl3 RDbl4 The End

(1) Either diamonds or a weak no trump

(2) Values for game, shortage in spades.

(3) The dread factor. West, thinking that North was about to become declarer in 3NT, decided to suggest a heart lead to his partner by doubling the artificial bid of three hearts.

(4) If you’re happy to play here, partner, so am I.

Against three hearts redoubled, West led the eight of clubs.

Jeff Meckstroth
Jeff Meckstroth

Meckstroth played the queen of clubs from dummy, which held the trick, then ran the jack of clubs which also held. He next led a diamond to his ace and a heart , playing the jack when West played low. Another diamond was led from dummy, which East could have ruffed – but the defender had to hope that his partner would have something good in diamonds, so he discarded a spade. Winning with the king, Meckstroth played another heart, dummy’s nine holding the trick when West again ducked.

If you think that West was now bound to make two trump tricks, holding the ace and queen of hearts against North’s singleton king, you haven’t seen Meckstroth the magician at work. He played two more rounds of diamonds, discarding a club from the table, then led a spade to the ace and ruffed a spade. When he played his fifth diamond, West could do nothing, and Meckstroth emerged with 12 tricks and a score of 1360. Was that your guess?