The All-Time Bridge Greats
Rixi Markus (1910-1992) was born in Romania but moved to Austria
where she first made her name at the bridge table. In 1938 she fled
Austria and made her home in London where she remained for the rest
of her life.
Generally recognised as the top European lady player to date and
a great personality, Rixi was the first woman to become a WBF Grand
Master and was the leading woman in the WBF masterpoint rankings
from their inception in 1974 until 1980.
Rixi won more international titles than any other woman, a total
of fourteen. For Austria in the thirties there were two European
Women's Teams and one World Women's Teams. Later, representing Great
Britain, she won seven European Team titles, one World Women's Teams,
one World Mixed Teams and two World Women's Pairs. She also had
second places including both the World Mixed and Ladies Pairs in
For Great Britain, her favourite partner was Fritzi Gordon. 'Rixi
and Fritzi' were as fearsome a combination as the women's game has
seen with a strong table presence to add to their technical expertise.
Rixi was named International Bridge Press Association Personality
of the Year in 1974 and was awarded the MBE for contributions to
bridge a year later by Queen Elizabeth. For many years she organised
a match between the two Houses of the British parliament.
Rixi contributed to many magazines and wrote seven books, mostly
collections of well played hands by expert players at tournaments
around the world. She was also bridge columnist of the London Evening
Standard from 1975 to 1980 and bridge editor of The Guardian newspaper
from 1955 to 1992, enabling her to involve The Guardian in sponsoring
a regular series of important English tournaments.
Rixi was never afraid to bid and some of the bids she found were
imaginative to say the least. The title of one of her books, Bid
Boldly, Play Safe reflects her approach to the game. Perhaps she
became such a fine dummy player because her bidding forced her to
This hand comes from rubber bridge and the score was Game All with
North/South also having a 60 partscore. This sort of score often
tempts each side to compete a little too much, though in this case
the contract was played at the two level.
© A Q 8 5 3
¨ A 10 5
§ K Q 6 5 3
© K J 10 6
¨ K 9 8 4 2
§ 8 4
A Q J 5 3
© 9 7
§ A J 10 9 2
10 9 8 7 4 2
© 4 2
¨ J 7 6 3
You may have guessed that Rixi was sitting South. The 2¨ bid was
brave and did not have to work anywhere near as well as it did.
It seemed that North must be very short in spades and, with no help
at all in a heart or club contract, Rixi decided to hope to find
her partner with some diamonds. A truly inspired decision, as we
West led ªK and declarer ruffed in dummy and led §K to the ace.
East returned the ¨Q to dummy's ace and Rixi paused to take stock.
The obvious move was to pitch a heart on the §Q but after doing
that declarer can only take two heart ruffs and is a trick short.
Instead, she ruffed a club to hand, ignoring the established queen,
and took the heart finesse which, remember, was heavy favorite to
succeed because of the 1NT bid. She continued with the ace and ruffed
a heart, ruffed a spade and ruffed another heart and that was eight
tricks - one diamond, two hearts, three ruffs in hand and two in
dummy. Not a bad result with East/West cold for 3NT.