The Southeast Missourian – 4 Feb 1985 by James Jacoby

Bidding a slam on a finesse isn’t the worst thing in the world. But there’s a kicker in the works if you also need reasonable distribution.aaxx

North showed a better hand than he actually had. By bidding diamonds and spades, and then going to four hearts, he was making a mild slam try.

South was happy to comply and asked for aces. It seemed as though the slam would depend simply upon who held the king of hearts, but when East showed out, more became involved. Although there is no way short of hypnotism to compel West to cover a heart honor with the king, there is an unusual type of play that can take away the defender’s trump trick.

It has a name — the smother play. Watch it in action. After two rounds of hearts, West not covering, South cashed the second high club, led a spade to the ace and trumped a club. Then he played a spade to the king and trumped the third spade. Now came the diamond ace and king. A small diamond from dummy put East on lead. The only black cards outstanding were with East, and he had to lead either a club or a spade. South trumped and West was caught in the «smother.»

If he played the king, dummy would play the ace. If he underruffed, dummy would discard the diamond. The hand could be defeated only If West could have won the third diamond and led his low heart, but that was prevented by the layout of the cards.