The Smother Play by Omar Sharif

Omar Sharif jugando el Sunday Time

Herald-Journal – 20 May 1984 by Charles Goren y Omar Sharif

East dealer N/S vulnerable

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

A J 8 4
K 9 8
K Q 6 5
5 2
West North East South
    3 Pass
Pass Dbl Pass 4
Pass 4 Pass 4
Pass 6 The end  

Lead: 9

The smother play in which a seemingly sure trump trick is made to vanish as if by the wiles of satan, is one of the rarest plays in bridge. One of the few recorded examples is by master technician Jean Besse of Switzerland. See how deftly he work his way through this distributional maze to reach the desired ending.

North’s balancing double was for takeout and Besse showed his good hand with a cuebid. It did not take time and his partner long to get to a 6 contract which with normal breaks would have been a piece of cake. However East’s preempt had warned declarer that suits might not be breaking.

Besse won the opening club lead in dummy and led a spade to his ace, it was more than likely that East’s 10 was a singleton so Besse continued in leading a spade to the nine. Next came the king, and queen of diamonds and declarer learned the bad news that he had a certain loser in that suit.

Since his 12th trick could only come from a heart ruff in dummy it seemed that he would not be able to avoid a trump loser as well.

So much for appearances declarer led a club toward dummy. Since ruffing would only help declarer West discarded a heart, declarer won the king of clubs, cashed the ace king of hearts and ruffed a heart on the table.

After cashing the ace of diamonds this was the position:


Q 7




J 8



Besse led dummy’s last club and discarded his diamond loser. West could not afford to ruff so he discarded his diamond. Now East was on lead and wether he led a heart or a club declarer was going to make the last two tricks. Besse would ruff whatever was led with the 8 of trumps. Wheter West chose to overruff or underruff his «certain» trump trick would disappear into the air. TRY IT.