I was lucky enough to kibitz the late, great Omar Sharif a few years before he died. He was playing in a high stakes money game. Everyone was vulnerable when East dealt this hand and opened 4.

Sharif’s partner, South, boomed out 4♠, and Sharif raised him to 6♠. West led the 7 and the hand was over in less than a minute. South went down two.

Who made the biggest mistake?

East? Was he really supposed to deal?
Sharif? Did he blow it by raising his partner to slam?
West? He did nothing wrong, so maybe he should take all of the blame?
South? Did he play the hand like an inebriated fish?
All of the above?

The hand should have been an ice-cold certainty. If you think the hand should have been made, how did South play to go down two, and how should it have been played?

Try it yourself before reading the answer below.

The culprit was South. He got a lucky lead with the 7 and should have nailed it. South won in his hand and led a spade, intending to draw trump.

Goodbye slam.

East won the Ace♠ and led a heart. West trumped it and led a club. East ruffed it and the result was down two.

How should South have played it?

Everything goes back to the opening lead. Why didn’t West lead a heart? His partner opened 4. Why didn’t he lead one?

Duh, because he didn’t have one. Everyone in the county knew that. South should have foreseen the folly of leading a trump at trick two. East would win and lead a heart. West would ruff, and badda badda bing, down, at least one.

South should win the lead on dummy, and cash the remaining high diamond, pitching the poisoned A. Only then is drawing trump safe.

Omar Sharif took South’s bonehead moves like a gentleman. His face turned bright red, and he pretty near chewed his lower lip off. After that though, he managed a weak smile and his attention returned to the game.