A bad role for Omar the actor

October 18, 1964

The best of the bridge-playing actors—and there are lots of good ones—is very likely Omar Sharif, who was disconsolate three years ago when he had to spend 18 months in the desert making Lawrence of Arabia and found there were no other bridge players in the cast. He made sure of avoiding any repetition of this competitive dry spell by having it written into his contract for a succeeding movie—The Yellow Rolls-Royce—that he could leave the London set for 15 days to play bridge. The specific days he had in mind were those in which he would be performing in his role of captain of the United Arab Republic team at the World Bridge Olympiad earlier this year. Sharif did play, but after what befell him in the hand below he might have wished he had stayed in England with Co-Star Ingrid Bergman and the Yellow Rolls.

Sharif sat North, opposed by the U.S. pair of Arthur Robinson, whose one spade overcall with the East hand proved decisive, and Robert Jordan.

On his first bid South would be better advised to say three diamonds in spite of his void in partner's suit. But surely at his second turn he should have bid not three clubs but three no trump, the only makable game contract. Even so, a sedate three-heart bid instead of the jump by Sharif might yet have saved the day. Because of Robinson's overcall, Jordan could not miss the killing spade lead. East cashed three top spades, and a fourth round let West score his 8 of trumps, down 200.

In the other room the North-South hands were held by the young California partnership, Donald Krauss and Robert Hamman, with Sharif's teammates sitting East-West. Here East was shy about bidding, but not North and South:

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

1 [Heart]
3 [Heart]
4 N.T.
PASS

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

3 [Diamond]
3 N.T.
6 [Diamond]

North's four no trump was not Blackwood; it was just a mild, if overoptimistic, slam suggestion, which South was delighted to accept.

I am sure that you and I would have led a spade even without the aid of East's spade overcall and even if for the wrong reason: there is more chance to win defensive tricks in a short suit than a long one. However, West led a club, and declarer made a somewhat shamefaced 12 tricks when he drew trumps and shed three of his four losing spades on dummy's good hearts.

The final score of the U.S.-U.A.R. match was 52-35. The swing on this one deal was 1,570 points—worth the entire 17 International Match Point margin of victory. I leave it to you to decide how much of the swing should be credited to East's overcall.

EXTRA TRICK
Remember where I said that three no trump was North-South's only makable contract? This is not entirely true. Bizarre as it seems, if North-South could find a way to reach four spades, that game cannot be beaten!

North-South vulnerable West dealer

NORTH

[9 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[5 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

WEST

[8 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Hearts]
[Jack of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[— of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]

EAST

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[8 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

WEST
(Jordan)

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Sharif)

1 [Heart]
2 [Heart]
4 [Heart]
PASS

EAST
(Robinson)

1 [Heart]
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Zananiri)

2 [Diamond]
3 [Club]
5 [Diamond]

Opening lead: 8 of spades

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)