Games have contributed richly to our vocabulary. When you use such expressions as "passing the buck," "calling the turn" or "left in the lurch," you may not even be aware that you are speaking the language of poker, faro and cribbage. Many sports—baseball, horse racing and golf among them—have borrowed bridge's "grand slam" to express the same idea: taking everything in sight. To describe the play involving trumping high in order to set up a trump trick for partner, I didn't hesitate for a moment to steal "uppercut" from boxing.
When the play described here was first observed, Ely Culbertson termed it the Coup Without a Name. Since then, it has come to be called the Scissors Coup for a reason that has nothing to do with the wrestling hold, but is nevertheless entirely apt. Judge for yourself.
With the exception of West's double of the final contract, the bidding was standard. North had more than ample values for his takeout double of one heart; East had some distributional assets to fortify his raise to two hearts. (A bid directly over a double denies great strength, for if opener's partner had a reasonably strong holding, say 10 or more points, he would announce this by redoubling.) South also had distributional strength to justify his free bid in spades, particularly in view of the fact that he had passed initially. North, of course, had sufficient reserve values to justify a jump to game.
West's double was another matter. He could hardly hope to gain more than 100 points and, as it turned out, the double made declarer's danger grimly clear. For West to have any justification for his double, his opening lead of the queen of clubs had to be a singleton; he must have had three trumps including the two high ones, for he was undoubtedly hoping for a club ruff that would furnish the setting trick. Declarer realized all this but had to figure out what could be done about it. The answer turned out to be the scissors coup.
Dummy won the club trick and led a trump. West won the trick and shifted to the queen of hearts as expected, won by dummy's ace, as East dropped the encouraging 8-spot. Now, if declarer led another trump from dummy West would win and put his partner in with a second heart lead. The club return would provide the setting trick.
Declarer couldn't get to his hand for the diamond finesse that might let him jettison his losing heart. However, the hope that West held the diamond king inspired South's solution. He cashed dummy's ace of diamonds and led the diamond queen. When East played low, South discarded his remaining heart—creating a scissors coup, his action having served to cut the line of communication between the defenders' hands.
Trading a diamond loser for a heart loser was a most profitable exchange. South was able to trump the next heart, keeping East from gaining the lead. Now he could lead another trump, conceding West his second spade trick and the third trick for his side. But three tricks were all the defenders could take and declarer had scissored his way to success in a doubled contract.
When you have to lose a trick, it can make a great deal of difference which opponent you allow to win it.