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A coup isn't hard to do
Charles Goren
March 11, 1963
Too many bridge plays have formidable names. They sound so erudite that the average man is convinced he could never learn how to use them. Yet most of these maneuvers were originated right at the bridge table when logic made it plain that doing anything else would be foolish. What is more, they are simple enough. Take the Vienna Coup for instance—the unusual play that first sets up an opponent's high card and then squeezes him out of it. Without ever knowing its name, you might work it out for yourself if you met it in the circumstances declarer encountered in the hand below.
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March 11, 1963

A Coup Isn't Hard To Do

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Too many bridge plays have formidable names. They sound so erudite that the average man is convinced he could never learn how to use them. Yet most of these maneuvers were originated right at the bridge table when logic made it plain that doing anything else would be foolish. What is more, they are simple enough. Take the Vienna Coup for instance—the unusual play that first sets up an opponent's high card and then squeezes him out of it. Without ever knowing its name, you might work it out for yourself if you met it in the circumstances declarer encountered in the hand below.

Of late, the cue bid in the opponent's suit has come to be used in so many different ways that the onetime universal and simple meaning has been lost—first-round control of the opponent's suit and a good hand. Most players would be better off if they confined its use to that. Sometimes, however, a little stretching of the truth is in order because the cue bid is the best available. North was in such a situation in this case. His hand surely warranted reaching at least a game. If no other bid were available, he would have to bid four hearts. But this would give up all hopes of slam, and it would also give up the possibility of finding a four-four fit in spades that might produce one or two more tricks than a heart contract.

After North's cue bid, South jumped in hearts to show that he had a maximum hand for an overcall. North checked on aces via Blackwood and then went to slam. If South had one fewer black card and one more diamond, the slam would have been a laydown. Even with the cards South held, the odds favored making the slam. South needed a favorable split in spades or a successful finesse in clubs, or something. Fortunately for declarer, he relied upon the "or something."

East won the first trick with his king of diamonds and returned the jack of spades. This augured ill for the possibility of the spade break that would allow South to discard a club on dummy's fourth spade. But East's opening bid virtually exposed the club king in his hand, since without that high card his strength must be well short of opening-bid requirements. Thus South was clearly warned that the normal plays for the slam would fail.

Consequently, instead of ruffing his remaining diamond, drawing trumps and testing out the spades, then falling back on the club finesse if the spades didn't break. South cashed dummy's ace of clubs. After coming back to his hand with a heart, he ruffed his diamond loser, then ran off all his trumps. East could keep all of his spades only by discarding the club king—which he did as soon as North discarded the queen of that suit. But South produced the jack of clubs and that was the slam. It was also the Vienna Coup.

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