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BRIDGE BY THE LAKE
By Ken Masson
Bridge literature is filled with the exploits of the “giants of the game” as they make seemingly impossible contracts through what appears to be magic to us lesser mortals. Occasionally, however, a technique will resonate with us and eventually we will get the opportunity to employ it at the bridge table. Such was the case with the illustrated hand where the declarer employed a rarely-used process to make a slam that at first glance appeared to be doomed.
North opened the bidding with 1 spade and South responded 2 hearts which in their system was forcing to game. North now introduced his diamond suit at the three level whereupon South jumped to 4 hearts to show a very long suit and no interest in pursuing a slam.
North, however had other ideas as he felt his 19 high-card- point hand was too powerful to rest in game so he bid 4 no trump, Roman Keycard Blackwood in which the trump King (hearts) is treated as a fifth ace, or keycard. South responded 5 spades which showed 2 keycards plus the queen of hearts. Without further ado, North bid the heart slam.
West led the club 4 and when the dummy came down South saw that the slam was safe if he could hold his trump losers to one so he won the first trick in the dummy to play North’s lone heart to his king. West took the ace and switched to the spade queen which ran to South’s ace. When declarer now played the heart queen and West discarded the club 3 South’s chances appeared to be poor as East was now known to hold the 10 and 8 of hearts and, with no heart in dummy, a traditional finesse could not be employed to pick up the enemy’s trumps.
Then declarer remembered reading about a device called a trump coup which requires shortening the trumps in his hand to the same number as East. The trump coup generally refers to an endplay situation or layout of the cards between a declarer and one defender, whereby the finessable trump cards of a defender are trapped without a finesse.
To arrive at the desired endgame, declarer needed to ruff three of dummy’s cards in his own hand so he played a spade to North’s king and ruffed a spade, then a club to dummy’s king followed by another spade ruff in hand and finally a diamond to dummy’s ace and a club ruff in hand.
The end result was that North held the king, queen and 10 of diamonds, East had the 5 of diamonds and the 10 and 8 of hearts while South held the 4 of diamonds and the jack and 9 of hearts. All that remained was for South to travel to the dummy with his diamond and when he played another diamond East was sunk – his 10 and 8 of hearts were trapped by South’s jack and 9 – the slam had succeeded.
While I normally like to identify the architect of good plays, modesty prevents me from naming the executor of this trump coup!