TRUMP COUP by Stephen Rzewski dlr: South North IMPs ♠ KJ ♥ KJ10762 ♦ QJ4 ♣ J10 West East ♠ 842 ♠ A763 ♥ Q983 ♥ 4 ♦ 1062 ♦ 975 ♣ AK8 ♣ 97632 South ♠ Q1095 ♥ A5 ♦ AK83 ♣ Q54 bidding: S W N E 1NT P 2♦ P 2♥ P 4♥ (all pass) opening lead: ♣A One of the qualities unique to the trump suit in bridge is that under certain circumstances it is possible to take a finesse without actually leading a trump card. This somewhat infrequent play, called a “trump coup”, requires imagination, careful planning, entries, favorable distribution, and timing. In today’s hand, taken from a Swiss team event in a Sectional tournament, N-S were playing Jacoby transfer bids. North’s 2♦ call promised five or more hearts and requested South to bid the suit. This treatment offers greater bidding flexibility than natural methods and sometimes creates an advantage in having the strong hand be declarer, although not in this particular case. West started with the ace and king of clubs, East playing low-high to suggest a switch. At trick #3, West played a spade to dummy’s king and East’s ace, giving the defense their “book”. East exited with a spade. South had to avoid the loss of a trump trick in order to make his contract. With five trumps out including the queen, the odds favor taking a finesse as opposed to simply playing off the two top honors and hoping for the queen to drop. South could play either opponent for Qxx, but he decided that the percentages favored taking the finesse through West, for two reasons: (1) finessing East would mean leading the jack from dummy and passing it on the first lead of the suit, which might lose to a possible singleton queen in the West hand, and (2) it might be additionally possible to pick up Qxxx in the West hand via a trump coup, as long as West was not short in diamonds. So thinking, South won the queen of spades in his hand at trick #4, then used the entry to lead the good queen of clubs and ruff that card in dummy. He then led a heart to the ace, followed by a low heart, putting in dummy’s 10. When East showed out, South’s foresight was about to be rewarded. He next led a diamond to the ace, then a third spade, again ruffing a good card in dummy and reducing dummy’s trumps to K-J, the same length as West’s Q-x. Then a diamond was played to the king. As long as West had to follow to this trick, South was home, in the following position: ♠ --- ♥ KJ ♦ Q ♣ --- ♠ --- ♥ Q9 ♦ 10 ♣ --- ♠ 10 ♥ --- ♦ 83 ♣ --- South did not have a trump card to lead from his hand, but it did not matter. He led the good 10 of spades. If West ruffed, dummy would overruff and draw his last trump; so West discarded his diamond. South countered by also discarding dummy’s queen of diamonds. With the lead still in the South hand at trick #12, West had to play a trump before dummy, and the K-J took the last two tricks. To execute this play, one has to reduce the trumps in the long hand until the length matches that of the defender. This requires sufficient entries to the opposite hand, and sometimes cards that would normally win tricks themselves have to be ruffed. Finally, the sequence of plays requires that the lead come through the defender’s trump holding at the right moment, when that hand has been reduced to nothing but trumps. In this case, the lead must come from the South hand at the penultimate trick.