July 7th, 2005

Weekly bridge column


                                       VIENNA COUP

                                   by Stephen Rzewski


				         North

                                        ♠ A6
                                        ♥ A5
                                        ♦ AQ108
                                        ♣ AKQJ9

                        West                               East

                       ♠ J1092                            ♠ K54
                       ♥ J1086                            ♥ K42
                       ♦ 642                              ♦ J973
                       ♣ 85                               ♣ 1043

                                         South

                                        ♠ Q873
                                        ♥ Q973
                                        ♦ K5
                                        ♣ 762

                       bidding:   N      E      S      W

                                 2♣      P      2♦     P
                                 3♣      P     3NT     P
                                 6NT    (all pass)

                                 opening lead:  ♠ J

	
	In today’s deal, which came up in a local club game on Cape Cod, South found 
himself declaring 6NT on the auction shown.  Since an artificial 3♦ call was 
available to South at his second turn, which would have been a “2nd negative” showing 
a very weak hand, 3NT promised a smattering of high-card values, which North hoped 
was enough to produce twelve tricks.  Alternatively, North could have continued with 
4♦, which might have resulted in playing 6♣ from his side.  Although a shaky 
contract, it is makeable on the lie of the cards by leading up to one of the major-
suit queens, establishing a discard for the other major-suit loser.  The 10 of 
diamonds can be ruffed in dummy.
	
	Playing instead in the notrump slam, South ducked the spade lead in dummy. 
East took his king and returned a spade.  Declarer ran dummy’s five clubs, then led a 
diamond to his king in order to cash the queen of spades.  On this trick, declarer 
discarded dummy’s 5 of hearts, and correspondingly, East held onto all his diamonds 
to keep equal length with dummy and pitched a heart, baring down to the singleton 
king.  The ace of hearts then dropped the king and established South’s queen, but 
declarer had no way to get back to his hand to cash it.  Locked in dummy in the end, 
declarer had to concede a diamond to East to go down one.

	Declarer could have succeeded by playing dummy’s ace of hearts before leading 
a diamond to his king.  The end position would then have been:

				♠ -----
                                ♥ 5
                                ♦ AQ10
                                ♣ -----
                                                ♠ -----
                                                ♥ K
                                                ♦ J97
                                                ♣ -----

                                ♠ Q8
                                ♥ Q
                                ♦ 5
                                ♣ -----

	Declarer plays his queen of spades, discarding dummy’s 5 of hearts, and East 
is squeezed.  If he discards a diamond, dummy’s 4th diamond will become a winner, so 
his best chance is to throw the king of hearts and hope that his partner holds the 
queen and not declarer.  With the lead in his hand, declarer is in position to cash 
the now good queen and then take the two diamond winners.

	The early play of the ace of hearts is known as a “Vienna Coup”.  What one 
essentially does by making this play is establish a winner in a defender’s hand, 
then  squeeze the player out of that winner later in the play.  One curious angle 
about this particular deal is that if West had for some reason decided to lead a 
heart instead of a spade, declarer could make the identical series of plays in 
different suits.  The heart lead would be ducked to East’s king, establishing South’s 
queen.  Then during the middle of the hand, declarer would play the ace of spades 
(Vienna Coup), establishing East’s king, then squeeze him out of that card in the end 
game with the good queen of hearts!