Source: ABF Newsletter NOV. 2017

Brian Senior
Brian Senior

Although its aim is different, the Deschapelles Coup is a close relative of the Merrimac Coup which we looked at last time. Again, the play involves the sacrifice of a high honour card but this time the goal is to force an entry to partner’s hand rather than to attack declarer’s communications. The coup is named after Guillaume Deschapelles, who invented it at whist.

Dealer North E/W Vul

A J 10 4
A J
J 3
K J 10 9 7
9 5
Q 9 4
K Q 10 9 7 4
6 5
8 7 6 3 2
K 8 7 2
A
A 4 3
K Q
10 6 5 3
8 6 5 2
Q 8 2
West North East South
1 Pass 1
Pass 1 Pass 1NT
Pass 3NT Pass Pass
Pass

North overbid when she raised to 3NT. She had no right to expect more than South’s actual strength for 1 followed by 1NT, though South could have been a little stronger, of course.

When West led the K to East’s bare Ace, it looked as though North might get very lucky, courtesy of the 6-1 diamond split. And, against most players in the East seat, North would indeed have got lucky. Our actual East stopped to think, however. She expected West’s diamonds to be running if West ever gained the lead, because West had led the King despite South having bid the suit.

Surely, with the Ace and Jack visible, West had to have KQ109x(x) to justify the lead. But how to find an entry to the West hand?

South must have most, if not all, the missing high cards. A club or spade honour could be finessed by declarer, leaving only the Q as a possibility to defeat the contract. Accordingly, East switched to the K!

The Deschapelles Coup forced an entry to the established winners and the contract was defeated by two tricks. Very impressive. [If declarer won the A immediately then, on winning the A, East could reach West’s hand with the Q. On the other hand, if the K was ducked, the next round of hearts would remove the A anyway, and East still held the Q.]

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