In the 1930s — the early days of contract bridge — Ely Culbertson called declarer’s winning technique in today’s deal the “coup without a name.” That seems a bit odd to me since the name by which we know it today is quite logical and descriptive.
At four hearts, South appears to have only three losers. But when West leads the king of diamonds, East overtakes with the ace and shifts to his singleton club.
Declarer can see what East is up to. If declarer wins and leads a trump, East will take the ace, underlead in diamonds to his partner’s queen and ruff the club return for down one.
To prevent that, declarer must eliminate West’s diamond entry. At the third trick, declarer overtakes his king of spades with the ace. When he returns dummy’s jack of spades and East’s queen covers, declarer discards his last diamond, a loser on a loser to cut the defenders’ communications. So South loses only three tricks.
South’s play is known today as a “scissors coup.”
Question: You hold: ♠ Q9 42 ♥ A32 ♦ AJ1094 ♣ 6. Both sides vulnerable. The dealer, at your left, opens one heart. Your partner overcalls one spade, and the next player passes. What do you say?
Answer: You have a potent hand. Assuming partner hasn’t bid for no reason, game is sure and slam is possible. A direct jump to four spades would be preemptive. You have strengthshowing options, including a cue bid of two hearts and a splinter jump to four clubs.