One of the best players in the world at both chess and whist was Alexandre Lois Honore Deschapelles (1780–1847). He would beat all comers at chess after giving them a pawn advantage. He also excelled at billiards, which is extraordinary given that he lost his right hand in battle.
The coup that bears his name at bridge is the lead of a typically unsupported high card to create an entry for partner. This he performed at whist, without a dummy. Amazing!
Watch east find a Deschapelles Coup on our first deal. West led the three of Spades to east’s Ace, east returning his eight of Spades, declarer finessing the Knave. West won the Queen and cleared his Spades, choosing the nine as a suitpreference signal for the higherranking Hearts, east discarding the two of Diamonds.
Declarer won the King and led a Diamond to dummy’s Knave, east winning the Queen. Key moment. east had to find a way of reaching his partner’s hand and his two long Spades. There was only one card in his hand that would do it and east found it.
At trick five, east found the lethal switch to the Queen of Hearts. If declarer ducked dummy’s Ace, east would lead a second Heart to dummy’s now bare Ace and West’s King would be an entry. At the table, declarer chose to beat east’s Queen of Hearts with the Ace, then leading the King of Diamonds. east won the Ace, led over a second Heart and watched his beaming partner win the King and enjoy two long Spades. Down three.
Our second deal is a close relative of the Deschapelles—making a discard to create an entry for partner. In this case, it was a rather spectacular one. West led the five of Clubs versus Three notrumps, east winning the Ace and returning the four. West beat declarer’s Knave with the King and returned a third (low) Club, dummy throwing a Diamond. What should east discard?
At one table, east looked no further than a Spade. After winning the Queen, declarer cashed the Ace of Diamonds. On this trick, east found the good unblock of the King. This enabled his lovely partner to win the second Diamond with the Queen and cash his Clubs. Down two. east was proud of his unblocking play, but his defence wasn’t perfect.
At a second table, where east had again let go a Spade on the third Club, declarer did rather better. He crossed to the Ace of Hearts and led a (low) Diamond from dummy. If east had risen with the King, declarer would have ducked and so established Diamonds without losing a trick to West, the danger hand.
When, in practice, east played second-hand-low, declarer rose with the Ace and led a second Diamond, east (frustratingly for his partner) beating the Queen with the King. Declarer could win any return and cash a plethora of Diamonds. Game made plus one.
By leading the first Diamond from dummy, declarer ensured that east, not his partner, won the defensive Diamond trick.
It was at the third table that east showed the way. On the third Club, he discarded not a Spade, but the King of Diamonds (key play). now declarer was powerless to establish Diamonds without losing a trick to West’s Queen and down he went.