A Deschapelles Coup is a defender's lead of an unsupported honor to create an entry in his partner's hand.
The following deal illustrates the play.
North-South, playing modified Precision, open the bidding with a 14-16 HCP
1NT but stop in 2NT. Partner leads the Q.
The dummy hits the table:
| ||Dummy|| |
| ||JT98 |
You cover with the K
as declarer drops the 9.
Your diamond return is won by South's A
(partner playing the J).
Declarer now proceeds with a low club to dummy's jack. Upon winning your Q,
what do you return?
A count of the hand may help here:
- You hold 12 HCP.
- Dummy has 9 HCP.
- Partner has advertised 3 HCP (the Q-J).
- South has 14-15 HCP. (With 16, he would have bid 3NT.)
That adds up to 38-39 points. So partner has at 1-2 additional HCP
. If he only has the J,
then the contract should always make. Things get interesting, though, if West has either major-suit queen.
If this is the full deal, then you should return a passive heart:
| ||North|| |
Declarer wins your J
return and takes another losing club finesse into you. Now you return a second heart, sit back, and wait for declarer to take the losing spade finesse. Down one.
However, if West holds the Q,
then you should return the K.
This would be a Deschapelles coup:
| ||North|| |
Declarer is forced to win with dummy's ace (ducking would only cause you to lead another spade). South must then return to hand via a heart and try another club finesse. Now that West's Q
is an entry, you simply return another spade to allow him to run diamonds to set the contract two tricks.
A low spade instead of the
K would not work; South would insert the T,
forcing West to cover with the Q
and lose his potential entry in the process.
The subtle clue to this hand occurred at trick two. West knew all his remaining diamonds were good, so he could signal with any of them. With dummy's club suit being a clear threat, a high diamond at trick two would ask for a spade return, while a low diamond would suggest a heart return.
Note that a Deschapelles Coup is very similar to a Merrimac Coup
. Both plays involve the lead of an unsupported honor by the defense. However, the Merrimac Coup is used to destroy one of declarer's entries, whereas the Deschapelles Coup is used to create an entry in partner's hand.
The Deschapelles Coup is named for a 19th century chess whist player, Alexandre Louis Honoré Lebreton Deschapelles of France. Deschapelles was one of the strongest chess players of his time; he lived between 1780 and 1847. Against fellow experts, he commonly gave a pawn's advantage and one or two moves. Most colorfully (or perhaps sadly), he lost one hand while fighting in Napoleon's army and also sported a sabre scar from eyebrow to chin.