A coup en passant (or elopement play) is a trump promotion play by declarer. Assume that South plays in hearts in this 3-card ending:

Dummy
65
--
2
--
WestEast
8 --
-- A
83 AK
-- --
South
S--
HJ
D97
C--


If South is on lead, then all three tricks must be conceded to East. But if dummy is on lead, South can generate a trump trick by leading a spade from the table. If East ruffs, then South's HJ is promoted into a winner. If East discards a diamond, then South simply ruffs with the HJ.

The term "coup en passant" is French for a coup "in passing". It is also related to the chess play of capturing a pawn "en passant".


Example

North
64
T64
WestK876East
KQT8AK52A975
J9732Q5
J953SouthQ42
--SJ32QJT3
HAK8
DAT
C98764


South declares 3C. The defense attacks with three rounds of spades, South ruffing the third in dummy. Next comes the CA which reveals the bad trump break. The contract is now in jeopardy since South has 5 losers: 2 spades, 2 clubs and 1 heart.

Given the circumstances, South can try for a coup en passant. At trick 5, South can cash the HA-K, the A-K, and ruff a diamond in hand. The layout is then:

North
--
T
West8East
QK57
J9--
JSouth--
--S--QJT
H8
D--
C987


A club to dummy's CK sets the stage. When dummy's last diamond is led, East can pitch the 7, letting South ruff. Or East can ruff high, in which case South discards the 8. Either way, South gets a 9th trick.

It was important for South to take both heart winners before attempting the elopement. Otherwise, the ending would be:

North
--
T64
West8East
QK57
J973Q5
JSouth--
--S--QJT
HAK8
D--
C987


When South leads a club to the king and plays a diamond off the board, East simply discards a heart. South only gets one top heart before suffering a heart ruff by East. A heart trick must also be conceded to West at the end for down one.

See also

  • Bath Coup
    A holdup play at trick one with the A-J of the suit.

  • Crossruff
    A strategy of ruffing losers back and forth between declarer's hand and dummy.

  • Devil's Coup
    A trump play that causes a defender's trump trick to seemingly disappear.

  • Dummy Reversal
    A strategy in which declarer's long trumps are used for ruffing losers, and dummy's short trumps are used for drawing the opponents' trumps.

  • Morton's Fork Coup
    A play that presents a defender with two losing options.

  • Ruff and Sluff
    A play in which declarer ruffs a card in one hand while discarding a loser from the other.

  • Ruffing Finesse
    A finesse of an enemy card (usually an honor) by threat of a ruff.

  • Scissors Coup
    The strategic concession of a loser that cuts communications between the defenders.

  • Vienna Coup
    An unblocking play in preparation for a squeeze.

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