In bridge, a scissors coup is a type of declarer play that cuts communications between the defenders - hence its name. It involves conceding a loser at the right time to prevent a particular defender from gaining the lead.

The following is a simplified double-dummy illustration of a scissors coup:

Dummy
A3
4
West2East
2A3765
AJ--
3DeclarerA
KQS4T9
HKQT
D4
C6


Hearts are trumps and West is on lead. Only two red suit losers appear to exist. However, say South wins the SA and leads a heart to the king. West wins this and leads a diamond to East's ace. Now East returns a spade to effect a trump promotion. If South ruffs the spade low, West overruffs; and if South ruffs high, West's HJ is promoted into a winner.

Better for South to win the SA and then play CA and another club, discarding a diamond from hand. This loser-on-loser play would prevent East from gaining entry with the DA. Whether West returns a heart or diamond, South is guaranteed two tricks with the HKQT.


Example

In his book "Reese on Play", Terence Reese provides this example of a scissors coup. 1 It features a strategically timed loser rather than a loser-on-loser maneuver.

North
76
J652
West84East
Q4T7632T852
KQ74AT983
J965South--
J54SAKJ93AQ98
H--
DAKQT732
CK


South landed in 5D doubled and received the HK opening lead from West. Playing the top two spades caused the queen to drop, but the ensuing top diamond revealed the bad trump break.

South next tried ruffing a low spade in dummy, but West ruffed with the D9 and led a club to partner's CA. Now East led a fourth round of spades to generate a trump promotion for the defense.

Had South led the CK immediately after the DA, East could give West a diamond ruff but do no further damage. As the cards lie, the same effect is achieved if South discards the CK at trick 1.


References

1 Reese, Terence (2001). Reese on Play.

See also

  • Anti-Bath Coup
    A paradoxic twist on a normal Bath coup.

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

  • Coup En Passant
    A trump trick scored by ruffing a card "behind" a defender who holds a higher trump.

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

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

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

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