A Vienna Coup is an unblocking play in preparation for a simple squeeze. As the story goes, it was first used in Vienna during a game of Whist (the predecessor to bridge).

North
AJ
6
WestAEast
-KQ
Immaterial-
SouthK8
S4-
HA
DQ4
C-


South needs the remainder of the tricks. If she plays the HA, East discards a diamond. Now South lacks the entries to collect two diamond tricks.

South can instead execute a Vienna Coup by first leading a diamond to the ace. She then continues with a heart to her hand. East is squeezed on this trick in spades and diamonds.


Example

An example written by Charles Goren and Omar Sharif back in 1986:1

North
8
AT63
WestAK95East
T9753AT85AKJ62
42-
84SouthQJ73
9762SQ4KJ43
HKQJ9875
DT62
CQ


West

Pass
   North

6H
   East
1
All Pass
   South
3H

"The Vienna Coup is really a simple squeeze. However, before it can operate, declarer must play off a winner or winners in a suit to set up a lower-ranking card in the correct position as a threat.

"After South's weak jump overcall, North could count 10 or 11 tricks with the help of a spade ruff. Since where there are 11 sure tricks a 12th can frequently be developed, North wasted no time in getting to slam.

"West led [the ten of spades], East won and, for want of anything better, shifted to the queen of diamonds. There were only 11 top tricks - the 12th would have to come either from ruffing out the king-jack of clubs or a squeeze. Since East almost surely had the king of clubs and the defense virtually marked him with the jack of diamonds, declarer chose the squeeze as the surer line. However, East would be discarding after dummy, so a threat card had to be set up in the South hand.

"Declarer won the diamond in dummy, came to hand with a trump and ruffed a spade. After drawing the last trump, declarer cashed his remaining high diamond and then started to run trumps. When he led his last heart, the table was down to a diamond and the ace-10 of clubs, and East held the jack of diamonds and king-jack of clubs. Dummy parted with its diamond, but East was caught in a vice. As the cards lie, he had to hold onto both of his clubs or else dummy's 10 would be the fulfilling trick, and his jack of diamonds was needed to prevent declarer's 10 from scoring. No matter what he chose to discard, he would be presenting declarer with his slam."

Another example written by the late great Oswald Jacoby in 1958:2

North
32
Q4
West75East
AKQ654QJT7653T97
K87J963
QJ9South86432
2SJ84
HAT52
DAKT
CAK98


West

Dbl
Pass
   North

4
5
   East

Pass
All Pass
   South
1
4NT

  
"West took the king and queen of spades and shifted to the queen of diamonds. As usual in squeeze situations South could count 10 tricks but needed 11.

"West was marked with the jack of diamonds and almost surely with the king of hearts so the squeeze had to be against him.

"If South simply ran out dummy's trump suit he would have to discard before West and would not be able to hold on to his threat cards so the Vienna Coup became necessary.

"After drawing a couple rounds of trumps he cashed his ace of hearts and then ran the rest of the trump suit.

"He was able to discard his three low hearts on dummy's clubs but see what happened to West.

"He had to hold on to that king of hearts and eventually was forced to unguard the jack of diamonds whereupon South's king and ten of diamonds were good for the last two tricks."

References

1 Goren, C. and Omar Sharif (1986, August 20). Goren on Bridge. The Press-Courier.

2 Jacoby, O. (1958, July 30). Vienna Coup Uses Good, Old Squeeze. Times Daily.

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.

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

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