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The EK Coup

The EK Coup


Playing in the final of a championship event, you West hold:

642 A9642 974 85

The auction proceeds:

 East  South West North 

  P     3C     P     4D*  

  P     4S#   P    4NT%

  P     5D     P    6C(All Pass)

4D = optional key card ask for clubs, 4S = one key card, 4NT = trump queen ask

You to lead. Let's say you lead a low heart, hoping for a misguess. (Don't blame me, blame Michael Rosenberg). The dummy appears with

AKJ85 107 AKQ3 A3

Declarer play low from the dummy and your partner plays the queen. Your heart sinks for a moment.

Now, switch positions and imagine you are East looking at : 1073 KQ85 J1065 102 and once the dummy hits: AKJ85 107 AKQ3 A3 (repeated for convenience) you know.

On the actual deal Chris Willenken "demonstrated excellent partnership" (Kit Woolsey in TBW 4/2014) by putting up the King and not forcing his partner to agonize over the success of his under-lead. I could explain, but I think it speaks for itself. Do you recall the Congratulatory Jack? This is in the same family. 

In the 4/14 TBW it referenced "[For the possible origin of this coup, see November 1968 issue, page 35. - Ed]

Strangely perhaps, I have a wonderful memory for outstanding (and if my hands, exclusively positive results) for hands of yore. More than one friend has asked me if I recalled where they might find a hand played by X/Y/Z some 20-30 years ago. I know Sami and others share that gift. The great part for me at least, is my brain deletes the far more abundant disasters, so I cannot recall any of them.

But at the risk of a faulty memory, I remember with clarity what Jeff called "the possible origin of this coup." If I recall, and I do, (not looking at the hand) Norman Kay found the killing lead from Kxxx in hearts against a slam vs. the Blue Team. Edgar had QJ10x and (as tradition dictates) played the ten to force declarer's Ace. Edgar quickly realized he owed his partner the courtesy of playing the queen, sparing his partner the agony of a couple second's wait fearing the obvious.

As proof, I cite Edgar. "I made the silly play of the ten.......I knew the contract was down and I knew Norman had made the winning lead...But what about poor Norman? He has to lead from the king and is anxious to discover how it will work out."

Jeff...with the needle..."And you made him wait an extra second?"

Edgar. "I owed my partner the courtesy of playing the queen on the first trick so he would know he made the best lead. (Edgar's wife Betty wishes her mistakes were so profound.)

"It is actually quite a serious error, particularly playing with Norman. He is most thoughtful of partners and would never had done to me what I did to him." Note the grace, the accentuation on partnership, the consideration for partner.

The play's essence is one of depriving partner a moment of suffering by playing the card they need and deserve to see. Willenkin did it, Edgar did not but immediately recognized his "error". Note how thoughtful it is to make a technically correct play, but a "mistake" ONLY if thinking about partner. So in the spirit of the Congratulatory Jack, how can we name this action?

I suggest the EK coup or the Courtesy Coup. I prefer the former. Edgar first recognized and identified it, and thus with his partner Norman - deserves naming rights, like we do with conventions, comets and insects.

This coup is a tribute to partner. It says "great play - you deserve to see this card". Our game is replete with conventions, treatments, systems and toys. Precious few acknowledge one's partner. In the spirit of the Congratulatory Jack - I give you the honor of naming this ploy. A little TY partner, a tip of the hat, a WD with the cards, which on rare occasions speak louder than words. I only know of these two cases, but in bringing it forth, hopefully more will come to light.

Congratulations to Chris Willenken for honoring this tribute to Edgar, Norman, to partners, to our game. I suspect - Edgar and Norman and Chris would concur.



Do you prefer the EK Coup?
Do you prefer the Congratulatory coup?
Do you suggest another name?

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