Morton’s Fork Coup

David Woulds (eysbukit) found a rare Morton’s Fork Coup on this recent deal. This coup is a line of play where you give an opponent a Hobson’s Choice – no matter which option he accepts, he loses

Dlr: East Vul: N-S

S A 10 3
H 8 7 2
D K 7 5
C A K 6 4
H A 5
D A J 10 8 6
C J 9 7 5
S 6 2
H Q J 6 3
D 4 3 2
C Q 10 8 3
S Q 9 8 7 5 4
H K 10 9 4
D Q 9
C 2


West North East South
Pass; Pass
1D Pass 1H 1S
2C 2D Pass 3S
Pass 4S All Pass

Davids’s three spade bid was pre-emptive after partner showed a good raise, but partner had a huge hand and decided to bid game.

David was lucky to get the opening lead of the heart ace followed by another heart which he won with the king. At first glance it seems there are at least four losers – one in each suit. But after some thought, David suddenly spotted the classic Morton’s Fork Coup.

He led a diamond toward the king, and his left-hand opponent had two options – he could take his ace or he could duck. But he loses either way. If he ducks, David will discard his queen of diamonds by cashing two rounds of clubs. If LHO takes his ace, David will discard his two losing hearts on the clubs.

The bidding strongly suggested that LHO was 2-2-5-4, 1-2-5-5 or 1-2-6-4 shape and therefore couldn’t hold more than two spades. So after discarding his losing hearts, David cashed the ace of spades and made his contract, losing only one spade, one heart and one diamond.

Once given the chance, fchang used a crisscross squeeze to score his heart game on this deal submitted by Steinar Grindheim (stgri).

Dlr: North Vul: Both
Scoring: IMP’s

S 10 7
H K 10 9
D A 10 7 5 3
C J 3 2
S K Q 5 4 3
H 6 5 4 2
D 6
C 8 7 4
S J 8 6
H 7
D K Q J 8
C A Q 10 6 5
S A 9 2
H A Q J 8 3
D 9 4 2
C K 9


West North East South
Pass 1C 1H
1S 2H Dbl Pass
2S Pass Pass 4H
All Pass

After ducking the first spade trick, fchang captured the second spade and took his spade ruff. He then played a low diamond off the table. East won this and could have beaten the contract by continuing with a second diamond. However, he switched to the club ace and then got off lead with a trump.

That’s all fchang needed. He won and played off all his trumps. This was the position as he cashed his last trump:


S —
H —
D A 10
C J 3
H —
D —
C 8 7
S —
H —
C Q 10
S —
H 3
D 9 4

He discarded a diamond from dummy, and poor East was up the river without a paddle. If he threw a diamond, fchang would lead a diamond to the ace, cross back to his club king and take the last trick with the diamond 9. If East sluffed a club, fchang would cash the king of clubs, cross to dummy with the diamond ace and cash the good club jack for his 10th trick.

Bozo2 misled declarer on the next deal, and his falsecarding paid off.

Dlr: East Vul: Both

S A Q J 6
H A 9 7 3
D —
C A J 10 9 2
S 7
H Q J 10
D J 10 8 7 6 3 2
C K 6
S K 10 4 3
H 5 4
D Q 9 4
C Q 7 5 3
S 9 8 5 2
H K 8 6 2
D A K 5
C 8 4


West North East South
Pass Pass
3D Dbl Pass 4D
Pass 4H All Pass

Declarer won the opening diamond lead. Noting the communications problem, he immediately tried a spade finesse, losing to the king. East realized from the bidding that partner almost certainly had a singleton spade, so he continued with a second spade. Sure enough, bozo2 ruffed – with the jack!

Bozo2 got out with the king of clubs to declarer’s ace, and declarer cashed his trump ace. Bozo2 completed his false picture by following with the queen. Who can blame declarer for finessing East for the 10? Of course bozo2 won his 10 and led a club a club to partner’s queen to set the contract.

As Australian expert Tim Seres said in his famous BOLS Tip, “Give them enough rope.”

About the Author:

Harold Schogger has just celebrated 40 years of bridge teaching. He opened his bridge club in Hendon London in 1983. Since 1997 he has devoted his time to teaching and directing.

He holds the Professional Teachers’ Diploma from the English Bridge Union, and now trains teachers for the EBU. He is also a member of the International Bridge Press Association. Harold is the author of Practice Your Rule of 11 and the ebook Bridge for Winners.

Harold has been an OKbridge member since 1997. You can see his valuable blog posts here under the category Bridge Hand Review. Harold is also a Premier Life Master.

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