Morton's fork coup
- letting declarer establish extra tricks in the suit led; or
- losing the opportunity to win any trick in the suit led.
It appears that South has both a heart and a club loser. Although South can establish another winner in diamonds, just one discard on a diamond honor doesn't help.
|South in 6♠||♠||K Q 9 8|
|♥||K 9 8|
|♦||K Q 9|
|♣||K 9 8|
|♥||A 10 5 3||♥||J 6 4 2|
|♦||J 10 7 3 2||♦||A 8 6 5 4|
|♣||J 5 4||♣||Q 3 2|
|Lead: ♦J||♠||A J 10 7 6 5 4|
|♣||A 10 7 6|
South receives the lead of the ♦J against 6♠. However, there are two ways that the contract can be made. South might manage to avoid any heart loser. Or, South might take two heart tricks; in that case, South could discard one club on the ♥K and another club on a diamond honor.
Judging from the opening lead that East holds the ♦A, South plays the ♦9 from dummy at the first trick, ruffs in hand, and draws trumps. Hoping that West holds the ♥A, South leads the ♥7, executing Morton's Fork:
Note that declarer must be careful not to play a high diamond on the opening lead, as East could then withhold the ace. That would force the declarer to choose a discard prematurely. South must get a discard on a diamond honor eventually, but not before West has been forced to decide whether to take the ♥A or duck it. Only then will South know whether to discard a heart or a club on the diamond winner.
|♦||10 7 5 4|
|♣||K Q J 10 6 5 4|
|♠||A J 7 6||
|♠||10 5 4 3|
|♥||A K J 2||♥||7 6 5 4 3|
|♦||J 9||♦||Q 6 3 2|
|♣||7 3 2||♣||—|
|♠||Q 9 8|
|♥||Q 10 9 8|
|♦||A K 8|
|♣||A 9 8|
Robert Gray gives this spectacular example of an impossible defense to Morton's Fork. West leads the ♣2 against South's six club contract. South wins and initiates the coup by leading the ♠8.
If West takes the ♠A, he might as well continue with the ♣3. South wins and leads a heart, covered and ruffed. A third club to South's hand, and another heart, again covered and ruffed. A diamond to South's hand, and a third heart covered and ruffed. The ♠K is cashed, and then another diamond to South's hand allows dummy's last two losing diamonds to be discarded on the ♠Q and the established heart.
If West ducks the ♠A at the second trick, South sets up a heart via ruffing finesses as before, discarding dummy's losing spade on the established heart. Now a third diamond from South either wins or establishes dummy's ♦10, and South has twelve tricks: one spade, one heart, three diamonds and seven clubs.
Gray points out that to defeat the contract, West must lead the ♥2 at trick one. (He goes on, "And I hope that is not too obvious.") Against the opening lead of the ♥2, South must discard from dummy before West has been forced to play to South's spade lead. If South discards dummy's spade at trick one, West's ♠A will later take dummy's ♠K, and South must lose a spade and a diamond. If South discards a diamond from dummy, West ducks South's spade lead, saving his ♠A for the ♠Q, and again South must lose a spade and a diamond.
Gray speculates on a name for West's opening lead coup: "This play of giving declarer a trick early . . . is probably worth a name. The Anti-Morton Coup or the Down With Morton Coup spring to mind, but these names seem rather unfriendly. Let us settle for the Morton Coup Defense."