Mr. Geza Ottlik of Budapest, Hungary, used this term to describe coups by which a bridge player takes a trick with a trump that would not ordinarily have sufficient rank to win a trick. He published this concept in a series of articles appearing in The Bridge World magazine in December 1967 and also in the issues of and through May 1967. The publication by him and co-author Mr. Hugh Kelsey with the title of Adventures In Card Play (Master Bridge Series) is based upon this series of articles.


One type of Elopement is the Coup En Passant. In the illustration below, and assuming that Spades represent the trump suit, the concept should be clarified.

South, the declarer, leads the 3 Clubs. If West ruffs the Club lead by South, South discards a Diamond from the dummy. On the other hand, if West discards the Ace or King of Diamonds on the 3 Clubs, then South ruffs in the dummy. In the latter case, South leads then the King of Hearts from the dummy, and ruffs this card with the 3 Spades in his hand. Then when South leads the 4 Clubs from his hand, the last Club, this is the coup en passant, a type of Elopement which Mr. Geza Ottlik analyzed and published.

If West, however, discards the Ace of Hearts, the first 3 Clubs lead is ruffed in the dummy and the King of Hearts provides a discard situation, on which South then discards the losing 7 Diamonds. West must either discard or trump with the Ace of Spades.

Additional Example

Another example of this form of coup occurred at the 77th Summer North American Bridge Championships as reported in Volume 77, Number 6, on Wednesday, July 27, 2005. Mary Oshlag is the declarer with her husband Richard Oshlag as the dummy.

West   North
(Richard Oshlag)

  East   South
(Mary Oshlag)
            1 NT
2 Clubs (1)   3 Spades (2)   Pass   4 Hearts
Pass   Pass   Pass    

(1) Single-suited hand.
(2) Splinter: singleton or void in Spades, enough to raise to game.

With no Spade stopper, Mary opted for the 10-trick game in Hearts.
West got the defense off to the best start, leading the Hearts10, which was covered all around.
Mary won the Hearts King and got out of her hand with a low Spade. East won and continued with
a low Hearts. Mary won with the Ace, ruffed a Spade, then cashed three round of Clubs.

She then played the  Diamond Ace and a Diamond to the King, leaving this position:

Mary had eight tricks in and a master trump, but she needed one more trick.
When she led the Diamond6 from dummy, she put herself in position to elope with
her low trump (elopement as a bridge term was coined by the late Geza Ottlik).
Just check out what happens to East. If he discarded the Spades King, Mary would
make her hearts2 immediately with a Diamond ruff. East therefore ruffed in with the
Hearts5. Instead of overruffing, Mary discarded her losing Spade.
Now, East again faced a Hobson's choice - let Mary use her Hearts2 to ruff a Spade,
or exit with a Heart, at which point Mary would win with the Hearts9 and play the good
Clubs Jack, forcing East to use his last trump. She would get the Hearts2 by ruffing
a Spade at the end for the game going trick.
At the other table, West did not enter the auction, so South ended in 3 NT,
down two on the Spade lead.

Footnote: A Hobson's choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered, and one may refuse to take that option. The choice is therefore between taking the option or not taking it. The phrase is said to originate from Thomas Hobson (1544–1630), a livery stable owner at Cambridge, England who, in order to rotate the use of his horses, offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door - or taking none at all.



If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.


Email Conventions Bridge Sites
Home Page I Glossary Home Page II