This Galileo Coup arises when the contract is in a suit in which the declaring side is missing both the Ace and King of trump. If executed successfully, the defenders end up being forced to play the Ace and King of trumps to the same trick.

Note: The origin of this designation is unknown and the history of this perhaps colloquial term is rather vague. The first instance of such a designation to describe this aspect of play remains clouded at best.


Origin of Designation

Rumors abound that this Galileo coup was named for Galileo Galilei, born on February 15, 1563, and died on January 8, 1642. These rumors cannot be substantiated, but another logical theory as to the origin of the designationhas not been successfully promoted.

The theory is that since he is actually credited with the invention of the telescope, then if the Galileo coup is successful the defenders end up being forced to play the Ace and King of trumps to the same trick, thus telescoping their two trump tricks into one.

Note: The word telescope, as a noun, is defined as an arrangement of lenses or mirrors, or both, that gather visible light, permitting direct observation of photographic recording of distant objects.

Note: The word telescope, as a verb, means to cause to slide inward or outward in overlapping sections, as the cylindrical sections of a small hand telescope do. The word also means to make more compact or concise, and/or to condense.

The one fact remains, not exactly in contradiction but rather as a correction to the proposed and purported history, that Galileo Galilei did indeed not invent the telescope, but rather improved and enhanced the capabilities of this device, which could peer into the heavens.

Example For a Galileo Coup

Dealer: South
Vulnerability: None
South (D)
South (D)   West   North   East   Meaning
1               Promises at least a 5-card Spade suit and opening values.
    2           Promises at least a 5-card Heart suit and sufficient values to overcall.
        3       A limit raise promising a 4-card support in Spades and fewer than game values.
4   Pass   Pass   Pass   Based on a 6 loser holding South bids game.

West leads the King of Hearts (top of a sequence) South wins with the Ace in hand. South counts his losing tricks: two possible trump tricks in the trump suit Spades, if one defender holds both the Ace and King of Spades. There is no losing trick in Hearts, no losing trick in Diamonds, and only losing trick in Clubs. This means that the contract is secure.

However, the declarer attempts the Galileo coup and attempts to keep the number of lost tricks to a total of only two tricks by playing trump on the second trick. In this case both the Ace of trump, held by West, and the King of trump, held by East, fall. South subsequently loses only two tricks.

Since both defenders are being forced to play the Ace and King of trump to the same trick, then this action is referred to as a Galileo Coup. Note that the play technique of the declarer plays less of a role in this particular action as does the element of luck and lay of the cards.

However, the student of bridge should note that the decision by the declarer to attack immediately the trump suit on the second trick is the preferred strategy. According to the calculated mathematical percentages as presented in The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge as published by the American Contract Bridge League the percentage of a 1-1 distribution by both defenders is 52%, whereas a 2-0 distribution by both defenders is 48%. These are indeed not great odds, but the advantage remains with the declarer for a 1-1 distribution.



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.