Magazine article The Spectator

The Merrimac Coup

Magazine article The Spectator

The Merrimac Coup

Article excerpt

THE word 'sacrifice', when used at the bridge table, has nothing to do with selflessness or altruism. Far from it: it's about pure self-interest. A 'sacrifice bid', for instance, involves outbidding your opponents, knowing you're going down, in the hope that it'll be less expensive than letting them make their contract.

You can also make a 'sacrifice' play. A common example is the Merrimac Coup. It's named after the deliberate sinking of the coal-carrying US ship the Meirimac during the Spanish-American war of 1898. The plan was to take the ship into the narrow channel leading into Santiago Harbour and then blow it up in order to bottle up the Spanish fleet. The volunteer crew planned to escape on a catamaran hoisted over the side. But the Merrimac's steering gear was damaged by enemy fire and the ship sunk in the wrong place. The crew was captured.

Despite the failure of its mission, however, the captured crew was later freed and came home heroes - and what greater honour than to have a bridge coup named after them? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.