Crocodile Coup


Once bridge players around the world latch onto a certain situation regarding specific card combinations, then they, by habit, describe that situation as best they can, usually with a little bit of humor thrown in. This is how the situation called Crocodile Coup received its name. Once the crocodile, just swimming above the surface of the water, opens its mouth wide, then the person observing this action realizes that there is an impending threat, and will take steps to retreat. However, there are situations when the opponents must rise to the occasion, and become the crocodile.

A Crocodile Coup is therefore a defensive, threatening action by the opponents to prevent the declarer from following through with his intended endplay, which normally would fulfill the contract. It could even be termed a scare tactic, which deceives the declarer into believing that his course of action is threatened, causing the declarer to follow another line of strategy.

Since this situation does not come up that often, we would simply like to present the classic textbook example.

West decides to lead the Queen of Hearts, which wins the trick. West leads the Jack of Hearts, which South, the declarer, ruffs in his hand. South draws two rounds of trump, and ruffs his last King of Hearts. Declarer then takes his tricks in Clubs. Declarer now has 6 tricks and the opponents only 1 trick.

The declarer now decides to lead a low Diamond from his hand. As you can see, if West plays second hand low, East is forced to overtake with the King of Diamonds and has no entry back to West, who has two Diamond winners. Instead East will have to lead back a suit and give the declarer a ruff and discard.

The logic of West must be, that South has three Diamond losers, and when the declarer at Trick Eight plays a low Diamond, West must play the monstrous Ace of Diamonds, realizing that his partner East may have only one Diamond, the King. Therefore, West must play his Ace of Diamonds immediately in second seat to win the trick with what may be an unnecessarily high card and prevent his partner East from having to lead back for a ruff and discard endplay, as planned by the declarer. By playing the Ace of Diamonds in second seat, West takes three Diamond tricks plus the one Heart trick, and defeats the contract.