A crocodile coup is the second hand play of an unusually high card to prevent partner from being endplayed.

Dummy
AQ
2
WestEast
9K5
A7K
Declarer
S62
6


Declarer is on lead and needs two more tricks. Out comes the 6 from his hand. West must hop up with the A, instead of the 7. Otherwise, East will be thrown in and forced to lead a spade into dummy's tenace.

Note that the play is slightly different if a heart is led from dummy. In that case, East follows with the K and West simply overtakes with his ace. As such, this is not a crocodile coup.

The crocodile coup is so named because second hand must "swallow" or "snap up" his partner's winner like a hungry crocodile.


Example

North
AQ43
AK7
WestT95East
875985KJT92
QJ2T9864
43South2
KJT76S6Q2
H53
DAKQJ876
CA43



West    

Pass
Pass
All Pass

North    
1C
2NT
4H3


East     
2C1
Pass
Pass


South    
2H2
4D
6D


  1. Michaels, showing at least 5-5 in the majors
  2. Defense to Michaels, showing a forcing diamond hand
  3. Cuebid


South ratchets the auction up to 6D with his strong diamond suit. West leads the HQ, which South wins in dummy.

There are only 11 top tricks available, and South assumes the spade finesse will fail due to East's overcall.

South therefore cashes the SA at trick two and ruffs a spade. Next, he crosses back to dummy with a trump and ruffs another spade with a top diamond. This would establish dummy's queen in case West started life with Kxx, but no such luck this time. So, South cashes dummy's HK and ruffs a heart. Back to dummy with a diamond to draw the last trump from West, with East discarding a heart. Finally, dummy's last spade is ruffed in hand.

The layout is now:

North
--
--
West5East
--985K
--T
--South--
KJT7S--Q2
H--
DQ
CA43


The contract still has a pulse. Based on the auction and play of the hand, it's clear that East started with 5-5 in the majors and a singleton diamond. Therefore, he must have two clubs. On a miracle day, East would hold KQ doubleton. But as an extra chance, South can also hope for an honor doubleton and a defensive miscue. So he cashes the A, with East mistakenly playing low. Now South exits a club.

West has been counting the distribution too, however. He knows partner is 5-5-1-2 and realizes that South is playing clubs quite strangely if holding AQx opposite T98.

West therefore suspects the need for a crocodile coup. He plays the CK under the CA and then cashes the CJT for two tricks. Whew!

See also

  • Deschapelles Coup
    The lead of an unsupported honor by one defender to create an entry into the other's hand.

  • Endplay
    A play by declarer that forces a defender to lead away from a disadvantageous holding.

  • Merrimac Coup
    The defensive sacrifice of a high card that eliminates a critical entry for declarer.

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