The Devil's Coup is a play that seemingly causes a defender's trump trick to disappear.

North
-
A9
West2East
--J
J84Q7
-South-
-S6-
HKT
D-
C-


Hearts are trump and declarer is on lead. At first glance, it appears that the defense has a certain trump trick. However, look what happens if declarer leads her spade.

Say West ruffs low. Dummy overruffs with the H9. A diamond is then ruffed in hand with the HK, and the HA becomes declarer's final trick.

If West instead ruffs high with the HJ, then dummy overruffs with the the HA. East is then subjected to a simple finesse in hearts.


Example

The following example comes from David Bird and Marc Smith in their book "Bridge Technique 2: Tricks with Trumps".

North
6
AT72
WestAT53East
Q832KQ52J974
J963Q84
Q7SouthJ82
T98SAKT5643
HK5
DK964
CAJ7

"Imagine that after some optimistic bidding you reach the seemingly hopeless contract of 7D. West leads the C10 and you win with the ace. Playing on trumps directly will succeed only when one of the defenders holds Q-J doubleton. Suppose you cash two more club winners instead, both defenders following. You can then play the top two spades, throwing dummy's last club. After ruffing a spade, you play the king and ace of hearts, then ruff a heart in hand. When you ruff another spade, it proves to be your lucky day. Both defenders follow.


"You have arrived at this magical end position:

North
-
T
WestATEast
---
J-
Q7SouthJ82
-S--
H-
DK96
C-


"What can East do when you play dummy's last heart? If he ruffs with the eight or the two, you will overruff and claim the last two tricks with the trump ace and king. His only alternative is to ruff with the jack. You can then overruff and finesse dummy's ten of trumps. Thirteen tricks either way.

"The play is picturesquely known as the Devil's Coup. It is rarely accomplished, even by players aware of the technique. That's because the side suits have to be distributed very favorably, to prevent a defender from ruffing at an awkward moment."

See also

    Anti-Bath Coup
    A paradoxic twist on a normal Bath coup.

  • Anti-Bath Coup
    A paradoxic twist on a normal Bath coup.

  • Bath Coup
    A holdup play at trick one with the A-J of the suit.

  • Coup En Passant
    A trump trick scored by ruffing a card "behind" a defender who holds a higher trump.

  • Morton's Fork Coup
    A play that presents a defender with two losing options.

  • Scissors Coup
    The strategic concession of a loser that cuts communications between the defenders.

  • Vienna Coup
    An unblocking play in preparation for a squeeze.

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