This designation, unofficially and perhaps humourously, refers to the extraction of a safe exit card from the holding of the opponent, and, by inference, the removal or extraction of a card that allows an opponent a safe play. This particular coup received its designation from Mr. John Trelde of Copenhagen, Denmark. The designation is termed humerous in the sense that Mr. John Trelde was a dentist by profession, or a person, who extracts.

Note: Any additional information, especially photographic material, as to the bridge personality of Mr. John Trelde would be greatly appreciated.

Note: Only one online reference is made that Mr. Terence Reese called it The Dentist Coup. This reference cannot be substantiated. Any additional contributed information would be greatly appreciated.

Illustration by Mr. Stephen Rzewski

The following illustration of the Dentist Coup is provided by Mr. Stephen Rzewski as presented on his website, dated Tuesday, August 14, 2007.

One Good Coup Deserves Another

IMPs - Vulnerable: N-S

South   West   North   East
1 NT   2   2   Pass
2 NT   Pass   3 NT   Pass
Pass   Pass        

Opening Lead: Queen of Hearts

In today's deal, both defense and declarer engaged in a series of thrusts and parries before one side could ultimately prevail. The bidding and opening lead may warrant some explanation: West's somewhat aggressive 2 overcall conventionally promised both Major suits. North's 2 call was a cue-bid showing game interest with a stopper in that suit. The lead of the Queen from the combination of KQ109 asks partner to play the Jack if he has it and failing that, to give count. Accordingly, East signaled with the 8.

South saw the need to hold up the Ace of Hearts at trick one. In order to make his contract, he has to establish Club tricks. Assuming that West holds all the missing Major-suit honors, there is no danger on the hand if he also holds the Ace of Clubs. But if declarer wins the first trick and it turns out that East holds the Ace, that defender will lead a Heart through declarer's J-x, and the defense will run four more Heart tricks.

The hold-up with AJx when both missing honors can be placed on the left is called a Bath Coup, named from the long-ago days of Whist and named after the place of that street name in England. It is actually a simple maneuver which comes up frequently in both notrump and suited play. Its effect is to prevent the defense from continuing the suit without giving up a 2nd winner for declarer. Since it typically forces the defense to play on other suits, declarer may not want to make this play if he fears a shift to something else.

West contemplated what to do next. It seemed to him that if declarer held the Ace of Clubs, he was likely to fulfill his contract, so he hypothetically placed that card in his partner's hand. It might be possible for the defense to duck early Club leads and isolate the long cards in the dummy, but the Ace of Spades would still be there for a late entry. West therefore decided that it might be advisable to play on Spades. It would do no good to lead a low Spade if declarer held the Queen, so West played the King (!) of spades at trick two.

This sacrifice of an unsupported honor, the intent of which is to kill an entry to dummy, is known as a Merrimac Coup. In this particular case, it resulted in giving declarer three Spade tricks instead of two, but the investment may come back by possibly depriving declarer of at least two of the long Clubs.

South won with the Ace as it would do no good to duck, since West would just lead a second Spade, and then played the King and Queen of Clubs. As one would expect with good defenders, West played high-low in Clubs, indicating a doubleton, and East recognized the need to hold up his Ace of Clubs for two rounds, leaving the following cards:


South has scored the Ace of Spades and two Clubs, and he has five more top winners. It now looks as though he is headed for down one. But declarer had one more trick up his sleeve. The declarer knew that West would not have made his two-suited overcall without at least nine cards in the Major suits, and since he had followed to both Club leads, he could not have more than two Diamonds.

So South executed a play known as the Dentist Coup by playing the Ace and King of Diamonds, thereby extracting West's potential exit cards in that suit. He then cashed the Queen and Jack of Spades and exited with his last Spade. West was in with the 10, and with nothing left in his hand but Hearts, he was endplayed and forced to lead into South's Ace-Jack tenace, enabling declarer to score the game-going trick with the Jack of Hearts after all.


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.