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.


A Classic Textbook Example

Dealer: West
Vulnerable: East/West

West   North   East   South
2   Pass   Pass   3
Pass   4   Pass   Pass

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.

Example 2

A second example illustrates the importance of recognizing the significance of the action, which must be performed by the defender in order to execute correctly the crocodile coup.


The declarer, needing two additional tricks, attempts to endplay East by leading the five of Hearts on the 11th trick. However, West, who has been counting the number of Hearts and Spades, realizes that his partner, East is about to be endplayed. This is what will happen if West ducks and allows East to win the trick with the King of Hearts. East would have to lead back a Spade into the tenace in the dummy, which would provide the declarer with the two necessary tricks.

However, in order to prevent this endplay West wins the trick with the Ace of Hearts and leads into the tenace, which provides the defenders with two tricks.



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.