A coup can be defined, relating to the game of bridge, as a master stroke, the shortening of your trumps to enable picking up an onside Minor tenace in trumps without a card to lead for a finesse, or a special maneuver by the declarer.

Note: The word coup is defined as a brilliantly executed stategem; a triump; a brilliant and successful stroke or action. The word is derived from the Latin word colaphus and also from the Greek word kolaphos, and was primarily a designation for a politcal act or action. The word can also be combined with other words to describe certain actions such as coup d'oeil (meaning a quick survey; a quick glance), or coup de theatre (meaning a dramatic surprise; a sensational bit of stagecraft).

In the game of bridge the term coup is also a generic name for various techniques in play, denoting a specific pattern in the lie and the play of cards.

Generally, it refers to an endplay situation in which a defender's finesse-able trumps are trapped without a finesse. This situation may occur when there is no entry to take a finesse, or when there is no trump to lead for a finesse. Preparing for a coup is essential and this occurs when the declarer shortens the trump length, decreasing the length to not more than the same length as the number of trump held by any defender.

The following example should clarify the concept of the coup.


The contract is 4 Hearts. South is the declarer. During the auction, West entered the bidding by showing his two Minor suits in the bidding sequence:

Any competitive auction must be remembered at all times in order to execute a coup.
South   West   Meaning
1       Promises opening values and normally a 5-card Heart suit.
    2 NT   Promises both Minor suits. Known as the Unusual No Trump conventional method.

West leads the Ace of Diamonds. South ruffs. South leads a small Heart to the King of Hearts in dummy. South plays the winning King of Diamonds, ruffs a Diamond, and plays three rounds of Spades ending in the dummy. South then ruffs a Spade, and plays a Club. At trick 9, South has lost only 1 trick to the Ace of Diamonds, has captured only eight tricks, and must make his two remaining trumps. At trick 9, the play has ended as shown in the illustration below.


By preparing for the coup, this special maneuver by the declarer, the declarer was able to make the contract.

Note: When the preparation of the coup requires the necessity to ruff a winner, it is referred to as a Grand Coup.

Note: Single Coups, Double Coups, and Triple Coups refer to situations, in which one, two, or three winners are ruffed respectively.



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.


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