The Southeast Missourian – 25 Jul 1979

Alan Sontag
Alan Sontag

Some years ago in discussing the Bath coup, we made the mistake of referring to Bath as a seaside resort in England. It is a resort, but not on the ocean as many readers pointed out to us. The play goes way back to whist and apparently was first used by vacationers in that inland resort.

It isn’t a complicated play since all it involves is ducking an adverse king when you hold ace-jack small of the suit led.

Dealer South N/S Vul

K 9 6
9 7 4
J 10 9 5
10 7 3
J 7 5 2
K Q 10 6 3
K 2
J 4
Q 8 3
8 5
7 6 3
Q 8 6 5 2
A 10 4
A J 2
A Q 8 4
A K 9
West North East South
2NT
Pass 3NT Pass Pass
Pass

South has a classic Bath coup hand.

He lets West hold the first trick with his king of hearts. West may lead a second heart. In that case South scores his jack.

West may shift to a spade. In that case South can get three spade tricks.

West can lead a club which will give South three club tricks, or he may sacrifice his king of diamonds.

In any event, once South lets West hold the first trick West is doomed. South is sure of three notrump and may well find a way to make an overtrick.

Now, see what happens if South takes the first heart. He can bring home the bacon if he plays the ace and another diamond right away, but of course, winds up with egg on his face if East holds the diamond king. Or he can get to dummy, lose the diamond finesse and still wind up with his contract if the defense slips.

Alan M. Sontag (born May 2, 1946) is an American professional bridge player. He won six world championships, including two Bermuda Bowl wins. Sontag is also known for his book The Bridge Bum, a book “on everybody’s list of the top ten bridge books ever written. Sontag was inducted into the ACBL Hall of Fame in 2007

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