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  Nov. 02/99

 

JUST BRIDGE...

 

SPLISH SPLASH

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

 The Bath coup has nothing to do with getting clean. It is nothing more than a fancy name for a straightforward hold-up play that was first recorded in Bath, England. In the classical Bath Coup matrix, declarer, with AJx in the closed hand opposite small cards, follows low from both hands when an honour is led from a king-queen combination. The defence cannot continue the suit without giving away a trick, and if the defence shifts to another suit declarer often gains a tempo or retains overall control. The Bath Coup is a simple but effective play.

 It must be said that neither side has a monopoly on Bath Coups. West leads the
4 against South's 3NT. Plan the play.

South deals North-South vulnerable

  J 10 7
A 9 5
K Q 6 4 3 2

8

   
  A K Q
K 8 4
9 5

A 10 9 6 4

West North East South
      1NT
Pass 3NT fin  



Opening Lead:
4

 You might not care for South's decision to open 1NT with a weak doubleton, but a 1
opening would leave him badly placed over any response: a 1NT rebid is not enough but a 2NT rebid is too much. Similarly, a single raise of a major-suit response is not enough but a jump raise is too much with too few trumps.

 If South wins the spade lead and plays a diamond to the queen, East, remembering the Bath coup position, follows with the seven. When declarer returns to his hand to lead up to the
K, East wins the ace. Declarer now needs two entries to dummy - one to set up the diamonds and another to cash them - but North has only the A as an entry. Nice defence!

 South can overcome this defensive coup, however. He must duck the first diamond completely, forcing the defence to win the first round of the suit. Declarer wins any continuation in his hand, and plays a second diamond, playing the king. It will not matter whether East wins or ducks. As long as the diamonds are three-two declarer makes his contract and this line also caters to the singleton ace, a little extra in the percentages. Declarer should make this "safety" play because he needs only three diamond tricks; if he needed five tricks, it would be necessary to play for the
A onside with at most two siblings.

 The four hands were:

 

  J 10 7
A 9 5
K Q 6 4 3 2

8

9 8 6 4 2
Q 6 2
10 8

K J 3

5 3
J 10 7 3
A J 7

Q 7 5 2

  A K Q
K 8 4
9 5

A 10 9 6 4