The Bath Coup is as old as the game of Whist, which was very popular in England, and the name may be derived from city of Bath, which was once a favorite meeting place of the aristocracy.

Bath is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset in the south west of England. It is situated 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 13 miles (21 km) south-east of Bristol. It was granted city status by Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in the year 1590. The city was made a county borough in the year 1889, which provided the city administrative independence from its county, Somerset. The city became part of Avon when that county was created in the year 1974. Since 1996, when Avon was abolished,the city of Bath has been the principal centre of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset.

The city was first established as a spa with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis, meaning the waters of Sulis by the Romans sometime in approximately the 60th year according to the BCE (before the common / christian / current era) about 20 years after they had arrived in Britain in the year 43 BCE, although oral tradition suggests that Bath was known before then.The Romans built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs. Edgar I, also known as Edgar the Peaceful, was crowned King of England at Bath Abbey in the year 973. Much later, the city became popular as a spa town during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion that left a heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone. The City of Bath was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987.


The bath coup is simply a hold-up of the Ace of any suit when the Jack of that suit is also in the control of the declarer. The following two examples, which are the classic examples for illustrating the bath coup, explain the reasoning. Every bridge player, at one time or another, has applied the bath coup, but may not have been aware that it actually has a name.

KQ1096       75

The player sitting West leads the King of any suit against the declarer, who holds the Ace and the Jack. The declarer realizes from the lead that West also holds the Queen. This knowledge is also reinforced from an inquiry as to the agreement of the partnership leading method or by a review of the convention card. In order to win two tricks in this suit, the declarer will hold up once, waiting for West to lead the Queen. Declarer then gets two tricks.

KQ1096       75

As with the example above, the same principle applies when the Ace and the Jack of the same suit are not in the same hand.

Anti-Bath Coup

Note: The visitor should be aware of the fact that there is a concept designated as the Anti-Bath Coup, as described by Mr. Alan Truscott in his bridge column for The New York Times, dated April 8, 2002.

Note: In an article written for and published by the American Contract Bridge League Mr. Brian Gunnell provides an example of this rare bridge action of an Anti-Bath Coup. The article is titled Bridge Bites, and is presented below without alteration.

Bridge Bites

The Anti-Bath Coup
From: The American Contract Bridge League
By: Brian Gunnell

The Bath Coup is well known by now:

KQ1094       753

West leads the King and the declarer craftily ducks. Now if West continues, he gives the declarer a second trick in the suit. The rule for East here, when holding Jxx, is to encourage with his higher sport card, hopefully that agreement will save West from the ignominy of the Bath Coup.


However, in the diagram above, the declarer pulled off what has been termed as the Anti-Bath Coup. Against 3NT, West led the King and declarer could have ducked this trick in order to lure West into a Bath Coup. But declarer could see that a Diamond shift might be fatal, so in order to muddy the waters he played the Jack on the first trick! Our (gullible) West assumed that declarer had started with Ace-Jack doubleton and continued Hearts, won by declarer’s Ace. The Club finesse was lost, but East was out of Hearts and Declarer had 9 tricks. Of course, a Diamond shift at Trick 2 defeats the contract, but declarer’s clever false card diverted West from the winning play.

Yes, West erred grievously! After that first Heart trick (King, Five, Three, Jack), he should have smelled a rat. Where was the Two? East would not play the Three from 732, instead he would play his lowest card saying “I don’t have the Jack!” So, an alert West (and one who trusted his partner to signal correctly) could have figured out that declarer had false-carded. But, in the heat of battle, such clues can be missed!



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.