Play Basics: the Loser on Loser Play

By Kitty & Steve Cooper

 

When playing a trump contract, you should start by counting your winners and losers and making a plan. Sometimes discarding a known loser on a trick where you expect to get over ruffed is the winning line of play. I always know when I’ve missed one of these because dummy (my husband) sarcastically asks, “No losers to pitch, dear?”

The classic example is that one opponent has a long suit, cashes the AK, and then plays another when both his partner and you or dummy can ruff. For example, you (South), arrive in 4S on the following hand after RHO overcalled your partner’s 1NT with 2H. West leads the H8 and East cashes the AK of hearts while West follows with the H2. What do you do when East plays a third round of hearts?                 

          S AK108

          H 543

          D QJ4

          C AK4

 

          S Q7632

          H Q6

          D AK9

          C 952

 

You know that West is out of spades, so if you’re going to ruff the heart you have to ruff high so that he can’t over ruff. But if spades don’t split 2-2, you have created a fourth loser (a trump) to go with the AK of hearts and your third club (since you have nowhere to discard it). But if you throw a small club from your hand on the third round of hearts nothing bad can happen; if East plays another heart and West ruffs you simply over ruff in dummy. Since you no longer have a club to lose later, you make your contract. By playing a loser (small club) on a loser (the third heart) you turned two potential losers into just one.

Here is the full hand. As you can see, ruffing the heart with your queen would have created a spade loser, since East’s SJ would be high after you drew two rounds of trump.

 

                    S AK108

                    H 543

                    D QJ4

                    C AK4

 

S 9                                            S J54

H 82                                         H AKJ1097

D 108753                                  D 62

C J8763                                     C Q10

 

                    S Q7632

                    H Q6

                    D AK9

                    C 95

 



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