Recently, a friend was browsing through the bridge books on my shelves, when suddenly she burst out laughing. ‘Here’s a funny one,’ she said. ‘It’s called Loser on Loser Play.’ Why would anyone want to read a book by a loser on how to lose? Given that she’s only recently learnt how to play – by recently, I mean two years ago, which is the blink of an eye for a bridge player – I explained that it’s a fairly common technique which involves substituting one loser for another. You might do it for a number of reasons, for instance to force a particular opponent to be on lead, or to reduce two losers to one by creating a trick. She looked ever more perplexed (it’s a surprisingly difficult concept to explain), so I gave her this example, played by Patrick Lawrence the previous week in a teams match against me.
I was East. West led the ♥A, then, seeing my ♥J and declarer’s ♥10, continued with the ♥2, a suit preference signal for clubs. I ruffed (declarer playing the ♥K) and duly switched to a club. Sitting South, what would you do? You might plan to finesse the ♣J –if it wins, you only have a diamond to lose. But that would be wrong: there is a fail-safe way to make the contract via a loser-on-loser play. Patrick rose with the ♣K (it was vital to preserve the ♣A as an entry to dummy), drew trumps in three rounds, crossed to dummy’s ◆K and played the ♥9, throwing the ◆4 from hand. West won with the ♥Q and returned a diamond; Patrick won with the ◆A, crossed to dummy’s ♣A and threw his losing ♣7 on the established ♥8.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10