Loser on Loser
How often have you been in the situation where you can trump a suit led by a right hand opponent and know that your left hand opponent can also trump that suit? How high do you trump? Do you trump at all, particularly if your other hand has a card that can beat the one led? This is where a “loser on loser” play may be appropriate.
In essence this play swops another loser for the one you are about to lose. Instead of trying to trump with the risk of being over-trumped, or providing a trump promotion to the opposition, a losing card from another suit is played. Take the following scenarios, spades are trumps.
♠ A,10,6,5,4 ♠ K,3,2
♥ ♥ J- (or 9)
♦ A,8, 3 ♦ K,5,4
♣ A,K ♣ J,6,3
After losing the first two rounds of hearts South leads another heart. From the bidding and/or play you deduce that North is also void in hearts. If you trump small it is very likely that you get over-trumped. If trump with the 10 then you may get overtrumped with one of the outstanding honours and then possibly lose to the other honour later. Where in this situation your dummy has the Jack then it is best to pitch the 3♦, letting them have the ruff in exchange for your losing diamond. Even if the dummy holding is 9♥, then you are still better off as then dummy’s trumps protect you from another heart lead. Also in the above layout, you very probably have a natural trump loser. If North has three trumps and uses one of them to ruff then you shouldn’t lose another trump trick. That will be two losers gained for the price of one!
Another occasion where you may not want to trump in hand is where this shortens your trumps. This could prove a problem where the outstanding trumps are split unfavourably and you are then in danger of losing trump control. Imagine in the above scenario that North holds a singleton spade honour and South has 4 spades to the other honour. If West ruffs and North over-ruffs there is a good chance that trump control will be lost and South can cash some outside winners.
It is surprising how often the possibility of loser on loser plays can arise, so keep a good eye out for the opportunity.