Discarding a losing card on a losing card has been the fundamental element of play since the days of Whist, Bridge Whist and Bridge. The concept is simple, since it is the act of playing a card that must be lost on a losing trick in some other suit, but may vary in its application. Below, the reader can discover several of the variations of the concept, in order to recognize better the circumstances surrounding a Loser On Loser play.
The contract is 4 Hearts. Declarer is South. The lead by West is: King of Diamonds. The declarer plays low from the dummy and East overtakes with the Ace of Diamonds, knowing that his partner has the Queen of Diamonds. East plays his second Diamond on the third trick, and West wins. South, the declarer, knows that West will produce a Diamond on the third trick for East to trump. Since the dummy contains only small trump cards, East will be able to overtrump. South also has a losing Club trick. South therefore throws a losing Club trick from the dummy on the third trick. South can later ruff the losing Club trick in his hand in the dummy. This variation is known as Allowing a Safe Ruff to Produce a Trick.
The contract is 3 Spades. Declarer is South. The lead by West is: Ace of Hearts. West leads the King of Hearts and the 10 of Hearts on the second and third trick respectively. South ruffs the third Heart, cashes the Ace and King of Diamonds, and ruffs the small Diamond in the dummy on the sixth trick. The seventh trick is the deciding trick for South. If South cashes the Ace of Clubs and leads another small Club, then East will win in order to lead another Heart, which will create a situation where the defense will gain two trump tricks. The trick is to play a Loser on Loser. South plays the Ace of Clubs and then leads a small Heart and discards the losing Club. East wins the trick, but is now forced to lead. This variation is known as Allowing a Safe Re-Entry.
The contract is 4 Spades. Declarer is South. The lead by West is: King of Diamonds. South wins the first trick with the Ace of Diamonds, crosses to the dummy with a small Heart and plays three rounds of Hearts, discarding his losing Diamond. In the case that South, on the fifth trick, does not play the last Heart in the dummy to discard a losing Club trick in his hand, then the defense wins two Club tricks, one definite Spade trick, and the possibility of promoting the Jack of trump, held by West, as a winner after East obtains the lead to play his last small Heart for West to ruff. This variation is known as Preventing a Later Overruff Threat.
The contract is 3 Spades. Declarer is South. The lead by West is: Ace of Clubs. South is definitely certain that West is void in Hearts as deduced from the auction and counting his Heart cards. West wins the first trick and the second trick with the King of Clubs. On the third trick, West leads the Queen of Clubs. South realizes that East must be prevented from gaining the lead and leading a Heart. On the third trick, South therefore discards a loser on a loser and plays a small Diamond. This variation is known as Preventing a Particular Opponent from Gaining the Lead.
The contract is 4 Spades. Declarer is South. The lead by West is: Ace of Hearts. Based upon the auction and the fact that the declarer has followed suit, West realizes that the declarer is most likely void in Hearts, and is perhaps planning a loser-on-a-loser play by discarding a low Diamond in order to set up his Diamond side suit. West shifts, on the second trick, to a trump. Hindsight shows that West may also have shifted to playing the 10 of Diamonds with the same effect. The declarer wins the trick in the dummy with a high trump and plays the 4 of Spades from his hand, leads the 9 of Hearts, which East covers with the Queen of Hearts. South ruffs with the 5 of Spades, and then returns to the dummy via the 6 of Spades to the remaining trump honor. South plays the Jack of Hearts from the dummy and then discards his losing Diamond. West wins and has to play his Ace of Clubs in order that South does not make an overtrick. South has successfully discarded a loser on a loser, unblocked the trump suit to create an additional entry, and prevented East from gaining the lead to begin the Clubs. This variation is known as: Establishing a Side Suit.
Other variations of the Loser-On-Loser play include the variations of a) Executing an Endplay by Creating a Throw-In Card, b) Executing an Endplay by Forcing an Opponent to Remain on Lead, c) and other variations perhaps not yet analyzed and/or invented. Understanding this principle of playing a card that must be lost on a losing trick in another suit must be understood by the bridge player, even if that card is an Ace. Understanding the techniques of a Loser-on-Loser play is necessary and must be recognized by the bridge player when the opportunity arises.