As you might expect, growing up with two world-class bridge playing parents, my sister and I picked up a lot of bridge slang. That meant we would double each other when we thought someone was exaggerating. We would also have played it "double dummy" on an easy test.
Unfortunately for me, my sister once overheard my parents discussing a loser on loser play. After that, whenever my best friend would come over, she would refer to it as a “loser on loser playdate.”
So what is a loser on loser play, aside from a traumatic childhood experience? A loser on loser play is any play where you discard a loser while also losing a trick. Functionally this substitutes one loser for another.
Why might you make a loser on loser play? There are many reasons: entry issues, need to get rid of a side loser, and fear of getting overruffed are the big ones.
Let’s demonstrate one that comes up frequently.
| All Pass
The lead is the 6 won by East with the Q and then East continues with the A (West plays the 2) Now East plays the K. What is your plan?
You should realize West has no more hearts from the auction and play so far. You could ruff with the 9, but that will lose if West has the J and then you will have to lose a club trick. Instead, discard a club since you have a club loser anyway. In the beginning you counted two heart losers and a club loser. Now the defense is threatening to generate a third heart trick/overruff. Since you can't get rid of the club loser regardless, you might as well discard it here and guarantee your contract. [Note: you can make it on this layout by ruffing with the A as well, but it requires a lot of fancy footwork. See if you can see how to make it ruffing with the ace and then playing two rounds of high spades, finding the 3-1 break. This is an inferior line to the loser on loser play.]
The full deal:
Here's another full deal to test yourself on.
| All Pass
You bid an aggressive 2 at this vulnerability and partner might expect you to have a little more for their jump to 4, but here you are.
The lead is the A. You play the 9 from dummy (good play!), East plays the 4 and you play your heart. West switches to the 10. What's your plan?
You have already lost one heart, and have two diamond losers and two club losers. That's two too many. If you play the J, the defense could switch to diamonds and you will go down (losing two diamonds, a club and a heart). Win this with the A. Next you can draw two rounds of trump, ending in dummy (and keeping either the K or A in dummy) . Even if the trumps aren't 2-2, you can't play the third round, because you need that spade to get back to dummy. Now, play another heart. Yes, you know West has the K for their lead, but you don't care. Throw away one of your club losers. When the defense wins this trick, they can't hurt you. You will lose two hearts and one club. In the process, you have two good hearts to throw away your diamonds on.
The full deal:
You want to be careful. Often, after I teach this subject, players create new losers. Remember that the idea of a loser on loser play is to substitute something that is already a loser for a more productive loser.