Loser on Loser Squared

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 06/18/2009

K 3
A 10 7
A J 10 9 5 2
A 10
This deal from the 2009 Team Trials was played by me against the eventual winners. I held this hand:

At unfavorable vulnerability, I was in 4th seat. After two passes, my RHO, Fred Stewart, opened the bidding with 4. How annoying!  What now? A double (primarily for takeout) doesn't make much sense (are you really planning to pass if partner bids 4?). I didn't want to pass 4, so I ventured 5. Nobody said I had to be happy about it. Everyone passed (at least I wasn't doubled), and the 2 was led:

 A 10 9 7 26 4 3Q 8 75 4 K 3A 10 7A J 10 9 5 2A 10

It seems as if Mr. Stewart (a renowned aggressive bidder) has opened 4 with only a six-card suit. How should I play?

If the K is with West, he won't have any more hearts to play and I can still hope to set up and use dummy's spades. Therefore, it seems wrong to use up dummy's A (for a diamond finesse) at trick two. Accordingly, after winning the A, I laid down the A and was gratified to see the king drop singleton on my right. Now what?

Time to work on spades. I laid down the K, low, low, eight. This eight looks to be an interesting card--now I am missing only the queen-jack. On the next spade, LHO plays low. The moment of truth.

If LHO started with QJxxx and you go up with the ace, you will have wished you inserted the 9. But, if you insert the 9 and RHO wins, he will cash the top hearts--down you go. If RHO has a doubleton spade honor (or 3 spades), you can make your contract by playing the A and then continuing spades (you have lots of diamond entries to dummy).

Would RHO open 4 with 2=6=1=4 shape? Is it more likely he is 1=6=1=5?

It turns out that because of the fall of the 8 you have a 100% line of play!

Don't worry about 5-1 spades. Go up with dummy's A and you will soon be able to claim--no matter what. If RHO follows, you can ruff a spade, cross in diamonds, ruff a spade and the last spade will be good. What if RHO shows out--he started with a small singleton?

No problem. You can execute a double loser-on-loser play! Run the 10 and discard a club from hand. Win the return (West won't have any hearts left) and cross in diamonds. Run the 9 and throw another loser (this time a heart). Now, your 7 is established to throw the other heart loser. All you lose is two spade tricks.

This was the full deal:

 Vul: N-SDlr: West A 10 9 7 26 4 3Q 8 79 4 J 6 5 426 4 3K 7 6 5 3 Q 8K Q J 9 8 5KQ J 8 2 K 3A 10 7A J 10 9 5 2A 10

When I went up with the A, the queen dropped. Now I ran the 10, throwing a club. West won the J and I had the rest--making six.

At the other table, East opened a normal 1, and North-South played in a diamond partscore.

I suppose it would have been a better story if spades were 5-1--I'd have loved to  have pulled off that double loser on loser play.