“Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” — Major League baseball manager Leo Durocher.
In baseball, there are good and bad outs. If a team has a runner on second with nobody out, and the batter hits a ground ball to the right side of the infield, he makes an out, but it’s a “productive out.” The runner advances to third and is in position to score on (for instance) a fly ball.
In bridge, there are good and bad losers. Losing a finesse you didn’t need to try is bad, but trading one loser for another to your advantage is good.
In today’s deal, West led his singleton ten of diamonds against four hearts. (West’s bid of two spades was preemptive; East’s pass to four hearts was inexplicable; only double-dummy defense would have beaten four spades.) East took the ace and returned the nine, and West ruffed South’s king and led the queen of clubs.
South played low from dummy, ruffed in his hand and drew trumps, but he could see no escaping two diamond losers. He sullenly conceded down one.
Declarer should have moved the runner. After he ruffs West’s club shift at Trick Three, he takes the ace of spades, ruffs a spade in dummy, ruffs a club, leads a trump to dummy and ruffs the king of clubs. Declarer then leads the queen of spades, and when West’s king covers, dummy discards a diamond.
South loses the trick, but it’s a good loser. He has traded one loser for another, and West is end-played. He must lead a spade or club, and South discards dummy’s last diamond, ruffs in his hand and wins the rest.
Both sides vulnerable
H A Q 10 6 2
D 7 5 4 3
C K 6 2
S K J 10 9 7 3
C Q J 10 8 3
S 8 5 2
D A Q J 9
C A 9 7 5 4
S A Q 4
H K J 9 7 5 4
D K 8 6 2
South West North East
1 H 2 S 4 H Pass(!)
Opening lead — D 10
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