The uses of losing a trick

January 25, 1960

Antibridge, the trick-losing game reported in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, Oct. 12), is not an entirely new idea. In the early days of auction bridge you could bid "nullos," which, like antibridge, was a contract to lose tricks. The difference was that in nullos a bid was generally played without a trump suit; in antibridge you may make a minus bid in a suit. Nullos would be virtually forgotten today if it were not for the occasional caustic reference to a partner's play, "I thought you were playing nullos." Meaning, "You couldn't have lost more tricks if you tried."

Yet there are some deals where the only way to win the game is by losing a trick. For example:

Neither side vulnerable North dealer

NORTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

WEST

[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[6 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[8 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[9 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[8 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

EAST

[Jack of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[7 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

NORTH

1 [Club]
2 [Spade]
3 N.T.

EAST

DOUBLE
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

1 [Diamond]
2 N.T.
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: club queen

South's bid of one diamond immediately over a takeout double promised no great strength. His forced rebid of two no trump was also a weak call. But it seemed to North that his partner would need little more than the
secondary strength in the red suits which South's bids promised, so he contracted boldly for the game.

The resulting duel of wits was worthy of the experts who made up this table. Dummy won the club opening, and South studied carefully before he decided on his play. He recognized that if he started the diamond suit, the defenders would simply duck one round of diamonds and would then have little difficulty in keeping his hand from gaining the lead. So he made the excellent decision to try to establish two tricks in hearts.

When dummy led the queen of hearts, it was East's turn to ponder. He won the trick and made the only return that would foil declarer's plan. He led a low diamond! This beautiful defensive maneuver prevented declarer from establishing the hearts and then winning a diamond lead in his own hand, when cashing two heart tricks would insure making his contract.

Dummy won the diamond trick with the queen and continued hearts. East took his heart ace, cashed the ace of diamonds and then led a low spade. Declarer did his best to decline this Greek gift. He won the trick with dummy's queen and cashed the ace and king. But East refused to accept the return of the trick he had given away. He dumped his jack under dummy's ace and stranded the lead in dummy.

When West discarded his last heart on dummy's 10 of spades, South made the best of a bad bargain. If he had cashed the high club, he would have had to surrender the last three tricks to West, going down two. Instead, he led dummy's deuce of clubs up to his 8. West won with the 9 and continued with the jack. Declarer held his loss to a one-trick set by letting the jack win. This left North with the ace-5 against West's 10-4, so North was able to win the last two tricks.

The strange part of this giving-away-tricks contest was that if declarer had started his give-away program soon enough he could have saved his contract. After East returned the low diamond letting dummy win the queen, declarer should have cashed dummy's top spades and high club before leading another heart. Then it would have done East no good to drop his jack of spades.

EXTRA TRICK
Sometimes the only way to save a game is by giving up a trick. If having to lead later will be embarrassing, be sure to get out of your own way by cashing your winners first or getting rid of them altogether by dumping high cards under your opponents' higher ones.

PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)