LOSING TRICK COUNT

 

The losing trick count  (LTC) is a different way of assessing the number of tricks a partnership is likely to win.

 

It is used after a trump fit has been found and is clearly superior to counting points because more accurate assessments are made more often.

 

e.g.

 

ª A  © 7 ¨ AKQ9876432  § 6

 

What is this hand worth?

 

It is NOT worth 13 points!  It has 2 losers (and therefor 11 winners). All you need to know is whether partner can cover both your losers, one of them or neither of them. If partner has two aces then your hand is worth a contract of 7¨!!!!

 

At times, using LTC you will recognize 4ª contracts on 20HCP

or reach slam with just 27HCP.  At other times you stop bidding game even though you have 25HCP and distribution but have too many losers.

 

The LTC formula is:

 

1. COUNT your losers

2. ADD partner’s losers

3. DEDUCT total from 18

 

The figure you arrive at is the MAXIMUM level at which your side should be bidding. Remember, only use LTC WHEN YOU FIND A FIT!

 


How to count losers:

 

1. Count losers only in the first three cards of each suit

2. With 3 or more cards in a suit count A,K,Q as winners with anything else being a loser.

3. If the Q is supported by another honor it is a winner,
    but if it has 2 “rags” with it, count it as “half” a loser.
    (i.e. Qxx = ½ loser)

4. With 2 cards in a suit count A,K as winners. Any other cards are losers.

5. With 1 card in a suit, count A as a winner. Any other card is a loser.

 

It should be noted -

* There is never more than 3 losers in a suit

* The most losers a hand can have is 12

* As points increase, losers decrease.

* As points decrease, losers increase.

* The more unbalanced a hand, the fewer losers.

* The more balanced a hand, the more losers.

 


Calculating partner’s losers:

 

As a guide you can calculate partner’s losers as follows:

 

Partner = Opener

 

13-15 points                 Opening hand                6-7 losers*

          16-18 points                 1NT (strong)                 5-6 losers*

          19-21 points                 Strong opening             4-5 losers*

          22+ points                    Game force                   1-3 losers*

          10-12 points                 Weak opening               8 losers

6- 9 points                    Weak 2 opening            8 losers

6-9 points                     Weak 3 opening (vul)  7 losers

6-9 points                     Weak 3 opening (nv)    8 losers

 

You open and partner responds:

 

You open            Partner responds           Partner’s         Partner’s

Points               Losers

          1©                       2©                       6-10                     8-9*

          1©                       3©                       Limit 10-12        8                 1©                       3©                             Game force 13    7                 1©                       4©                       6-10 HCP           7      

 

Partner has already passed, then bids after you open:

 

You open            Partner responds           Partner’s    Partner’s

                                                                   Points         Losers

          1©                       2©                       6-10              8-9*

          1©                       3©                       10-12            8


 

Estimating partner’s losers using points:

 

You can estimate partner’s losers if you know his/her points:

(this is only rough estimate)

 

Points         Losers        Points         Losers        Points         Losers

0-6             10-11*       13-15         7                 22-24         4      

7-9             9                 16-18         6                 25-27         3

10-12         8                 19-21         5

 

 

INVITING GAME

 

In a major:

 

Invite game if you know your partnership has 14-15 losers

(you are not sure which). You want to know if partner has minimum or maximum losers in the range he/she has shown.

 

With maximum losers partner will pass, with minimum he/she will bid game.

 

In a minor:

 

Invite game if you know your partnership has 13-14 losers

(you are not sure which). You want to know if partner has  minimum or maximum losers in the range he/she has shown. With maximum losers partner will pass, with minimum he/she will bid game.

 

All ranges in these notes marked with an asterisk(*) are ranges

where an invitation to game may be sought.

 

 


Weak Openings:

Calculating openers can help you to decide whether to open weak or not.

 

Weak 2 opening:

All the following must be present -

6-10 HCP

6 card suit

          8 or fewer losers

 

Weak 3 opening (Not Vulnerable):

All the following must be present -

6-9 HCP

7 card suit

          8 or fewer losers

 

Weak 3 opening (Vulnerable):

All the following must be present -

6-9 HCP

7 card suit

          7 or fewer losers

 

 

Whether to open at 1 level or not:

(Note: With Standard American, an opening in a major guarantees a 5 card suit)

 

Count your HCP. If you have 12 or more you MUST open.

 

If you have fewer than 12 open if both the following are true:

 

1. Count your losers. If you have 8 or fewer it will be worth opening if the rule of 20 (see next point) is true.

2. Use the rule of 20. Add the length of your two longest suits to your HCP. If the total is 20 or more it is worth opening if you have 8 losers or less.

 

 

Please note that these notes are only a guide.

 

Full instructions on LTC are available in Ron Klinger’s excellent book: “The Modern Losing Trick Count”