A: Good questions. As my friend and well-known bridge pro Gene Simpson says: "Average players can compete with experts using losing trick count!"
Here is a chart to get you started:
- Minimum opener: 7 losers
- Strong notrump (15-17): 6-7 losers
- Jump raise by opener (1C-1S-3S): 6 losers
- Jump raise to game by opener (1C-1S-4S): 5 losers
- Jump rebid by opener (1C-1S-3C): 6 losers
Note that high card points for these actions need to be "in the ballpark". As the high card values decrease, the playing strength needs to increase to justify the same action. Playing strength increases with more distribution and fewer losers.
This principle also applies to opening the bidding. If you hold a hand with 7 losers and less than, say, 12 points, you no doubt have some distribution and may be able to open with a weak-two bid or other preempt. Otherwise, pass and try to get in the auction later.
In an upcoming Bridge Bulletin article I discuss whether to open at the 1-level or 2-level.
Other news: I'm preparing my talk for bridge teachers at the ABTA annual conference in Memphis in a couple of weeks and look forward to conveying my enthusiasm for this subject. As I like to say: "it takes the stress out of bidding--you count your losers and immediately know what to do!"
I have a Losing Trick Count Teacher Package available for teachers and for sale on this blog. In addition to my Losing Trick Count booklet it contains an 8-page seminar booklet which can be duplicated and used in classes.
For a thorough review of LTC principles, for a presentation of using LTC with Bergen raises and help-suit game tries, and to see losing trick count in action with actual hands from tournament play, order a copy of my LTC booklet--also for sale on this blog.
See you at the table!