Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jennbridge: More on LTC

Thanks, readers, for your questions and comments regarding Losing Trick Count.  I'll answer a question and then describe a hand from last night.

Good afternoon, Jennifer!
My wife and I are upgrading our game using LTC, after a suggestion made by one of our better opponents.  After even a short amount of time, we have been able to improve our bidding precision, and arrive at good contracts which make while not missing out on game contracts that we should have bid.  Thanks for that! 

We have read the first 5 articles in the series in the ACBL Bridge Bulletin.  Thanks for this wealth of information.  In the 5th, under the subtitle "Responding", you mention that LTC loses accuracy with 6-2 fits.  We have been very successful with 5-4 fits, but these are not as common as 5-3 fits.  Therefore, my question:
How does LTC fare with the common, garden variety 5-3 fit that we so often see?

Regards, Bob

Dear Bob:  Thanks for the message.  LTC works fine with 5-3 fits.  Here is a good example.      I held this hand last night in a team game.

♠ J 
♣ QJ9xx

Vulnerable vs. not, my partner opened 1 and I responded 1.  LHO chimed in 
with a 1 bid and my  partner made a support double, showing 3-card heart 
support.  RHO bid 2 and I studied my hand. 

What would you bid?

The first feature I noticed was that I had a 7-loser hand, which meant that it would
be likely to make game opposite a minimum opener.  I then considered the 
vulnerability--you must be aggressive at teams.  The paucity of HCP--8, if you 
disregard the jack of spades, might give one pause, but the double fit (clubs and 
hearts) more than made up for it.  I jumped to 4 rather confidently.

A spade was led and the dummy was suitable:
♠ xxx 
♣ AK108

♠ J 
♣ QJ9xx

I ruffed the second spade and led a heart to the queen which held.  The king tumbled 
down under the ace and the hand was essentially over.  I drew the last trump, ran the 
clubs, and gave up a diamond--making 5.

I was a little surprised to win 12 IMPs.  It turns out that my counterpart (a good player 
who consistently uses LTC) also bid 4 but our teammates bid on to 4 and got out 
for down one.

All in all, I liked this hand.  It is a good example of how LTC works with 5-3 fits and 
also a good example of how using LTC can help you bid an excellent 22-point game.  
For anyone worried about the lack of high card points, the vulnerability and double fit 
strongly tip the balance toward bidding the game.

See you at the table!

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