Between the World Series (here's a link to the great 2012 SF Giants Celebratory Anthem http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0sE5EJKXdY) and the election, many of us were temporarily distracted from our favorite hobby--bridge!
Here's a hand I received from a reader as a comment about losing trick count:
Today playing in the flight A NAP qualifier, my partner held:
opened 1S. I raised to 2. A raise to 2 should normally have about 9
losers. He counted 5 losers in his own hand, and went to 4.
...a 7-loser hand!
the opponents led a trump, and when my partner ducked a heart they then
played two more rounds of trumps. We went down two for a poor score.
That was the entire comment, but one can surmise that there is an underlying question: Why didn't losing trick count work in this instance?
To answer that I will begin with a quote from my booklet, Losing Trick Count (2011): Losing Trick Count is the number of tricks the partnership can expect to win most of the time; i.e., if suits break normally and half of your finesses win. LTC does not measure certain winners, but only the potential of the hand.
With that gentle disclaimer, let's look at these two hands:
At first glance, the most glaring feature of the two hands is the incredible misfit. Dummy's only high card points are in declarer's void! With the devastating defense described, (trump lead!) I'm surprised the declarer only went down two as he shouldn't ever be able to get to the dummy.
With average defense (no spade lead, but a spade shift after a heart is ducked) the declarer should be able to scramble 8 tricks. He should be able to get to the board with a heart ruff and discard a diamond on the club ace. With a favorable placement of the ace of diamonds, he can score his diamond king, but that may be all.
With poor defense the contract might actually make. Consider a diamond lead and a heart shift. Under that scenario a heart could be pitched on the diamond king and the hand could be cross-ruffed for (probably) 10 tricks.
But, back to losing trick count. It is a method of hand evaluation which helps you get to the right contract more often than other methods, such as simply counting high card points. Most competent pairs would bid these hands to 4♠ and then be disappointed that they were such a misfit. It's instructive to realize that the poor fit dooms this normal contract under any system!
See you at the table!