Monday, May 21, 2018

LTC at Work at the Club

By Bob Klein

Here is a hand I held recently at the local bridge club. My partner opened 1, RHO overcalled 2 and I held:

A 8 2
K 9 7 5 3
3
K Q 5 3

The first item of business was to count my losers.  With 5 hearts to the king, there couldn't be more than 1 loser, so the hand counted to 5 losers.  So I immediately thought of slam, since opener normally has 7 losers.  Using the LTC formula, 7+5=12 losers, which should produce 12 tricks.  I had first or second round control of every other suit.  RHO figured to have most if not all of the opposing strength, and I had a singleton in his suit. If it came down to a spade finesse, it figured to work.

I thought about a splinter bid of 4 Diamonds, but then decided that partner could easily have enough for slam and not have enough to accept a slam try.  So I just took the simple approach and bid 4NT, RKC for hearts.  Pard showed 2 with the queen of hearts, so I closed it out at 6 . The lead was the A, followed by a heart shift. Here were both hands:

A 8 2
K 9 7 5 3
3
K Q 5 3
N
WE
S
Q J
A Q 10 8 4
Q 6 5
A 7 4

Partner drew trump, tested the clubs, and when they didn't split, took the spade finesse, which, as expected, won. Plus 980 was a tie for top as most pairs didn't bid slam. A proper evaluation of my hand, using losing trick count principles, propelled us to the excellent 27-point slam.


East Deals
None Vul
10 7 6 3
6 2
9 4 2
J 10 9 8
A 8 2
K 9 7 5 3
3
K Q 5 3
N
WE
S
Q J
A Q 10 8 4
Q 6 5
A 7 4
K 9 5 4
J
A K J 10 8 7

♣ 62

Friday, May 4, 2018

Why Use Losing Trick Count?

 This is from the introduction to my booklet, Losing Trick Count, Vol. I.

"As bridge players we would love to be able to bid every game and slam that makes and avoid those that don’t! We know how many high card points it supposedly takes to make game and slam and find ourselves occasionally feeling uneasy when things don’t quite “add up”. We take 10 tricks when we’re in a part-score and 12 tricks when we’re in game. Or we bid game or slam with the “correct” number of points and go down. We vaguely wonder whether there is a better way. The answer is YES! Losing Trick Count is a superior method of hand evaluation which, when used in conjunction with the high card point system, will dramatically improve your bidding accuracy.

Using the losing trick count method takes the guesswork out of bidding and enables you to get to the best contract consistently. Plus, it is easy to learn, easy to use and you can use it on your own--even if your partner has never heard of it!"

                                                         


I have been using Losing Trick Count (LTC) for more than 20 years and consistently receive good results bidding games and slams that are difficult to reach. I have many examples of them in my booklets and will be writing up many more in my new LTC series in the Bridge Bulletin.

My partners and I find that it is not too unusual to bid 20-point games. Here is a hand where my partner, Bob Klein, and I bid a 20 point SLAM two nights ago! I held:

♠AQxx
A10xxxx
Ax
♣x

A 14 point hand, but quite a strong hand when evaluated with losing trick count principles. I opened 1 and was pleased to hear partner respond 1♠.  Wow--that made my hand even stronger. Now that we had a fit, I counted my losers and saw that I had only 5. That meant that my hand was strong enough to go to game, but I found a more descriptive bid than 4♠. I bid 4, a splinter bid showing spade support with club shortness. 

Now partner, who knew roughly the strength and shape of my hand, started to evaluate his. He held:

♠10xxxxx
x
Q10
♣Axxx

Although he only had 6 points, he paused to evaluate the situation. As he told me later, although he started with an 8 loser hand, he figured his two small clubs were no longer losers opposite my club singleton, so he upgraded his hand, figuring that we may have a slam. Cue bidding and RKC Blackwood followed and we landed in 6♠. 

♠AQxx
A10xxxx
Ax
♣x

♠10xxxxx
x
Q10
♣Axxx

He won the heart lead and ruffed a heart, starting the process of setting up hearts. In the fullness of time he set up hearts, won the spade finesse and ruffed clubs, making 6. Not surprisingly, we won 11 IMPs for our score of 980 as our opponents stopped in 4♠, also making 6.

It's not every day that you can bid and make a slam with 20 points between you. Learning to properly use Losing Trick Count will enable you to do it!
                                                                             

Here are a couple of observations about LTC from well-known bridge pros:

*Gene Simpson says that average players can compete with experts if they learn LTC.

*Ron Smith says that people need to do more than merely count points for accurate bidding--the point count system doesn't properly evaluate distributional hands like LTC does.

Want to improve your game and win more consistently? Learn Losing Trick Count!

See you at the table!