Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Use Losing Trick Count for Accurate Hand Evaluation

I often run across hands where there is a total failure to use the simple hand evaluation tool of Losing Trick Count.  Here are two hands I played recently where the use of LTC gets you to the right contract, yet it was not used. One of these hands was even held by a flight A player who generally uses LTC.

1.  I played this hand in Terra Linda recently as East.

Dlr: N Vul: NS

                        ♠ A J 10 8 6
                        ♥ A J 8 2
                        ♦ K 6 3
                        ♣ 6          
♠ 4 3
K 6 5
9 4 2       
Q J 10 5 3
      N
 W

E
      S
 ♠ Q 7
  Q 9 7 4 3
   J 10 8
 ♣ A K 9
                       ♠ K 9 5 2
                       ♥ 10 
                       ♦ A Q 7 5
                       ♣ 8 7 4 2

North opened 1 and I overcalled 2 with a less than optimum hand.  South bid 2 and pard bid 3.  Amazingly, everyone passed and I played in 3.  Down 4, minus 200 was, not surprisingly, an 85% board as NS can make a slam in spades!  What happened?

The answer is that South under-valued his hand and failed to make a limit raise.  He actually has a 7-loser hand, so could even consider forcing to game! Whether or not he forces to game, he should start with a bid of 3, showing a limit raise or better in spades. Admittedly, slam is not a good bet, as it depends on not losing a spade trick, but game should be easy to reach.

It is also possible that there was no competitive bidding at most tables, but that shouldn't be a reason for South to fail to use LTC and be very competitive with this hand.

2. I held this hand recently as North. After two passes I opened 1.  Pard bid 2 and that was the final contract.


Dlr: S Vul: None

                         A K Q 8 5
                        ♥ 5 3
                        ♦ 9 5
                        ♣ K 10 3 2         
♠ 9 6 2
A 10 9 8 4
J 5 2       
A 6
      N
 W

E
      S
 ♠ J 3
  K Q 7 6 2
   K 10 4 3
 ♣  5 4
                       ♠ 10 7 4
                       ♥
                       ♦ A 8 7 6
                       ♣ Q J 9 8 7

A club was led and I made 5.  It always makes 4.  After the hand I asked my partner why, with 8 losers, he didn't bid 2, Drury, showing a limit raise. He admitted that he should have. Interestingly, most pairs didn't properly evaluate their hands and failed to reach game so our score was about average.  It was definitely a lost opportunity, however.

Stay alert (as I tell my bridge students) and don't forget to use LTC for accurate hand evaluation!

See you at the table!

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