Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jennbridge: Better Than a Minimum

Here's another way to use losing trick count.  Playing in a team game the other night, as dealer with both vul.,  I picked up a nice hand:

♠ AKxxx
♣ J

I opened 1, LHO jumped to 3, partner bid 4, RHO bid 5 and it was back to me.  I paused to consider the implications of all of this bidding.

Partner must have a game-going hand as his 4 bid, which shows a good hand with a spade fit, would have forced me to bid at the 4 level.  I took a look at my losers.  I have 6 losers, or possibly 5, if you apply LTC adjustments and deduct half a loser for each ace.  Partner should have no more than 7 losers so we should be safe at the 5 level and may even have a slam.  How should I proceed?

Certainly I could bid 5, but, with this good hand--better than a minimum--I decided to take the opportunity to convey some potentially valuable information to partner, cheaply, by cuebidding 5.  

Sure enough, partner jumped to 6.  A heart was led.

♠ QJxxx
♣ Axx

♠ AKxxx
♣ J

I liked the dummy, and the (non-club) heart lead was quite likely a singleton.  The Q was covered by the king and I won the ace.  I drew trumps in 2 rounds and played the J, confirming the singleton lead.  I gave up a trick to the 10 and claimed, pitching dummy's small diamond on the 9.

Plus 1430 felt like a good score, but turned out to be a push.

Remember to take advantage of opportunities to convey useful information to partner.  In this case, not only did I announce that I had a high heart honor--just the message partner needed to bid the slam--but also that I had a good hand according to losing trick principles--better than a minimum. With a minimum opener (7 losers) I would have taken a different course.

Here are some nice comments just in from readers:  
  • I bought one of your books and loaned it to a friend.  Haven't seen it 
    since.  I would like to order vol 1 and vol 2. I loved your articles 
    in the bridge magazine.  They were useful, practical and easy to apply. 
    They have improved my game, but I would like to have the books to refer 
    back to and study.  Thank you!
  • I am excited about LTC. It has helped me immensely! Am looking forward
    to Vol. 11.   Thanks, Janet 
 See you at the table!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jennbridge: Losing Trick Count Update

Here's an update on Losing Trick Count and my losing trick count booklets and teacher packages:
  • John Kozero of Santa Rosa, CA writes of Losing Trick Count, Vol. IIHow refreshing! A bridge booklet that uses a few clear guidelines and simple bread-and-butter examples to accurately evaluate how your hand fits with pard's.  Don't be surprised if Losing Trick Count regularly puts you in more makeable games while avoiding the poor-percentage contracts.   
  • Harry from Indiana writes: I'm still having good success using LTC.  Best 10 bucks I have spent in a long time. 
  • A bridge teacher from Canada writes:  I would like to order your Losing Trick Count Teacher Package as well as a copy of your new book, LTC, Vol. II.  I am excited about teaching this to our intermediates in the winter.  I am sure that they will benefit greatly from your lessons. Thanks you so much for preparing this material.  I have really enjoyed the articles that you wrote for the Bulletin.
  • From Memphis Mojo, bridge-blogger: I've just started reading Vol. 2 and it's great!                    
I used Losing Trick Count effectively to aid in slam bidding at the Philadelphia NABC, winning IMPs against top players.  See the recent blog entries Slamming in Philly I, II and III.

Practice using LTC until it becomes second nature.  Whenever you have an issue with hand evaluation it will come to your aid.  Here are a couple of hands played against me this week in which experienced players neglected to use LTC:

1.  (IMPs, Non-vul.vs. vul.) Partner opens 1, RHO overcalls 1 and you make a negative double.

♠ Axxx
♣ xx

Partner now bids 1 and it is your call.  What should you bid? 

Having located a fit, you should now evaluate your hand using LTC.  You have 7 1/2 losers which makes the hand worth at least an invitational bid.  Other factors are always in play:  the skill of your partner and the opponents, the vulnerability, form of scoring, state of the match, etc.  A sensible bid would be a jump to 3 and I wouldn't fault anyone for jumping directly to game.  The player holding these cards made an underbid of 2 and they played there, making 5.  We won 6 IMPs as our teammates bid the game.  The opening bidder held:

♠ Q10xx

2. (Pairs, Non-vul.vs. vul.) You open 1 and partner bids 2, game-forcing. 

♠ AKQJ97
♣ 52

Various rebids are possible, but this player bid 2.  His partner now bid 3 and it was back to him.  How should he proceed? 

A critical component in his thinking should be to note that his hand has only 5 losers.  The K may not even be a loser given that his partner bid 2.  As his partner should have no more than 7 losers, they are in the slam zone and he needs to investigate. 

A practical bid would be a cuebid of 4, which might let partner take control.  In this instance partner would probably cuebid 4 and now the opening bidder would have another decision to make.  A possible bid would be a jump to 5, asking about a club control.  Had opener rebid 3 (showing solid spades and setting the trump suit), partner would have cuebid 4 which would have made life easier.

Instead he bid only 4 and they played there making 6.  Here are both hands:

♠ xxx

♠ AKQJ97
♣ 52
Spades broke 2-2 and hearts broke 3-3 so the play to make 12 tricks was easy.  I held the Qxx of diamonds which would have meant an extra trick in diamonds had declarer needed it. There are various ways to get to slam and a third of the field bid it.

Don't forget to use Losing Trick Count for accurate bidding!


Readers--do you have any good losing trick count hands or stories?  Any questions or comments?  Let me hear from you!  8-)

See you at the table!