Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A Losing Trick Count Primer

Let's not forget to use Losing Trick Count while we're playing from home on BBO! I have been playing more hands during this time and still find reasons to use the great hand evaluation tool of Losing Trick Count in nearly every session. It takes the guesswork out of bidding and helps you get to the right contract consistently!

Remember--if your partner opens the bidding and you have a 7-loser hand with a fit, do your best to drive the bidding to game. If you have a fit with an 8-loser hand, invite game.  If you have a fit with a 6-loser hand, consider slam, and with a 5-loser hand, head directly to slam (after prudently checking on controls).

The math? Add your losers to partner's losers and subtract from 24.  That number is the Losing Trick Count--the number of tricks you can expect to make on the hand--barring bad breaks or the bad placement of every possible card.

Here is a hand I played recently where LTC was not used and the result was disappointing.

I opened 1 and partner held this hand.  What would you bid?


Well...the first thing you do when the answer isn't "clear-cut" is count your losers.  You have a great fit. How many losers do you have?

The answer is 7:  two spades, one heart, two diamonds and two clubs.

So, what should you bid?

The answer is:  make a game game forcing bid. It could be Jacoby 2NT, it could be a splinter in hearts.  It really doesn't matter--the important thing is to convey to partner that you have a fit with a game-forcing hand.

After partner made only a limit raise, I started counting my losers.  I really wanted to go to slam, but needed the proper loser count.

I came up with 5-5 1/2:  one spade, 1 1/2 losers in hearts, one diamond and two clubs. Not quite enough for slam.  Partner's limit raise showed 8 losers, which, added to my 5 losers, equaled 13.  24 minus 13 =  11 tricks--not enough for slam.

Recounting my losers, I reluctantly gave up on my slam vision and settled for the pedestrian bid of 4.

I was disappointed when I saw the dummy!  Partner actually had a 7-loser hand and should have found a bid other than a limit raise.  I would then drive to slam which would make. Some might explore for slam with my hand anyway, but it didn't seem correct to me.

Out of approximately 90 pairs, only 17 got to slam.  They were rewarded with the great score of 90.7%.  The rest of us were consigned to below average:  46.5%. (Ugh...!)

Claim your spot at the top of the field!

Need a refresher on how to count losers?  Grab one or both of my books on the subject--available on this blog.

See you at the virtual tables!

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