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†††††† Accurate bidding is one of the secrets to success in the game of bridge.The Losing Trick Count (LTC) method of hand evaluation greatly increases oneís ability to more accurately place any contract.†† The LTC is a totally different method which augments the HCP count method of assessing the number of tricks a partnership is likely to win.†† Take the following as an example:†† Most players, following a 4 Spade rebid by opening partner would pass out this cold 6S, 25 HCP hand.


††††††††††† Opener (Partner)†††††††††† Responder (You)

††††††††††††† 1D†††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1S

††††† ††††††††4S†††††††††††††††††††††††††† ??



†††††††††††† AQJX††††††††††††††††††††††† K10XXXX

†††††††††††† XX††††††††††††††††††††††††† X

†††††††††††† AKJXX†††††††††††††††††††††† XX

†††††††††††† KX††††††††††††††††††††††††† AXXX



†††††† One must not envisage the LTC as replacing point count.It is used in coordination with point count in order to elicit a more accurate guide as to the potential of the partnershipís combined holding.When considering using the LTC, one must consider the following constraints:


1)     It is not applicable when considering a No Trump Contract.

2)     It is to be used only after a trump fit has been established.

3)     It is quite unsuitable for misfit hands where no fit exists.



The LTC Formula


1)     Count your losers

2)     Add Partnerís losers

3)     Deduct this total from 24

4)     The answer is the number of tricks a partnership can expect to win


†††† Opener(Partner)†† Opponent #2†††††† Responder(You)†††† Opponent #1

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† P††††††††††††††††† P

†††††† 1S†††††††††† ††††††1NT††††††††††††††† P††††††††††††††††† P

†††††† 2H††††††††††††††††† P†††††††††††††††† 3H†††††††††††††††† P

†††††† 4H


†††††††††††† AKXXX††††††††††††††††††††††††† X

†††††††††††† AKXX†† (6 Losers)††††††††††††† JXXXXX(8 Losers)

†††††††††††† XX†††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††QXXXX

†††††††††††† XX†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† X

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†††††† The LTC does not guarantee that one will, in fact, make the number of anticipated tricks.†† It represents the number of tricks one will win most of the time assuming the suits break normally, and half of oneís potential finesses work.Calculations within the LTC require two (2) stages.They are as follows:




1)     Count losers only in the first three cards of each suit.The 4th, 5th, 6th, etc. cards in any suit are taken as winners.

2)     With three or more cards in any suit, count the A,K, and Q as a winners; anything lower as a loser.

3)     With two cards in any suit, count the A and K as winners; anything lower is a loser.

4)     With one card in any suit, count the A as a winner; anything lower is a loser.

5)     There are never more than three losers in any suit.There are never more losers in a suit than the number of cards held within that suit.

6)     An unguarded Q (Ex: QXX) is considered as one-half a loser; a guarded or supported Q (Ex: QJX or AQXor KQX) is not counted as a loser; i.e., any Queen should be counted as a winner if it is supported by another honor.

7)     As ones HCPís increase, the losers decrease.As ones HCPís decrease, the losers increase.

8)     The more unbalanced the hand, the fewer the losers.The more balanced the hand, the more the losers.





1)     Partnerís losers may be determined through knowledge ofpartnerís strength as revealed through the bidding.

If you can tell how strong partnerís hand is, one can calculate his/her losers.††

The basis is thata minimum opening hand is equivalent to seven (7) losers.


2)     A simple enumeration of partnerís losers based upon strength would be:

a)     Well below a sound opening bid,support for your opening bid with

6-10 HCPís,a constructive raise with 8-9 HCPís= 9 Losers.

b)     Just below a normal opening with10-12 HCPís,a limit raise with

††††† 10-11 HCPís,A weak 2-bid= 8 Losers.

c)     A sound minimum opening bid with 13-15 HCPís,a take-out double

= 7 Losers.

d)     A strong opening bid with16-18 HCPís,An opening 1NT with 15-17 HCPís = 6 Losers.

e)     A very strong opening bid evidenced by a jump-shift rebid holding 19-21 HCPís = 5 Losers.

f)       An opening strong ď2CĒ holding 22+ HCPís = 4 Losers.

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Why deduct the total losers between both hands from 24?†† Since the maximum

number of losers you count in any one suit is three (3); and since there are as many as four (4) suits in each hand, partnerís and yours; 3x4x2=24.†† The LTC operates by deducting the actual loses from the maximum possible total.†† Therefore:


†† LTC = The maximum possible losers (24) - Actual losers = Tricks Expected.


††† If partner opens and your hand has seven (7) losers, game is likely if a fit can be found.†† If partner opens and you have five (5) losers, slam potential exists if a trump fit is found.


†††††† The above is a broad overlook at the LTC.It is based upon a generalized raw count as indicated in the above-listed reference examples.†† Adjustments must be made in order to be even more accurate; such as adjustments and refinements to super-trump fits,the quality of trump support, presence or absence of controls and cover-cards, just to name a few.†† A furtherance of understanding of the LTC can be achieved by reading Ron Klingerís ďthe Modern Losing Trick CountĒ, and Marty Bergenís ďPoints SchmointsĒ.



Sample Hands



††††††† (1)†††††††††††††††††††††††† (2)†††††††††††††††††††† (3)

K108643††††† AQ75†††††††††† AQ876†††††† K952††††††† AQ876††††††† K952

7††††††††††† 106†††††††††††††††††††††† 73††††††††† 8642††††††† 973††††††††† Q86

43†††††††††† AKJ62††††††††† AQJ42†††††† 76††††††††† AQJ††††††††† K76

A842†††††††† K9†††††††††††† 6†††††††††† A93†††††††† 65†††††††††† KJ4


†† 1D,1S,4S,6S††††††††††††††† ††1S,2S,4S†††††††††††††††† 1S,2S,P





††††††† (4)†††††††††††††††††††††††† (5)†††††††††††††††††††† (6)

AQ852††††††† K7643††††††††† K864††††††† AQ973†††††† AXXXXX†††††† KQX††††††

AQ2††††††††† 8††††††††††††† K4††††††††† A6††††††††† XX†††††††††† AKXX

865††††††††† 72†††††††††††† AJ83††††††† 2†††††††††† X††††††††††† AXXX

98†††††††††† A7432††††††††† 754†††††††† AK62††††††† XXXX†††††††† XX


†††††† 1S,4S††††††††††††††††††† P,1S,3S,6S†††††††††† 1NT,Ē2HĒ,2S,3S,4S





††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (7)†††† ††††††††††††††††††††

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† KJ72†††††††† A865††††††††††

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† K7†††††††††† J54

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Q103†††††††† J72

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† A983†††††††† KQ2


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1C,1S,2S,P