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Losing Trick Count - A hand evaluation technique originally described by F. Dudley Courtenay's book "The System the Experts Play", and popularized by Ron Klinger in his book "Modern Losing Trick Count", based on counting effective losers in a trump contract.

 Simply stated, once partnership has identified a 8+ card suit fit (unless the opener has a very strong-long major, e.g., a "self-sustaining suit"), each suit may be evaluated as containing between 0 to 3 losers:

Aces and Kings are not losers (except a singleton King)

Queens may or may not be losers depending on the suit support. 

Side suit adjustments to LTC include:  A J 10 [x...] = 1.5 losers, Q x x = 2.5 losers, while J 10 x = 3 losers and Q x = 2 losers, but are a "plus".  Here is a table to evaluate losers:

Pattern

Losers

Void

0

A

0

A K

0

A K Q [x x...]

0

A Q

.5

A K [x x...]

1

A Q 10 [x x...]

1

A Q x [x x...]

1

A J 10 [x...]

1.5

A J [x x...]

2

A x

1

A x x [x...]

2

K

1

K x

1

K Q [J x x...]

1

K J [x...]

2

K x x [x...]

2

Q J [x...] or Q 10 x
but Q x x

2
2.5

J 10 9 [x x...] or less

3

Also see BridgeHands newsletter on Losing Trick Count as well as our LTC quiz (please allow 1 minute to download the attached music and audio file)
 

Once a trump suit has been identified, a LTC calculation may be performed.  The player's LTC is subtracted from 12, with a maximum of 3 losers per suit.  Thus, for a side, both players maximum LTC is 24 (12 + 12).  The combined LTC is subtracted from 24 to determine the achievable playing tricks:

Max
LTC

Opener
LTC
Responder
LTC

Combined
LTC

Tricks
(Max - Combined LTC)

24

7 9

16

24 - 16 = 8

24

6 8

14

24 - 14 = 10

24

5 9

14

24 - 14 = 10

24

4 9

13

24 - 13 = 11

24

4 8

12

24 - 12 = 12

24

4 7

11

24 - 11 = 13

Cover Cards

A player's High Card Points are not directly convertible to LTC, instead based on hand shape and controlling honors.  However, once a fit is found, the following table provides a rough translation between HCP, LTC, and "Cover Cards" (partner's Aces, King, and trump Queen holdings).

Many players find the math easier to subtract responder's Cover Cards from opener's LTC to determine their side's anticipated losers and lead to more accurate slam bidding.  For instance:

Partner opening bid equates to 6 LTC and responder has 3 cover cards

Then 6 - 3 = 3 losers; 3 losers equal 10 winners, enough for a major suit game. 

(using LTC, the formula  is 6 LTC + 8 LTC = 14 LTC, where 24 - 14 LTC = 10 tricks)

Also see BridgeHands newsletter on Cover Cards as well as our Cover Cards quiz (please allow 1 minute to download the attached music and audio file)

Opening
Player's Call

Typical
HCP
Typical
LTC

Typical
Cover Cards
(Aces & Kings)

Weak 2 (Non-Vul)

4-10 7-9

1-2

Weak 2 (Vul)

8-10 7

2

5-5 "Rule of 20"
(bare minimum)
10-11 7

2

Minimum Opener

12-14 8-9

3

Takeout Double

12+ 7

3+

Help Suit Game Try

13-17 6

3-4

1NT 15-17 Not Applicable*
(roughly 6-7)
3-4
Weak 3 5-10 7
(occasionally 6)
1-2
Jump Raise 15-18 6 3-4
Reverse 16-21 Not Applicable*
(roughly 4-5)
3-5
2NT 20-21 Not Applicable*
(roughly 5-6)
4-5
Takeout & Suit Shift 17-21 4-5 4-5
Strong Jump Shift 19-21 4 4-5
2C Strong Opener 22+ 1-4 5+
Game Jump 19-21 4-5 4-5
Splinter 18-21 4-5 4-5

* Not Applicable - since Losing Trick Count implies a trump fit, only a rough estimate can be attributed to a hand where no partnership fit exists.  Traditional use of strength and associated High Card Points are better trick taking indicators when partners do not have a fit.  Of course, if responder makes a transfer bid with opener subsequently showing a trump fit (as in the Texas Transfer or opener's super acceptance), Losing Trick Count provides a sound foundation.

Responding
Player's Call

Typical
HCP
Typical
LTC

Typical
Cover Cards
(Aces & Kings)

Advancer Takeout Minimum 6-8 9 0-2
Minimum Raise 6-9 9 1-2
1NT 6-9 Not Applicable*
(roughly 9)
1-2
New Suit at same level 6+ Not Applicable*
(roughly 1-9)
1+
Jump Raise 10-12 8 2-3
2NT 11-12 Not Applicable*
(roughly 8)
2-3
2 over 1 (Standard) 11+ Not Applicable*
(roughly 1-9)
2+
Advancer Takeout Medium 9-11 8 2-3
Cuebid Opponent's Suit 10+ 1-8 2+
2 over 1 (Game Forcing) 12+ Not Applicable*
(roughly 1-8)
3+
Splinter 8-12 6-8 2-3
Strong Jump Shift 16+ 5 4+

Also see Hand Evaluation Books
 

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