INTRODUCTION TO THE LOSING TRICK COUNT

LESSON 1

In this course, the invaluable way of assessing your hand when a FIT IS FOUND WITH PARTNER— The Losing Trick Count (LTC) — is looked at closely so that you learn when and how to use it. We are indebted to Ron Klinger for the work he has done on this assessment tool, and encourage people to read his book, The Modern Losing Trick Count. We will work with you to bring theory to practice in supervised play groups (typically limited to 4-6 players), with you individually and/or partner or in a larger course. We will also see how LTC works in terms of reverses, strong jump shifts and when determining to open a strong 2C based not solely on HCP but the trick-taking potential of the hand. We shall also see that LTC often provides a more accurate picture than point count and why it is not meant for notrump hands or when you and partner detect a misfit lurking!

You can expect lesson notes sent out to you prior to each session, on the spot feedback as you play non-comp and more detailed analysis of hands played after the session. You are free to make financial arrangements with your BRIDGE FORUM teacher to play online tournaments as well. Now to LTC!

To start, try this little test. You pick up:

ª K 10 8 6 4 3 © 7 ¨ 4 3 §  A 8 4 2

Partner opens 1¨. You respond 1ª. Partner rebids with 4ª. What action do you take?

If you are among the vast majority of bridge players, you will choose to pass 4ª. Perhaps you pass because you take 4ª to be a shutout bid. Perhaps you recognize that partner has made a strong bid, but so what? After all, you have only seven points or so, maybe a bit extra for the singleton. Right?

Wrong! When the lead is made and you see dummy, you notice, with a familiar sinking feeling, that you should be in slam. The complete hand is:

 

ª 9

 

 

© K J 8 4 3 2

 

 

¨ 10 8

 

 

§ Q 10 6 3

 

ª K 10 8 6 4 3

 

ª A Q 7 5

© 7

 

© 10 6

¨ 4 3

 

¨ A K J 6 2

§ A 8 4 2

 

§ K 9

 

ª J 2

 

 

© A Q 9 5

 

 

¨ Q 9 7 5

 

 

§ J 7 5

 

You ruff the second heart, draw trumps in two rounds and ruff your club losers in dummy, not too tough a play. Without a heart lead you would aim to establish the diamond suit to discard the heart loser. Twelve tricks were easy.

Partner looks at you, you look at partner. Partner asks "Could we have bid six?" "No," you reply, despite an uneasy feeling. "We had only 24 points."

You notice that some pairs were in 6ª, scoring the slam. You dismiss them. "They probably didn't know what they were doing."

Chances are, however, that they knew exactly what they were doing. They were able to assess the value of the two hands more accurately than the vast majority of bridge players whose horizons are limited by counting points, even though they may add and subtract points for half a dozen or more factors.

If you would like to be able to bid the 21-point games and the 24-point slams, the way the experts do, LTC is going to be ideal for you. You will consider the above slam child's play, as you bid your thin games and slams with confidence and stay out of the superficially attractive games or slams which are poor odds to succeed.

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