The aim of the Losing Trick Count (LTC) is to provide a more accurate tool for measuring the trick-taking potential of the partnership hands. We are all used to counting points and making point adjustments. For suitable situations, LTC claims to measure your trick potential better than point count.
WARNING: The LTC operates only with a trump fit (at least 8 trumps) OR when one partner has a self-sufficient suit (more later). The LTC usually comes into play only after a trump fit has come to light. You can use it to measure the potential of your own hand especially with a long, strong suit. The LTC is not suitable for no-trumps or for misfit
hands. Use the point count for those.
Here is a basic example. Suppose you pick up:
K86532 4 72 A943
Partner opens 1, you bid 1, partner 4. What do you do?
You have 7 HCP, about 11 or so counting distribution. Partner has about 19-20. Doesn’t feel like a slam. I know that many would pass 4.
The two hands might be like this:
AQ74 J8 AK943 K5
K86532 4 72 A943
When the hand is over and you make 12 tricks, you ask partner: ‘Could we have bid slam?’
‘Nah, no way. No one will bid it.’
6 is a good bet, a piece of cake if trumps break 2-1. If trumps are 3-0, you will need to set up dummy’s diamonds.
When you check the scores, you see one or two pairs have bid 6. ‘Probably didn’t know what they were doing,’ you tell each other. Chances are they did know what they were doing. With the LTC you will find slams such as these child’s play.
We’ll see more of these two hands later.
The LTC Formula
There are three steps in estimating your trick potential:
1. Count Your Losers.
2. Estimate Partner’s Losers.
3. Add these together and deduct the total from 24.
The answer is the number of tricks your partnership will probably take, assuming normal breaks and half your finesses working.
Remember, you need at least an 8-card trump fit or a self-sufficient suit for the LTC to operate.
The answer for your trick potential is estimated to be at least 80 per cent effective. Don’t expect the LTC to be accurate if trumps break 5-0 or if every finesse fails. Tough.