Losing-Trick Count - Basic Counting Method

Basic Counting Method

The estimated number of losing tricks (losers) in one's hand is determined by examining each suit and assuming that an ace will never be a loser, nor will a king in a 2+ card suit, nor a queen in a 3+ card suit; accordingly

  • a void = 0 losing tricks.
  • a singleton other than an A = 1 losing trick.
  • a doubleton AK = 0; Ax or Kx = 1; xx = 2 losing tricks.
  • a three card suit AKQ = 0; AKx, AQx or KQx = 1 losing trick.
  • a three card suit Axx, Kxx or Qxx = 2; xxx = 3 losing tricks.

(Some authorities treat Qxx as 3 losers unless the Q is "balanced" by an A in another suit.) LTC also assumes that no suit can have more than 3 losing tricks and so suits longer than three cards are judged according to their three highest cards. It follows that hands without an A, K or Q have a maximum of 12 losers but may have fewer depending on shape, e.g. ♠ J x x x ♥ J x x  J x x ♣ J x x has 12 losers (3 in each suit), whereas ♠ x x x x x ♥ —  x x x x ♣ x x x x has only 9 losers (3 in all suits except the void which counts no losers).

Until further information is derived from the bidding, assume that a typical opening hand by partner contains 7 losers, e.g. ♠ A K x x x ♥ A x x x  Q x ♣ x x, has 7 losers (1 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 7).

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Losing-Trick Count - Basic Counting Method - Example
... Thus following an opening bid of 1♥ partner jumps to game in 4♥ with no more than 7 losers in his own hand and a fit with partner's heart suit (7 + 7 = 14 subtract from 24 = 10 tricks) ... With 8 losers in hand and a fit, responder bids 3♥ (8 + 7 = 15 subtract from 24 = 9 tricks) ...

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