Losing-Trick Count - Origins


The origins of the Losing Trick Count—without that name—can be traced back at least to 1910 in Joseph Bowne Elwell's book Elwell on Auction Bridge. In the preface (page v), Elwell mentions chapters on "Estimating the Values of Hands". The sections later in the book (pages 80–89) are mostly tables with differing titles beginning with the word "Estimating" but ending differently. Elwell sets out a scheme for counting losers in trump contracts that looks very much like the simple basic counting method given below.

The term "Losing Trick Count" was originally put forward by the American F. Dudley Courtenay in his 1934 book The System the Experts Play (which ran to at least 18 printings). On page two among various Acknowledgments, the author writes: 'To Mr. Arnold Fraser-Campbell the author is particularly indebted for permission to use material and quotations from his manuscript in which is described his method of hand valuation by counting losing tricks, and from which the author has developed the Losing Trick Count described herein.' From this we may speculate that Elwell's ideas filtered through Fraser-Campbell to Courtenay.

The Englishman George Gordon Joseph Walshe contacted Courtenay about issuing a British edition. Together they edited the American edition and retitled it The Losing Trick Count for the British market. This title went through dozens of printings and remained in print for two decades. (Subsequently it has been republished by print-on-demand re-publishers.)

LTC was popularised by Maurice Harrison-Gray in Country Life magazine in the 1950s and 1960s. In recent decades, others have suggested refinements to the basic counting method.

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