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Losing Trick Count (LTC) in bridge

losing trick count

The Losing Trick Count (LTC) in bridge is a way of evaluating the strength of your hand when you have at least 8 trumps between you and your partner.

  1. Count your losers
  2. Add your losers to partner's and subtract from 24
  3. result = the number of tricks your side can expect to make

Step 1: Count your losers

Only the first three cards in any suit are potential losers.
SAQ9864 With this spade suit we can ignore the 864.

3 card suits

Looking at just the first three cards in a suit then, an ace will never be a loser.
SA76 This suit has two losers.

A King in a three card suit is not a loser because when the Ace is played you can throw a small card, keeping the King.
SK76 This suit has two losers.

A Queen in a three card suit is not a loser either because even when the Ace and King are played your Queen is still there.
SQ76 This suit has two losers.

So assume each Ace, King or Queen in a 3 card suit is going to take a trick and count the other cards as losers.
SAQ6 One loser
SKQ6 One loser
SAK7 One loser

And remember that only the first three cards in any suit are counted as potential losers.
SAQ6432 One loser
SKQ653 One loser
SAK75 One loser

2 card suits

If you have a 2-card suit, you have 2 potential losers. A Queen will fall on the second round so it's counted as a loser.
SA2 has 1 loser.
SK2 has 1 loser.
SQ2 has 2 losers.

1 card suits

Count a singleton as a loser unless it's the Ace.
♠K has 1 loser.
♠7 has 1 loser.
♠A has 0 losers.

count losers

This hand has 1 spade loser, 1 heart loser, 2 diamond losers and 1 club loser for a total of 5 losers.

Step 2: Assess partner's losers

Here's how to estimate partner's losers.

Partner was the opener
  • An average opening hand (12-15) = 7 losers
  • A stronger opening hand (16-18) = 6 losers
  • A maximum 1-level opening ( 19) = 5 losers
  • A strong 2♣ opening (20 ) = 4 losers or fewer
Partner was responding to your opening bid
  • A raise to the 2-level = 9 losers
  • A raise to the 3-level = 8 losers
  • A raise to game = 7 losers

The stronger the hand, the fewer the losers and the lower your Losing Trick Count.

Step 3: Combine your losers

Add your losers to partner's losers and subtract the total from 24. The answer will tell you how many tricks your side can expect to make.

Some adjustments

You can get even more accuracy with the Losing Trick Count in bridge by making a few adjustments.

losing trick count with a trump fit

LTC is most accurate with a 9-card fit. Add half a loser for an 8-card fit.

losing trick count adjustments

A32 as obviously stronger than Q32.

Add half a loser for each queen. Subtract half a loser for each ace. So, A32 is 1 and half losers, and Q32 is 2 and a half losers.

Losing trick count practice hand

Losing Trick Count in Bridge

Once North raises to 2♠, South can use the Losing Trick Count to determine how high to bid. Remember that it is only useful once you have found a fit. What should you do with this hand now?

Partner has a minimum opening = 7 losers. You have 5 losers, therefore 12 in total. 24 - 12 = 12. Check that you are not missing 2 aces using Blackwood and then bid the slam.

Losing trick count vs. counting points

The Losing Trick Count in bridge is much more accurate than than counting high card points but only when you have a trump fit.

High card points in bridge are used to calculate the strength of your hand and are the most common method of hand evaluation.

Losing trick count vs. rule of 20

The losing trick count isn't meant to be used for opening bids. If you're considering whether or not to open the bidding then the rule of 20 is the best method to use.

Learn how to use the Rule of 20 in bridge to decide whether or not to open the bidding on borderline hands. It's fun!

Comments

Newtz2001 says:
@graeme @tina for the adjustments mentioned near the end of this article do they only apply to suits with bare aces/queens? So Qxx is 2.5 losers but is KQx 1 loser or 1.5? What about shorter suits? Is Qx still just 2 losers or 2.5? Is AQ 1 loser or 0.5? Thanks
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