Losing Trick Count (LTC) in bridge
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.
Step 1: Count your losers
Only the first three cards in any suit are potential losers.
♠AQ9864 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.
♠A76 = 2 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.
♠K76 = 2 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.
♠Q76 = 2 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.
♠AQ6 = 1 loser
♠KQ6 = 1 loser
♠AK7 = 1 loser
And remember that only the first three cards in any suit are counted as potential losers.
♠AQ6432 = 1 loser
♠KQ653 = 1 loser
♠AK75 = 1 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.
♠A2 = 1 loser.
♠K2 = 1 loser.
♠Q2 - 2 losers.
1 card suits
Count a singleton as a loser unless it's the Ace.
♠K = 1 loser.
♠7 = 1 loser.
♠A = 0 losers.
Count your total losers
Count the losers in the following hand...
1 spade loser, 1 heart loser, 2 diamond losers and 1 club loser.
total = 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
- 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.
Losing trick count practice hand
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?
Ace vs Queen adjustment
This small and not well known adjustment will considerably improve your LTC calculations.
A32 is obviously stronger than Q32. Add half a loser for each queen. Subtract half a loser for each ace. So, A32 is 1 and a half losers, and Q32 is 2 and a half losers.
South's hand isn't so good. Too many Queens!
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.
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.
@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
MY P at our local bridge club will be happy you are hoping me with LTC @Graeme. He's been after me to keep working on it. Great timing...thanks so much! And thanks for your question @Newtz2001 as Graeme's helpful answer is gold!
Thank you graeme, I appreciate your videos.
Thanks Graeme, this really helps get my head around it, now just have to put it into practice!
Hi, wondering if at all possible we could have some more practice hands for LTC. Need the practice.
I have played LTC for 50+ years. Like some you I also worried that LTC gave 1 loser for say both of Ax and Kx. I wrote to Ron Klinger about 30 years ago to discuss the concept of 1/2 losers and got no positive response.(although since that I have noted that Ron's one allowance of a half loser is Q x x). Since that I have written my own book on Light openers using LTC, using
A Q = 0.5 loser
A Q x =1.5 losers
K x = 1.5 losers
K Q x = 1.5 losers
Q J x = 2 losers
Q x x = 2.5 losers
A J 10 = 1.5 losers
You'd be surprised how often, adding the halves, you arrive at say 6 not 5 losers in your hand. The outcome of LTC arithmetic using these assumptions is astounding accurate.