Only the first three cards in the suit are potential losers. So, in a 3-card suit or longer, if you have the Ace, King and Queen, they are winners and you have no losers in that suit.
♠ AKQ8 has no losers.
Keep in mind that when it comes to playing the hand, you still might have a loser in the suit. The losing trick count is a way of estimating how many tricks you will win, rather like high card points.
If you have a 2-card suit, you have 2 potential losers. For each Ace or King subtract a loser.
♠ A2 has 1 loser.
For a singleton you have 1 potential loser. Don’t count a loser for a singleton Ace.
♠ 2 has 1 loser.
Here’s how to estimate partner’s losers.
Partner was the opener
Partner was responding to your opening bid
The stronger the hand, the fewer the 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.
Initially you have 5 losers. But, you should add half a loser as you only have an 8-card fit (unless you are playing 4-card majors in which case you are more likely to have a 9-card fit). You have 2 more queens than aces so add half a loser for each queen so your total is 6 and a half. Partner has 9 losers, which gives you a total of 15 and a half so you should pass. 24 – 15 and a half = 8 and a half losers – 8 tricks, maybe 9.
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 and then bid 6♠.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll find LTC much more accurate than counting points when you have a fit. Just a reminder, though, if you don’t have a trump fit, LTC is not the right tool for the job. In that case, stick to counting your points.
You can get even more accuracy with the losing trick count by making a few adjustments.
LTC is most accurate with a 9-card fit. Add half a loser for an 8-card fit.
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.
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