Monday, July 13, 2009

Advanced Losing Trick Count

See Friday's post for a quick brush-up on the Losing Trick Count.

The LTC is certainly not infallible, especially in its simplest form that I’ve given you here. It tends to work quite a bit better when you introduce the concept of “cover cards”, which I’ll illustrate quickly with hand (C) from earlier:

(C) ♠AQ7632 ♥AT762 ♦5 ♣6

Let’s say responder has one of these two hands:

(C1) ♠K98 ♥KQ5 ♦98432 ♣A2

(C2) ♠984 ♥Q53 ♦KQJ42 ♣KJ

Opposite hand (C1), 6S looks great—on normal splits, we’ll lose only the ace of diamonds.

Opposite (C2), we’ll probably lose a spade, a heart, a diamond, and a club and go down in game!

What’s the difference here? Both hands have the same shape, the same HCP, and the same number of losers! What’s going on?

Well, hand (C1) has four cover cards, and (C2) has only one! Cover cards are defined as cards we know will cover (take care of) one of partner’s losers. Hand (C1)’s cover cards are the king of spades, the king of hearts, the queen of hearts, and the ace of clubs. Hand (C2)’s only cover card is the queen of hearts. So, opposite a major two-suiter, we’d much, much rather hold (C1) than (C2).

How do we know what’s a cover card? Listen to the auction! The auction on Hand (C) would start (opposite either hand) with

1S – 2D – 2H – ?

Hand (C1) is an amazing hand opposite the major two-suiter. Responder should jump to 3S, forcing to game and starting a cuebidding sequence:

1S – 2D – 2H – 3S – 4C – 4H – 4NT – 5D [Blackwood] or 5H [Keycard] – 6S

Hand (C2) is an awful hand opposite the major two-suiter. Responder should attempt to sign off as soon as possible!

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