Counting your Losers and The Losing Trick Count

Losers are an alternative method of hand evaluation for deciding the level of suit contracts. Losers do not replace high card points as a first assessment, and for no-trump contracts, hcps are the chosen method.

Losers are particularly important for:

1.When raising partnerís suit

2. When deciding the level of a re-bid in your own suit.

3. In deciding whether to open at the two level (strong), subject to new EBU guidelines

Counting losers

†For any suit there is a maximum of 3 possible losers in any suit. However there cannot be more losers in a suit than the number of cards in the suit. Deduct any A or K or Q from the 3 possible losers

AK984 Q654 10 J93 How many losers? = 7

1 in , 2 in, 1 in,3 in

76 85432 AKJ AQ6 How many losers?=7

2 in , 3 in, 1 in, 1 in

J972 AQ842 AJ7 A How many losers? =6

3 in , 1 in , 2 in , 0 in

KJ98543 AK 6532 How many losers? =5

† 2 in , 0 in , 3 in, 0 in


Count Qxx as 3 losers unless balanced by an ace elsewhere. But with two such suits count only 5 losers between the two suits

The losing trick count

An opening hand has normally 7 losers (may be worse or better of course) and never worse vulnerable.

Raise partnerís opening bid in a MAJOR, when you hold 4 or more cards in partnerís suit, as follows:

You hold: 9-10 losers so raise to the 2 level; with 8 losers raise to the 3 level; with 7 losers raise to the† 4 level. A combined total of 14 losersbetween you hand and partner's is usually sufficient for game in a major suit, but 12-13 losers combined is usually required for a minor suit game.

Example: You open 1 and partner responds 3. Partner is known to have 8 losers. If you opened with 7 losers then pass, if you opened with 6 losers then raise to 4

Another example: You open 1 and partner responds 1. When you hold 4 cards in s in addition to your suit of s, raise to 2 with a 7 loser hand and 3 with a 6 loser hand etc.

With minors:† do not raise beyond 3 level without considering 3NT as an alternative.

Do not raise direct to a SLAM with 5 losers, but first find out about controls using Blackwood or cue bids

Using losers with re-bids

With a 7 loser hand, and a 5 card suit, open at the 1 level and re-bid at the two level.

With a 6 loser hand and a 6 card suit, open at the 1 level and re-bid at the 3 level.

With a 5 loser hand you may be able to open at the 2 level.† If you open at the 1 level , re-bid at 4 level with a major suit and a 7 card suit.

Remember that losers are a guide. Like high card points they cannot guarantee that a contract would make. Losers are a superior method of hand assessment to points for major suit contracts.

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