The Losing Trick Count - Facts sheet 6a

Losing tricks are counted for the first 3 cards only in each suit.
Therefore you can have at the most 4 x 3 = 12 losers in your hand and 2 x 12 = 24 losers in the combined hands. (the 13th card is excluded from the count)

The actual number of losers in both hands is substracted from 24 (the maximun number of losers possible). This shows the number of tricks you may make :

14 losers = (24 - 14) = 10 tricks : Game is likely
12 losers = (24 - 12) = 12 tricks : Small Slam is likely
Counting losers in your hand :
♠ K 7 4
♥ Q J 6
♦ J 10 3

♣ K 9 6 2

9 losers

♠ 7 4
♥ K 9 7 5 2
♦ A 8 3

♣ Q J 6

8 losers

♠ A Q 7 4
♥ 9 5
♦ Q J 8 3

♣ K 8 2

7 losers

♠ K Q 4
♥ A Q 5
♦ J 10 8 3

♣ K Q 2

6 losers

♠ 9 4
♥ K Q 9 7 6 5
♦ A 10 8 3 2

♣ -

5 losers

Estimating losers in Partner's hand :
  •   6-10 pts = 9+ losers (weak response)

  • 11-12 pts = 8 losers (bids new suit at the 2 level)

  • 13-15 pts = 7 losers (minimum 1 opening)

  • 16-18 pts = 6 losers (strong 1 opening)

  • 19-21 pts = 5 losers (maximum 1 opening)

  •   22+ pts = 4-3 losers (Game forcing 2♣ opening)

Borderline cases

  1. With 12 points and 7 losers : make an Opening bid
    With 12 points and 8+ losers : do not open the bidding

  2. With 10 points and 8 losers : you may respond with a new suit at the 2-level
    With 10 points and 9+ losers : do not respond with a new suit at the 2-level

Some examples :

♠ A Q 7 4
♥ 9 5
♦ Q J 8 3

♣ K 8 2

7 losers

♠ K 7 4
♥ Q J 6
♦ J 10 3

♣ K 9 6 2

9 losers

♠ K Q 4
♥ A Q 5
♦ J 10 8 3

♣ K Q 2

6 losers

♠ 7 4
♥ K 9 7 5 2
♦ A 8 3

♣ Q J 6

8 losers

♠ 9 4
♥ K Q 9 7 6 5
♦ A 10 8 3 2

♣ -

5 losers