~Bidding Using Loser Count Principles

Loser Count is determined as follows: no suit can have more than 3 losers or the number of cards held in a suit, whichever is less. A hand can have no more than 12 losers. Count one loser in each suit that is lacking an A, K, or Q. For example:
S A5–1 loser
H AK543–1 loser
D Q43–2 losers
C KQ4–1 loser

 S 4–1 loser
H AJ43–2 losers
D K5432–2 losers
C 543–3 losers

~Open 11 and 12 HCP hands if they have 2-2 ½ Quick Tricks (QT) with 7 or less losers.
~Open 10 HCP hands with 2-2 ½ QT and with 6 or less losers.

In summary, the fewer HCP the hand holds, the fewer losers it should have to open.

Opening Bids (3rd Seat)

In third seat, one can open a little lighter because partner is a passed hand and the partnership is unlikely to get too high. You can open in third seat with as few as 10 HCP if you hold a good suit and 7 losers to a rare 8 losers.

S 95                    4                    8
H AK987         AJT95           QJT83
D K432             Q64              A986
C 72                  K987            K73
All these hands hold 10 HCP, have 7 losers, and have a good suit. The first has 2 ½ QT, the second 1 ½ QT, and the third 1 ½ QT. All are good 3rd seat openers.

Application of Loser Count Principles
A minimum opening bid normally has seven losers. Responder adds his losers to seven and subtracts that number from 24 (maximum losers in two hands). The resultant is how many tricks the partnership should be able to win. So, a nine-loser hand with trump support is worth a single raise–9+7 = 16; 24-16 = 8. Similarly, an eight-loser hand is worth a limit raise 8+ 7 = 15; 24-15 = 9. A seven-loser hand is worth a game-forcing raise. (A seven-loser hand with trump support but few HCP should make a preemptive raise to game).

A minor-suit game requires 11 tricks and requires a combined loser count or 13 or less. Another consideration with minor suits is that if you play Inverted Minors, the single raise is invitational and the jump raise is weaker and preemptive.

Opposite a 1S opener, what would you respond with each of these hands?
S Q43                      KJ32                     KJ32                     KJ632
H 74                         4                           74                          —
D QJ952                  JT95                      AQT5                     JT95
C 854                       QJ54                     KJ5                       9643

1. If you play that a single raise requires 6-9 HCP, you would pass. If you play 2/1 with Constructive Raises (8-10 Total Points for a single raise), bid 1NT (forcing) and correct to 2S next round. Playing Loser Count, an immediate raise to 2S is indicated.

2. If you evaluate the singleton heart as worth 3 points once a trump suit is found, bid 3S. The 8 Loser Count also supports a Limit Raise.

3. Both point count and loser count support a game-forcing bid (but not an immediate jump to 4S). A Jacoby 2NT bid shows a balanced  hand with four trumps and opening count.

4. Fits the definition above of a seven-loser hand with trump support but few HCP. Bid 4S, preemptive. Sometimes the bid will make; often the opponents will not find their game bid or sacrifice in hearts.

The bidding has gone
N                 S
1S               3S
?     The opponents pass throughout. What is your bid holding these hands?
S KQ854               KQ854                  KQ854                  KQ854
H 854                    854                        854                      4
D QJ3                    KQT                       AKQ                    AKQ72
C A2                      A2                          A2                        A2

1. Pass. You have a minimum opener– 7 losers. Decline the game invitation.
2. Now you have only six losers. Bid 4S.
3. 4C. A slam try may result in either a slam or a 4S contract. You are worried about 2-3 quick losers in hearts. Make a slam effort by cue-bidding you club control and see what partner bids.
4. 4NT–Blackwood or Roman Key Card (recommended). If partner shows two aces, bid 7S. 7NT might make, but is risky.

When you open a major with six losers and partner shows 3-4 trumps and nine losers with a single raise, you may want to make a Help Suit Game Try (HSGT). Bid a new suit in which you need help (or shortness–maybe a singleton in responder’s hand). You want to find a double fit or a way of eliminating losers from a weak suit. Partner cannot pass a HSGT and must bid game with help, bid 3 of the agreed suit, or bid another suit in which you hold side suit help if that suit is lower than the trump suit (so partner can retreat to three of the agreed suit if your information is not worth a game bid).

If you open in one of a major and re-bid in the second major, you are promising four cards there and partner will likely raise you with 4-card support. But when a suit fit has been found and is known to both partners–in particular, when the bidding has gone 1S-2S and you re-bid 3H, you may be showing a second suit or a help suit of only 3 cards. If partner raises you to 4H with 4-card support, partner is also showing a second fit and you can correct to 4S with a reasonable expectation of making game.

What would you re-bid with each of these hands after the indicated auction?
1S               2S
?        The opponents pass throughout.

S KQ7432           KQ7432             KQ743                 KQ7432
H 85                    A                        AJ52                   2
D AQ2                 K74                    83                       AK3
C Q42                  854                    A6                       874

1. With six losers, make a HSGT bid of 3C, you weakest minor, or 3H, asking about the quality of partner’s trumps and if he is at the top or bottom of his raise.
2. With six losers, bid 3C. If partner responds 3S, pass. If partner bids 3D, showing support there, you can bid 4S, although a diamond holding of KJ74 would be safer.
3. 3H. In principle, the 3H bid shows four hearts and a 4-4 fit in trumps is usually better than a 5-3 fit.
Partner may raise to 4H with 3-5-3-2 or 3-4-4-2 shape. If your bid was a 3-card HSGT, you found your help in hearts; correct to 4S.
4. 3C; bid your weaker minor.

After a 1 major, 2 major sequence, opener may make a HSGT as discussed above. Your continuations depends primarily on your holding in partner’s second-bid suit. With no losers or 1 loser in that suit, jump to game in the agreed trump suit. With three losers, sign off at three of the trump suit. With two losers, evaluate the rest of your hand before responding. If you are at the maximum for your single raise, you may offer another suit for consideration–your strength in that suit may be enough for partner to bid game.

What would you re-bid with each of these hands after the bidding has gone?
1S               2S
3C               ?              The opponents pass throughout.

S KQ4                  KJ42                     QJ5                       K85
H T87                  J863                      874                       752
D QJ3                  9742                      92                         KJ654
C 8742                 5                           KQ743                  92
1. 3S. You have nine losers and three losers in clubs. If the game is very friendly, see if you can retreat to 2S!
2. 4S. The singleton club makes the game bid a worthwhile risk despite holding nine losers.
3. 4S. You have only eight losers and a double fit.
4. 3D. Before you sign off at 3S, let partner know you have a good diamond holding. Let partner decide on the final contract. Partner should anticipate two club losers.

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