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LTC - illogical gimmick Losing Trick Count is just a mnemonic rule lacking logic

#21 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-February-09, 05:30

View PostWellSpyder, on 2012-February-09, 04:25, said:

you don't count honour points for K, Q, or Qx


You are right and I probably should have stated it explicitly. I thought it was obvious for anyone who has used the LTC. There are also a bunch of other adjustments you need to make to use the full MLTC, so many that I daresay close to 99% of players are unaware of all of them.

FWiiW I think the 3/2/1 (or 4.5/3(1.5) evaluation is much better than 4/3/2 (or 1/1.5/2) for suit contracts and is overall a better guide to hand value. It is nice that helene's analysis backs my assertion that shortages are overvalued, although I think it is fairly clear really; most analyses I have seen suggest that 5/3/1 is not too far off and the LTC equivalents are nearly double these values.

And some nice historical background from Marlowe. Perhaps surprisingly I know the HT evaluation method (which is a more direct child of the earlier methods) rather well, much better than the MLTC for example, since I learned bridge partially from a book by Culbertson. I used it for quite a while as a beginner. Also interestingly, I still think Culbertson's write-up of Playing Tricks is as good as anything else I have seen even though it was written around 3/4 of a century ago!
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#22 User is offline   pirate22 

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Posted 2012-February-11, 01:09

L.T.C. was concocted by an Canadian,many many years ago,not very published,
But an Englishman Harrison Gray visited U.S.A and came across it,with the original
writers permission it was edited,and used to great effect,and it became very
popular,and was crucial on many hands fully reported...today there is law of total tricks
and many more systems available,one pays yer money and make yer choice,
personaly,i have used LTC when majors are involved as a back check,and it stands
the test of time
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#23 User is offline   FrancesHinden 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 17:54

View Postgwnn, on 2012-February-09, 04:38, said:

In practice, many people apply LTC blindly and suffer the consequences. It is often worse than an exploding ...TV.


Are you playing too much bridge?
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#24 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2012-February-17, 09:34

Of course it is not totally illogical.

Look at good players who are arround. When we read them i never see Fred or Justin or MikeH or Andy saying anything about LTC. I dont think when they play they make this magical additions and substractions either. I dont think they put new names to their raises such as "6 loser hand". They talk more about seat, vulnerability, texture of hand, texture of suits, strategy, position, bonuses, risks and all that boring stuff.

It is popular because the authors of books like LOTT and LTC advertise it as if they can close the judgement gap between an average player and an expert player with a magical formula. And people believe in this bs because they want to believe since it is much easier than really trying to improve one's judgement and it is more appealing.

When i said all of this to LTC fans about top players, i usually end up with same reaction " Dont compare with extreme players, they are way too good" etc etc. And my response is same "Maybe they are not the ones who are too good, maybe we are too bad because we try to use the shortcuts. I dont think famous people get to where they are by just being talented. I believe they made a lot of hard work too. Dont get me wrong, i am not saying "if u work hard u can be a Fred or Justin" of course talent is needed, but i know one thing, neither LOTT nor LTC alone will get anyone anywhere close to be a succesful bidder.
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#25 User is offline   CSGibson 

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Posted 2012-February-17, 12:47

View PostMrAce, on 2012-February-17, 09:34, said:

Of course it is not totally illogical.

Look at good players who are arround. When we read them i never see Fred or Justin or MikeH or Andy saying anything about LTC. I dont think when they play they make this magical additions and substractions either. I dont think they put new names to their raises such as "6 loser hand". They talk more about seat, vulnerability, texture of hand, texture of suits, strategy, position, bonuses, risks and all that boring stuff.

It is popular because the authors of books like LOTT and LTC advertise it as if they can close the judgement gap between an average player and an expert player with a magical formula. And people believe in this bs because they want to believe since it is much easier than really trying to improve one's judgement and it is more appealing.

When i said all of this to LTC fans about top players, i usually end up with same reaction " Dont compare with extreme players, they are way too good" etc etc. And my response is same "Maybe they are not the ones who are too good, maybe we are too bad because we try to use the shortcuts. I dont think famous people get to where they are by just being talented. I believe they made a lot of hard work too. Dont get me wrong, i am not saying "if u work hard u can be a Fred or Justin" of course talent is needed, but i know one thing, neither LOTT nor LTC alone will get anyone anywhere close to be a succesful bidder.


I disagree (not about your specific examples, but about your conclusion that top players don't use LTC). I think that top players use it, but they use it in the way that it should be used - as a tool, another way to evaluate borderline hands in their decision matrix, not as a "bible" or magic formula. I asked a top player in my area about an auction with a borderline decision about whether to make another slam try, and the first tool he trotted out was LTC.

Mind you, personally I don't understand the losers + losers = winners stuff involved in some people's LTC; it appears to be much easier to use LTC combined with potential cover cards, which is the way it was explained to me. But I certainly think LTC has a place even in an expert game as a tool, as long as its not the only tool.
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#26 User is offline   bluecalm 

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Posted 2012-February-17, 13:23

Quote

I think that top players use it,


This is a question we could try to answer by asking top players.
I don't know any personally so I won't contribute. I remember one of the all-time best bridge players who happen to live in my city calling LOTT total bullshit though ;)
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#27 User is offline   HighLow21 

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Posted 2012-February-17, 13:36

View Postbluecalm, on 2012-February-17, 13:23, said:

This is a question we could try to answer by asking top players.
I don't know any personally so I won't contribute. I remember one of the all-time best bridge players who happen to live in my city calling LOTT total bullshit though ;)


The reason for that is that LOTT is, in fact, total bulls***. It is right under the best conditions only 40% of the time, and whenever it is right, it is right only by coincidence and luck, not by some sort of 'law'. If anything it should be called OCOTT. The 'occasional coincidence of total tricks.'

The reality is that what matters in trump contracts are: (1) working hard card points, (2) short suits, and (3) trump sufficiency --> both in terms of length and in terms of strength. Anders Wirgren and Mike Lawrence analyzed this completely and effectively, in my mind, in "I Fought the LAW..." And often times in the auction, (1) through (3) can be assessed with some degree of accuracy. There are even times when it is perfectly transparent!

LTC is definitely not a silver bullet, but I can tell you that from personal experience, it is light years ahead of what the average beginner and lower-intermediate is using for hand evaluation. It will be wrong sometimes, but it is a lot more accurate in most cases for trump contracts than SAYC/Goren point count.
There is a big difference between a good decision and a good result. Let's keep our posts about good decisions rather than "gotcha" results!
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#28 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2012-February-17, 18:02

View PostCSGibson, on 2012-February-17, 12:47, said:

I disagree (not about your specific examples, but about your conclusion that top players don't use LTC). I think that top players use it, but they use it in the way that it should be used - as a tool, another way to evaluate borderline hands in their decision matrix, not as a "bible" or magic formula. I asked a top player in my area about an auction with a borderline decision about whether to make another slam try, and the first tool he trotted out was LTC.

Mind you, personally I don't understand the losers + losers = winners stuff involved in some people's LTC; it appears to be much easier to use LTC combined with potential cover cards, which is the way it was explained to me. But I certainly think LTC has a place even in an expert game as a tool, as long as its not the only tool.


Of course you are entitled to believe what you want to believe, but i strongly doubt that LTC goes thru the thinking process of top worldclass players at all if any.
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#29 User is offline   JLOGIC 

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Posted 2012-February-18, 18:53

I don't know LTC. My friend Patty used to ask me to guess how many losers a hand was, she called this JTC. We then decided that I either use JTC or HCP whichever lets me bid more :P

My estimate was often a little different than LTC. I have no idea how many LTCs or JTCs are required for opening bids, limit raises, game, etc though I know LTC is supposed to tell you that. No top player that I've ever talked to has described his hand to me in terms of LTC. I'm pretty sure literally never.

That said I'm sure it couldn't hurt to know it, but I never read a book on it if there is one and no one ever bothered to explain it to me fully. I can't knock it till I try it :P I do remember that some of the things seemed ridiculous wrt what were an equal amount of losers when Patty told me some stuff about it.
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#30 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2012-February-18, 19:32

A few comments about LTC:

(1) I do actually consider in some situations. Typically it's when deciding whether to make a borderline limit raise or accept a fitting invite on a close hand. With this said, there are a lot of adjustments and a lot of other things that I look at. It's one tool among many.

(2) If you have a partner who is extremely conservative in game bidding, teach them LTC! It is a good way to get overly cautious partners to be more aggressive. I've done this on several occasions.

(3) With that said, there are some pairs who base everything on LTC, without adjustments, before even establishing a fit. I love playing against these pairs! They always seem to overbid and then I can set them a few tricks. :)
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#31 User is offline   pirate22 

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Posted 2012-February-18, 20:03

The latest date inputs are to be commended-constructive inputs,as opposed
to some "Pooh Pooh's" two questions arise....
No 1....Reference the book published 1934,when i went to site recomended, up came
Klingers.views... is the original book still available???
reason being,i think it also contained info applicable to Minors,and i may be wrong
but LTC was for majors only--is there a formulae for minor suits??

No 2...as i agree with LTC and WTC,and noting Klingers views,I pose this question.

you hold QJ10875--A--864--QJ7..in first or 2nd position whether non V.Vuln-equal Vuln
would you open 1 spade---then consider swapping sp for hts--would u open 1ht.
no replies as to if it is, a good day or a bad day..........
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#32 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2012-February-18, 20:11

View Postpirate22, on 2012-February-18, 20:03, said:

The latest date inputs are to be commended-constructive inputs,as opposed
to some "Pooh Pooh's" two questions arise....
No 1....Reference the book published 1934,when i went to site recomended, up came
Klingers.views... is the original book still available???
reason being,i think it also contained info applicable to Minors,and i may be wrong
but LTC was for majors only--is there a formulae for minor suits??

No 2...as i agree with LTC and WTC,and noting Klingers views,I pose this question.

you hold QJ10875--A--864--QJ7..in first or 2nd position whether non V.Vuln-equal Vuln
would you open 1 spade---then consider swapping sp for hts--would u open 1ht.
no replies as to if it is, a good day or a bad day..........



1) Klingers book is for both major and minor fits
2) LTC is only used after a fit is found, not to decide to open a hand or not.
3) printed in 1986: 26 years ago the purpose was to improve your bidding skills compared to what else was out there.


If in the past 26 years you have a better method, use it. If your judgment is better than LTC, use it.

The claim, 26 years ago, by advocates of LTC was:

LTC answer is the number of tricks you can expect to win if suits break normally and half your finesses work.
It is the number of tricks you will win most of the time.


I would be shocked if bidding theory has not advanced in the past 26 years and hope the improved methods are posted here in the forums.
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#33 User is offline   HighLow21 

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Posted 2012-February-18, 22:33

View Postmike777, on 2012-February-18, 20:11, said:

<snip>
2) LTC is only used after a fit is found, not to decide to open a hand or not.

<snip>

LTC answer is the number of tricks you can expect to win if suits break normally and half your finesses work.
It is the number of tricks you will win most of the time.


I would be shocked if bidding theory has not advanced in the past 26 years and hope the improved methods are posted here in the forums.


I agree that there are more sophisticated methods of hand evaluation than LTC. As CSGibson said, it is a tool to be used alongside others. That said, for someone who is, say, mid-intermediate or below (or anyone who does not adjust considerably from HCP as the auction develops), LTC is a major step forward. Asking a modern expert to use it is like asking a 747 pilot to study hot air balloons. Asking an early intermediate to learn it is, IMHO under the conditions I described, one of the biggest steps forward in hand evaluation I can think of. (Up there with Mike Lawrence's books on Judgment, Overcalling, Balancing, and Hand Evaluation, just to name a few.)

In terms of using LTC for opening bidding --> I think there are at least two circumstances, not at all rare, where it is very helpful:
1. In determining whether to open an unbalanced hand 2. (My rule is: 4+ Quick Tricks and 4- Losers. For a 4 QT/4 Loser hand, the long suit must be good and overall intermediates should be good.)
2. When you have an independent trump suit that will play fine opposite a void and/or a small singleton. For example, holding AKQJT83 98 543 A, I count 5 red-suit losers because I know exactly where I want to play: some level in spades. It is unlikely the auction will suggest that some other strain is better (unless it turns out to be NT). This hand has 8 tricks in spades or NT. The 14 HCP way underestimates this hand's playing strength.
There is a big difference between a good decision and a good result. Let's keep our posts about good decisions rather than "gotcha" results!
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#34 User is offline   pirate22 

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Posted 2012-February-19, 20:06

this item is getting more and more interesting-- asking a 747 pilot
to read up on hot air Balloons is succinct :):)what i have realised
without realising is, I use LTC to open the bidding,not as a phyche
opening-hence QJ10875--A--874--K73, and swap spades for hearts with same
approach.and as someone quoted,,surely things have progressed,in 24 years,
yes and no-a pilot has to read-and practice all basics,gliding-balloon,s
1/2/3/4/engines-helicopters etc etc-jet propulsion......
all widgets are tools example DOPI & ROPI this should be on everyones
Horizon-but i digress--its a pity some experts/world class players do not
have an input,But it is very interesting when Kibbing a top flight BBO
Vu-graph Tourney with big Guns on Parade with all the Widgets at their command
with in the know what the meanings are {Commentators}they arrive at a end contract
But using ones own humble methods,one usually gets there in comparison,
The pleasure is in the play of the hand and the Defence.
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#35 User is offline   MrAce 

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Posted 2012-February-19, 21:02

deleted
"Genius has its own limitations, however stupidity is boundless"
"Gosh given your bbf manner would love to see your teaching LOL if i was a novice i'd be running a million miles from you" - Eagles123
Disclaimer: this post is not intended to offend anyone who spews constant drivel. --PhilKing
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#36 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2012-February-21, 05:17

Dudley Courtenay and George Walshe descibed LTC in the Losing Trick Count (1935). Jean René Verne induced LOTT by analysing World Championship records in the 1950s and described it in a Bridge World Article and in Bridge Moderne de la Défense (1966).

Both tools have withstood the test of time. They enhance the judgement of ordinary players. IMO, many experts use them, at the table, sometimes unconsciously. Players use them as a shorthand when describing systems or arguing about judgement mistakes. Nobody -- especially not their originators -- claimed these guides to be infallible. If they were, then more of us would be experts :)
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