Counting Losers in Bridge

Today’s ‘Hand of the Day’ – free bridge lesson

When you end up in a suit contract you then count your losing tricks! – the purpose of the losing trick count is to evaluate the number of tricks your hand is likely to win. Count your losers only after a trump fit has been established and you are in a suit contract. You will find this much more helpful for planning your play than counting points and it is often more accurate. This Bridge lesson builds on the hand evaluation skills you learned our Bridge lessons for beginners and our Acol Bridge lessons or Standard American Bidding lessons.

NOTE: This lesson is a short extract from the full featured interactive lessons in our Members Zone. Learn more about our extensive ‘Members Only’ features that you can use to lift your Bridge game.

When do I count my losing tricks?


Counting your losing tricks is a method of re-evaluating your hand once you have found a trump suit ‘fit’ and are in a suit contract. This method is not designed to replace point count, it is designed to  further help you to predict the number of tricks your partnership can be expected to win

The Rules

Count your losing tricks and add to this number your partners losing tricks and subtract this number from 24.

Note: The number 24 is derived from the maximum of 3 losers countable per suit per hand – so you can only count 24 losers maximum in a hand. There is no guarantee that you will in fact make this number of tricks, it should be used as a guide only.

The Solution

Count losing tricks only for the first three cards of each suit (The 4th, 5th, 6th etc. cards in a suit are taken as winners.)
With three or more cards in a suit count the A, K and Q as winners; anything lower is a loser.
With two cards in a suit count the A and K as winners; anything lower is a loser
With one card in a suit count the A as a winner; anything lower is a loser
There are never more than three losers in a suit. There are never more losers in a suit than the number of cards in the suit .

   Cards held in suit      Number of losers  Cards held in suit      Number of losers  
  J T 9    3  8 6 3 2    3
  A 7 5    2  A 7 5    2
  K 6 4    2  Q J T 4    2
  K Q 8    1  K Q 7 4    1
  A K T    1  A Q 6 4    1
  A K Q    0  A K Q 8 6    0
  J 5    2  Q 9 (*2 card suit)    2
  A 2    1  K (*singleton)    1
  A K    0  A    0
  T 9 8 7 4 3    3  A 8 7 5 4    2
  K J 8    2  K Q 7 4 2    1
  A Q 6 4 3 2    1  A K Q 9 7 3 2    0
  Q J (*2 card suit)    2  K Q  (*2 card suit)    1
  Void    0

Subscribe to see the full version of this lesson.