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Terry H asked: When you are declarer in a suit contract, you count your losers, then work out a plan to achieve your contract. (In a no-trump contract, you count your winners.)  What is the best way to count your losers?  Is there a quick way to do this?  Or is it just practice?

PG replied: There is a fairly standard way to calculate your losers during the bidding once you have found a fit. For the first 3 cards on every suit count one loser for each trick you would lose of the suit were played from the top. So an A singleton, any void and AKQ would be no losers, Ax and Kx would be 1 loser, Qx and Qxx would both be 2 and JTx would be 3. Don't count any cards beyond the first three in any suit as losers. This is a tough approximation but generally quite good.

When you are assessing your hands as declarer you can be more precise. You can take into account information that the opponent bids or opening lead indicates. You can also combine dummy's and declarer's holdings. Holding Qx opposite KJx would be 1 loser, Ax opposite Kxx would be no losers provided you have trumps to ruff with.

Planning the play is about maximising your chances while minimising your risks. And that certainly takes practice well as thinking it through.