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The “Rule of Eighteen”

When you have four + card support for partner's opening bid, you should support him immediately. The better your hand the more you should bid. The best method of evaluating your hand in such fit auctions is The Losing Trick Count (LTC).

Consider the ace as winning the first round of each suit, the king the second round, and the queen the third. Count up how many Losing Tricks (LT's) you have in each suit and add your LT's to the partner's presumed number for a minimum opener - seven. Subtracting the total from eighteen will tell you how many to bid in support.

South Deals
Both Vul
A 5
J 9 7 3
8 6
K 7 5 4 2
K Q 10 3
Q 10 7 5 2
Q 10 6
J 8 6 2
A 6 4
J 9
A J 9 3
9 7 4
K Q 10 8 2
A K 4 3
West North East South
Pass 3  Pass 4 
Pass Pass Pass

To judge how many s to bid in response to South's 1  opener, North uses the LTC. In ♠s he holds the ace, he loses the king, but trumps the third round: one LT. In s he loses ace, king and queen: three LT's. In s he loses the ace and king but trumps the third round: two LT's. In ♣s he loses the ace and queen: two LT's. Total eight. He adds his eight to partner's presumed seven and subtracts the total from eighteen - three. He bids 3 . South can also apply the LTC. He has six LT's (three ♠s, one , one , one ♣) - one less than his partner reckoned on. Therefore South raises 3  one level to 4 .

West led ♠ K and declarer ducked. West switched to  5 to East's J and declarer's  A. Declarer led ♣ 8 to dummy's ♣ K and East won ♣ A and returned  9. Declarer won  K, crossed to ♠ A, trumped ♣ 2 with ♠ 2, trumped ♠ 9 with  3 and then continued to cross-trump. All East-West could make was  A - ten tricks.

THE RULE OF EIGHTEEN: With four + cards in support, bid using The Losing Trick Count rather than points.

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