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Psych!

One of the many things I'm still really bad at is psyching.  I don't know when to do it or what an effective psych is.  

The first psych I can remember was pulled by my more experienced partner at a local sectional in a KO several years ago when I was first starting out.  Of course this was a relatively low-bracket KO, since we didn't have many points.  I had preempted 2, LHO had doubled, and he had responded 3, holding something like Qxx xx AQxxxx xx.  RHO passed, and, as we played this sequence as forcing, I bid 3, which was passed out.  When dummy came down I was surprised and amused, because I'd never experienced a psych before.  The opponents were not so amused, and the director was called, but they had no recourse.   We ended up down 1.   At the other table, our teammates were in their making game, and we won a lot of IMPs on the board.  I was impressed that my partner made such a bid, but wasn't yet at the point where I was willing to try a psych myself. 

Later that year, another partner of mine pulled a psych when we were playing in a midnight KO. (I guess that's really the time to do it!) In third seat, he opened 1.  His LHO doubled, and I raised him to 3 with four spades and 11 HCP (being too tired to remember Drury).  Two passes to the original doubler, who doubled again, after which it was passed out.   Partner had two spades, which became evident as he didn't bother to pull trump.  Regardless, it was not a good result.  Psychs weren't looking so good to me at this point.

Over time, I've been trying to figure out what a good psych is and when to make one safely, as I'm fairly risk-averse.  Recently, I was the victim of an effective psych at the St. Louis Nationals, when my LHO opened a terrible hand in third seat with 1.  I fell for it, and didn't go to game when my partner invited.  Since then, I've been experimenting with variants of this baby psych, and they have turned out pretty well.

The other day at the club, on the last hand of the day, I picked up a 2245 8-count in third seat, white versus red:

South
K8
93
K1063
Q9532
W
N
E
S
P
P
?

It seemed to offer the perfect opportunity for some mischief.  I decided to open it 1, as the hand wasn't strong enough for a reverse. ;)  LHO passed, and my partner responded 1. RHO passed, and I now bid 2, distorting my shape to complement the distortion in values.  Everyone passed.  

The lead was the 10, and the full deal was:

West
AJ109
J107
AJ985
8
North
Q76
K865
74
A1064
East
5432
AQ42
Q2
KJ7
South
K8
93
K1063
Q9532
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Ultimately I wound up going down 1, despite our 9-card club fit.  However, the opponents were cold for 4, their 4-4 fit, which most other tables reached without having to deal with an opening bid.

Why did this work?  For starters, my RHO opted not to open a balanced 12-count in second seat.  Also, I had caught LHO with a five-card diamond suit, so he was happy to pass.  For some reason, both opponents decided not to bid over 2, perhaps thinking there was a misfit afoot.  So it wound up being a great result.

I've since tried this a couple of times, and every time it's been effective.  Or at least it hasn't cost yet.  The parameters seem to include: third-seat opener, some distribution so that a rebid is possible, way less than opening values.  There is a question as to whether a really light third-seat opener qualifies as a psych... I'm not sure.  (I should mention for the sticklers out there, that I have changed my convention card to state that third-seat openings are light.)  But experience with even this baby psych has made me more aware of situations where someone might be psyching against me.

So now that I've had some limited success, I feel somewhat emboldened.  What other standard psychs are there that I should try?  What's your favorite psych?  

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