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All comments by Brian Potter
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Steve,

Putting on my club director hat without conducting a comprehensive review of the LAWs, I can thing of two more cases. Others may exist.

(1) A director must rule on whether or not a player has engaged in “excessive psyching” (e.g., maliciously disrupting the game by not trying to play one's best, tampering with the results by psyching against a contending pair when one is not in contention, poor sportsmanship, and the like). Since this may easily become a judgment call, this situation may be the root of the not uncommon “no more than N psyches per M sessions” rules.

(2) If a psyche is out of rotation, the fact that the call was a psyche may make matters difficult if the auction reverts to the correct bidder and repeating the psyche would mean making a call with a meaning different from the original call (e.g., a new suit response to partner's opening bid has now become a limit raise cue bid) and making a substitute call with “substantially the same meaning” is difficult. Likely, many substitute calls would bar opener from the balance of the auction. The situation could get quite complex with other laws involved.
July 23, 2018
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JoAnn,

That was me, not Craig.

My partner and I are Bronze LMs. We play a very simple GCC compliant home brew system with both minors artificial and forcing (but 1 {unlike 1} is not always strong), a 10-14 1NT opening, non-forcing canapé rebids after 1M (4+ cards and ALWAYS unbalanced with one suit or two suits—eliminates a lot of complicated rebid situations), canapé into a major after 1m shows the rebid major and either minor. Sounds complex, but is actually much simpler than SAYC or 2/1. Yet, requires a LOT of alerts until the bidding gets natural (usually, opener's first rebid).

We usually play up 1000 to 1500 MPs where we would STILL be shackled by the Basic+ chart! Sometimes, we pair with nLM teammates, and sometimes that works out well. However, or preference is to play in a KO bracket in the 2500-2000MP range When we play pairs it is either Open or A/X according to where the TD wants a pair to fill out a movement.

The push from 2000-2500 MP up to 3000MP+ is a big step. We do not play there very often and we scratch there quite a lot less. We're not ready for that crowd, yet. My defense and declarer play are not up to that par, but our bidding may be.
July 20, 2018
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Louis, Psyches tend to randomize the result. Maybe, a psyche will have no effect. Maybe, someone (LHO, partner, or RHO) will fall for the psyche and do something stupid, chucking the board to the other side.

Cornelia says that she will psyche only against players she cannot beat naturally. So with “perfect conditions” (e.g., perhaps, opening third seat, favorable vulnerability, and a place to run if doubled), Cornelia will NOT psyche against opponents she expects to beat based on superior card play. She MIGHT (¿probably will?) psyche against stronger opponents. Perhaps, the more stronger the opponents are the more likely the psyche.

Game theory would recommend randomizing the result with a probability inversely proportional to the expected score without a psyche. The better the opponents, the lower your expected score, the higher your probability of a psyche should be.

Psyching should usually be like false carding. Except in “obligatory false card” situations, sometimes you should false card and sometimes you should not. False card too much, and your opponents start reading your false cards. False card too seldom, and your opponents' counting will be very effective.

When you expect a poor result (say, 0% to 25%), randomizing the result by psyching may improve the expected score to over 50%. Certainly if an opponent bites on the psyche while partner, blissfully unaware, calmly passes; the result expectation has not gotten worse and may have improved.

In a long match against superior opponents, perhaps, the probability of psyching should be higher early (when knocking the opponents off stride may have lasting impact) and late (when you may be down in the match and need a favorable swing board). Cornelia may have such a probabilistic flavor to her choices for when (or not) to psyche.

Some effective psyches go unnoticed. One opens in third seat. The opponents enter the auction, stop in partscore (game) and make game (slam). Perhaps, they briefly chat about why they stopped short (and scored below average). Perhaps, not. Unless an opponent who paid careful attention comments on one's unusual opening, North pulls the next board and life goes on. Maybe the “poor constructive bidding” on that last board nags at the opponents for a few more boards. Maybe, not. No fuss, no bother. I suspect that this is a “sweet spot” where Cornelia aims her psyches.
July 20, 2018
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I just saw the new charts for the first time, yesterday.

The Basic and Basic+ charts are both MUCH more restrictive that the (still but not for much longer) current General Convention Chart. I consider them suitable only for players with less than 50MP (1 gold MP counts as 50 black MP for these purposes.)

Unless we make a fifth chart between “Open” and “Basic+”, there seems to be no chart for LM players under 3000MP. The Basic+ chart is far too restrictive (Basically, one must play SAYC, 2/1, Precision, or something very close to one of those.) The Basic+ chart might allow playing Roman Club, but Polish Club would be disallowed as would any system with a strong 1 opening or a forcing 1 opening that was not always strong.

The old GCC met the needs of post beginners (LMs up to but maybe not including Gold LMs) fairly well. It kept the REALLY complex stuff (and a bit too much tame stuff like Kaplan Inversion and Multi 2) away, but it was a pretty good mix.

I guess that I'll either play up 2000MP (I'll either get better or learn to enjoy being cannon fodder.), switch back to KS, or quit playing when the new charts come into effect.

I'd advocate using the current GCC (perhaps, with some editing for improved readability and easier understanding) between Basic+ and Open. Use it for events in the LM to 2500MP or 3000MP range.

We'd STILL need ANOTHER chart more restrictive than GCC between the GCC and Basic+ for players in the 50MP to LM range.

I agree that a quite restricted chart is a good idea for players with 0-50MP. But players who have earned a gold card, are not beginners any more. They should have some understanding of basic bidding theory. Applying that understanding when a pair comes along who bid differently from what your first bridge teacher taught you should be a reasonable expectation of any LM. Completely shielding LMs from all slightly unusual bidding methods is not the best way to grow future generations of high level players.

The four old charts were pretty good (flawed, but pretty good): one for babies, one for teenagers, one for adults and one for champions. The new charts have two for babies, no place for teenagers, one for adults, and one for champions.

My (mostly) nLM club will be using the Open chart rather than the GCC from November, on. My players with 150+ MP are too grown up for the babyish Basic+ chart.

(Edited to correct “Roman 2 to Multi 2”)
July 19, 2018
Brian Potter edited this comment July 19, 2018
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Louis,

Perhaps, I lack sufficient imagination. I find the ACBL definition of psyche quite adequate. It is “Psych​: A call that intentionally and grossly misstates the strength and/or suit length of one’s hand.” Yet, even with its apparent reasonableness, this definition has flaws (see two such, below).

- A bidding mistake is not a psyche (not intentional).
- An uncorrected mechanical error is not a psyche (not intentional).
-If a call is within a king for the partnership's agreed strength range AND within one card for the partnership's agreed suit length(s) of the suit(s) nominally shown, the call is not a psyche (not grossly misstating either strength or distribution).

Other calls might be construed as psyches—except when “everybody does it” (e.g., bidding a suit with neither length nor a control on the way to a notrump contract). Go figure.

Thus, a takeout double on 5-4-3-1 shape with five cards in the adverse suit is a psyche because the stiff is two cards too short (not merely one card too short) compared to the expected 3-5 cards. Further, it is hard to construe that a five-card holding in the adverse suit is “shortness.” Yet, this (by definition) psyche may be perfectly reasonable when doubler has the adverse stopper(s) and tickets so that a natural notrump jump is the intended rebid. Especially so when advancer responds in the singleton suit. Go figure.

In the face of these examples (and others that will crop up later in this thread), the ACBL definition of “psyche” appears to offer sensible guidance to both players and directors. The problem is not so much “knowing a psyche when we see one” as justly deciding when any particular psyche should be cited as improper with some discipline of the psycher or a scoring adjustment awarded to the non-offending side.

Given my partnership methods, about the only opening bids that I may lawfully psyche are 1 and 1. Holding Axxx(x) or KQxx(x) in a major suit and nothing else likely to take a trick, I might psyche 1 or 1 in third seat at any vulnerability. By an astonishing (and unbelievable) statistical fluke, I might, in a single session, hold 6 such hands in third seat with an opportunity to psyche a 1M opening on all six.

I suspect that in most card rooms, a director would have something to say about it if I psyched a 1M opening on all six boards. Recent counting suggests that, using this very structured opening psyche, I psyche an opening bid on about about 0.4% of the boards I play (1.6% of the boards where partner is dealer). In the above (bizarre) case, have I stepped out of bounds if I psyche a 1M opening on all six boards? I'm pretty sure that the burden of proof would be on me.
July 19, 2018
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What Kit said.

I think I might (on a day when I was thinking past giving partner a first round ruff) have been more blatant with the opening lead signal and led the 10.
July 18, 2018
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You'd have to be pretty blatant about it to make a false card one of my club players would notice. Thus, they would usually not care. If they did notice, and get snookered, I think that they'd approve of the clever play. They are very nice folks who keep themselves aware that bridge is just a game. Being their director is a pleasure.
July 18, 2018
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You counted!

It may also mean that SAYC, 2/1, Acol, “Bridge World Standard,” and kindred “natural” systems dominate bidding method choices. It certainly makes it easier to find a partner when you need one . . .
July 17, 2018
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Ed,

My psyches do not come up very often. During May, partner and I played back-to-back regionals in Farmington Hills, MI and Raleigh, NC. During those two weeks we played 2 (rarely, 3) sessions a day for twelve days. I psyched zero times in Michigan and twice in Raleigh. Thus, over about 500 boards, I psyched on about 0.4% of the boards. Partner, after nearly 20 years of playing together, has yet to “field” one of my psyches. Although, I do get a tongue lashing when one of my psyches leads to a poor result.

#1 Keeps me from being rude. It assures that I will neither “waste” a psyche nor give a weaker player an unpleasant experience and a feeling that they were abused or treated unfairly. If a stronger player falls for one of my psyches and gets a bad result, it won't be the first time or the last time. I did it to a local pro and his client about 15 or 20 yers ago. They put partner down 1400 making them the only pair scoring less than 1440 on a board cold for a grand slam in three denominations. He laughed, scored the board and pulled the next board. If all psyches worked so well, they'd be a bigger issue.

#2 & #3 keep me from doing stupid things. If partner raises, I can pass. If partner leads the suit I bid, the lead will probably be no worse than other sane choices from his seat. If I end up declaring in my psyche, I'll have some trumps (something that makes it hard for pard to field my psyche and difficult for opponents to read the psyche).

#4. Our methods have no call (other than my subsequent pass of a forcing bid) to ask about a possible psyche. We do play Drury. If you, not unreasonably, consider Drury a psychic control; well, you got me on that one. For now, the ACBL differs and Drury (right there in black on white in the convention charts) is a legal convention and not an illegal psychic control. We can join that philosophy debate in another thread if you like. Other NBOs may differ. If we play outside ACBL-land, that is one of the things we'll need to review.

Partner and I systemically open most (well, nearly all) 11-counts and many 10-counts. Thus, for us, the difference between a light third seat opening and a psyche is about a king. There's another reason partner has never fielded one of my psyches.

Given my low psyche rate, I may misbid more often than I psyche. What a concept: Psyches hiding in the inability to properly follow one's own bidding methods.

I think I'd call my psyches “disciplined”. There's no control on them after the bidding card hits the table. Yet, often the worst case is that my psyche helps declarer attack a suit with KQ both missing. The hands where I might have psyched (but did not) have the psyche “controlled” by the fact that I do not psyche on that hand. Discipline before the call eliminates many psyches before they happen and replaces the illegal psychic control.

Sorry to be so long winded. You got me thinking more deeply than usual about things I'd thought were “settled.”
July 17, 2018
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Certainly bidding with intent to awaken partner has ethical issues. Trying to slide into s via clubs may skirt the ethical issues (or not; hope I never have to rule on something like this). Sneaking into s through s may convince partner that you are 0=4=5=4 and just land you back in s a level higher.

¡Yuck! The more I consider this, the more I doubt there's an ethical way into s. I'd rather take my bad board by passing than risk turning it into a disaster. Your 3 bid idea might work (might also pass ethical muster), but it might also get you a lot more minus than a mere 140 for 2 making 3 the other way. If you slide into a good contract and make a game, the defenders may find a chat with a director worth the effort. Just letting the opponents play their partial may yield a matchpoint or two courtesy of some pair(s) your way managing to go down 3 undoubled or down two doubled.

The better West is, the less likely a director will smile on a tap dance into s after an apparent Jacoby sequence went off the rails. My experience has been that the sooner I bail out of a broken auction, the less severe the damage.
July 17, 2018
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I like the Roman 2 and 2 openings, too. Unfortunately, they are so infrequent that they are not worth even one opening bid, much less two opening bids. Consider this notion: Make your three-suited “opening bid” as one of the rebids after a low level opening bid like 1 or 1.

Good opponents are likely to come in over a Roman 2. If they come in over an artificial, forcing 1 or 1; they will know neither your shape nor your strength range until they get the count during the play. Far less helpful to your opponents than the Roman 2 opening where the bid telegraphs your strength, your shape, AND your partner's shape. If your side does not declare after a Roman 2 opening, the opposing declarer may as well play double dummy.
July 17, 2018
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Partner and I are very simple minded. We play all four 2-suit opening bids as natural weak two openings (stolen from the original Roth-Stone methods). We use Herbert as a forcing ask, 2NT to show the Herbert suit when we wanted to bid it naturally, and raises as bar bids (and the only non-forcing responses). Simple and pretty effective.
July 17, 2018
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I have four personal rules regarding psyches:
1. Never psyche against a pair who might be weaker than partner and yourself. They'll just bid and play their cards normally without thinking about your psyche.
2. Always psyche in a suit with a fast entry and some length (e.g., Axxx(x) or KQxx(x)). Thus, it is a meaningful lead director. Similarly, if partner raises, the psyche may go unexposed and an adverse declarer may finesse me for partner's kings and queens.
3. Psyche only in third seat. Partner is less likely to go nuts with a passed hand opposite a third seat opener.
4. Comply with governing organization rules regarding psyches.

My bidding methods and ACBL regulations pretty much mean that my only psychic openings are 1 or 1 in third seat bid against players who KNOW that they are stronger than I am. They are much more likely to fall for the psyche because “I would not dare psyche against THEM.”
July 17, 2018
Brian Potter edited this comment July 17, 2018
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- Both minors artificial & forcing for one round
- Both majors natural 4+ cards ALWAYS unbalanced with 1 or 2 suits. Non-forcing Canapé rebids with 2-suited hands.
- 1NT 10-14 natural 7+ 3-2-1 points on the 1NT
- 2-suit weak & natural
- 2NT minimum range both minors 5+ in each
- 3-suit natural preempt missing one of the top three honors except when only a six card suit or the hand has a side entry
- 3NT AKQxxxx or stronger (neither shorter nor longer) in ANY suit with no side suit entry
- Big hands, most minor suited hands, and all 3-suited hands worth opening hide behind the artificial, forcing 1m openings
- Suit openings above 3NT: strong, natural preempts with six-level openings promising 12 winners with one top trump loser

System notes available as an Actobat *.pdf.
July 17, 2018
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My 2 other opening is a natural weak two bid. Either 1m is artificial and forcing for 1 round. 2NT is a minimum range opener with 5+ cards in each minor. 3NT is AKQxxxx or better in ANY SUIT with no side entry. Good balanced hands rebid in notrump after one of the 1m openings. 1NT is (good) 10 to any 14 that does not promote to 15. “Good 10” means seven or more 3-2-1 points. “Good 10” in this context tends to play more like 11. Thus, I picked the 11-14 1NT box.

This combination yields a very aggressive “bid early, bid often” system with excellent brakes for those not infrequent times when we open and the opponents own the hand. It's fun. Frequent light openings sometimes provoke unwise competitive actions in long team matches.

These methods also get shape out there in a hurry. 1M is ALWAYS either 1-suited or 2-suited. All balanced hands bigger than 14HCP and all 3-suited hands worth opening hide behind either 1 or 1. 1-suited minor suit hands and above minimum minor suit 2-suiters also lurk behind 1 or 1 depending upon strength and shape.

The system notes are available as an Acrobat *.pdf less than 40 pages long. Free even to a bad home.
July 17, 2018
Brian Potter edited this comment July 17, 2018
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Bidding any number of hearts might (1) wake partner up or (2) provoke a “correction” to diamonds. The first has ethical issues and I have no desire to hear the latter. On a good day, partner's spade stopper will be HHxx or Hxxx and defending 2s will be a good spot. 2NT might lead to a safe landing spot, with no ethical issue, but it may lead to a 3NT too far or a “correction” to diamonds.
July 17, 2018
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The first few votes seem to ask, “What's the problem?” That leads me to suspect a problem I did not see.
July 17, 2018
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Allan, That was certainly an effective way to avoid wasting time on two boards where no player's action could have any influence on the final score for either pair. You and your opponents get to be the first ones to the bar. There is one down side: Some of your three opponents may have wanted the fun of PLAYING two boards with no worry about their performance.

:-)

Brian
Sept. 10, 2015
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This is a nicely presented hand. Independent of agreement with particular decisions, this puzzle shows a student a good approach to planing play, executing play, and revising the plan according to new information gained during play.
April 5, 2011
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