Join Bridge Winners
Controlled Psyches

As probably many of you, I have read the latest article by Norberto Bocchi (http://newinbridge.com/news/2013/apr/sepp-blatter-not-boss) with great interest. However, in one thing I strongly disagree with him, and that is the area of controlled psyches.

Many national and international organizations are tending to over-regulate bridge, and this is a good example. It is especially worrisome when strong players support such attempts to damage our game.

It is a well-known fact that psyches are part of the game.Another part of the game is full disclosure. And this is where we come to the point of controlled psyches. Bocchi brings up the following example:

W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P

3 was supposedly a long suit trial, but in fact this opener had a singleton and was going to bid 4 all the time anyway, a so-called "controlled psyche". Bocchi then continues that this psyche posed no risk for the opener's side, and such risk-free psyches should be banned.

I think this is a misconception. If this pair is using this tactic regularly, then this is not a case of psyching but of misinformation.
In this case, 3 should be disclosed as either a hand which needs help from partner in , or a hand that doesn't care. If however this pair hasn't done this before, but instead thought "hey, I'm here playing against one of the world best pairs, let's muddy the waters" then that is what bridge is about!

Also, there are several instances of risk involved in this kind of bidding:

1. Responder's acceptance contains information which may possibly be helpful for the opponents. In this case, the gain is not so much since responder will be dummy very soon, but this has to be taken into account.

2. If responder takes some time before signing off in 3, opener was planning to still raise to 4. Of course he will tell the director that he was always planning to bid 4, but there is the risk that the director will take the 3 bid as proof that opener was NOT planning to always bid 4.

I agree that these risks are possibly not large compared to the possible gain of your world class opponents misdefending, but they are risks.

Another example of a "risk-free" psyche is the use of an artificial inquiry after opening preempt, e.g.

2 (Pass / Dbl) 2NT*

If you also make this bid on weak hands that have no interest of using the information that will be provided by partner to decide if you want to play game or not, but just want to use it for deciding if you are going to save, that should not be a forbidden convention, PROVIDED THAT YOU DISCLOSE THIS.

Again:

* Opener's side should practice full disclosure. It is correct to punish pairs who do not practice this.

* Psychic bids shall not be regulated in any way. Bridge without the possibility of psychic bids is not bridge.

In fact, such situations are unavoidable: Whenever one partner has accurately described his hand, his partnerhas less need to describe his hand and instead can deviate from the truth more easily. If you are against these "controlled psyches", in fact what you are asking here is that your opponent should be nice and fair with you and not take advantage of the situation that his partner has already shown his hand.

Another example:

West
KJ87532
5
9732
2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
?

1NT showed 10 - 12 HCP, and you are counting on the opponents having a game. 4th seat is obviously strong. You choose to bid something other than 4 (could be 2 forcing Stayman, 2NT, 3NT, whatever appeals to you). Now will Bocchi's restriction allow you this? Again you are making a "risk-free" psyche. Opponents are almost certain cold for 4 or 5m and you are messing with them. You can always bid 4 later.

Anyway, is it YOUR fault you are in this situation? Partner chose to describe his hand accurately! I am in control. That's just bridge. Why would we want to say "well the poor opponents shouldn't have to deal with whatever you think about at the table, you are just supposed to be nice and tell everyone your hand"? I thought one of the basic rules is "you are allowed to bid what you think is right".

Convention restrictions

Which brings me to the second point: In some regulations, psyching some bids is forbidden. I believe it is not up to the NBO to be able to regulate such things. If I want to psyche a strong 2 opening bid, taking the risk that partner will now double everything the opponents bid on a 5-count, then allow me to! Otherwise you are disallowing bridge to be played.

It becomes more tricky when your local regulations prohibit the use of full disclosure. Let's start with the strong 2 example agein.

West
Q86
5
AQ9743
983

You choose to open this hand a strong 2. Of course you have slightly more risk than in the case where partner has already limited his hand, but still you are much safer than most outright psyches.

Now it isn't the first time you have done so, so partner wants to provide full disclosure and says: "2 shows either a GF hand or a weak two bid in ". This is very fair, since opponents have the right to know this. However, in some countries, you are NOT ALLOWED to play 2 as showing either a GF hand or a weak two bid in !

That's just psyche prohibition coming in through the back door again. This convention is not very hard to defend against (in fact it is easier to defend than a natural 2 bid, which is allowed everywhere), yet some countries prohibit this. So what happens: A legit strategy is pushed into illegality. Partner is forced to not disclose that you have opened 2 on a weak two last year, since the convention is deemed illegal.

If you thought this is bad? It gets worse!

Restrictions on natural bidding

East
KQJ10
A42
932
932
W
N
E
S
P
P
?

What is your opening bid? I think we can agree that there will be a significant number of players who will open this 1 white on red in 3rd seat. In fact some famous bridge authors will recommend you to do exactly this in their books, so in a way your are making the "book" bid. Now some countries however, prohibit:

* varying the meaning of opening bids (other than strength) as a function of seat.

This means you cannot play 5-card majors in 1st and 2nd seat but 4-card majors in 3rd seat. Now most directors will not take this away from you, saying you are just using judgement here (as long as partner is still supposed to raise on three cards). But still why should you have this discussion in the first place?

* opening 1 of a suit with hands that are weaker than rule-of-18.

Now it gets really ridiculous. You would be allowed to open xx xxxx Qxxx xxx with 1 in 3rd seat as obviously you are grossly misrepresenting your hand with the normal meaning of 1 and everyone will say "hey, just a psyche, no worries". However opening the example hand above will mean the director assumes your real agreement in 3rd seat is rule-of-17, which is illegal, and take the hand away from you.

Again, inconsiderate regulators are prohibiting you from playing normal creative bridge in the way it was intended. In this case you are making a natural bid which is considered to be good strategy, but if this is your normal strategy, you are forced to either:

* claim early and put away your hand so that your opponents don't notice (i.e. cheating)

* pretend you are psyching (i.e. lying)

* pass, knowing that it isn't the bid you want to make

Sounds like a great idea if you want to scare players away from bridge!

My appeal therefore is: Allow bridge players to play bridge and deregulate the game for the enjoyment of all!

37 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top