WHAT IS A PSYCHE?
3rd in hand with 2 passes so far, with this hand you know the opposition have the balance of the points. So to make it harder for the opponents to reach the correct contract you might open 1♠.
♠ K9873 ♥ 87 ♦ J42 ♣ 983
Yes, things can go wrong; your partner may double the opponents’ final contract based on the opening values they believe you hold, or, you may end up in an un-makeable contract doubled and going off badly. Indeed, if your partner doesn’t act according to the hand you have described then there is a big problem. This is known as fielding which is illegal and the score may be adjusted in favour of the affected pair if this takes place – but it needs to be reported to the director.
Psyching is part of the game but only when playing against your peers or stronger players. It is totally unacceptable when used against less experienced pairs. Psyches should always be reported to the director.
WHAT IS AN ILLEGAL BID?
There are a number of things to consider before making a strong opening bid that promises for example 8 playing tricks.
The rules for opening a strong hand at the 2 level are:-
- Any hand of at least 16 high card points, OR
- A hand that conforms with the Rule of 25 (high card points + number of cards in 2 longest suits – e.g. 6/5/1/1 shape and 14 points), OR
- Any hand with 8 clear cut tricks and at least 12 high card points.
With the hand below, although there are 8 playing tricks the hand doesn’t have 12 high card points and therefore cannot make a strong opening bid. If it did it would be an illegal bid.
♠ AKQJ10 987 ♥ - ♦ 42 ♣ 983
The hand below has 13 high card points but it does not have 8 clear playing tricks so if it did open 2♣ (Benji promising 8 playing tricks in an unspecified suit) this would be an illegal bid.
♠ QJ7 ♥ AQ98543 ♦ A 96 ♣ -
As with psyching, if responder doesn’t bid according to the hand their partner has described they are fielding.
Under the laws of bridge, strong 2 bids which don't meet the required criteria are initially subject to treatment as deviations, see below, and are illegal on repetition by the same pair. If they are a frequent pairing it is reasonable to assume that this is not the first time and on that basis to rule that the bid is illegal. Also frequent psyching with the same partner will be seen as incomplete disclosure of their system thereby making it illegal.
It is proposed that for rulings in Club competitions, a deviation in a strong 2 opening should automatically be illegal if made by an experienced player.
If you think your opponents have made an illegal bid please let the director know.
On occasions you might decide to down value your 15 high card points and open 1NT even though your partnership understanding and what is stated on your convention card is that this bid shows 12-14. Similarly you might decide that your 11 high card points are worth an opening bid of 1NT, also showing 12-14.
These are known as deviations. These are permitted but if it is something that you do frequently you and your partner should update your convention cards and make your opponents aware.
WHAT YOU CAN DO IF YOU ARE AFFECTED?
If you believe you have been affected by a psyche, an illegal bid or by someone fielding their partner’s bid then we would like you to call the director. In fact, you have up to one week, until the same event takes place next week, to report it to any member of the Committee. The hands and the bidding will be reviewed and in some instances the score will be adjusted in your favour.
Psyches, illegal bids and also deviations will be recorded by the director in order to see whether a regular pattern is occurring.
For full details of Horsham BC's policy click on the link HBC Psychic Bidding.pdf.
David Stevenson, a Grand Master and the winner of several major national titles is an EBU Senior Congress Tournament Director and has very kindly given Horsham BC permission to publish his article entitled Psyches Can Be Fun.pdf