Psyches

In a club level duplicate game where psyches are not permitted, does the prohibition also apply automatically to Controlled Psyches?

The White Book is silent on this.

Comments

  • edited October 2018
    The White Book does not cover the situation where psyches are not permitted. Such a prohibition is contrary to Law 40C1.
  • Note that under the laws of bridge you can't ban natural psyches. The RA (The club in this case) can ban psyches of artificial calls. 40B2v

  • The reason "psychic controls" are banned is that a "controlled psyche" is something of a contradiction: if your partner has a bid to find out whether you're psyching, or if you have a bid to tell your partner to act a particular way without using any bridge logic on your bids, the psyche isn't actually a psyche, it's just part of your system (because you haven't done anything non-systemic by making it). As such, disclosing the bid "as though it were a psyche" (i.e. not telling your opponent all possible meanings for it) is misinformation; you should include the potential "psychic" meanings of the bid too.

    Bidding sequences like Pass, 1!s; 2!c, 2!s were once occasionally interpreted as controlled psyches (assuming that 1!s is interpreted as a normal opening bid, 2!c asks "you're actually too weak for your 1!s bid, aren't you?", and 2!s says "yes, I was lying about the strength"). However, if the same bids are disclosed correctly (1!s as a multi-range bid containing opening-bid meanings and weak meanings, 2!c as asking the range, 2!s as showing the weak meanings), suddenly there's no psyche here, as the full system has been disclosed. Any "controlled psyche" can be re-interpreted in this way – and should be, if you want to stay within the law.

    A ban on psyches, therefore, shouldn't have any impact on how controlled psyches operate; if they're treated as psyches (and thus disclosed incorrectly), they're illegal no matter what (Laws 40A1b and 40C1), if the possible meanings for the bid are accurately disclosed, they're by definition not psyches any more. So a "controlled psyche" is completely different in nature to an uncontrolled psyche.

    If you ban natural psyches, you aren't playing bridge any more (Law 40C1 specifically allows psyches except that it defers to Law 40B2a.v, which permits bans only on artificial psyches).

  • @ais523 said:
    Bidding sequences like Pass, 1!s; 2!c, 2!s were once occasionally interpreted as controlled psyches (assuming that 1!s is interpreted as a normal opening bid, 2!c asks "you're actually too weak for your 1!s bid, aren't you?", and 2!s says "yes, I was lying about the strength").

    For many years Drury was regarded in this country as an undesirable "psyche-detecting" abomination, and was not permitted at lower levels of permitted methods as a result. We have moved on to a more enlightened (IMO) position where the emphasis is on disclosure: if you want to open 1M in third seat very light (within the limits specified in the Blue Book), you may do so provided that you disclose that tendency. A 2!c response to find out whether you have full opening values or not is therefore no longer seen as objectionable.

    The Young Chelsea Bridge Club used to run two sessions a week for less-experienced players, where psyches were discouraged. The form of words which was used, IIRC, was along the lines of "This is an event which caters for inexperienced players and you are requested not to psyche. Anyone who psyches in these sessions may be requested to confine their attendance to the club's other sessions."

  • Should the possibly weak (permitted to be 8 HCP, by agreement) 3rd seat 1h/s bid be alerted, as it is may be less than a normally expected opening bid?
    ...or sufficient mention "3rd in hand might be light" on convention card, preferably on front page?

    I appreciate that "normally expected" might depend on the room / opposition.

  • By 'controlled psyche' I mean a psyche where the player has a safety net - if doubled he can retreat to his partner's bid suit with which he has a fit. Let me give you an example from one of my games:

    Partner opened 2S (weak) NV vs V. RHO doubled for takeout.
    I held J to six spades, singleton H and rags in the minors. I bid 4H!
    My LHO doubled, partner and RHO passed, I bid 4S which was, naturally, doubled and that's where we played. Result 2 down. A top score because the opponents had an easy game in H.
    If my 4H bid had been passed out the worst result would have been 10 down for minus 500, still a top score. So I could psyche 4H with impunity.

    Could this type of risk-free psyching be questionable?

  • [GrahamC]: "Should the possibly weak (permitted to be 8 HCP, by agreement) 3rd seat 1h/s bid be alerted, as it is may be less than a normally expected opening bid?
    ...or sufficient mention "3rd in hand might be light" on convention card, preferably on front page?"

    It shouldn't be alerted, but should be indicated on the convention card (see Blue Book 3D2). I would expect any extreme deviation from what one would consider "normal" opening strength in first or second position (for the particular game in question, as you correctly say) to be on the front of the card, and for the card to be properly presented to the opponents at the start of each round. Anything less than this could easily be regarded as inadequate disclosure.

  • edited October 2018

    Could this type of risk-free psyching be questionable?

    Depends how often you do it.

    And in any case, with 6 spades opposite partner's opening weak 2S, why isn't the room bidding 4s (at some point)?

  • @Vlad said:
    By 'controlled psyche' I mean a psyche where the player has a safety net - if doubled he can retreat to his partner's bid suit with which he has a fit. Let me give you an example from one of my games:

    Partner opened 2S (weak) NV vs V. RHO doubled for takeout.
    I held J to six spades, singleton H and rags in the minors. I bid 4H!
    My LHO doubled, partner and RHO passed, I bid 4S which was, naturally, doubled and that's where we played. Result 2 down. A top score because the opponents had an easy game in H.
    If my 4H bid had been passed out the worst result would have been 10 down for minus 500, still a top score. So I could psyche 4H with impunity.

    Could this type of risk-free psyching be questionable?

    I'm not sure that this is a particularly good example, because as GrahamC points out the whole room are likely to get to 4!s , and the opponents are going to have to be pretty naive to be put off by the fact that you have bid 4!h "on the way". In some ways the "baby psyche" may actually help them in deciding whether to go to the five level (or higher) or to double you in 4!s , in comparison with the tables where it has gone 2!s (X) 4!s .

    If you make a habit of this type of manoeuvre, then it ceases to be a psyche and becomes part of your methods.

    To my way of thinking a controlled psyche is more along the lines of a psychic transfer response to 1NT, protected by an agreement that opener is not allowed to remove to four of the major if responder's next bid is 3NT (to be fair, this worked better when transfers were alertable rather than announceable, because both a genuine transfer and a suspect transfer were alertable and opponents rarely asked). This is an example from real life - something over 20 years ago someone was banned by the EBU for indulging in this sort of trickery, and in fact the whole thing was brought to a head by opponents complaining about psyching, when further investigations revealed that what was actually involved was a concealed agreement.

  • Welcome Vlad to the forum.
    In my experience, when someone opens 2S weak, usually his partner would bid 4S or even 5S (with either pass or a double from RHO) with nothing else but spades in his hand. It has never crossed at club level that a 4S/5S/6S bid can ever be deemed a "controlled psyche". It is generally deemed as a sacrifice bid in a competitive duplicate bridge environment.

    However, at advanced level, a 4H response over the partner's 2S weak opening bid (after RHO's double (possibly showing hearts)) can be regarded as an unassuming bid showing a very strong hand with slam interest in spades. A direct raise to 4S shows no slam interest but yet competitive. Much depends on their partnership agreement/understandings.

  • A safety net is different from a psychic control. The safety net is intended to protect you from actions by your opponents. A psychic control is intended to protect you from actions by your partner.

    It's far from uncommon to see a system which bids a potentially dodgy contract with the intent to run if, but only if, it gets doubled. (For example, some people play 1NT, (X), 2!c as showing "clubs or both red suits"; the idea is that your partner passes, on the basis that even if you have the red suits, 2!c undoubled is probably a good score, and you can bid on to 2!d if 2!c gets doubled and you actually have the reds.) There's no misinformation or psyching going on here, just a safety net; thus you have to conclude that safety nets are legal.

    In the case of 4!h over 2!s, yes it's a psyche, but (with any normal agreements) it isn't a controlled psyche. A controlled psyche would have some way to stop partner if they were particularly strong / had a particularly good fit, whereas here the ability ot run to 4!s is purely a way to escape from an opponents' double. (The meaning of 4!h should be explained: plausible explanations include "natural, forcing slam try", "natural, pass with a fit / correct without", "natural, to play", "artificial slam try, heart control" and "artificial slam try, heart shortage". Incidentally, all meanings but the first should have been alerted, as 2!s is nonforcing and 4!h is not a double jump and was made on the first round of the auction; so if your partnership interpreted 4!h as natural and to play, there may be misinformation issues here.) All those meanings risk your partner doing something unwanted (e.g. a 5!h or 4NT bid) if they happen to have a maximum or long hearts; that's the risk you take with a psyche.

    Now, if 4!h were defined as "please pass regardless of your hand" (i.e. "do not raise even with a maximum and a good fit hearts"), that would be a psychic control (because it prevents the partnership getting too high after a psyche); but it's because it bans your partner from raising, and not because you have 4!s as a retreat spot.

    On a side note, I agree with the other commenters that 4!s looks like a normal place to end up with that hand (perhaps even undoubled!), so if your 4!sX was a top, you could probably have gotten there even without the psyche.

  • @ais523 said:
    Now, if 4!h were defined as "please pass regardless of your hand" (i.e. "do not raise even with a maximum and a good fit hearts"), that would be a psychic control (because it prevents the partnership getting too high after a psyche); but it's because it bans your partner from raising, and not because you have 4!s as a retreat spot.

    Well, since "to play" is one of the more plausible meanings for a 4!h response to a weak 2!s , probably specifically denying slam ambitions (else a 2NT enquiry or a natural and forcing 3!h ), I guess opener is pretty much always going to pass it, but I take your point if opener is banned from supporting with a fit if fourth hand competes.

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