Psych, or just being naughty?

I play/direct at a low-level, unsophisticated club.
In 20+ years I've never encountered a psych until recently. I wasn't called to the table so wasn't asked to rule but it was drawn to my attention a couple of days later. The question is what should I have ruled, had I been called to the table?
East (dealer) opens 1H, South overcalls 1S (not alerted), West raises to 2H, then all pass.
South's Spade suit was - Q 10 9 4 3, he had the H5 and was 4-3 in the Minors. Only 2 HCPs!
N/S are playing essentially Acol, albeit they do have an aggressive style (multi-2 and tartan).
N/S were NV, E/W were Vul.
Was South's bid a sufficient enough deviation from "Standard" Acol, whatever that is, to be classed as a psych?

North passed, holding:
K 7
J 8 4
K Q J 2
K 5 4 2

Had I been sat North, and my partner had overcalled 1S, I would not have passed 2H, I would have competed, assuming we had the balance of points.

In my very humble and inexperienced opinion I believe that North "fielded" the psych - if indeed South's bid was a psych.

For some reason, East didn't bid again, despite holding a good 17 HCPs, so I have little sympathy.
Hypothetical, follow-on question, however:
Had E/W ended in game (as they should have done), but went one off, having been misled and playing South for a 'reasonable' number of HCPs, would it be right to adjust the score to E/W making?

Sorry if this is a bit long-winded.
IanC

Comments

  • This does appear to be a psyche, yes, but psyches are not against the rules as such unless, as you mention, there is a chance that their partner fielded it.

    Your auction seems very bizarre - I would expect North to double the 2H bid or at least make some action, but depending on the ability of the player there is a chance that without spade support they would just decide to pass, not knowing what action to take. Assuming there have been no previous recorded instances of psyches in this partnership, I don't think this can be seen as a fielded psyche (in my opinion).

    East's decision not to rebid depends on the strength of West's bid - in some conventions, West's bid is purely competitive and may promise little or no values, so East may have reason to pass in 2H.

    Finally, there would never be a reason to adjust to E/W making in such a case where the psyche isn't fielded - it's just unfortunate from an E/W perspective. If the psyche was ruled to be fielded, an adjusted score may be appropriate but only if the fielded psyche led to North making a different bid. Assuming North would have doubled instead of passing, and that would have made a difference to E/W's line of play, there may be justification for an adjustment (perhaps to a weighted score).

    I should add that if E/W have already shown 18 points minimum, North may just pass on the basis of having not found a fit and not having strong points - a misfit is perfectly possible and depending on vulnerability there may be a risk of going off 2 in 3 of a minor.

  • Well you can certainly overcall 1 Spade (boss suit etc) on

    AQJXX
    XX
    XXX
    XXX
    but personally I wouldn't want to go much lower!

    The rules on potential fielding a psych are pretty strict. cf White book

    "The actions of the psycher’s partner following a psyche – and, possibly, further actions by the psycher – may provide evidence of an undisclosed, and therefore illegal, understanding. If so, then the partnership is said to have ‘fielded’ the psyche. The TD will judge actions objectively by the standards of a player’s peers; that is to say intent will not be taken into account."
    ...
    "As the judgement by the TD will be objective, some players may be understandably upset that their actions are ruled to be fielding. If a player psyches and their partner takes action that appears to allow for it then the TD will treat it as fielding."

    However the question is: is there an undisclosed agreement? The blue-book is inconsistent.

    "Any bid which shows at least four cards in a specified suit is permitted."

    BUT

    "The quality of the suit and the strength of the hand must conform to the standards generally played for a natural call at the minimum possible level (bids showing at least 5-5 in two suits may traditionally be made on very weak hands)."

    Now it seems these days you can play a 'weak two' in a major as 0-6 points (and have a slightly higher 'multi' explanation. - or vice versa), so the quality of 'standards generally played' is reducing.

    I think that I might award this as an amber psych - 'fielding not proven'.

    regarding your hypothetical question

    "Had E/W ended in game (as they should have done), but went one off, having been misled and playing South for a 'reasonable' number of HCPs, would it be right to adjust the score to E/W making?"

    If you decide that NS had fielded a psych then there is a default position of giving the offenders their table score (subject to a maximum of 40%) less 25% standard procedural penalty i.e. a maximum of 15%. So we wouldn't adjust the score to EW making. EW get AV+ (minimum of 60%) if they have been damaged i.e. scored less than 60%. If the psych is green or amber there is no score adjustment per se.

  • I'd call this amber (implying no action unless it happens again). North's pass is weird, but it's not so weird as to be strong evidence of foul play; there are plenty of people who will pass on an apparent misfit, even with a hand that strong. North now knows that South can do that, so this South would be well-advised not to do it again without an explicit agreement (alerted and explained to the opponents) about how weak an overcall can be.

    (A standard reminder that psyching is legal, but fielding a psyche is illegal. So the only person whose actions need examining is North.)

    If E/W had ended up in game, but North didn't field the psyche, there would be no adjustment: sometimes psyches work. It's a legitimate strategy, after all (if one that's fairly rare nowadays).

  • @495670 said:
    If the psyche was ruled to be fielded, an adjusted score may be appropriate but only if the fielded psyche led to North making a different bid.

    Did you mean North? If the fielded psyche led to North making a different bid, it would probably not be a fielded psyche.

    @ais523 said:
    (A standard reminder that psyching is legal, but fielding a psyche is illegal. ...

    Fielding a psyche is not itself illegal, but ....

    @weejonnie said (quoting from the White Book)
    .... may provide evidence of an undisclosed, and therefore illegal, understanding. ...

    .... and that is why we look at adjusting when a psyche has been fielded.

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • @Senior_Kibitzer said:

    @495670 said:
    If the psyche was ruled to be fielded, an adjusted score may be appropriate but only if the fielded psyche led to North making a different bid.

    Did you mean North? If the fielded psyche led to North making a different bid, it would probably not be a fielded psyche.

    @ais523 said:
    (A standard reminder that psyching is legal, but fielding a psyche is illegal. ...

    Fielding a psyche is not itself illegal, but ....

    @weejonnie said (quoting from the White Book)
    .... may provide evidence of an undisclosed, and therefore illegal, understanding. ...

    .... and that is why we look at adjusting when a psyche has been fielded.

    Are you sure Barrie? The wihite book states 2.8. 3.2

    "If a contestant uses a method that is not permitted, or is adjudged to have fielded a psyche or deviation then the deal should be completed. If they attain a score of AVE− or less then the score stands. Otherwise they get AVE− and their opponents get AVE+. In the case of a fielded psyche see §1.4.4."

    From which it would seem that the fielding of th epsych ipso facto is an infraction and an adjusted score is applied. (Fielding a misbid is not now per se an infraction but can again lead to evidence of an illegal agreement.)

  • edited October 2019

    I think we need to ask North/South why they bid as they did and what their agreements are. There is no requirement to play standard acol. Psyches are judged on the deviation from the partnerships disclosed agreements not the deviation from standard acol.

    It is legal to agree to open overcall 1S with 5 spades and no points. It may be possible to play methods where it is right to pass with advancer's hand. Even if the hand is not ruled as a psyche, the hand should be recorded, and if the North/South agreements are legal they could be required to disclose them - system cards, pre-alerts, alerts.

    corrected, thanks Barrie

  • Fielding a psyche is not itself illegal, but ....

    Law 40C is the relevant law. The White Book tells us how to apply this Law and is excellent in the way it does so. While fielding a psyche leads to an adjusted score when the non-offending side did not score well on the board, I remain of the view that it is the combination of the psyche and fielding that leads to such a ruling rather than the fielding being specifically illegal. I might argue that the psyche becomes the infraction because it has been fielded, but I won't as someone might mention angels and pinheads. :)

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • @Robin_BarkerTD said:
    It is legal to agree to open 1S with 5 spades and no points.

    You clearly mean overcall rather than open, and I agree that it is not automatic to rule that there has been a psyche as you say.

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • It's even legal to overcall 1S on five points and no spades. :-j

  • It is the concealed agreement that is illegal.
    The psyche is illegal if it is based on the concealed agreement.
    The actions which field the psyche are evidence of the concealed agreement. The fielding actions are not of themselves illegal - the concealed agreement exists regardless of the fielding - the fielding is the partnership being prepared to base actions on the concealed agreement.

  • If my memory serves me, it was this area that brought the Drury convention into disrepute; a third-in-hand opening bid acknowledged as "could be light" on the convention card with bidder's partner using 2C to ask "how good are you" - were there not too many uses where opener had a club pre-empt but psyched 1S knowing he could pass partner's 2C enquiry?
    Does my memory serve me aright?
    Is there any current restriction on the use of a Drury convention such as I describe?

  • It is difficult to be sure how many drury-protected-psychic 1S sequences occurred.
    I am sure that at least one occurred against someone with power/influence who then got the use of Drury restricted.

    A level 4, there is no restriction on responses, including P-1S-2C.

  • White Book 1.4.1
    "A partnership may not use any agreement to control a psyche."

    I am not sure that I have ever dealt with a Drury-related psyche, but I have in the past seen psyches of strong balanced 2NT openings in 3rd seat with a weak hand and long clubs that then passes a Stayman enquiry. Does the quoted bit of the White Book relate to these examples?

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • @Senior_Kibitzer said:
    White Book 1.4.1
    "A partnership may not use any agreement to control a psyche."
    ... Does the quoted bit of the White Book relate to these examples?

    I think the regulation does not relate to examples where the agreement has bridge merit in response to a non-psyche. If the only bridge merit for an agreement or the major rationale for the agreement is that it allows for a psyche then the agreement is being used to control a psyche.

  • @weejonnie said:

    The blue-book is inconsistent.

    "Any bid which shows at least four cards in a specified suit is permitted."

    BUT

    "The quality of the suit and the strength of the hand must conform to the standards generally played for a natural call at the minimum possible level (bids showing at least 5-5 in two suits may traditionally be made on very weak hands)."

    You seem to have discovered a lacuna.

    The intent is that

    • any natural overcall is permitted with any strength (although some agreements might need alerting)
    • transfer overcalls or other artificial methods e.g. showing two-suited hands are also fine with an anchor suit, subject to the quality/strength comments

    I agree that's not what it actually says, so I'll put that on the list to be fixed in 2020.

    (In my opinion, the 'general standards' for an overcall are about 9+ vul/8+ NV at the 1-level with a 5-card suit / sometimes a good 4-card suit and about 10+ with a 6-card suit at the 2-level, stronger with a 5-card suit; although 1S overcalls in particular can be weaker, especially NV, with a good suit. That's not to say anyone has to conform to this with natural overcalls, but if your agreement is wildly different then I think you need to disclose it.)

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