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2cl overcall

Hello ,
a) is an overcall with only 3 cards minor at 2 level considered as psych or brown sticker ?

b) if not , is it obligatory to be alerted as 3+cards

the contract as follows

               N is dealer

                1h              pas          1nt ( kaplan inv but not alerted )

2cl 2h pas pas

down 2 N calls the TD after seeing that W has only 3 cards cl

your comments will be very much appreciated.


Secaaddin ozdeniz


  • a1) Whether or not the overcall is a psyche depends on whether the overcaller's partner was expecting that it could be a possibility. If the overcaller's partner is completely surprised to see a three-card suit, it's a psyche. If it's something that they've become used to (or if they've explicitly agreed to do that), it's the partnership agreement.

    a2) This overcall was made over a response, not directly over an opening bid, so under EBU rules, it doesn't matter whether it's brown sticker or not – overcalls in this position are not regulated at level 4 or above.

    (I believe that an agreement to make this sort of overcall would be considered to be Brown Sticker under WBF rules, because it does not have a known four-card suit. That would make the agreement illegal in some but not all WBF tournaments.)

    b) If a partnership has an agreement to overcall on three cards, this agreement is alertable (BB 4B1a, 4C1a). Of course, if the three-card overcall is unexpected to partner, they won't alert it because they won't realise it's a possibility.

    When ruling on this sort of situation, we have to decide whether the call complied with the partnership agreement, or whether it was a psyche.

    If we decide that it was a psyche (i.e. West hasn't done this before and East wasn't expecting it), then the psyche itself is always legal (Law 40C1, BB 2D1a, WB 1.4.1). However, it is illegal to "field" a psyche, i.e. playing your partner to have psyched without overwhelming evidence. So in this case, we need to look at East's actions rather than West's. In the case of this hand, East's pass over 2H appears to be normal; East has no club fit, and no particular reason to want to compete opposite a club overcall. So East hasn't fielded the psyche, and so if East/West don't have an agreement to do this sort of thing, and haven't made a habit of it, no rule has been broken and thus no adjustment is needed. (It would be normal to record the hand, to be able to spot a pattern if the same thing happens again.)

    If East/West have an agreement to do this (including an implicit agreement, i.e. if East has seen West do this before), then E/W have failed to alert the overcall, creating misinformation (and if the style of alerting is "each player alerts their partner's calls", as it is in face-to-face games, also unauthorised information – the unauthorised information probably didn't have any impact, though). The relevant rule here is Law 23B3, which tells us to adjust the score if East/West gained an advantage from North/South being misinformed. In order to work out this ruling, we need to work out what North/South would have done differently if they knew the overcall could have been made on only three cards; the usual way to do this is to poll players, showing them North's hand and telling them "you opened 1H, partner responded 1NT, your right-hand opponent overcalled 2C but sometimes overcalls on only three cards, what do you do? What would you do over a more normal 2C overcall?" If more than a trivial number of players rebid 2H over a normal overcall but, e.g., pass over the short overcall, then we can assume that there was damage and adjust the score (to whatever it would be if N/S had bid in full knowledge that the overcall might have been short). If the players we poll agree that the meaning of the overcall doesn't matter, then there wasn't damage, so the score remains unchanged.

    Note that N/S have also failed to alert – most likely this implies that North had forgotten that Kaplan inversion applied, so when making the poll, we check to see what players would do over a natural/non-alertable 1NT (which is why I said "1NT" rather than "1NT showing spades" in the description above), because that's what North probably thought that South bid.

  • It looks like West just decided to risk bidding it for the lead and happened to get lucky, but if North had just bid normally by passing instead of rebidding a five-card suit, it would not have worked out so well for West.

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