Home EBU TDs

Psyche, or just a poor bid?

NS are Vul, EW are NV. West and North pass, so East in 3rd seat decided to try and get in the way by opening 1H. His hand was 2-7-2-2 with just two HCPs - 2 Jacks. South doubled and West raised to 2H, with a perfectly normal 8 HCPs. N/S were put off bidding game as their fit was in Clubs. Arguably they shouldn't, but that's by-the-by.
The question is - was East's opening bid a psyche, as he did actually have H (7 of them), just very few points? Or was it just bad bridge that paid off?


  • edited October 2023

    It’s certainly a psyche, 3rd in hand, knowing partner doesn’t have opening values, so it is likely N/S have a game somewhere.

    It is difficult to judge a psyche on 1-hand, to know if there are any adjustments to be made.

    I would have queried the raise to 2H after the double. I would usually expect a raise after the double to be one-level higher than they would have bid, so I would have expected the raise to be 3H, as you appear to be saying they had a valid 2H raise. Otherwise, E should have alerted a weak raise.

    How many hearts did W hold? Were they playing 5-card majors? Could they have bid 1NT over the double to show points.

    It was certainly a psyche, but without more understanding of the cards in hand and conventions they were playing, difficult to say much more.

  • As defined in the white book, a psych is "a deliberate and gross mis-statement of honour strength and/or suit length.", the salient point here being that it's sufficient for them to have lied about their HCP strength (2 points), even though their length in the heart suit is fine.

    I wouldn't personally touch the question of whether it's bad bridge, taking the statement that the 2H raise is perfectly normal this would be green, as Jaded mentions the TD should look at the raise to decide whether there's a suggestion of fielding.

  • Forgive me, but I have obviously left out important details.
    E/W play "standard" Acol, as taught them, by me ~18 years ago. They obviously didn't absorb everything taught, including Jaded's point about bidding 3H after the double. One can lead a horse to water, etc.
    Knowing the pair well, I'm 100% certain that West didn't "field" the psyche.
    West held 4 H.
    Note that other Easts either passed or opened 3H. Interestingly, nobody took the middle ground of 2H.

    But that's all by-the-by - just points about good/bad bridge.

    My primary question was simply whether or not the opening bid is classed as a psyche.
    Many thanks for your observations Jaded and James.

  • edited October 2023

    Thanks for coming back on this. Though I understand that the actual matter is closed, it important to appreciate that whether the psyche is fielded or not is is judged objectively. The white book is clear that:
    I) intent is not necessary
    II) what peers would have bid in response to opener’s 1H, double in the same situation is important.

    If we agree that bidding one-level higher after the double is the usual practice, then by the 2-points above, the TD should rule “red psyche’ and deal with it accordingly.

    The white book acknowledges that this approach can upset people, but on balance I would argue that it is fairer to the “non-offending” side.

    It is also easier, in my view, for the TD to apply the rule using the objective standard because there is no need to decide whether the action was deliberate, inadvertent or beyond the knowledge of the particular player.

    I don’t want to prolong the thread, but it is an important point that needs to be appreciated.

    Best regards

  • I think a) this is a psyche, and b) whether it was fielded or not should be judged by the pair's actual system, not by commonly used systems. Not every pair bids higher when raising after a double (especially weaker pairs) – it's a common treatment but not a universal one.

    If this pair normally makes a single rather than double raise when holding 8 points and a fit for partner, after a takeout double by the opponents, then the psyche has not been fielded and no adjustment is warranted.

    Did the pair have a system card? The EBU 20B card has a section that specifically lists the meaning of a single raise after partner opens and the opponents double for takeout – you can check their card to see whether the single raise would be the normal action for that partnership in that position or not.

  • edited October 2023


    I don’t disagree with your overall sentiment. I mentioned the convention card in my earlier post. If that is part of their convention, then yes it “saves them”.

    However, in the absence of such a conventional statement, the lack of “universal” adoption doesn’t save them.

    If, and I said ‘if’ earlier, it is the practice of peers to bid one-level higher, then the TD should find a red psyche.

    In the absence of a convention card statement that saves them, TD has a judgment to make, “what would peers do?” It is not for the TD decide what the particular pair would do.

    Let’s not confuse a subjective standard as an objective standard.

  • @Jaded said:
    If, and I said ‘if’ earlier, it is the practice of peers to bid one-level higher, then the TD should find a red psyche.

    If this pair do not follow that practice then those who do are not their peers in this matter.

  • @gordonrainsford

    Thanks for the comment.

    It’s an interesting point you raise, deserving of further consideration.

    I would argue that such a definition of “peers” is so narrow that it tends towards not finding a red psyche. The narrower you define the parameters, the less information you have available to help determine a ruling. I will argue that is not the correct meaning of peers, but I will end with an observation that shows such a definition would not be fatal to a red psyche finding.

    There is no requirement in the White Book that the action taken by partner be unusual in anyway. All that has to happen is that partner’s action allows for the psyche.

    There is also no requirement of intent, so partner does not have to show or have any intent that they were fielding the psyche.

    The red psyche occurs here simply as a result of their style and convention: they play a system that offers mitigation when opening light.

    By style - opting to open 1H instead of pre-empting 3H
    By convention - a single raise over the double

    If the TD only asks the question, “what would people who only single raise over the double do”, then they are looking at a subset of peers: the people who would have done exactly what partner did.

    Just to say again, partner doesn’t have to do anything unusual to field the psyche, they just have to do something that allows for the psyche. Having a convention that dictates ‘one up over the double’ allows for the psyche, whether or not that was their intention. For example, it’s obvious that opener didn’t want to be in 3H and their system accommodated a psyche that saw they didn’t end up in 3H.

    The elements of a red psyche are there, unless you interpret the meaning of peers so narrowly that the question becomes, “did partner do anything different or unexpected?” When you ask that question, you are reading into White Book something that the White Book doesn’t ask for in respect of a red psyche. You are basically lifting from the section that talks about ‘logical alternatives’, that specifies peers to be those playing the same method. Where a subset of peers is a requirement, I would expect it to be specified, as indeed it is in WB8.16.6.1

    However, with all that said, it’s worth noting that the partners of the people that chose to pass or bid 3H did nothing. Yet in this instance, partner bid one up over the double. They didn’t do anything unusual, their intent is not in question, but their action allowed for the psyche.

    So if you take that narrow meaning of peers, then we find partner did something that was unusual when compared to their peers: partner put them in a position of having to bid, when none (or the vast majority) of their peers would have had to bid…and crucially, that bid allowed for the psyche.

    Whether we look at a subset of peers or not, I see this as a red psyche.

    I leave it to you to judge the merits of the argument.

    Thanks again.

  • @Jaded said:
    Whether we look at a subset of peers or not, I see this as a red psyche.

    I wouldn't be so sure without seeing the hand.

  • HCP isn't near enough information to judge whether 2H or 3H or something else would be normal.
    Contrast Qx,Jxxx,Jxx,KJxx worth 4.5 total points with;
    x,A109x,A109xx,xxx worth 13 total points.
    Playing ACOL I would raise to 2H with the first and probably bid 4H or make a forcing bid (2C Drury, 2NT Jacoby, 3S, if available) with the second.

  • @IanC said:
    ........ so East in 3rd seat decided to try and get in the way by opening 1H. The question is - was East's opening bid a psyche,?

    Did East actually say that he wanted to get in the way? Did East actually try to claim that his opening was a psyche? I'd be asking East for myself why he opened 1H. I would expect East to argue that his opening was a perfectly reasonable call in his position, and this raises the possibility of ruling use of a non-permitted agreement (You cannot have an agreement that you can open 1 of a suit with fewer than 8 HCP in 3rd seat etc.)

    Let's add a few HCP to the opener:

    S 75
    H KQJ8743
    D J8
    C 84

    Now we would definitely be looking at ruling evidence of a non-permitted agreement. But as we start taking a HCP at a time away from the above hand to arrive at the OP hand, presumably something like

    S 75
    H J987543
    D J8
    C 84

    ... we could well cross the line between non-permitted agreement territory and psyche territory. Certainly if the player had opened 1D or 1S, I'd be willing to accept a claim to have psyched.

    So, where is the line? When does a very aggressively light opening bid of 1 of a suit become a psyche?

    I'd be looking for East to persuade me to rule non-permitted agreement. Then fielding doesn't come into it!

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • I'm sure I would prefer to have any bid I made ruled a psyche rather than a non-permitted, and therefore presumably concealed, understanding. I would hazard that all players should (must?) avoid non-permitted agreements.

Sign In or Register to comment.