Better Behaviour at Bridge: Monthly Memo (9)

November 2014


Psychic bids have been in the news recently, with complaints that they are too frequent at the Autumn Congress.

A psychic bid is a gross deviation from normal system, such as opening 1 with a doubleton spade, or 1NT with a void. It is a permissible tactic, provided that the bid is as much a surprise to partner as it is to the opponents.  There should be no such thing as a ‘safe’ psyche.

Some players get a buzz from psyching; as a rule their opponents do not share their enthusiasm.

The more frequently you psyche the more ethical strain you put on partner, who should lean over backwards to avoid ‘fielding’ your psyche – to bid in such a way as to cater for the possibility that your call is not genuine.

Law 40C:

  1. A player may deviate from his side’s announced understandings always provided that his partner has no more reason to be aware of the deviation than have the opponents. Repeated deviation leads to implicit understandings which then form part of the partnership’s methods and must be disclosed in accordance with the regulations governing disclosure of system.
    If the Director judges there is undisclosed knowledge that has damaged the opponents he shall adjust the score and may award a procedural penalty.

Light openers in third seat are classed as psyches: if you frequently open light put that information on your Convention Card, and use your Alert Card.

SBU Systems Policy

2.4.3 Where a suspicion arises that a psychic bid has been ‘fielded’ (partner has taken an unusual action that might suggest the psyche was not unexpected) the incident should be reported immediately. If the Tournament Director considers the case proven he will assign an adjusted score and may impose a procedural penalty.

Remember: a successful psyche will detract from your opponents’ enjoyment of the game, so we implore you:

Do not psyche against inexperienced players.

Do not psyche in the later stages of an event where you are not doing well. Your actions will produce random results that may affect the outcome and will leave some players in contention feeling aggrieved.

The SBU is unable to record every psyche at all its events, but psyches should nonetheless be reported in case a pattern can be established.