Friday, January 12, 2007

Pyschic dilemma!

What are the ethical limits of psychic bidding?

Here is a classic case of judgement about that issue from a hand I played on the internet. My partner was obviously a very new player graded at the lowest level of ability. The opponents were a regular partnership both graded at the highest level.

I picked up this hand:


My right hand opponent opened 3 diamonds and I doubled for take out. Left hand opponent bid 4 spades which was passed round to me. Thinking he could have all the remaining spades I decided to pass.

The hand was played in 4S not doubled and not vulnerable and made 1 trick.

This is 9 down for -450.

This is the hand held by the four spade bidder!


We can easily make a vulnerable six spades and get a very poor score.

My reaction to the 4 spade bid is a mixture of admiration and contempt!

I can see the bidder thought that six spades must be easily on as his partner bidding pre-emptively in diamonds would be unlikely to have either many points or many spades. Therefore he bids 4s himself to mislead the opposition.

This is indeed very clever and astute thinking. My question is whether or not it is ethical or in the spirit of the game for an experienced and able pair to bid in this way against a newcomer!

I think it would not encourage someone to continue playing if they meet this kind of thing in their early Bridge life.

I did report this as a psychic bid and the adjudicator said the 4 spade bid was probably a misclick! This was not true as the opponents said it was a psyche.

What is your opinion?


Blogger DavidC said...

It's difficult - I would advise people not to psyche againt inexperienced players, precisely because they might get upset. But I don't think anyone is really under an ethical obligation to follow this advice.

Arguably, trying to shelter new players from psychic bidding would not be doing them any favours anyway. The rules of the game say that it's allowed, so everyone will have to learn about it at some point. This particular sort of psyche (with a weak hand with support after a pre-empt) is a fairly well-known tactic, so you really need to learn how to deal with it. [For what it's worth, I think you really have to double 4S with that hand. Surely even if LHO has all the remaining spades he's still nowhere near making the contract.]

The problem is that psyching is so unfashionable nowadays. If you look at an old book (like the famous "Why You Lose at Bridge") you can see that psyching was much more common when that was written, and (I assume) everyone was used to it. Nowadays you can get people who've hardly ever seen a psyche before and are understandably confused when it happens. I doubt anyone has a solution to this.

7:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Playing on the internet who is to know how experienced the opponents really are. Some people claim to be beginners and are experienced. Others claim to be experts and are only somewhat experienced beginners.

I recall being the beginner in a club game when the same sort of bid was made by an expert opponent. After the play I asked to see his hand. I congratulated him on a great bid.

12:47 pm  
Anonymous pattayabridge said...

The ACBL clearly state that it is 'unsportsmanlike' to psyche against lesser opponents and I agree 1000%.
I am not sure of the rules these days (they keep changing) but I thought it was illegal to psyche when you have a safe haven (5D here), i.e. a controlled psyche.
Also, psyching on the internet is a very big problem as any partnership may well have illegal agreements. I personally despise psyches but I am aware that a large number of players disagree with me. Nothing new there.

4:49 am  

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