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at Mountnessing Village Hall, Roman Road, Mountnessing, Essex, England, CM15 0UG

What is a psyche?

The following comments are taken directly from the 'Orange Book':



6 A


6 A 1

  • A Psyche or Psychic bid is a deliberate and gross miss-statement of honour strength and/or suit length.

  • A Misbid is an inadvertent miss-statement of honour strength and/or suit length

  • A Deviation is a deliberate but minor miss-statement of honour strength and/or suit length.

6 A 2

  • A psychic bid is a legitimate ploy as long as it contains the same element of surprise for the psycher’s partner as it does for the opponents.

6 A 3

  • Systemic psyching of any kind is not permitted. A partnership may not use any agreement to control a psyche.

  • For example, if you play that a double of 3NT asks partner not to lead the suit you’ve bid (Watson) you may not make such a double if the earlier suit bid was a psyche.

6 A 4

  • A player may not psyche a Multi 2• opening in a Level 3 event (see 11 G 6). A psyche is a deliberate action; if a player misbids this is not illegal.

6 A 5

  • Frivolous psyching, for example suggesting a player has lost interest in the competition, is a breach of the Laws. (Law 74A2, 74B1, 74C6)

6 A 6

  • The regulation in the last Orange Book that a player may not psyche a game-forcing or near game-forcing artificial opening bid no longer applies.

6 B


6 B 1

  • The actions of the psycher’s partner following a psyche — and, possibly further actions by the psycher himself — may provide evidence of an unauthorised, 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.

6 B 2

  • 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 his partner takes action that appears to allow for it then the TD will treat it as fielding.

6 B 3

  • A partnership’s actions on one board may be sufficient for the TD to find that it has an unauthorised understanding and the score will be adjusted in principle (e.g.  60% to the non-offending side and 30% to the offending side is normal in pairs). This is classified as a Red psyche.

6 B 4

  • A TD may find that whilst there is some evidence of an unauthorised understanding it is not sufficient, of itself, to justify an adjusted score. This is classified as an Amber psyche. In particular if both partners psyche on the same hand, then a classification of at least Amber IS likely to be justified.

6 B 5

  • In the majority of cases the TD will find nothing untoward and classify it as a Green psyche.

6 B 6

  • A TD may use evidence from a partnership’s actions on two or more boards to assess a partnership’s actions.  Whilst a single instance may not provide sufficient evidence of an unauthorised understanding to warrant a score adjustment a repetition reinforces the conclusion that an unauthorised understanding exists. In other words, if two psyches are classified as Amber, the classification of both automatically becomes Red, and the score on all such boards IS adjusted accordingly.

Law 40C in The Laws of Duplicate Bridge reads as below:

Deviation from System and Psychic Action

  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 deviations lead 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.

  2. Other than the above no player has any obligation to disclose to opponents that he has deviated from his announced methods.

  3. (a) Unless permitted by the Regulating Authority a player is not entitled during the auction and play periods to any aids to his memory, calculation or technique,

(b) Repeated violations of requirements to disclose partnership understandings may be penalized.

Mountnessing Bridge Club has adopted a specific interpretation of point 6B6 within the terms of Law 40C such that if the same player executes any other psyche of any classification at the club within six months then that second psyche will automatically be classified as ‘red’ on the grounds that a pattern has become established.

Psyches are part of the game – so long as it is not a regular occurrence, hence effectively becoming 'part of the agreed system'. Psyches are formally recorded in case a pattern becomes evident. Sometimes the psycher comes a cropper, sometimes they do well out of it. It is ‘the rub of the green’.

Psyches are always emotive and it would be understandable for a pair who had suffered from a bad result on a board on which a psyche had occurred to feel aggrieved, and to want an adjusted score.  An adjusted score is appropriate only if the psyche is classifiable as ‘red’, which would be because it had fallen foul of points 6B1 to 6B3 or because it fell foul of Mountnessing’s interpretation of 6B6.

A recent review of psyche number 12, which dates back to May 2005, suggests that there may have been a ‘miscarriage of justice’ on that incident. The reviewer suggested that the ‘victims’ were talked out of their solid game contract not as a result of ‘fielding’ but due to a lack of partnership trust, as the hand holding eight high card points passed out partner’s part score bid when partner’s bidding had shown 18 - 19 HCPs.

A simple thought to follow if you find yourself in the situation where “there appear to be 50 High Card Points in this pack” then you should trust your partner’s bidding else you may fall foul of either fielding a psyche or of being “conned” out of your rightful contract.

Note that point 6A1 draws distinction between a ‘psyche’ and a ‘deviation’. Examples of deviations might be:

Neither of these examples can be classified as ‘gross distortions’ but they both fall outside the declared partnership understanding. A single ‘deviation’ is not illegal, but if a player or partnership makes a habit of it then effectively there is an undisclosed partnership agreement, and in some situations an adjustment might become appropriate.  Additionally the system card should be updated to reflect the practice.

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