MOUNTNESSING BRIDGE CLUB: PSYCHES
It is evident that for the normal club player who goes out to experience an enjoyable session on a Thursday evening, issues such as psyching can greatly spoil the evening, especially if the victims experience a bad result. Even trying to look upon the incident as a “learning experience” may not take away the “sour taste” resulting from a successful psyche.
In accordance with the International Laws of Duplicate Bridge and the supplementary EBU regulations published in the Orange Book, psyches are a legitimate part of the game, as defined by Law number 40C1, which reads as follows:
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.
As Club Director I have to try to balance the interests of the vast majority against the tactics of a few. I am tempted to ban psyches at the club either wholly or partially, but I am not allowed to do that.
It takes no more than a cursory glance at the club’s psyche book within the members' area (user-name and password required) to recognise that the vast majority of the psyches that have been recorded at the club are executed by players who normally play in the Red Section. Whenever practical, I will always run the club in two sections. In order to enable me to do that as often as feasible it is really important that at least one member of each pair is at the club and seated by 7.25, or if not to have contacted me in advance to warn of his / her late arrival. [My mobile number is 0794 1004331.]
It is often said that a good player should not need to psyche – they are good enough to win without resorting to such tactics. That is a view that is shared by many, but not all, top players.
Law 40C1 above makes reference to “... repeated deviations”. For the vast majority of the players at the club, this is not an issue that they will knowingly engage in, but for a small minority, it is. The club has a ‘six month rule’ about psyches, which has been cross-checked with the EBU, who deem it to be ‘unusual but valid’. This rule says that if the same player executes a psyche less than six months since their previous recorded psyche, then this will be judged to be a ‘repeated deviation’ in the sense of 40C1, which then enables the Director to award adjusted scores in line with advice in the EBU’s “Orange Book”. This advice is that the psycher should be awarded 30% or actual board score if lower, and the ‘victims’ 60% or actual board score if higher.
For this control to work properly it is important that ALL psyches at the club are reported to me, including those that have no discernible effect on the outcome and those where the perpetrator ‘comes a cropper’. As a minimum I need to be told the board number, the bidding, and the names and seating positions of the psycher and his / her partner, and if it is an evening when the boards are due to be suited, e.g., because there is to be a Simultaneous Pairs event next week, then I need also to be alerted in time to prevent the suiting of that particular board OR given the hand layouts.
Distinction is drawn between
a psyche, which is a deliberate and gross distortion, for example, a player opens 1S holding 2 spades and 2 High Card Points
a deviation, which is a deliberate and minor distortion, for example, the agreed range for a 1NT opener is 12-14 HCP, but one is opened on 11 HCPs. If frequent deviations are noted then the player will be asked to update the system card.
a mis-bid, which is an accidental distortion, i.e., a player ‘forgot the system’
a mechanical error, where the player pulled out the wrong card. [Such an error can be corrected without penalty before the next player bids so long as there is no discernible prompting from partner and it is clearly a correction of the bid, not a change of bid.]
This note is specifically concerned with the subject of psyches
Meanwhile I do wish all members an enjoyable time at the club. If it isn’t, please tell me; if it is, please tell your friends.