The art of deception propels the game of bridge onto newer and higher levels. Deceptive bids in particular pose problems for both partners and opponents. The guile and cunning needed to use psychic bids in a most profitable way is a string which is often found on the expert's bow. However, over the years it has been the psychic opening bids that have been castigated by many players as a major source of irritation. Some regard such bids as a violation of the spirit of the game, an unsportsmanlike tactic, and at worst an unacceptable form of cheating.
A psyche is clearly defined as " a deliberate and gross misstatement of honour strength or suit length ". Obviously, a minor deviation does not constitute a psyche because gross means " gross ".
However, the one great thing about psyches is that they feature in many of the most colourful and amusing stories about bridge hands, ever to be told and published in bridge books across the world. John Collings has been immortalised by some of his brilliant and equally disastrous psyches. Yet the statistical reality shows that these high risk bluffs generate more bad scores than good ones. Like dangerous weapons they are best left to experts to use against each other in their tactical and complex bidding wars.
So to finish of the first of many articles I intend to do on this subject, I want to leave you with 3 home grown stories of successful psyches, where the perpetrator clearly had a sound tactical motive for his/her bid. Often this involves identifying the " correct conditions " in which such bids can do real damage to the opponents, yet pose little or no risk to unsuspecting partners being led astray.
The first hand was given to me by a club member, who was partnering one of Sheffield's finest. After he had passed, his LHO came in with a strong two opener. His expert partner looked at his woefully weak 7 card diamond suit to the Ace alongside his club void......and so he naturally made a 3C overcall ! This psyche was clearly designed, should the opponents reach their vulnerable game or slam, to get partner ( if ever on lead ) to play a club to secure an instant ruff. Should the 3C bid get doubled, the expert had his diamond suit to fall back on, without having to bid up a level. A brilliant manoeuvre don't you think.
Next came a story given to me by another club member who told me about a hand that cropped up on the net, when against good opposition the psycher opened 3C on a 4 card suit ! His LHO passed, but his partner ( who had nothing but a good 5 card club suit and no spades ) decided to make a psyche of his own.....by bidding 3S in an attempt to muddy the waters. Clearly, the psychic double whammy proved very successful, even though the opponents entered the bidding and eventually bought the contract at the 5 level...........ignoring in the process the chance to double 5C. Not only were the opponents in an inferior contract, but they had completely missed out on finding the easy slam.
The last story comes from a recent club duplicate with many good players in attendance. The opposition opened 1NT and my non-vulnerable partner doubled ( showing 15+ points ). However, when an honest South bid 2NT clearly indicating good values........I now looked at my K10xx....Kxx....Q109xx......x thinking just how many HCPs are there in this pack. Clearly, someone was over-stating their hand, and my bet was on partner. If he hasn't got the 15 points then he must be bidding on a long solid suit, which can only be clubs. So I bid 3C, which received a prompt double on my left. A pass from partner which I duly " alerted " to confirm my analysis of his hand. Strangely, no further bidding took place. When dummy came down with a broken 7 card club suit to the AQ, I was to say the least a little crestfallen.....if not shocked. My LHO was also taken by surprise .........so much so that with sloppy defence, I was able to make all 7 clubs plus my two precious kings, to scramble home the contract for a stunning top.