If a psyche is a genuine bluff, which deceives all the other players at the table equally , then its legitimacy cannot be questioned. However, if psyches are part of a secret arrangement, agreement, or understanding, then they are clearly illegal, and the perpetrators should be branded as cheats.
But how does one go about dealing with situations when a regular partnership has a renown psycher in its midst. Surely experience of a psycher's style and habits might enable his/her partner to recognise the conditions in which they might well be employed. Given that psyches are most effective in certain situations that arise at the table, then it seems logical to deduce that the psycher's partner will recognise those situations, where a psyche becomes a distinct possibility. This " sense " has to be defined as " an understanding " albeit a tacit one. As a result, the opponents are put at a much greater disadvantage. So even if there is no evidence of " fielding ", the fact remains that the opponents are far more likely to be damaged by the psyche than the expectant partner.
Many years ago it was common practice for players, to make a weak response bid over the opponent's double of partner's opening bid. This created a situation where the responder had an opportunity to psyche knowing that partner might not choose to bid again.
This awkward and controversial free bid cropped up on a hand, which led to accusations of cheating against Terence Reece and Boris Schapiro ( in the 1965 international match against the Italians ). Reese held Qxx....AJxx.....Kxx.....AKQ, and opened a prepared club. North doubled and Schapiro with his J10xxx...4.....Jxx....10xxx responded 1H ! South bid 2D on his x....K10xx.....Q1098x...Jxx, only to hear Reese bid 2NT. Pass from North, followed 3C from Schapiro which ended the auction.
So many questions needed to be asked, and could be asked, about this auction :
- Did Reese know that partner's bid over the double proclaimed weakness and even dire distress, but that it might also be funny ?
- Clearly, Schapiro had two escape options ( clubs and spades ) so the heart psyche could hardly get his side into trouble. But what of the damage to the unsuspecting opponents ?
- Reese described such psyches as " baby psyches " not expected to deceive class opponents, such as Forquet and Garozzo. But what of the 2NT bid, which left the door open for Schapiro to pass now that the damage had been done ? Or did 2NT confirm a heart fit plus a strong hand......or was it a bid that wanted Schapiro to confirm the genuineness of his suit bid ?
- Was the only interest in Schapiro's bid, harmless if fatuous in itself, purely down to its possible significance in the light of the alleged finger signalling charges involving the heart suit ? If he knew that Reese had four hearts, from an illegal signal, why should he seek to deter the Italians from running into an unlucky trump break ?
- Moreover, if Reese knew Schapiro had a singleton heart, why didn't he double 2 diamonds ? As the cards lay, the penalty would have been 800.
Yet despite all these unanswered questions, I do feel that Schapiro had an ideal opportunity to try out a " baby psyche ", which Reese might well have expected ( hence his chosen definition of the term ). Moreover, his 2NT bid was an exceptionally clever one, because it covered both the possibility that the 1H bid might be genuine or not. In a sense, his understanding that the 1H could well be a bluff , he needed to find a bid to keep all options open................because otherwise, why not just jump in hearts to the 3/4 level.
It is my contention that regular psycher in a regular partnership cannot make legitimate psyches, because his partner will surely have an understanding in place, based upon his past experience and knowledge of style, frequency and relevant situational factors, where the possibility of such a bid becomes very real. Honest players who are obliged to bid will never field a psyche, but the likelihood is the psycher has picked out a situation where the opener might well pass, or is unlikely to be damaged if the auction continues. This is because the psyche is a " controlled one " in that the psycher already knows a fit exists elsewhere, which will always provide an escape.