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Psych Bids

#1 User is offline   relknes 

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Posted 2017-December-17, 11:22

Let me start out by saying that I have only psyched 1 time in live play. The number would be slightly higher if you included online play, but not by much.
Having said that, I tend to think I psych far too little, from a theoretical standpoint. However, there seems to be a lack of guidance/discussion about psych bids in any bridge literature. I assume this is because people are afraid they will be accused of having "systematic" psych bids.
I would like to hear more discussion on the topic, however. Otherwise, learning will be a long, slow process.
So far, the few psychs I have made have been in 3rd seat, favorable vulnerability, with a bust or near-bust hand. The live game psych was:

xx
xx
xxxx
xxxxx

Which I opened 1. LHO overcalled 2, partner raised to 3, RHO competed to 4, and the auction ended with them missing a cold slam.
I have psyched 3 or 4 times online, but the only one I remember was:

xxx
Jxxxx
x
xxxx

Which I opened 1. LHO doubled, partner raised to 2, and the opponents eventually found 3N, making, though a misplay handed us one more trick than we were entitled to (they played me for more points than I had). As I recall, I was booted from the table after this hand...

So I have 3 questions:
1. What are some interesting psychs from your own games? (Both successes and disasters would be appreciated)
2. What sort of circumstances do you consider favorable for psychs?
3. What do you think the theoretical "right" frequency of psychs is? (I imagine this will be somewhere between 0% and 1%, but feel free to surprise me)
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#2 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2017-December-17, 14:12

White, favourable in 3rd is about the only time it occurs to me with rare exceptions after partner has opened a pre-empt at favourable.

My fave was by my partner in a late match with both teams out of contention but our captain had side bets per imp against a few other players.

Pard bid 2nt in 3rd, favourable and I raised to 3nt. Laid down

JTxx Qxx Axx Kxx

They led a club and partner tranced for quite a while and called King. Led the Q, low and tranced for a loooong time, shrugged and played the Ace.

Partner had AJTxxxx and out and dropped the stiff King offside.

Another time my partner and I had a plus 20 card in a KO but partners were kidnapped by aliens and we were down 40 at the 1/2 of a KO. Second 1/2 my partner arrives with an armful of beer, rips his cc up and declares, we will not be going quietly. Mike Cappilletti psyched against us in 1st chair on the first board and although we got crushed that 2nd half was a LOT of fun. Their psyches worked better than ours and there were a lot of them.
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#3 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2017-December-17, 14:33

Before jumping down into the rabbit hole, I feel obliged to report the following:

Mixed Strategies as applied to Bridge

The academic discipline of game theory differentiates between “pure” strategies and “mixed” strategies. Pure strategies are deterministic. Players choosing a pure strategy follow a predictable course of action. In contrast, mixed strategies deliberately incorporate random action. The simplest example of a mixed strategy equilibrium is the Penny Matching game. Two players simultaneous display a penny. If the two coins “match” (both coins are heads or both coins are tails) then Player 1 keeps the two pennies. If the two coins don't match then Player 2 keeps both pennies. The only equilibrium strategy to this game is mixed. Each player should randomly determine whether to display Heads or Tails using a 50/50 weighting scheme.
The concept of a mixed strategy can be applied to a number of areas within bridge. The simplest and best know examples come from declarer play and defense. Many well understood problems like restricted choice make use of mixed strategies. For example, declarer leads a low Diamond into D QJ9 and plays the Queen after LHO plays low. RHO holds both the Ace and the King and needs to determine which card to cover with. Restricted choice analysis presumes that the defender is applying a mixed strategy will randomly chose to cover with the Ace or the King, once again applying a 50/50 weighing scheme.
Mixed strategies can also be applied to the design of bidding systems. Players applying a “pure” bidding strategy will always chose the same bid bid with a given hand. In contrast, players employing a mixed bidding strategy allow deliberate randomization. Consider the following example taken from Bridge My Way by Zia Mahmood. You hold

S AQJ3
H K5
D 873
C A653

The auction starts

1H – 1S
3S - ???

and you need to chose a rebid. Zia advocates a bidding style in which players should randomize between 4C and 4D cuebids. Zia never goes so far as to discuss probabilities, but hypothetically he might chose a 4C cuebid 80% of the time and a 4D cuebid 20% of the time. Alternatively, consider the following example: White versus Red partner opens 1H in first seat promising 5+ Hearts and 10-15 HCP. RHO passes. You hold:

S 742
H AK762
D 9732
C 4

I advocate a hypothetical “mixed” strategy in which players bidders

4H: 60% of the time
3NT: 20% of the time
2NT: 10% of the time
2D: 5% of the time
1S: 5% of the time

Players who adopt mixed bidding strategies allow for the use of multiple bids to describe a single hand. As a consequence, many responses could show radically different hand types. For example, players adopting Zia's Sting Cue bid style need to describe their 4C cue bids as either "First round control of Clubs or no control of clubs". In an equivalent fashion, my partners would need to describe my 3NT raise of a Precision 1H openings as either a strong balanced hand willing to declare 3NT OR a preemptive raise of Hearts.

In turn, this brings us to the last major area in which mixed strategies and bridge overlap: Regulatory structures. Few if any Zonal authorities incorporate mixed bidding strategies into their regulatory structures. Instead, regulators attempt to sidestep the issue using the concept of a psychic call. Regulators and players pretend that psychic calls are “deliberate and gross misstatements of honor strength or suit length”. In actuality, so-called psychic calls are a subset of a more complex meta-agreement involving mixed bidding strategies.

I argue that neither players nor regulators are served by this pretense. Complete disclosure can never be achieved unless the regulatory structure matches the actual strategies employed by players.
Alderaan delenda est
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#4 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2017-December-17, 14:54

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I'll proceed as if I actually accept the concept of a psych...

In general, psyches work best when you are able to "predict the future" - by which I mean that you have sufficient information about partner's hand and the opponent's hand that you have a reasonable expectation that mixing things up is going to lead to a good score.

For example, consider some of the following classic "psyches"

MP
White v Red, you hold

KQT9
Axx
xxx
xxx

The auction starts

2S - (P) - ???

Rather than bidding an immediate 4, you might want to consider 3N instead...
Even if you are down 9 undoubled this will should still score well at MP

Here, the key is that partner has opened 2S which limits the strength of his hand.
You "know" that the opponents have a game. Moreover, if the opponents decide to X, you can run to 4

MP
White v Red, you hold

xx
xx
QJT9xxxx
x

The auction starts

P - (P) - ???

Rather than opening 3D, give 1NT a try...
Worst comes to worst, partner will raise to 3N.
If you play here undoubled, it should score well. if the opponent's double, you can pull to 4

Here, the key is that partner is a passed hand. As such, he's limited to about 11 HCP which gives you considerable safety.
You also have the long diamond suit to fall back on.

MP
White v Red, you hold

Kx
xxx
QJT9
xxxx

The auction starts

(P) - 1 - (X) - ???

Rather than raising to 2, give one spade a try

MP
White v Red, you hold

KQx
xxx
QJT9
xxxx

The action starts

P - (P) - ???

1NT can often be a winning bid, especially if you are playing 11-14 or 14 - 16

Within a Precision contest, you'll see a lot of folks opening 1

The following might have been my favorite "psyche" of all time

I got dealt something like the following

MP
White v Red, I held something like he following

KQxx
xxx
AKx
AKQ

Partner opened 1H in first seat, leading to the following auction

1H - (P) - 2H - (P)
P - (2S) - X - all sorts of gruesome stuff

What you need to understand here is that RHO was a guy named Binkley who used to play at the MIT club.

My partner opened 1H.
I KNEW that Binkly would balance on absolutely anything, so I decided to make the ridiculous underbid of 2H.

Sure enough LHO passed, as did partner, and Binkley decided that he had to balance on his 3 count...

I doubled. The eventually settled in 3DX - 4 or something horrific like that...
Alderaan delenda est
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#5 User is offline   LBengtsson 

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Posted 2017-December-17, 15:34

2 with xxxxxxxjtxxxx third white/red. opponets missed grand slam.
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#6 User is offline   Cthulhu D 

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Posted 2017-December-17, 22:13

Problem six in here has a fairly interesting 'expert' panel suggesting a psyche is a totally normal action:

http://www.jeff-gold.../ont04.ans.html

Given partner is limited and you have a bust prime oppotunity.

Seems clear that the prime situations are

A) When there is a substantial gain
B) When partner is limited
C) The psych is controlled - partner cannot systematically exceed the safe limits to the hand
D) You have somewhere to go if doubled.
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#7 User is offline   Joe_Old 

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Posted 2017-December-18, 09:23

So much to say....

The correct % for psyches may be as high as 10%, particularly with computer dealt hands that tend to be more distributional than human dealt. That is why systemic psyches have been outlawed: they are devastatingly effective and appropriate. (Personally, I'm happy that systemic psyches have been outlawed).

One of the few outright psyches I've ever bid came in the late stages of a US National qualifying event, when I needed a top. I had

x xxxxxx xx xxxx

and overcalled 1 in 3rd seat, hoping to be given the chance to play . Partner had nothing and the opps played 3NT instead of 7. Three pairs advanced. We were fourth and the opps fell from second to fifth. Didn't talk to me for a year.

This hand illustrates the pattern of one of the most frequent types of psyches: a shapely hand where you bid shortness, expecting to run if doubled. Frequent use tends to make partner expect the tactic, so when you run after a double partner "knows" to leave you in your "second" suit. Not, IMO, very ethical and a major reason systemic psyches have been outlawed.

The all time classic psych, one that I love, is the "Striped Tail Ape Double". This is a situation where partner has offered to sacrifice and you know the opponents will make their slam, so you double them in game hoping to be -1190 instead of -1430. If they redouble you run to partner's suit "like a stripe tail ape".
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#8 User is offline   Joe_Old 

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Posted 2017-December-18, 09:26

duplicate
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#9 User is offline   miamijd 

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Posted 2017-December-18, 14:24

View PostLBengtsson, on 2017-December-17, 15:34, said:

2 with xxxxxxxjtxxxx third white/red. opponets missed grand slam.


If you were playing a system other than a strong club system in the USA (or on BBO, for that matter), your call was illegal. You can't psyche your strong bid (1c for strong club systems; 2c for most other systems). If you do, you are subject to penalties.
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#10 User is offline   LBengtsson 

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Posted 2017-December-18, 14:47

View Postmiamijd, on 2017-December-18, 14:24, said:

If you were playing a system other than a strong club system in the USA (or on BBO, for that matter), your call was illegal. You can't psyche your strong bid (1c for strong club systems; 2c for most other systems). If you do, you are subject to penalties.


in Sweden. bid was tartan 2strong or weak . director was called and noted bid but did not adjust. opponents not happy but we are still friend.
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#11 User is offline   Cthulhu D 

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Posted 2017-December-18, 16:25

I'm not even sure that's a psych. W/R third in when you know opponents are cold for game, lots of people would consider opening a weak 2D with JTxxx and nothing else. 3 off rates to be a good score - and if partner has a 6 count, 6 off will be good! (and if diamonds break 5-3-3-2 then 6 off is the worst possible outcome.
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#12 User is offline   redtop 

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Posted 2017-December-18, 17:01

It's definitely true that the "best" psychs are on very weak hands, white vs. red in 3rd seat.

By far the best psych I ever had was when I had a topless 8-card diamond suit and out, at matchpoints. I think it was both white. I opened 1NT. The opponents brushed aside the interference and got to 4H. I led a diamond, finding Kx in dummy. Declarer decided to eliminate the diamonds before doing anything else, holding Ax. After all, what could go wrong? When my partner ruffed at trick 2 and we got 2 tricks when the rest of the field got one, we got something like 11 on a 12 top.

I also recall opening 1S, not in third seat, playing Bergen raises, on a 1-3-6-3 shape. Partner bid 3D, which I passed. That was a success.

Sometimes you sweat bullets. I once psyched on a balanced 4 count and partner, who had passed a ratty balanced 12 count, doubled them in 3N, and we nipped it a trick.

Another time, on the last board of a regional, I thought we needed a good board to win. I opened 1N in 3rd seat, both vul, on a balanced 4 count. The opponents got to 3N when 6 was cold, and we did in fact tie for 1st.

You need a partner who can take a joke. Practicing online, I once opened 1N in second seat on a weak 4-2-6-1 hand. I figured that if partner bid 2D (showing hearts) I could pass, and if he bid 2H (showing spades) we'd at least have gotten to a 9-card fit that the field wouldn't find. I think he bid 2D and I passed, the opponents came back in, he forced us to some insane heart contract, and then cancelled our date for an upcoming nationals.

Presently I usually play 10-13NT white vs. red except in 4th seat, so I can't really psych 1N. The problem is that opponents play penalty doubles over weak notrumps. If you are playing strong NT and they are playing DONT or any other system that doesn't allow penalty doubles, they will find it hard to get their values across, except maybe with a long long pause, and then taking the double card and slamming it onto the table. (Just joking, the overwhelming majority of players are ethical.)

The key to a successful psych is to be able to project sensible auctions that will lead to a favorable result. Having a runout is a big plus.
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#13 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2017-December-18, 18:03

View PostCthulhu D, on 2017-December-18, 16:25, said:

I'm not even sure that's a psych. W/R third in when you know opponents are cold for game, lots of people would consider opening a weak 2D with JTxxx and nothing else. 3 off rates to be a good score - and if partner has a 6 count, 6 off will be good! (and if diamonds break 5-3-3-2 then 6 off is the worst possible outcome.


What would your minimum range be for that opening? Probably 5+ or maybe 6+. If you have 1 HCP, you are a king and a jack short of your agreement. Isn't that a psych?
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#14 User is offline   Cthulhu D 

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Posted 2017-December-18, 18:37

View Postjohnu, on 2017-December-18, 18:03, said:

What would your minimum range be for that opening? Probably 5+ or maybe 6+. If you have 1 HCP, you are a king and a jack short of your agreement. Isn't that a psych?


This is why my convention card says '2C: weak, 0-10 HCP (5)6+ Diamonds or a Strong Hand' and if you ask me I say 'he's looking at the vulnerability like you are, 3rd in W vs R at imps he could have anything' but yeah, if you have 6-10 HCP written down on your card you probably need to have different stated agreements.

What if he had xxxx xxx QJT98 x and nothing else? Preempting looks real good, he's even got 3 winners! That's surely worth opening 3rd in WvR (if partner is a maximum passed hand and has a flat 10 count, he might even have 2 winners for me and I'm ahead vs game, and if he's broke I'm ahead vs slam)

(It's particularly good for me as I know that the opponents likely have a heart fit as we play ekrens 2H so I have the negative inference he doesn't have both majors)
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#15 User is offline   msjennifer 

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Posted 2017-December-19, 01:09

Are control psyches permitted? In a situation where apparently his partner catches the psych can the hurt opponents call the TD and ask for redress.?
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#16 User is offline   drunnels 

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Posted 2017-December-19, 08:16

Eons ago I played K-S with systemic psychs. At matchpoints P opens 1, there's a dbl and I respond 3nt (forcing raise) which is passed out. I take zero tricks for -450 and a top since they have 4 for 620 their way.
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#17 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2017-December-19, 08:22

Going way back, I opened 1 at mps favourable with AKxxx and AKQ pass and partner bid 3nt, float

The opening lead was from JT9 owning AQ(xx) in both black suits and partner had 6 small hearts and a Yarborough.
When Ghandi was asked what he thought about western civilization he said: I think it would be a good idea.
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#18 User is offline   GrahamJson 

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Posted 2017-December-19, 08:56

A lot of these psyches would be far less effective if it weren’t for the modern fad for almost all doubles being for take out. For example, (1D) - X -(1S) - X should show spades, yet most play it for take out, with 2S also showing the other suits, or a stop, or whatever. Curiously I doubt if you will find a single book or expert that recommends a double in this position being anything other than showing four or more spades, yet this advice does not seem to have made it down to most players.

Incidentally, experts (not BBO experts) also play (3D) - P - (3S) - X as also showing spades, thereby removing another area for psychic fun and games.
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#19 User is offline   maartenxq 

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Posted 2017-December-19, 09:22

Regrettably but also understandably psyches are forbidden in most bbo tournaments. If you launch a psyche against some inexperienced partnership you can do this almost unpunished, because opponents will bid on, take out penalty dbls and frequently end up in the wrong contract. I remember one RHM who psyched on anything in old Rock individual tournaments where 3rd hand psyche was permitted. He scored generally 60+.

Last time I did that in rock (2 3rd white, opponents reached 2 + 4) I found myself blacklisted the other day.

Maarten Baltussen
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#20 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2017-December-19, 12:51

View PostGrahamJson, on 2017-December-19, 08:56, said:

A lot of these psyches would be far less effective if it weren’t for the modern fad for almost all doubles being for take out. For example, (1D) - X -(1S) - X should show spades, yet most play it for take out, with 2S also showing the other suits, or a stop, or whatever. Curiously I doubt if you will find a single book or expert that recommends a double in this position being anything other than showing four or more spades, yet this advice does not seem to have made it down to most players.


Are you talking about "players" or "Players" who play the double as takeout? :) If you are talking about intermediate or novice players playing this as takeout, then it is not a "modern" fad, it's a failure to educate fad.
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