The modern psyche.

September 28, 2009 at 9:49 am 3 comments

Opportunities abound these days for creative psychic activity which attempts both to exploit the new technology and punish it.

Take this hand:


The occasion is the final of a pairs event and you are vul versus not. RHO opens 2NT showing a preempt in either minor. What now? Anyone for 3NT?! Well, I couldn’t resist. How often do you get dealt such a perfect opportunity? The sophistication of the opponents’ convention lends itself to psychic action that is a good chance to work. You have turned the tables on the opponent. He has said with his opening bid “Here, have a guess what’s going on” and you’ve replied “No, you guess”.

There is no such thing as a perfect bid. Precisely because some parameters are attached to a bid, others perforce must be lost. If the advantage of the 2NT opening is its economy, then its disadvantage is the ambiguity that results from that same action. The way to punish ambiguous bids is to maintain their ambiguity.

West easily led a club and on this occasion the whole layout was:









The monumental gravity of West’s error on opening lead was immediately apparent to all. It cannot be said that the opponents took the misadventure in the best of spirits. Before a card was called from dummy, East (a player of reputation) screamed, “You idiot, you know you must lead your shorter minor!” West, as angry as East at the layout, yelled back “But I did lead my shorter minor!”

This was a useful top, the field going down in 5C, a contract in which West found it far easier to take a trick with the protected club queen.

It was playing a Moscito style system that the following auction took place. If the first example is something of a sledgehammer, this next one is so subtle that it required just the right sort of opponent to arrive at the trap answer. Artificial methods create opportunities for artificial psyches. There was no need for the brazen psychic action of bidding what one doesn’t have. Here it was enough to intimate a holding that was far from the truth….





Again the scoring is matchpoint pairs.

1C (1)……..1D (2) …….1) 15+, any 2) 0-8
1H (3)… .. ..1S (4) ……..3) 18+, any 4) 0-4
1NT(5)…. . .2H (6) …….5) relay 6) balanced
2S (5)……. 3C (7) ……..7) 4 spades
3D (5)…… .3S (8) ……..8) 4 clubs
4C (5) …….4H (9) ……..9) 2 hearts
4NT………. Pass

At the point when relayer found out that partner was 4-4 in spades and clubs, it was not clear to go for the spade fit. The bidding might frequently go 2C 2D 3NT and if East holds the king of hearts (or sometimes the queen) doubleton, 3NT will make the same number of tricks as four spades. Courtney attempted to continue the bidding in such a way that he could play no trumps without the worry of a heart lead.

The four club and then 4NT bids combine to provide an example of how subtle and creative the modern day psyche can be. Together these two bids gave the following message to the opening leader: the relayer found out that responder had only two hearts rather than three hearts and then he signed off in no trumps. The inference to be received from this information was that West was looking for a five-three heart fit!

Some defenders would remain blithely ignorant of this message. In this case the opening leader was a thoughtful junior who worked out with no assistance the implications of the auction. He stayed off the otherwise natural heart lead for the quite sensible reason that it appeared his hearts were sitting over declarer. Having inhibited the only lead to trouble no trumps, 4NT made eleven tricks and an equal top after declarer guessed diamonds.

It seems to me, having suggested that opportunities for interesting development of the psychic bid are rife these days, that in practice it is not the case. I’d like to think I’m wrong, so, please, if you have interesting creative examples of psychic bidding, do share them with us.


Entry filed under: bidding.

Pain Lightner double in trouble again

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jonathan Mestel  |  October 1, 2009 at 2:13 am

    I like your 3NT. I love exploiting these ambiguous bids.

    A few years ago I held xx Jxxx AKQ xxxx and the auction went
    Pass 3NT(solid minor) to me.

    I really wanted to bid 5C here. Surely LHO would have short clubs, longish diamonds and have a routine 5D or even 6D bid.
    No one has the agreement that double is pass or correct do they?

    If only it had been favourable, or pairs. But it was game all, IMPs, in a match we held a comfortable but not enormous lead. So I passed, like a wimp. I’ve regretted it ever since.

  • 2. khokan  |  September 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm


    I like your bid on the first hand, as it seems the only way to get to 3NT when it’s right (and sometimes when it’s not!). I think the payoff is a just reward for an intelligent gamble. Richman did something very similar to me, once. Vul vs not, I held Jx 98 AQxxxxxx x and opened 3D in first seat. It went P, P, 3NT from Richman on my right. I led a pedestrian heart and 3NT made 11 tricks. The opponents’ diamonds were xx opposite Jx! I had to lead the DA to take the first eight tricks.

    I can’t see the logic for choosing 4NT, rather than 4S, on the second hand, though. Even if partner holds the HK (a long shot), 4S still figures to make 11 tricks, while 3NT may only make 10 tricks even without a heart lead. Incidentally, the west hand is a great one for the Kokish relay. I think Michael should thank his lucky stars he has the machinery to get to 4S, and beat those pairs that bash 3NT – he was luck that his LHO didn’t have a standout heart lead eg a sequence.

    • 3. cathychua  |  September 28, 2009 at 4:14 pm

      I must say, Khokan, Symmetric Relay seemed to offer all sorts of opportunities to do things that were psychic and turned out badly. Law of large numbers – one of them had to work eventually. One I can recall always worked out badly – and note that I did say always, so yes, it wasn’t abandoned with alacrity – was the idea of denial cue bidding our way to finding out we were off the ace king – or even top three – of a suit and bidding too high any way on the basis the opponents would be put off leading this suit on the basis that we knew we were off it and bid on….as an older and wiser person now it sounds completely insane. So, just in case anybody wonders about that one, use my stats. It has zero percent chance of winning.

      As for the first hand, I think I’d have to say that’s about my favourite bid ever. I’m just surprised that over the years I haven’t found other opportunities for it. Over multi-two diamond opening is an obvious possibility.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

September 2009
« Aug   Oct »

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: