First Rule

The first rule of psych club is ‘never talk about psych club.’ The psych bid must be as unexpected to your partner as it is to the opponents. On occasion, these bids can pay off in unexpected ways.

While using psychs against less experienced opponents can be a form of bullying, here we were playing in an open pairs event at a regional tournament. I was sitting North after my partner had passed and RHO opened 1H.

South   West    North   East
pass    1H      2S      3D
pass    3H      pass    4NT
5S      pass    6H

West might have done better by opening 1NT, which would have made East more certain of the combined strength. It also would have kept me quiet. As it was, East was uncertain about the value of the Q9 of clubs. They found a slam, but in an A-level event, +1010 was a terrible result (good for us), the whole field having landed in 6NT—making 7 for +1020. Normally, one hopes that a psych will keep the opponents out of game or slam, but here the wrong slam was just as good.

Had partner raise me to 4s, or worse 6S, we would have gone for a phone number, area code and all, but it is often unwise to raise with this sort of support because it assures a timid opponent holding xxx in the preempt suit that her partner is short.

[Samuel learned bridge at a CBE high school club in 2008. A graduate of UC Davis, he is living in Queens, NY and playing bridge at tournaments around the country for fun and profit. Before leaving SF, Samuel often returned to his old high school to help teach younger players.]