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How do I feel about psychs - two hands in follow-up

The recent article on psychs and how we feel about them has merited quite the response from members. The debate about psyching against weaker/new players is a healthy one and I follow such discussions closely. I offer two similar experiences and the differing reactions to them to add to the discussion.

 

When I was 16 and playing seriously (as I could - I also played baseball and tennis) for a couple years, I partnered my mentor in an ACBL Sectional Swiss (7 rounds, win-loss). Our teammates were solid, and I confess to feeling (undue, as it turned out) 'pressure to perform'. We won our first five matches and played the pretty-much-the-opinion-of-everybody strongest team. For the first six boards, we had solid results. We bid a thin game that made, and they missed one. The opponents at our table were not happy.

 

On the last board, red vs white the auction went P-P-1S to me. I don't remember the exact hand, but I had a decent 13-count with four decent clubs and some spades that looked good behind the bidder. I passed. Lefty bid 1NT (forcing) and it went P-P (Alerted). I inquired (first mistake) and was informed that opener's Pass 'confirmed a psychic opening'. I was flummoxed; did that mean RHO might not have spades? That she might be broke?  Both? Neither? Something in between?

 

I 'guessed' to reopen 2. NOW I know I could have inquired further about the nature of the psych. But I confess to being panicked because no book I had ever read had prepared me for dealing with psychs. I decided to rely on my judgment that "I like this hand" so I bid. Unfortunately, 2 got sawed off for -500 when partner laid down a misfitting 7-count (without spade length for those who are curious.) In the comparison we lost heavily on this board and the match by 1 IMP. I was obviously taking it very hardly. I also confess that I was feeling a bit mad about the psych, but more embarrassed that I didn't know how to deal with it.

 

OK, Account #2. A former student of mine goes to an out of town tournament and is doing really well in the Swiss. With my former student at unfavorable, a player with a gazillion masterpoints psychs a 1 opening on 1 point (the Jx of spades). My student and partner are cold for just about anything at the six-level, but they rest in 3NT, lose a double-digit swing and wind up losing by 3. My student is furious: "Why couldn't they just play us straight up? Why did they feel they had to bid like that?" I tried to explain that psychs are part of the game, and that doing it and recognizing when 'one might be coming' is part of the learning experience. I also said it was probably not intended as personal - in fact, it was probably done because the psycher felt as if they were behind in the match. My words were greeted with skepticism.

 

Now for the salient points:

 

1) My teammates (and LHO in the match we lost) were very conciliatory afterwards. My LHO also went out of the way to stress that it wasn't personal. I don't recall feeling as if that made me feel better, but at no point did I feel as if the psych was 'unfair'. (Maybe getting 'bageled' on the tennis courts was good for me, in a way - I wouldn't expect a better player to 'ease up' so I accepted it when a better bridge player did likewise).

2) My student still feels taken advantage of. They understand 'psychs are part of the game' but to quote them: "I don't have to like it. I like that you taught us to trust your partner and to be trustworthy of that partner. And I would never do that (meaning 'psych') especially against a less experienced player." 

 

I don't expect this to settle any disputes. Maybe it's accurate to say I see both sides.

 

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