Judy Kay-Wolff


Since the pros and cons of psychic bidding have been the subject of discussion on my blogging comments below, I asked Bobby if he had any close up and personal opinions and if he had ever been involved in any action in favor of or against it happening.

His answer caught me by surprise since he immediately related what happened at the World Bridge Championships in Geneva, Switzerland in 1990, the same tournament he wrote up under the chapter heading in his book, "Losing Team Wins" about Canada being jobbed out of reaching the finals of the Rosenblum because of a score correction which was not allowed.

When he arrived in Geneva several days before the tournament was supposed to start, there was a hotly contested election for President of the WBF going on between the incumbent, Denis Howard from Sydney, Australia and Jose Damiani from Paris, France.  However, according to him, several European tournament directors (TD) searched Bobby out, whom they had gotten to know as a bridge lover activist, a bridge appeals guru, and someone with immense energy and strong desires to right wrongs.  The TDs all confirmed that during the previous few months and during various European tournaments there had been a great deal of psychic bidding, which, of course, has always been a legal and traditional part of all forms of competitive bridge, but in the recent cases appeared to be done in very timely situations (when partner was also weak) and even when they appeared there was possibly some illegal communication going on between the psycher and his partner, more or less warning him (or her) to tread carefully.  With the format for the Geneva tournament scheduled to contain many very important pair games (including the World Open Pair, the World Women’s Pair, and the World Mixed Pair) there appeared to be a worry that basically, if their fears were well founded, and they thought they were, they needed to be prepared and if so, what should be done.

Since he was up to his  neck in other issues, he asked them to give him a day or so to think about it and then he would meet with them.  A couple of days later he complied and suggested the following plan:

Psyching is still very much allowed and not to be discouraged.   HOWEVER …  

When a psyche is made, the pair making that bid was expected, under the threat of some kind of penalty, to report it to a special psychic desk set up in a convenient area, whereupon the pair against whom the psyche was made was also expected to check on whether the pair had reported it and if they had not, then, after a brief investigation, a penalty might be issued.

The first day in use, the World Open Pair, there were about 35+ psychics reported (and corroborated by their opponents).  Those particular psychics were on file and ready to be used if any illegal activity was suspected.

Every day after that, at least for the next few days, the number of psychics went down, almost in a geometric progression. until starting with the 5th day there were absolutely none reported.  It stayed that way for the whole tournament and there were no complaints nor any action taken, at least none which were reported back to Bobby.

The basic fear of complicity with psychics, faded out with the sunset, since no one who had evil intentions could stand up to the investigation which would be transparent to all who would be privy to the facts involved.  While none of the recent psychic chatter had complained about partners being in cahoots, nevertheless it could happen anywhere, since, if left unattended could be the source of great results against inexperienced or unknowledgeable opponents; and even if no great illegal signaling system was in place it would (could) be noticed whether lesser players were targeted for their antics. 

This comment is made only to suggest to many players that there are various ways to fight back against possible wrongdoing without causing a great deal of negativity.


MattJanuary 26th, 2012 at 11:42 pm

That’s a very compelling real life story so perhaps there is still hope to do away with convention disruption when the public realizes how harmful it can be to innocent people.

JSJanuary 26th, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Passing over psyches and getting back to CD, how much do you actually think is accidental and how much is deliberate?

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 27th, 2012 at 12:03 am


I truly believe 90% of the CD at our club is accidental. They either don’t remember what their agreements are or were out to lunch when the bid arose. That is why it is so important partners agree exactly what they are playing and what one bid means as opposed to another. I think they have a responsibility to the playing public to either know their methods or write them off the card. Simple as that!

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 27th, 2012 at 12:28 am


I think there is a vast difference between psyching and CD. Most psyching is with the DELIBERATE INTENTION of confusing and stealing from the enemy whereas CD is usually ACCIDENTAL although it often leaves the innocent party paralyzed and with no recourse to get a score adjustment which is due them. CD is caused by indifference and pure sloth. That is why we are trying to make CD punishable if people don’t care enough to get their systems straight and insist on continuing to play them.

“Intent” in CD is not the issue. It is the terrible results it may produce by not knowing what your bids mean and your opponents are totally helpless until it is too late. The only answer is to change the laws to establish justice and restore equity to the innocent injured parties.

A knowledgeable director (with or without authority) who realizes the inequity of the situation will make his or her own adjustment (legal or not) so that the innocent injured party is not damaged. GOOD FOR THOSE BRAVE SOULS who have the courage of their convictions.

MattJanuary 27th, 2012 at 1:46 am

How about an example of CD?

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 27th, 2012 at 2:09 am

To further amplify what I am saying — once a conventional bid by the opponents is announced as showing a two suiter with, for example, both red suits and it turns out to be the minors instead, look at what happens! You, sitting in front of the supposed red suit bidder and in possession of 5 very good hearts, AQ10xx for example, will immediately think that since heart length (and likely strength) is held behind your hearts, you would never want to then bid them as a possible final resting place and consequently will lose out on likely your side’s best suit contract.

Especially when the CD concerns itself with bidding with weaker hands and non-vulnerable, the risk only passes to their opponents who are seeking out their best strain and being dissuaded by mis-information. CD is totally distorting our game as we know it — whether intentional or unintentional.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonJanuary 27th, 2012 at 9:25 am

HBJ : My view on psychs will appear to today through the one and only Carp. Mind you since there is so much fuss about disclosure, and knowing your system inside out as to avoid misleading opponents when they query a particular bid, then the hidden weapon of the psych flies in the face of everyone at the table being fully aware of what’s going on.
Somehow there is a contradiction here which I cannot reconcile. All opening bids should respond to what is on the system card, otherwise the system card should flag up DEVIATIONS MAY OCCUR OF WHICH SOME MAY BE CLASSIFIED AS OUT AND OUT PSYCHS.
Now I can live with that.

Rainer HerrmannJanuary 27th, 2012 at 2:54 pm

you write,

“Psyching is still very much allowed and not to be discouraged. HOWEVER …

The first day in use, the World Open Pair, there were about 35+ psychics reported (and corroborated by their opponents). Those particular psychics were on file and ready to be used if any illegal activity was suspected.

Every day after that, at least for the next few days, the number of psychics went down, almost in a geometric progression. until starting with the 5th day there were absolutely none reported. It stayed that way for the whole tournament and there were no complaints nor any action taken, at least none which were reported back to Bobby.”

Only the paranoid can not see the glaring contradiction between the claim in your first sentence and the effect this procedure apparently has in discouraging psyching.

Bobby WolffJanuary 27th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Hi Rainier,

Ah my friend, perhaps one does not have to be, as you call it, paranoid, to immediately understand that the Geneva system (reporting blatant psychics) stopped exactly what it intended to stop, players using psyches with intent to CHEAT and take advantage, since if not, psyching would and probably did continue in the way that it has traditionally been countenanced through the years, (as again evidenced by the current discussions elsewhere on this blogging site but not necessarily by those who did so without conscience and by resorting to anything illegal or borderline so, in order to increase their chances of winning).

From your description, that system invaded the privacy of the individual, but to our group, who was only interested in making the game less devious, fairer and more playable, that enterprise transparently did so and sent players with outright crooked motives back to the drawing board.

To use the word paranoid instead of effective, at least to me, shows a certain imbalance about what is right and wrong and also reflects on the probable bitterness of the writer.

Certainly it discouraged psyching, but only from those (perhaps a huge percent), who were doing so for obvious nefarious reasons. There perhaps were some numbers of minor honest, but what could be technically called psychics, such as bidding a suit tactically, in order to stop the opponents from leading it or in some other cases only marking time, in order to elicit more information from partner, by bidding a weak suit, but those were not reported because everyone at the table, who you undoubtedly underestimate, realized that is part of the game and in no way reflected premeditated attempts to effect gross undue advantage by instead doing it with apparent complicity by the partnership.

Obviously we do not know each other, at least well, but my experience is that it is players who feel as you apparently do, who stand in the way of, by using verbal intimidation, to prevent others from at least attempting to make bridge a better game by, such as in this particular case, (attempting and in this case succeeding) to stop the disruptive illegal shenanigans which had been going on for a few months period just prior to Geneva, 1990 as reported by the alert and properly concerned European tournament directors.

Ted BartunekJanuary 27th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I would think a reporting structure similar to your Geneva experience could be quite useful in limiting CD.

If you assume most CD is accidental and basically due to laziness, then requiring the perpetrators to file a report may be more annoying to them than making the effort to learn what they’re playing. There may also be a bit of an embarrassment factor to further encourage them to do so.

A record would also be created. If the same convention is missed repeatedly by an individual, the partner will almost naturally begin to take this into account – it has become in essence like a fielded psyc and should potentially be treated as such.

Bobby WolffJanuary 28th, 2012 at 4:32 am

Hi Ted,

To again quote 2nd citizen from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, immediately after Mark Antony’s famous speech eulogizing Caesar’s death, “Methinks there is much reason in what he says”.

However, there are problems, since there needs be an organization behind such an endeavor and, because of what you mention correctly, that a substantial majority of CD is done accidently, and definitely with no evil intent.

At least, up to now, I have not heard of any serial type CD epidemic alive and well, so I would have a hard time convincing the ACBL to stand by with the idea of making bridge a better game by getting involved.

Also there would be a serious lobby by new partnerships who like to practice new bidding toys, without the guilt of being irresponsible and slothful for having done it.

However, although I do not play nearly as much bridge as I used to, only twice a week in our local club duplicate. someone would have to train the ACBL bridge police what to look for, how to record it, and most importantly how to educate against it being continued. However, whatever the result, the ACBL would benefit from learning where and why and under what circumstances it is likely to occur.

Your suggestion and most of all your attitude is very positive, and that alone is enough for me to have had you “make my day”.

JaneJanuary 28th, 2012 at 4:47 pm

If I understand all of this, psychs are intentional, destructive bids made to prevent the opponents from bidding their hands correctly or to cause confusion on defense or declarer play. (I realize partner is affected also) CD are bids that occur most of the time unintentionally because of memory lapses, or confusion regarding a system agreement. CD also leads to opponents not being able to bid their hands properly or cause problems with defense and declarer play. If both these assumptions are basically correct, then as long as the ACBL allows psychs, nothing can be done about that. As long as the ACBL does not give guidelines about repeated CD, especially by established partnerships, then nothing can be done about this either.

Hummmm? Which would I rather have to endure? A psych bid, which is intentional and made to be destructive, or a CD, which is usually not. The results may be the same, but honestly forgetting a system or having confusion about a new system being added to the card is more acceptable to me. Obviously, I don’t think psych bids should be allowed, but that is just my humble opinion.

Bridge is such a divine game; why is there a need for anyone to make intentional destructive bids? It seems to do little but irritate the opponents, causes scoring disparities with the field, and make me wonder how important winning really is? Wouldn’t a player rather win playing the systems he and partner have chosen to play to the best of their ability, doing their best to play or defend the hand to the best of their ability, then to utilize intentional, destructive bids to gain a questionable advantage?

I also realize that high level competitive games are played differently, but are the rules the same whether at the club level or at
world competitions? If the rules are structured differently, then we as players have to adapt to the rules of the games in which we play.

Thanks for listening. I enjoy the discussions and everyone’s thoughts.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 28th, 2012 at 5:13 pm


Eloquently stated and straight from the heart. I know how much you love the game.

CD occurred yesterday, but this time we got the best of it. One of the owners filled in with a good player but they play so infrequently, the director forgot the system (understandable as not a regular partnership). The auction went 1N P P 2C ALL PASS. tHE 2C was intended for takeout (incorrectly) but with AJXXX was passed by partner as the card identified it as to play. We got a top, they got a bottom and the whole board got skewed and the field screwed. These things happen frequently with non-regular partnerships. I detest CD but I can well understand how and why it happens.

It is a serious problem and the solution is not so easy. The ACBL must do something about it — and the sooner the better.

Jeff LehmanJanuary 29th, 2012 at 3:13 am

I’ll put in a plug for the minority here: I don’t understand the need for “Convention Disruption” to be treated differently from other types of violations such as failure to alert or misinformation or Breaks in Tempo.

First, is there a clear definition of CD? Here is an example from a recent club game. What if my opponents say that they are playing Jacoby 2NT (and alert) and opener rebids 4 of the opener major (but does not alert) … and I later learn that to the opponents that rebid says that opener has a minimum but does not deny possession of a singleton or void? And what if my side’s defense goes astray because we assumed that the opener had no singleton or void? Or if our defense made no difference?

I would guess that current rules on misinformation or failure to alert might/should protect us when we can demonstrate that our defense went astray because of the odd, undescribed agreement on the meaning of opener’s rebid. And I would guess that no score correction would be provided when the odd, undescribed agreement did not affect the result. Don’t those seem to be the right answers?

In more difficult situations, where determining whether the CD caused a problem to the nonoffenders, I think that current rules should suffice to protect, too. Let’s say that RHO makes a bid that LHO or the convention card correctly describes as showing spades and clubs when in fact RHO owns spades and diamonds. Let’s assume further that LHO, with a great fit for clubs, now fails to make a Logical Alternative bid of a jump in clubs but instead gives a mild preference. Believing what they are hearing, the nonoffenders bow out of the bidding and suffer a bad result. Under current rules, can’t the director apply the same standards he would in a Break In Tempo situation, compensating the nonoffenders and penalizing the offenders by foisting on the LHO a bid different from the bid he chose in the auction?

I am no rules expert, but I am just not seeing the need for a whole new category of violation here, thinking that current rules suffice. Invoking an automatic penalty on (usually unsuspecting) opponents that happen to “misuse” a convention could have a chilling effect on their desire to play our game, while receiving a director ruling that, one hopes, empathetically describes why an adjustment is being made based upon how the “misuse” adversely affected the result of the nonoffenders should carry no such chilling effect.

Ellis FeigenbaumJanuary 29th, 2012 at 8:36 am

1h double 1sp (with 1 or possibly 2 spades) Psyche sure , but its pretty standard and I dont know of many A flight partnerhips that dont play double over 1sp here as exposing the psyche.
1h double 2nt with x q10xxxx xxx xxx, psyche? maybe , maybe not, it might not look like a limit raise in hearts but probably has the playing strength of a limit raise, and it certainly has the effect of making the opps think twice about bidding 4 over 4.
13 point 1nt in forth seat with a 6 bagger.
I have been guilty of making all of those bids, and have similar bids made against me, they are part and parcel of the game. And are more tactical in nature than disruptive. I applaud the opps when there psyches work, because I appreciatte the beauty of the action.

Richard WilleyJanuary 29th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I have long argued that the very notion of a “psyche: is outdated. The fundamental problem comes about because the construct doesn’t match actual player behavior.

Here’s a rather pedantic piece that I drafted a few years back…

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

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 [rarely] 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 [rarely] a preemptive raise of

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.

Ellis FeigenbaumJanuary 29th, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Dear Richard,
The point of a psyche is that partner is not allowed to feild it. Once partner feilds it or you do it often enough that partner might be able to feild it , it is no longer a psyche , but a systemic bid that needs to be annouced.
if you have a premptive raise in hearts but you make a constructive raise and partner passes you with a 16 count because he knows stylisticly this is a possibility then the psyche has been feilded and opps are entitled to redress.
if you know partner is likely to cue bid a 4 card suit headed by the 9, and you fail to make a cue bid that takes you past 4h then you have feilded the psyche.
all of the above feilding actions are unethical and should be dealt with.
however if you carry on bidding as if partner really had a d void or stiff then it is a psyche and totally legal as it should be.

Gary MugfordJanuary 29th, 2012 at 6:21 pm


I’ve stated my feelings over at Paul Cronin’s blog that I’m okay with psyches as long as they are recorded so that psyching can’t become a hidden understanding. And that I refuse to psyche against weaker opponents (I’m SUPPOSED to be able to beat them on my merits). In inequal skill situations, I feel psyches aren’t worth the hard feelings they engender.

Now, in major events, participation SHOULD be tantamount to a testament to skill. BUT …

Back last century in the second year of the Canadian National Teams, I was, as usual, on a team headed for a spotlessly clean unwinning record. I had been cajoled onto a team of nice people (my partner and I had never played together before or since) to give them a fourth and it was the last round and I was feeling quite contrary. AND I had a kibitzer, a good local player and friend, who had been out of town and couldn’t participate, but came over for the last two rounds to see what was going on.

So, on the sixth hand of seven, I was dealt a perfectly nice 4-1-5-3 14-point hand and decided to open 1H in second chair. My friend, the kibitzer, fell off his chair giggling. I remained impassive and the other people accepted his “I just thought of something funny” excuse. My partner raised to 2H and I bid 2NT and then 3NT over his 3C call. Naturally enough, opening leader opted not to set up any heart tricks for me on the opening lead and thereby avoided taking the first six heart tricks. I made the hand, but alas, our team still lost despite the 10-IMP gain.

And my opponents on that hand never spoke to me again for the rest of their lives.

I will point out, the opening leader SHOULD have known what was up. I had five hearts, my partner three and she was looking at six to the ace-queen, PLUS we had ended up in no trump, but she decided to trust the high school whiz kid than the cards she was actually holding.

Subsequently, I HAVE been on the other side when a psyche was successfully pulled on me and know how those people felt. Judy, you know who I’m talking about. And yes, the guy at that wheel was a lot better than I was (or will probably ever be). And very much yes, I DO have hard feelings, years later.

So, yes, I say let psyches happen. But be thorough and record them and punish severely at the first whiff of a pattern. And pull all psychers aside who prey on the less experienced/talented and read them the riot act.


Ellis FeigenbaumJanuary 29th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

The thing about psyches, is that people try to re invent the wheel.
They happen, they are part of the game, recording them and having a proper procedure for recording them is part of the rules. Home brew conventions and systems are part of the game ( not knowing them is not), there is a process for recording them and having them allowed if they need specific defences.
Rapee, Drury,Blackwood the list is endless all brewed up conventions, some have stood the test of time others have not, but this is part of the game.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 29th, 2012 at 10:48 pm

To All:

Sorry I caused such an uproar as I cannot begin to find time to answer each comment individually.

I am not big on psyches and never knowingly psyched in my life. I’m just not that good to know what to do as a follow up. I do agree that Bobby’s solution in Geneva was great.

That takes care of psyches although if people make a practice of it, I do think it should be reported. The question is — is the person in charge (especially at the club level) knowledgeable enough to handle it??


I feel if you either forget or misconstrue a convention, creating damage to the opponents, you should be penalized and equity restored to the injured party. If a director is not good enough to handle the adjudication, let him or her form an expert committee to make an evaluation. Administration must assume SOME responsibility since the clubs have no pipeline to their local Recorder any longer.

There must be some semblance of peace and order or the game will go to hell in a hand basket which is the direction I feel it is heading at the moment.

Richard WilleyJanuary 30th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Here’s my issue with the Convention Disruption crusade…

I don’t like creating a two tiered legal structure that differentiates between

1. Screwing up a convention
2. Screwing up a natural bidding sequence

I get very nervous when people who are strong proponents of simple natural bidding start explaining that we need a two tiered legal structure that will treat conventions differently than natural bids.

Bobby WolffJanuary 31st, 2012 at 1:14 am

Hi Richard,

Bridge is still a very young game, especially compared to the American judicial system, which as you know, came down from the British common law system and has been acted upon for almost 1000 years.

Also the laws need to be different, especially since bridge is constantly evolving, with players bidding better, because of what can be called significant advances by including more words (bidding) in their repertoire by making use of heretofore non-meanings to certain never used noises.

New conventions, especially home brews, fit the above description making it so that if a partnership decides to play some artificial device, it is incumbent on that partnership to know that convention for two cogent reasons:

1. The opponents need to have a chance to be able to defend against it, in spite of the inexperience always present in trying to seek the best defense.

2. If on top of the above initial disadvantage this new convention is forgotten, particularly so if the opponents are bidding defensively and not vulnerable, it is like in wartime having to face a poison gas attack.

Without belaboring this point, it is very likely that you get the point of the necessity of the new convention partnership to, at the very least, be able to explain what the bids are supposed to mean and for them to be on target, not in left field, for that description.

Therefore, since convention disruption (CD) will by its nature stop bridge, as we know it, from being played as soon as one of their partners forgets the meaning of the bid, wouldn’t you agree that we need to do something legal against that distortion or feel totally guilty for letting them have to play against that convention to start with.

I could go on with many examples. but your writing is always excellent and to the point so I have no doubt that I need say no more.

Richard WilleyFebruary 2nd, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Bobby, I don’t disagree with your basic goal: I believe that the game of bridge would function much better if players were all able to remember what their bids mean.

Where you and I differ is what I feel is an overly narrow focus on conventions. If its good for the goose, its good for the gander. I don’t think its sensible that players who confuse a conventional bidding sequence are held to a different standard than players who confuse a natural sequence.

The crux of the matter should be the confusion regarding methods, not whether those methods happen to hold a conventional meaning. Moreover, since the regulatory system already has mechanisms to handle misbids, misexplanations,and the like I don’t see the need to create a new set of regulations to handle a special case…

Bobby WolffFebruary 2nd, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Hi Richard,

Thank you for your continuation.

Rather than try and intellectually parry back and forth about inherent fairness, over regulation, future of the game, inalienable rights, and general morality, let us focus on our different viewpoints.

I’ll start by giving mine:

1. When, several posts before, you mentioned that Zia while deciding how to proceed bidding to a possible slam might cue bid his controls sometimes and at other times cue bid the suit he hopes the opponents do not lead. Yes, that is what Zia is likely to do, however, make no mistake, in his book it is to his advantage to create doubt in the opponent’s mind (particularly the would be opening leader) as to the authenticity of his cue bid, not unlike the ultimate advantage any poker player would prefer, to be thought of as an inveterate bluffer, and in actuality, at least in that subject game, never bluff and be advantaged by players who will too often call him when that action is questionable at best, only to find him having the hand he represented by his betting.

2. Fate and perhaps too much involvement with bridge itself, which I have been dealt, probably more than any person, (other than long time bridge tournament directors who have handled the early goings on in perhaps thousands of cases, but usually at some early or mid-point have then bowed out to let others decide the result), who has ever been either condemned or privileged (depending on how one feels) to be so involved.

While doing so through the many years, I have seen various types of people, some very honest and others not, some very perceptive and others not, but all with a common interest and that is trying to win the argument and thus the case, in order to get from here to there.

CD is very different from psyching. Psyching is an intentional distortion, legal and traditional to the playing of bridge, wherein the key elements are that the psycher’s partner MUST not be in cahoots either directly or because of tendencies and therefore both the particular psychic bid and his partner’s response to it as well as the history of these players needs to be known, in order to determine innocence or guilt in complying to what is thought to be the specific laws on that subject. The Rule of Coincidence (submitted by me many years ago) is sometimes used as evidence relating to whether either the complicity of the psyching partnership or just playing luck was mainly responsible for contested differences of opinion between the combatants.

With CD, it is ENTIRELY different and consequently the laws need to reflect that difference and in SPADES.

When being slothful and/or irresponsible to the game itself, which forgetting a minority (or home brew) convention becomes, and to such an extent that the bridge on that hand, at the point of the forget, now becomes impossible to continue on, at least, to continue on playing bridge as we have come to know it, then, as long as the non-offending side suffers probable damage, the score cries out to be adjusted, but even more importantly, the culprits need to be reminded, by an appropriate penalty, of their immorality to the game itself, and to others, possibly contemplating choices which might lead to the same disobedience. a warning to what their responsibilities entail as well, of course, to the discipline threatened.

At least to me the above is the only answer, but the good news is that, by so doing, it will eliminate both the unintentional bridge crimes committed, but also will tend to adversely effect the poison gas bridge labs (among the higher level players) who are unfortunately always looking at ways to legally gain advantages which will, if left unchecked, harm the game immeasurably and all too often render it unplayable.

Your move, but not necessary unless you feel obligated to say something left unsaid and BTW good luck to you in your same pursuit as mine, to make bridge and at most levels, a better experience.

Ellis FeigenbaumFebruary 7th, 2012 at 11:54 pm

1 phsyche, 1 misbid and one highly obvious feilding of a misbid, within the first three rounds of one event, in no paricular order.
1. LHO opens 2cl rho bids 2h(negative) Lho 2nt RHO 3h (transfer) Lho 3sp rho big flinch 4h. RHO pass with AJ9, AXX AKJ AQJ10.
3. 2 passes to 1sp pass 3cl(invitational in clubs – in theory)
Hand one went to comittee, they couldnt actually rule for 4sp being played at the table as the 4h bidder would have obviously pulled to 5h, but they did rule on 5h down one. Trouble is this ruling changed the outcome of the event and had the infraction not occurred it would have changed which teams played each other in round 2.
Hand 2, I led a club in anycase, we took the first 3club tricks and an uppercut. No harm no foul but i did like the move.
Hand 3, mea culpa I forgot I had passed the first time, however my wife being the ethical person that she is, having opened exceptionally light in third chair let me play 3 clubs down 2, we lost 3 imps on the board instead of gaining 5.

Bobby WolffFebruary 8th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Hi Ellis,

I’ll be happy to reflect and answer on your latest 3 real life bridge experiences.

#1. A good ruling (5H down 1), although proper in being rather severe against the offenders, some comments by the chairman of the committee to the harmful effects of not knowing one’s convention should at least accompany the decision. I think it totally fair, that in fact, if 5 hearts would have made (for no theoretical damage to either side) to give the forgetters a minor penalty such as 3 IMPs or 2 or 3 matchpoints while not giving the non-offenders any redress (hard to do at IMPs, but if possible I would also do that) and chalking it up as NPL (normal playing luck) for them. In that way all masters are served.

1. The playing of the hand is respected (5H, either down 1 or making).

2. The field is protected (PTF) (at MP’s) and the culprits are disciplined for disrupting the game.

3. The offending side will be reminded of the necessity of remembering their conventions, or if difficult to do, scratching it or them off the CC.


Check to see if the committee (often only the chairman, if he alone is by far the most experienced player) detects any complicity with the suspect partnership about seemingly (Rule of Coincidence) having some knowledge that the 3 club bid is likely to be a psyche.

If decided there is, then a further disciplinary penalty (in addition to the poor board they got, by your nose being on target). Writing what happened into the record of that partnership would not be what the culprits want, so that reason alone is worth doing it. If the committee decided that it was just rub of the green and not directly an advantage of the possible offending side, then just a perfunctory warning should be issued (especially so because of your opening lead and subsequent defense).

#3. Let the result stand with nothing additional, (applause to your wife, who might have suspected the gaffe, but acted honorably, possibly even leaned over backwards, to not take advantage). However, again a small reminder to you (no punitive penalty) that possibly, if your partnership has this happen frequently to consider playing as few conventions as possible unless you can switch instead to a responsible bridge citizen of concentrating on not forgetting simple conventions, in this case overlooking that you had passed originally, so that your 3 club bid meant something different than you thought it did.


Ells, thank you for making transparent your experiences with the hope of discussing what should be done, something which should continually be attempted by the ACBL in every monthly publication.

Ellis FeigenbaumFebruary 8th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Dear Bobby,
Making mistakes, is part of the game, not taking advantage and bending over backwards not to take advantage should also be part of the game.
Last week we played in a room that had particularly bad lighting in certain areas, at least three times I allowed bids to be changed because oppnents some of whom are older and had bad vision simply did not see bids and in one case did not hear an alert.
I will always take responsibility for my own mistakes, but sometimes leaway has to be given for playing conditions and even medical conditions ( one might just call this good sportsmanship) but this too should be part of the game.

Bobby WolffFebruary 9th, 2012 at 5:38 am

Hi Ellis,

Right on with all you say!

Leave a comment

Your comment