Paul Cronin

Is it a psych?

Is it a psych to open the following hand 2S, white vs. white, in first seat if convention card is marked 5-11 HCPs?

♠ J 10 7 5 2
 K 10 7 4
♣ 10 5 2



richard willeyMay 22nd, 2014 at 10:49 pm

This is obviously not a psyche. It clearly falls under the definition of a deviation.

JRGMay 23rd, 2014 at 4:34 am

Whenever I see a “weak 2-bid” like this, I start to wonder about full disclosure. Part of the reason being that until recently I couldn’t play Muiderberg 2-bids in General Chart events, which is what my local club allows. Muiderberg 2-bids are 2 of a major showing exactly a 5-card suit with a 4-card or longer minor — however, there is a whole system of responses and rebids.
The example hand is awful, but one of my partners in Costa Rica liked to open hands like that — we were saved from quite a few nasty penalties by having the KNOWN 4-card or longer minor… which is why, possibly unfairly, I often wonder.

bobby wolffMay 23rd, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Hi Richard & JRG,

If you will accept my opinion, the rumblings mentioned should be decided by determination of intent.

If the improvement of ways to show various or specific distributions (and strength) is the root of why, then the treatment is OK, but if, instead, it is basically a means of confusing the opponents, usually by its sheer weakness of hand (with the normal intimidation which accompanies such bids) then it is highly illegal and directly unethical.

The consequence which must accompany this type of adjudication is that the best players available need to make that determination, ones who are thoroughly schooled in the ways of connivers and their actions, without which the whole judicial process will fail because of a lack of due diligence by the TD and committee available.

The caveat to follow, “Make bridge as good as we all want it to be and not sink into the morass of being governed by charlatans”.

richard willeyMay 23rd, 2014 at 11:51 pm

I disagree completely. Your notion of a legal system sounds like my concept of a dictatorship. A system designed to let random individuals do whatever they damn well please.

I prefer to put my faith in laws and repeatable process rather than individuals. If you have a system that can’t be run without superheros, simplify the system and improve your processes.

The Caine Mutiny famously described the navy as “The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots.”

bobby wolffMay 24th, 2014 at 5:53 am

Hi Richard,

The Caine Mutiny description of the Navy strikes a chord with me, especially when considering upgrading the execution. Evidently you are implying that bridge cannot achieve success because superheros (as you define them) are necessary, but not available.

They are necessary and with a program which teaches method and goals, many average type bridge players could learn leadership and what is expected from them and presto we will be there, or at least finding the Yellow Brick Road and on the way.

Perhaps you should encourage rather than sigh and instead teach and discuss rather than criticize and by so doing, our bridge judicial system may eventually make us proud.

But that can only occur if we demand a level playing field, based on bridge ethics which frowns on intimidation and harmful frivolity but instead thrives on consistent recorded and distributed rulings, with precedents always noted, together with a serious attitude toward contributing to making our game the best it can be.

Show respect for the game we love and we will all benefit from it We’ll never be perfect, but to try and be so, should be what we seek.

richard willeyMay 24th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

> Evidently you are implying that bridge cannot achieve success because
> superheros (as you define them) are necessary, but not available.

Incorrect. Fundamentally, I believe that a system that is dependent on superheros is intrinsically flawed. Let me provide a practical example:

I agreed with most of the rulings that Kaplan generated. However, I loathe the tactics that he used to generate these rulings. In the hands of a lesser man, the system that he generated will quickly spiral out of control.

At the end of the day, I place my faith in institutions rather than individuals. I want a system where the written laws get placed above the opinions of any individual. And I think that it is incumbent on the governing organization to provide clear and consistent guidance about those regulations so that any semi competent individual can understand them, follow them, and if necessary, and enforce them.

bobby wolffMay 24th, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Hi Richard,

You may not believe me, but I think you have given a wonderful argument for what you have grown to understand. Superheros are overrated, more likely to be biased rather than vitally interested in what is necessary for our game, and unable to serve their role to the satisfaction of improving our judicial process.

I also agree in NT to your assessment of what Edgar Kaplan accomplished, but doing it in a behind the scenes manner, totally orchestrated and driven, by his lack of confidence in the honest nature and political motives almost all professional bridge players have become subject and to, of course, our administrators and TD’s who just do not understand our high-level game to the extent necessary to foresee the self-serving nature of our fiercest competitors and how that effect smashes our fondest hopes of achieving the level playing field you and I (and I nope all clear thinking bridge lovers) aspire to achieve.

I, being always a supreme and uncompromising optimist, offer hope that eventually, if not sooner, a bridge jurist can learn what to look for, such as s.J10xxx, h.x, d. K10xx, c.10xx being anything but an effort to confuse and intimidate lesser experienced (euphemism for weak) competition into submission rather than a valid effort to show partner his hand so that they can arrive at the right contract. Sure, on one hand in many, it might work out that way, but playing that style would not be the choice of any very high-level player, unless possibly his side was far behind and they were nearing the end of a match.

Time is fleeting and, because of professional bridge (which has benefited me substantially through the years) too many of our bodies (I should say minds) have been snatched with the expected result of not having the numbers to fight fiercely to make and rule bridge the way we need to, unless we agree that even if it means lesser material gains, we must protect our unbelievable game by overriding those with conflicts of interest and restore the glamor and majesty of what we do.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonMay 26th, 2014 at 7:26 am

HBJ : So long as partner believes there are 5 HCPs opposite , then the bidder is entitled make this off-centre judgement bid.
The singleton heart and a semi-decent 4 card diamond suit does help to improve the hand somewhat. Often bridge is about creating swings , which in turn means making anti-field bids. Minor deviations can help achieve this goal. However , if this kind of bidding isn’t random and half-expected by partner , then the bridge police need to be called in.

bobby wolffMay 27th, 2014 at 5:06 am


IMO, you are directly on target. The problem always is proof of complicity, record keeping, and failure to report actions wherein their opponents were not particularly, or at least not critically injured.

The players simply do not recognize the importance of chronicling suspicious actions, even if it winds up being benign.

Even with conscientious reporting, the recorder must be aggressive in investigating the case or else the whole process will almost always fail.

I started the recorder process while I was on the ACBL BOD’s in the middle 1980s and served as chairman for about 10 years then turning the job over to someone I was working with, Bob Rosen from Florida, who had twice my work ethic, loved bridge, and was relentless in following up, particularly with bad actors. He served for a few years until he was fired by the President of the ACBL for reporting a horrendous case which directly involved one of the 25 ACBL BOD’s members.

The board member was found guilty of committing this heinous act by the Ethical Oversight Committee (EOC), chaired by Edgar Kaplan, with all its members well known ethical and experienced giants of the game, and was the only committee which had no political appointments but when Bob saw that the BOD’s was not going to ratify the punishment, he sent a letter to every board member detailing what happened and for doing that he was categorically canned and, of course the case just died. BTW, since that occurred the BOD’s reformed the EOC with their own appointments and as could predictably be forecast, with no positive results since then of which I am familiar.

With it, went much of the inspiration for keeping bridge clean and the acceptance of almighty politics to the detriment of the future of the game. Since then I have lost track of where Bob is now living (or even if he still is), but, at the very least, bridge has lost the best friend it ever had. It is difficult for me to explain this very sad ending, but the truth should always be welcome, no matter the sensitivity.

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