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My way – Norberto Bocchi’s Column (no. 9): Sepp Blatter is not the boss

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Norberto BocchiControlled Psychs. The organisation of International Tournament Directors have a duty, amongst other things, to protect ethical standards and good practices. One aspect that deserves special attention is the use of the so called ‘controlled psychs’*.

All tournament players are aware of the proliferation of such bids, knowing that nowadays these are common practise and that therefore penalties, if any, go no further than a warning, let alone a ruling or a subsequent penalty. That I was told as much when playing the US Nationals held in Saint Louis when this happened at our table: one of my opponents opened 1S and his partner raised to 2S. Over this sequence they play long suit trial bids. Opener rebids 3D and his partner bid to game, 4S. Even if responder had tried to sign off in 3S, opener would probably have bid game in spades. Opponents gave us the same explanation, on both sides of the screen, Agustin, my esteemed partner, and I placed declarer with a single-suited hand with at least three diamonds. Naturally we ended up misdefending because opener had started with a singleton diamond. This is a clear and frankly an all too typical case of a controlled psych. Opener didn’t need help from partner in diamonds, he was always going to bid 4S. He just was anticipating a potential force in diamonds so decided to muddy the waters. There is virtually no risk attached to such tactics.

I am in favour of using psychs, they add an extra dimension to the game. The reason is that there is always a risk for the perpetrator. If there is little or no risk to those employing such tactics – and used constantly without any possible redress – then I would prefer to see such bids banned.


Vanderbilt, St. Louis (Spring NABC 2013). This year the tournament was won by a team that was far from the bookmakers favourite. My congratulations go to the winners; Sabine Auken, Roy Welland, Morten and Dennis Bilde. This team reached the round of 4 after winning an appeal against the much fancied team from Monaco (Zimmermann, Multon, Fantoni, Nunes, Helgemo, Helness). As usual, Neapolitan Club and NewInBridge promptly and accurately followed the facts and opinions on the matter. I do not intend to discuss the specific nature of the appeal, but I find it peculiar to say the least, that the rules laid down by the WBF and the ACBL have such differences. Appeal committees do not exist anymore with the exception of the US. Does it imply that US TDs are not good enough to make rulings about relatively complex matters at the table? US TDs have always proven to be more than competent in my experience, many of whom are considered to be the best in the world; why not leave rulings to them? I firmly believe that good TDs, together with good players, can give correct rulings on hands requiring fine judgment and deliberation without having to consult with the ruling bodies.

One wonders whether this scenario would be tolerated in other sports, where the governing body was able to overrule a director or a referee. If the FIFA President, ‘Sepp’ Blatter, cancelled a penalty kick after the match, it would have a detrimental effect on the game opening it up to universal derision.

Changing the topic ever so slightly, let me pass on some ‘transfer’ news. Duboin and Sementa are leaving the Cayne team after many years of service and will now play for Mahaffey. In their place Jimmy has hired the Israeli pair, Ginossar and Pachtman.


NEC Bridge Festival and The Yeh Brothers Cup 2013. Soon the bridge spotlight will be on Yokohama, where two different tournaments will be held at the same location. The first one is the NEC Bridge Festival, April 16-23, organised by the Japan Bridge Federation and sponsored by the Nippon Electric Company. This is a high level competition, with five days of elimination rounds and a final knock out phase. At least ten of the teams entered have a real chance of winning the title, but who knows, just as in the Vanderbilt, one of the outsiders might just upset the apple cart and snatch victory the ante post favourite.

The second tournament is The Yeh Brothers Cup, April 23-27, organised by the eponymous Mister Yeh; he personally invites national teams or those with an important sponsor to participate. This is considered a mini world championship. Not quite all of the best players are there, certainly the array of talent on show is impressive. This is a very pleasant tournament, not only for the lovely atmosphere, it has the added bonus of significant prize money, which for one reason or another attracts many players from around the world, making this an altogether special event.


Adios y hasta muy pronto




*Note of the Author. A protected psychic is a bid that does not expose the bidder to any risks. For example. I open 2S (weak), my partner responds 3H and over my 3S rebid he bids 4S. It didn’t matter if he had bid 3H on two small, because the final contract was always going to be 4S.


[English translation by Laura Cecila Porro for Neapolitan Club and NewInBridge] 

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