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10 weeks

It’s been ten weeks (so outlasting the Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke feat from 1986 by a few days) since that disbelieving morning in Chicago. And what a roller coaster it has been! I thank my family, friends and foes – plus all the incredible volunteers from around the world – for making it possible. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi).

I have watched shocking bridge videoes, many of them together with my wife, and for the first two weeks I pinched my arm numerous times each day. Is this for real? Adrenalin kept me going for the first two weeks despite my body protesting in so many ways. In the end my body gave in and I have felt at ease, like I did being with my grandparents in Moi playing my first hands of bridge at the age of eight.

Getting the federations and organizations to open their eyes has been a struggle. Over the weeks I have seen the Nordic NBOs becoming half awake, the EBL fully awakening and getting ready to fight the filth, and the ACBL slowly making progress. But first and foremost I have experienced people – fellow bridge players – standing up for what’s right. Fighting the good fight without fear. “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it” (Norman Schwarzkopf).

I have put in about 12 hours a day on average for the future of bridge. After 800 hours and 25.000 dollars (I will give a $10 discount on next year’s subscription of my bridge magazine since I have to skip one issue this year) I believe it is time to get off the roller coaster for a while. I do have two children (1,5 and 10,5), a wife, a bridge magazine, a bridge column and a few bridge tournaments to attend. Was it worth it, you may wonder. Absolutely. This is not about me, and it’s definitely not about the money – it’s about saving the most wonderful game in the world.

It’s been emotionally challenging, too. Turning in my friends – people I have known, respected and liked for many years. That is by no means an easy task, but I have tried to separate the cases from the persons involved. I have followed my gut feeling from the very start of this process and tried to be honest both with myself and the people I have interacted with. It would be devastating to learn that I have spread rumours or accused someone of wrongdoings who play a clean game. I would like to preempt with my sincerest apologies if it turns out that I have dragged anyone through the mud which didn’t had it coming. I promise you that I did my very best in each and every case.

Am I afraid for what’s going to happen next? Not really, because I have just done what I had to do based on my values and my love of the game. I would have done the same thing again – and I hope my children will do the same when they are called upon. None of us know what life has in store for us. Around the next corner it can be all over. It’s all about being true to yourself and what you believe in. “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking” (Marcus Aurelius).

The main focus for me and my team the last ten weeks has been cheating. There are other issues too, though, which need to be addressed. How we treat our partner, how we treat our opponents, how we treat our teammates, our behavior and mannerisms at the table, not taking advantage of unauthorized information and so on. The true spirit of the game.

There are two incidents (three if one includes the wheel chair message) with regards to the Monaco/Zimmermann team which recently won the Transnationals in Chennai. As in all the other cases I prefer the players/people involved to come forward and do the right thing. Other wise I would need to jump back on the roller coaster for another ride. Since most readers probably don’t know which incidents I am talking about, it’s a 7 NT hand against Sasa in round three and various table actions against PD Times in round eight. It would be great if the Zimmermann team/Monegasque Bridge Federation could enlighten the bridge community about their stance on these incidents (including the wheel chair message).

I would also like to thank the Bridgewinners site and the Bridgewinners community which have been tremendously important in bringing information to the people. I encourage you to stand up both for bridge and for the freedom of speech in the future.

My fellow bridge players: Ask not what the game can do for you – ask what you can do for the game.

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