Join Bridge Winners
Diagnosis: Foul Play
At the request of many of my fellow bridge players and editors of this website, I am going to attempt to explain, to the best of my recollection, how I managed to figure out what was going on at the table during the finals of the Bali d'Orsi Senior Bowl.  Please remember that during all of this "sleuthing", I still had to play championship bridge.
 
1)  First of all, I came to the table already forewarned about the German doctors from many of my friends in Europe and America.  I was determined to find out for myself whether they were "doing something".
 
2)  Unlike in every other match that I had played in this event, my screenmate did not look me in the eye when I introduced myself.  This really convinced me that my friends might be right. 
 
3)  When I first heard my non-screenmate cough, the sound of it was just a little off.  I took a mental note.
 
4)  I was carefully watching the tray and bidding card placement, but I didn't really see anything that unusual.
 
5)  Then, I heard my screenmate cough!  This really sounded forced and I decided to keep track of the coughs.  I was not completely sure how many coughs had been made on the first hand by my non-screenmate but I guessed at 5.
 
6)  Then I noticed that they were coughing on nearly every hand.  12 out of 16 as it turned out.  I also soon realized that these coughs were only coming right after their hand was taken out of the board OR just before their partner was about to lead.
 
7)  The real clincher came to me when my opponent seemed to lead instantly after getting 1 cough from his partner.  In the finals of a world championship, everyone takes a couple of seconds to think before putting their lead on the table, but not this opponent.
 
8)  A couple of hands later, when I was about to declare a game contract, my screenmate also made 1 cough, and I had already figured out I was about to get a club lead.  When the screen came up and the 10 was on the table, I almost decided right then and there to take a break and talk to Mike about what I was noticing.  However, I realized I couldn't really take a break with the dummy down, and just decided to continue on.
 
9)  These club leads now made me realize what had gone on during the 7 hand that Mike and I had bid on board 5.  
 
West
K2
AK72
K
AK7432
North
J1064
10653
QJ964
East
AQ98
QJ984
A7
J9
South
753
108532
Q10865
W
N
E
S
 
P
1N
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
5
P
7
X
P
P
7N
P
P
P
D
5
7NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0
 
There had been 1 cough when it looked like we were about to play 7-X, then after Mike decided to pull to 7NT, there were 2 coughs. Originally, my opponent wanted a club ruff vs 7-X, but then indicated good diamonds when the contract became 7NT.
 
10)  The final hand of the set totally convinced me the doctors were cheating.  South held:
 
South
KQ95
76
K9
AK654
W
N
E
S
P
2NT
P
?
 
2NT showed 11-14 HCP, with both minors or 6+ diamonds.  Holding a strong notrump opposite opening bid values, he bid 3, pass or correct, which runs the risk of missing game or even slam when partner has both minors.  I now know he "knew" his partner was going to correct, so he was assured of getting another bid.  The full hand:
 
West
8
J109432
Q8
J973
North
J
A85
AJ10742
Q82
East
A1076432
KQ
653
10
South
KQ95
76
K9
AK654
W
N
E
S
P
2NT
P
3
P
3
3
X
P
P
P
D
16
3X East
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
5 tricks claimed
E/W -1100
1
 
I then came out of the room and immediately told my captain that I was sure the German doctors were using some kind of coughing system to send illegal information to their partner.  I gave her my scorecard where I had kept track of their coughs on each hand.  She said that she would look at my info and compare it with the hand records.  Donna then figured out that they were also using coughs at the beginning of each hand to indicate shortness in their hand.
 
Donna presented her concerns to the tournament staff.  We were told that the WBF would put a monitor and a video/audio camera in their room going forward, and that we should not do anything other than just go play bridge.  
 
I hope this sheds some light on the detection process.  
123 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top