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Official Spanish Team Statement
(Page of 4)

As captain of the Spanish team in Wroclaw, I am posting this on behalf of our entire team (Federico Goded, Gonzalo Goded, Andres Knap, Luis Lantaron, Jordi Sabate, Arturo Wasik), who collaborated to write down the incident between USA and Spain from their perspective. This statement represents the official view of our team and will be sent to the WBF.

The Facts:

  1. The first day of play (4x16 boards), the Spain vs. USA match developed in a normal manner with no incidents.
  2. During dinner that evening (10th of September), a player on the Spanish team shared a deal (board 30) played during the second segment against K. Bathurst and J. Lall. It was quite surprising to see that East took no action during the bidding after partner’s opening and on top of this didn’t lead partner’s suit. 

    Bathurst
    J984
    Q5432
    J
    Q107
    Knap
    KQ
    A10987
    Q654
    KJ
    Lall
    A53
    J
    A10932
    6432
    Wasik
    10762
    K6
    K87
    A985
    W
    N
    E
    S
    P
    P
    1
    1NT
    P
    2
    P
    2
    P
    3NT
    P
    P
    P
    D
    3NT North
    NS: 0 EW: 0
    Lead 3!!!

  3. On Sunday the 11th of September, a member of the Spanish team decided to spend some of his time analyzing deals played by Bathurst–Lall, using BBO archives of 11 matches including this pair prior to the match against Spain. He then decided to check the archives on the American Trials, and while he was going through the Spingold his time expired. In total he analyzed over 400 boards played by the pair.

    Here are 2 other examples found in this tournament, only 2 days before the previous board already mentioned:

    (http://www.bridgebase.com/tools/handviewer.html?linurl=http://www.bridgebase.com/tools/vugraph_linfetch.php?id=46659)

    Round 14, USA-China Hong Kong, Board 24.

    None vul, Dealer West.

    Bathurst
    K103
    K1093
    8764
    QJ
    W Ho
    QJ7
    AQ742
    Q2
    1054
    Lall
    A982
    65
    KJ953
    97
    G Ho
    654
    J8
    A10
    AK8632
    W
    N
    E
    S
    P
    P
    1
    2
    X
    2
    2
    P
    P
    3
    P
    P
    P
    D
    3 South
    NS: 0 EW: 0

    (http://www.bridgebase.com/tools/handviewer.html?linurl=http://www.bridgebase.com/tools/vugraph_linfetch.php?id=46671)

    Round 15, USA-Latvia, Board 8.

    None vul, Dealer West.

    Bathurst
    Q6
    K10972
    KJ10875
    Burins
    95
    A854
    A103
    Q432
    Lall
    108432
    J63
    QJ52
    6
    Lorencs
    AKJ7
    Q
    K98764
    A9
    W
    N
    E
    S
    P
    P
    1
    2
    3
    3
    P
    3NT
    4
    X
    P
    P
    P
    D
    4X West
    NS: 0 EW: 0
     

  4. The analysis concluded that Bathurst-Lall opened 100% of the deals in which they were NV in third seat (after 2 consecutive passes), not finding a single deal where the pair passed.

  5. The team discussed the situation over the phone and decided to gather in the playing area to inform the TDs of our findings. At 16:00 (with play scheduled to start at 17:30) the team presented the findings on the boards and Bathurst-Lall’s CC (http://www.ecatsbridge.com/documents/files/2016WroclawSystems/OpenTeams/USA/Lall-Bathurst.pdf) to the only available TD, Slawek Latala, and our desire to file a complaint. We expected that the WBF would contact us for a hearing with the USA captain. This never happened, and we were never given the opportunity to make our complaint. The director told us that he would inform the Chief TD and left.

  6. During the next hour, nothing happened: nobody asked us for anything or questioned us, and the WBF never filed the complaint. We were ignored by the organizers until it was time to start the match (5th segment).

  7. When the match started, our captain asked TD Antonio Riccardi what verdict he had reached based on our findings. He answered in a very angry manner that we had to start play and told us that we would have an answer in no less than a month.

  8. At that point, we had the feeling that the only thing the organizers wanted us to do was to sit, play, lose, and leave. Nobody attended our complaint, and our situation was completely ignored. As if in a way they only wanted to get rid of us. The incompetence of the TDs and organizers and the lack of an official response made our captain refuse to play the 5th segment until some sort of precautionary measure was taken, such as lining up another pair that wasn’t Bathurst-Lall or playing the standard CC recognized by the WBF.

  9. The TDs continuously ignored our petitions and informed us that the Spanish team would be penalized due to the delayed start of the match. At this point our captain asked the team (who were already sitting) to stand up and leave because we were not going to play. It is very important to emphasize that this decision was taken as a response to the TDs' passiveness with the ongoing situation.

  10. The Chief TD informed us that the penalty would be approx. 1 IMP per minute and that if the delay exceeded 40 minutes the team would lose by walk-over and thus be expelled from the competition. However, an auxiliary TD suggested to our captain that we should wait a little, because something could still happen.

  11. In the meantime, the president of the WBF, Gianarrigo Rona, appeared in the playing area. After talking with one of the Spanish players, he met with TDs Antonio Riccardi and Max Bavin.

  12. After that brief meeting between the WBF president and the TDs, Max Bavin informed our captain of Rona's commitment to assembling an appropriate committee and to delivering a quick resolution, saying that we would probably get an answer that same night, or, in any case, before the tournament had concluded. He also informed us that the Spanish team would be penalized.

  13. Our captain instructed us to finally begin playing the 5th segment, which we did immediately.

  14. The TDs decided that the first 6 deals would be hand-dealt for security reasons (since they had been broadcast on VuGraph).

  15. During the match, TD Max Bavin informed our captain of the final verdict taken by the WBF committee: the facts presented against Bathurst-Lall's methods would be examined by the organization later on, but in no case would it affect the results of this tournament, and in the best-case scenario it would be taken as a CC mistake, applying an adjusted score to the boards played. The penalty of 32 IMPs for a delayed start had been changed to 10 IMPs for disobeying the TDs' instructions to sit and play.

II. OUR ARGUMENTS

(Which we have never been given the chance to make)

When a partnership opens every hand in third position not vulnerable disregarding hand strength, according to law 40.C.1 it constitutes a partnership agreement and not a psyche. It is not necessary to open 100% of the cases (like we have found here), just opening enough for partner to be aware of the possibility is enough to constitute a partnership agreement according to the rules.

The agreement on opening hands at the 1-level with less than 8 HCP constitutes a HUM system according to rule 2.2.C of the WBF system policy.

The use of a HUM system during this tournament is forbidden according to rule 3, Category 2 from the WBF system regulations.

Therefore we have all (not only our team) been playing against opponents who use forbidden methods without knowing what is the resolution or sanction for this kind of behavior.

Even if frequent psychic bids in third position were not considered a partnership agreement, it constitutes a serious lack of disclosure on the convention card according to the Appendix 4 (page 11) on the WBF system policy point 2.

Furthermore, looking at the statement from WBF on page 9 of the 1st bulletin, a partnership can be forced to play the WBF's standard convention card when its own card and appendices are found unsatisfactory. If we had been given the opportunity we would had asked for one of the following solutions for this partnership: a) to stop playing until they filled their convention card properly in order to allow us to prepare the right defenses against their gadgets or b) to play the WBF's standard convention card for the remaining segments. Both options would exclude the possibility of opening 3rd seat NV with <8 HCP.

Besides this we would have asked to adjust the score of board 30 of the 2nd segment to 3NT-X (or XX).

III. FINAL CONSIDERATIONS AND TEAM OPINIONS

A) We did not know the procedures to follow in order to handle this kind of situation (and we still don’t know them). The Spanish team took what seemed the most logical course of referring it to the TDs and then waiting for a hearing before the round started.

B) It is important to know that the Spanish team's decision of refusing to begin the match was a protest against the WBF as a consequence of the feeling of helplessness that its behavior caused us, and in no case was related or intended towards the USA team or its members.

C) We also want to mention clearly that the WBF's behavior was totally inappropriate and we consider them fully responsible for this whole unpleasant situation. Nobody told us what was going to be the decisions and/or solutions applied for this kind of situation.

D) We are aware that many other international pairs consider these kind of methods (continuously opening very light in 3rd seat) licit and have been using them in this Championship in a regular manner. Even if this agreement is widely used it shouldn’t be considered legal in this kind of competition until they change the rules and allow all the players to do the same and prepare their corresponding defenses.

E) Lastly we would like to clarify that after the recent “witch hunt” that has been ongoing in the bridge world, we would like to emphasize that the Spanish team has never accused (or suggested) that the USA pair were cheating; on the contrary, we have always had a great amount of respect towards them and their game. We simply complained that they were playing an illegal method for this Championship, perhaps due to lack of knowledge of the rules of this competition. Besides, their convention card wasn’t properly filled out.

All these reasons in our humble opinion justify the Spanish complaint.

 

PS: We don’t want to conclude this document without formulating the following questions:

  1. What would have been the USA team's reaction if they had discovered a Spanish pair using illegal methods and the WBF had ignored their claims?
  2. Would the WBF have reacted in the same way if the claim was from the USA team rather than the Spanish one?

APPENDIX 

Extract of the regulations applicable to the facts alleged by the Spanish Team

Document #1. WBF SYSTEMS POLICY 

(http://www.worldbridge.org/Data/Sites/1/media/documents/official-documents/Policies/WBFSystemsPolicy.pdf)

Page 2:

2.2 HUM Systems

For the purpose of this Policy, a Highly Unusual Method (HUM) means any System that exhibits one or more of the following features, as a matter of partnership agreement:

(…)

c) By partnership agreement an opening bid at the one level may be made with values a king or more below average strength.

 

Page 4:

3. Systems allowed at WBF Championships

In relation to the aspect of Systems to be allowed at WBF Championships, the events will be divided into three categories:

(…)

Category 2: Specific Teams Championships as decided by the WBF Rules and Regulations Committee:

The use of HUM systems is prohibited

 

Page 11:

Appendix 4: Psychic bidding (Revised August 2002)


Document #2. LAW 40 - PARTNERSHIP UNDERSTANDINGS 

(http://worldbridge.org/Data/Sites/1/media/documents/laws/2007lawscomplete.pdf)

C. Deviation from System and Psychic Action

1. A player may deviate from his side’s announced understandings always provided that his partner has no more reason to be aware of the deviation than have the opponents. Repeated deviations lead to implicit understandings which then form part of the partnership’s methods and must be disclosed in accordance with the regulations governing disclosure of system. If the Director judges there is undisclosed knowledge that has damaged the opponents he shall adjust the score and may award a procedural penalty.

 

Document #3. BULLETIN #1 OF THE WORLD BRIDGE GAMES 2016

(http://www.worldbridge.org/repository/tourn/wroclaw.16/Microsite/bulletins/Bul_01.pdf (Bottom of page 9))

WBF standard convention cards

Players will be forced to use standard WBF convention cards if their own card and supplements are found unsatisfactory.

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