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The Next Step

Today it’s three years (plus a day) since the Spingold quarterfinal which catapulted the cheating scandal. That’s 1095 days gone by, where the bridge authorities have tried harder but only managed to suspend two pairs world wide (FS who gave up in the end, and PS who admitted to wrongdoings). Not a very impressive feat.

 

The reason it feels better to play bridge today (at least at the top level) is the work and dedication put forward by bridge aficionados since August 15th 2015. Volunteers around the world stood up against cheating and achieved more in a couple of months than bridge organizations had done for decades.

 

The ACBL, the EBL and the WBF have plenty of good people with the best intentions. The problem is that they lack the resources and the drive to fight cheating successfully. That’s why it’s left to the players to police the game. After the dawning awareness of a major cheating problem in bridge, peer pressure is what has moved the game in the right direction.

 

Even though the most rumored pairs have been sidelined, it’s not all rosy. The gravest offenses and collusive cheating may have become more limited, but there are grey areas where players still sin. One concerning issue is the (more or less) deliberate tempo variance in bidding and defense. This creates severe UI problems which clearly are bad for the game. In tempo-sensitive situations, on defense typically when a signal (for example attitude, count, suit preference or Smith) is given, top players must play in tempo. Deliberate out-of-tempo signaling is cheating.

 

How can we make bridge better and cleaner? Firstly, we all need to try our very best to play the game right and with integrity. Secondly, we have to report incidents where we feel it wasn’t a fair game.

 

With the ACBL you can file a player memo about conduct and/or ethics: http://www.acbl.org/conduct-and-ethics/player-memo/. The WBF has a so called “Express Line”: http://db.worldbridge.org/repository/hlpc/wbfhlpcreportform.asp. Unfortunately the EBL doesn’t have a similar “direct link” yet, but Eric Laurant, chairman of the EBL Investigation Committee, can be reached at eric@laurant.nl. You should also contact your national bridge federation if you have concerns about cheating and ethics. Feel free to keep me in the loop at boyeb@online.no for incidents, hands and statistics you find peculiar. Detecting cheating is frequently about detecting disturbing patterns.

 

Maybe you have experienced something at the table which you thought were suspect? Report it. Maybe you have witnessed something on BBO (including vugraph) which was concerning? Report it. Please look at public videos (lots of footage can be found on YouTube by searching for say “2018 Summer NABC”, “2018 Spring NABC”, “2018EBTC” or “2016EBTC”) and file a report if you feel something is astray. Unless the bridge community crowdsource this important work, I’m afraid it won’t be done.

 

21st of September the 15th World Bridge Series starts in Orlando. My dream is that it will go down in history as the fairest major bridge championships. We can all contribute to that, both before and during the event.

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