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All comments by Avon Wilsmore
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One curious non-follow-up…

No word from any Italian body or any senior Italian player. Maybe it's the old, “We shall not grace these baseless allegations with any comment…”

And maybe it's what I heard from Orlando… that top Italian players have been told to STFU and hope all this stuff blows over.
Nov. 12
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From the 1971 Bermuda Bowl Final:

Jaïs
Q107 AJ4 KQ643 K10

Trézel
9432 762 952 543

Jaïs, dealer, nil vul, opened 1. He was playing a 15-18 1NT.


From the 1975 Bermuda Bowl Final:

Garozzo
K965 KJ3 K864 AJ

Belladonna
1087 9874 109 10863

Garozzo, dealer, vul vs not, opened 1. He was playing a 13-15 1NT.


Remarkable, how such forgetful players managed to win all those world championships…
Nov. 12
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1937, Budapest

1st: Austria
Karl von Bluhdorn, Edward Frischauer, Walter Herbert, Hans Jellinek, Udo von Meissl, Karl Schneider; npc Paul Stern

2nd: Culbertson
Ely Culbertson, Josephine Culbertson, Helen Sobel, Charles Vogelhofer
Nov. 10
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Well, the “classic” BT played 1,752 hands in WC finals, 1957-1972. Then there were all the hands semi-finals and qualifying rounds…

How many are in the book? I don't know, I haven't counted. But I do know, if a BT hand is in an Official Handbook, I have studied it to the best of my ability.

As for their cheating policy… my opinion is that they signalled range and shortage PDQ on every hand.

Forquet and Garozzo were almost always careful to use this information prudently; 1961/5 was one startling lapse.

Danny Kleinman:
The adroit use of illicit signals requires both judgment and discipline. The successful cheater must judge when his illicit information can resolve genuine problems, and take advantage of it only then. He cannot hope to utilize illicit information when he has a clear-cut bid or play available to him; that would exceed tolerance, and enable any suspicious observer to prove a case against him.

Chiaradia and Avarelli would have had no idea what Kleinman was talking about.
Nov. 8
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@Avon writes 'The fact that Jaïs and Trézel were former world champions…

While I did write that, I was quoting Hamman. For other accounts of cheating in world championships, read the books by Swanson and Wolff.

The WBF has an appalling track-record of dealing with cheating. After the Boye Revelations, WBF General Counsel David Harris had the hide to talk about “a perceived problem of cheating.”

Over 20 WCs have been won by teams containing cheats, the WBF had a solid policy of organising cover-ups the whole time.

By your test, Brogeland is a very rude person indeed.

Which is worse?

- Evidence-suppression, cover-ups and a policy of “minimise the scandal” from the world body that is supposed to administer the game

- “Grossly offensive remarks” from world-class experts who lose to cheats over and over again, and know that the WBF will do nothing
Nov. 8
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Avon will you be doing research on other famous pairs?

Unsurprisingly, I have received interesting information from some sources regarding these matters, although not yet enough for a book. Building a case would require detailed analysis of WC and EC records, and a lot of what is known in Australia as “hard yakka” (“Doing the hard yards,” is probably a close American appoximation).

It so happened that my interest in researching the fidelity of the Blue Team coincided with lots of free time; I was able to devote many thousands of hours to the task. It could be that I do not have that resource in the near future.

In idle moments, I consider the possibilty of investigating some historical matters (Bodier-Figeac, Jaïs–Trézel, Karl Schneider, Manoppos, Babsch-Manhardt, Verona, some Austrian players etc), but early attempts to solicit information from official bodies resulted in zero response to my emails. Now, if national and world authorities agreed to open their files… Meanwhile, I suspect FIGB would answer my queries around about the time I run a four-minute mile.


There is unfinished business; two items, one major and one minor:

- The Burgay Tape. The cover-ups by FIB/FIGB and the WBF are shocking. Surely if the tape were in any sense bogus, the simple way to silence any debate was to release the tape… but the copies of the tape vanished and no meaningful report was ever issued. I can think of no other reason for this other than, the tape was a true recording of Burgay disclosing Blue Team cheating methods and Ortiz-Patino judged the scandal too great to acknowledge.

- I still have faint hopes that the 1970 video of Garozzo and Belladonna in action will appear after some decades of lying in a box in a dusty cupboard somewhere in London.


I agree with Alan's implied statement that the book covers two areas: Blue Team cheating and the actions of administrators. One primary aim in writing the book was to show that official response to cheating has been grossly inadequate. Cover-ups, information-suppression and a policy of “minimise the scandal” have been disastrous for bridge. I hope that people are encouraged to demand a far better performance from national and world bodies.


…if the tone of the writing was more measured in places, it would engage those who were wavering a little more.

Possibly so, although engaging people has never been my forté. I began writing the book with an air of academic disinterest; over time, that transformed into quite a degree of irritation. And, over time, I came to agree with John Swanson:

The Italian Blue Team cheated their way through international competition from the mid 1950’s to the mid 1970’s. They won 15 of 16 World Championships. Their opponents were made to appear inept, even foolish.

Swanson was one of the lucky ones; he won a Bermuda Bowl. What of world-class players like Sobel, Lazard, Roth, Stone, Von der Porten, Kaplan, Kay, Kehela, Murray and others? Why should they have had to endure such torture, just because the WBF preferred to “minimise the scandal”, and to hell with the integrity of results?


Finally, Nick is right, I am indeed, “currently working on a book that examines dishonesty and skulduggery in an unrelated, albeit far more personal area. ”
Nov. 7
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Bob Hamman, At the Table:
The fact that Jaïs and Trézel were former world champions was tainted by their reputation as cheats … Near the end of the round-robin, Don Krauss and Lew Mathe sat down to play against Jaïs and Trézel … Lew said to Jaïs, “It’s Don’s birthday today. Let’s keep it clean.” Nothing was said, but on the very first board, Jaïs held something like:
J 10 6 5 A J 8 7 3 8 A K 5

Mathe opened a weak 2 on his right and Jaïs passed! Well, guess what? Trézel’s high card holding consisted of a jack. Was it a lucky guess?



Mike Lawrence, Foreword to Under the Table:
Jaïs passed 5x but not before he went through intense gyrations. He was on my right. He turned to me and stared over my right shoulder. Then he turned and stared over Goldman’s left shoulder. He held both of these poses for over 5 seconds. What was going on? Then he repeated the sequence. Finally, he stared at Trézel.


New York Times, 5 November, 1960:
Two members of the French team that won the world bridge championship at Turin, Italy, last spring, have been suspended from tournament play for one year … accusations that the players, Claude Delmouly and Gerard Bourchtoff, had cheated in games prior to the Turin matches.


Alan Truscott, NYT Bridge Book:
Gérard Bourchtoff and Claude Delmouly were alleged to be using … “l’ascenseur” , a method of signaling … in which the user holds his cards opposite his chest with maximum values, opposite his belt with minimum values, and in between when in between…
Nov. 7
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Stephen Leacock:
Just the other day, not ten years ago…
Nov. 7
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Mike has put it well.
Nov. 7
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For those who arrived late…

http://www.bridgebum.com/grosvenor.php
Nov. 7
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I did not write anything about Round 7.

The New York Times, 3 August 1958:
On the first day, an American referee noticed that one of the Italian players held his cards high during some hands and low during others. There seemed to be a pattern, it was said — high for good hands, low for poor ones. After the day’s play it was ruled that the cards must be held below the surface of the table, Thereafter, Mr. Rogge said, Mr. Stone called the attention of tournament officials several times to the fact that at times members of the Italian team were not abiding by the new rule…

Bridge d'Italia, March, 1995:
Irénèè Bajos de Hérédia reports to the French magazine “Bridge” that Stone… as soon as he sat, he refused to show his cards to the kibitzers and he expected the Italian players to do the same.

And that's all I know about what happened when. Maybe there is more information in that French article, and in the reports that Rapee sent to the NYT.
Nov. 6
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Bridge World editorial, September, 1979:

What we cannot understand, not for the life of us, is why the ACBL should have been unprepared in the first place. This is A.D. 1979, after countless scandals here and abroad, with unchecked professionalism providing greater and greater inducements to the unscrupulous. It must surely have occurred to our officials… that cheating is a possibility to be reckoned with.
Nov. 6
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Really? What next? Pre-dealt boards and hand records?
Nov. 6
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Here are the 16-board segment scores and running totals:

1. I 28, A 9. I 28, A 9.
2. I 33, A 10. I 61, A 19
3. I 38, A 11. I 99, A 30
4. I 8, A 6. I 107, A 36
5. I 22, A 32. I 129, A 68
6. I 19, A 28. I 148, A 96
7. I 31, A 26. I 179, A 122
8. I 27, A 34. I 206, A 156
9. I 33, A 11. I 239, A 167.

Here is a little gem from Belladonna, in 3rd seat, all vul:
Board 132
75 KJ K93 KQJ987

3 4 5 P
P 5 ?

Belladonna bid 6, doubled and down one.

In the other room, they doubled 5… down two.
Nov. 6
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1966 Bermuda Bowl Final, board 94
Belladonna
J104 AK98 4 KQ1065
3 ?

Belladonna doubled.


1968 Olympiad, QR21, board 20
Avarelli
K984 AK62 7 J1054
P P 3 ?

Avarelli doubled.


Roman Club System, Avarelli & Belladonna, 1969:
In general, it (the double of a pre-empt) is made on 14 to 18 points, 5 to 6 losers, and a hand playable in two or three suits …

Partner … (a) Bids a suit at the lowest level, with a weak hand… (b) Bids game directly, with a one-suited hand, assuming partner has an average double.



Count me with Henry Bethe, above:
In 1972 it was clear to most to bid 4. Styles and methods over preempts have not changed much in the last 40 years. Avarelli's pass was truly remarkable, unusual and any other adjectives you'd like to attach.
Nov. 5
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I have played big events in Asia and Australia where I never heard a call for the director.
Nov. 5
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As noted elsewhere, Garozzo passed.

Partner Forquet had one spade, a queen and two jacks.
Nov. 5
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