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All comments by Avon Wilsmore
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I do not know if Avarelli-Belladonna were cheating. There are those who are adamant they were and many who think they were super-great players to be admired.

For any uncertain proposition it is wise to seek and evaluate relevant evidence.

Take, for example the USA-Italy World Championship hand (I am away from my library and do not have reference to the whole deal) where the Italian West doubled a 1 opening for takeout. He had a 1=4=4=4 14 count.

That's right, he had ONE SPADE for his takeout double of 1. Mirable dictu, he hit his partner with 6-5 in the minors.

It's no good saying, “That's the way they played” for that is little better than a tautology.

As we know, this extreme off-shape takeout double style was never used by any other “name” pair in the world. How could it be? By what magical means could one keep a competitive auction under control with a singleton in the UNBID MAJOR, modest values and no long suit? It's plain impossible.

But that's the way they played for a couple of decades. No one else has ever tried it and it's not hard to work out why.

So IF it were to be that something “untoward” was going on, it could be as simple as “My shortest suit is…”.

That can account for the 0=7=4=2 pass of 3 doubled and the 1=4=4=4 takeout double of 1.

Still, Mr Heitzman reminded us that Edgar Kaplan wrote on “That old black magic”, where to “help” one's partner with intonations and physical cues was regarded as de rigueur in the 50s and 60s. Maybe there is a bit of that in these pre-screen auctions. I don't know.
July 29, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment July 29, 2013
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Thanks for the clarification. Yes, “whilst minimising the risk of failure” must necessarily bring in some form of estimation.
July 29, 2013
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I am unclear as to the correct view of the term “par”.

I think Mr Rosenberg and Mr Bethe use it to mean “the absolute best possible score given the best possible actions by both sides”.

Well, at golf there have been holes-in-one, but there are no holes with a par of one.

Moving to bridge, Wikipedia has this to say:
“Optimum contract and par contract are two closely related (and sometimes confused) terms in the card game contract bridge.

The optimum contract is the one which offers the best chance of gaining the most scoring points whilst minimising the risk of failure…

Where there is competitive bidding (i.e. both sides are bidding) the extra dimension of sacrificial bidding is added, and the theoretical optimum contract can be overtaken by the par contract. The par contract on a deal is that contract which results from optimal bidding by both sides and which neither side could improve by further bidding”

I draw attention to the phrase, “whilst minimising the risk of failure”.

This seems to discount double-dummy “pars” such as 6NT on the Avarelli hand; any pair bidding that while knowing for sure that South had no diamond to lead has more than my admiration.

Of course, an assertion in a Wikipedia entry does not make it so, so I am open to enlightenment.
July 28, 2013
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6 ! Goodness, you have frisky partners.

You remind me of a Dame Edna Everage performance I attended some years ago. She was doing her routine of quizzing the audience and making some joke out of it….

Dame Edna: And what sort of bed do you have, dear?
Lady: A king-sized bed
Dame Edna: Oh, that's wonderful, dear! I *do* love to meet an optimist!
July 28, 2013
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Yes, clearly the next best line…
July 28, 2013
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Good line.
July 27, 2013
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Mr Bluthman:

On, “Or how issues min (sic) your club game in Australia proves anything about world champions.

They do not. Regarding the Buratti-Lanzarotti affair, Mr Brady asked, ”What would have happened if LHO held the Q stiff and the jack ran into it for down 1?“

My comment regarding the rubber game was to demonstrate that, had the queen been bare (ie, the ordinary play would work), no signal would have been given.

This is in accord with John Swanson's Inside the Bermuda Bowl: ”They only cheat when they have to“.

Example:
Italy ran second to USA in the qualifying rounds for the 1973 Bermuda Bowl. Before the final, British bookmakers had Italy at 21/1 on. Historically, weight of money carries far more clout and is a much better guide to the facts than any amount of debate and discussion.

Yes, I have proved nothing against Avarelli. Proof is hard to come by. Hard evidence (Sion-Cokin), conclusive notes (Don Oakie kibitzing Reese-Shapiro), and Truscott's observation of a 100% hit rate on 75 opening leads (Manoppos) are rare events.

As for ”respected magistrate“, I must give that little weight. We have Supreme Court judges who have been jailed in Australia. One of them had to return his Order Of Australia medal.

We agree he ”won twelve WBF world titles“. The question is, HOW?

You write, ”No charges were ever brought in any “official” bridge forum against Avarelli.

Mr Wolff has written in a blog:
“With what has been written up to now and will soon be completed, I am intending to mention the Burgay tapes and from them the long term President, Godfather and cofounder of the WBF (1958) Jimmy Ortiz-Patino in 1976, after he confirmed the authentication of the tapes with the American CIA and together with the Executive Council of the WBF barred every member of the Blue Team from ever participating again in the World Championships these episodes will be covered and soon released in his book, World Bridge History. He relented on two occasions (1979 and 1983) and I, as Chairman of the Credentials committee, relented in 2005, but only in the Senior Bowl. I recently interviewed Leandro Burgay during the Shanghai WC in 2007 together with the current totally honest coterie of Italian champions who volunteered so much new (at least to me) information, all corroborating what, as you say many people have known for years. (back to you, but perhaps, if this complete post is read, I will not need to)”

It appears that “World Bridge History” became “The First Fifty Years of the World Bridge Federation” and was given an almighty sanitizing. What was in the original? Looks like we will never know.
July 27, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Aug. 2, 2013
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Mr Bluthman:

You write, “I noticed how, from one version of the hand to another, it has changed. First, two spades and no clubs, and later, two clubs and no spades.”

For that I have already apologised; I got the first account of Avarelli's single from one particular source. When Mr Pokorny asked for the full deal I found Mr Wolff's text as written above.

You write, “And then the stated result went from down four (800) to down five (1100). But even that is stated wrong, as holding declarer to five tricks in 3Dx is only down four”

I cannot see why "holding declarer to five tricks in 3Dx“ is not -1100.

Mr Brenner has already dealt with your ”out by only one card“. It is a fallacy whether it matches the current deal or not.

I remind Mr Bluthman of Mr Brenner's earlier reply:
”Given Avarelli's hand and assuming nothing but 7 with LHO, out of many deals:

In 295 deals partner has 12-15hcp and 3/4, 3/4, 0/1, 3-5?
In 229 deals partner has 16+ hcp and 0/1.

So the classical takeout double hand seems clearly more probable than the other hand you specified. That said, I admit to having no idea why you figure those are the interesting cases to consider. Did I overlook a message in which someone said the doubler might have a singleton heart but only in a strong hand? Is there some reason that we ignore the hands of whatever strength in which doubler has two hearts such as AKQx,Kx,x,Axxxxx? Or 4423 hands? “

Mfr Bluthman writes, ”This hand is proof of good, independent thinking by .“ It may well be. But upon what was it based?

I quote from my reply to Mr Pokorny:

”Garozzo's first choice was 4
Garozzo's second choice was 5
Garozzo's third choice was 6
.
.
You have yet to account for the fact that, prior to hearing WHO passed, Garozzo preferred 4, 5 and a jump to slam.“

I agree entirely that none of this is ”proof“ of cheating, unlike the Sion-Cokin case, or the amazing Oakie evidence against Reese-Shapiro, or, perhaps the th 100% opening lead record of the Manoppos, discussed above. I am with Bertrand Russell in that proof is far harder to come by than most poeole suppose.

Further from my reply to Mr Pokorny:

”If I understand your reasoning (and very likely I do not), it goes something like this:
“After a vul 3 partner has doubled for takeout. I have seven hearts, therefore partner has hardly any. This is terible! Even though I have no trump trick and at most one defensive trick I should pass before I get into real trouble”.

I think the following:
“Partner, for his takeout double, probably has a takeout double. With seven hearts, it's off to the races! A youth player on Ritalin would drive to the small slam, find dummy with:
AKQx
KJ9x

xxxxx

and yell at his partner for not kicking to the grand. Ah, youth! I shall just settle for game, miserable coward that I am.”

I am trying to get my simulator sent to me (currently away from home). If Mr Bluthman and and Mr “power-double with spades” Pokorny have some hand definitions and constraints that they wish to have considered, please let ke know. If I am able to do the job, I will provide the results and conclusion.

Avon Wilsmore
July 27, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment July 27, 2013
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With partner a passed hand I might bid aginst weak players, but I don't want a strong declarer to gain in the play. Quite apart from any risk of going for a number, I would pass against a good pair for that reason.
July 27, 2013
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Mr Pokorny:

You write:
Although unusual, pass is an expert bid here."

Garozzo's first choice was 4.
Garozzo's second choice was 5.
Garozzo's third choice was 6.

It was when he heard the IDENTITY of the player AND was told of their action that he finally approved of pass.

With the hand you supply you have FAR MORE defence than the hand with a side 7-card suit. Yet you never consider pass (nor would I; pass is absurd with both West hands).

You write:
Bidding pass with that 0742 hand means - preventing problems.

Well, it all depends what you call a problem. Personally, I dislike -670 and -650.

If I understand your reasoning (and very likely I do not), it goes something like this:
“After a vul 3 partner has doubled for takeout. I have seven hearts, therefore partner has hardly any. Even though I have no trump trick and at most one defensive trick I should pass before I get into real trouble”.

I think the following:
“Partner, for his takeout double, probably has a takeout double. With seven hearts, it's off to the races! A youth player on Ritalin would drive to the small slam, find dummy with:
AKQx
KJ9x

xxxxx

and yell at his partner for not kicking to the grand. Ah, youth! I shall just settle for game, miserable coward that I am.”

You have yet to account for the fact that, prior to hearing WHO passed, Garozzo preferred 4, 5 and a jump to slam.

At least we agree on, “Be serious, man”.

BTW, I am currently away from home and am making an effort to get my hand simulator sent to me. If I succeed I will let you know the results…
July 27, 2013
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Yes, it is as I said earlier: It is no use using Mr Pavlicek's Companion Hand Calculator, as one has a large chunk of information: a 3 opening has occurred.

Both you and Mr Bluthman seem to me to be going to great lengths to suppose that partner, for his takeout double, has anything but a plain, ordinary takeout double.

As Mr Brenner says, is there some reason we are excluding a normal 4=4=2=3?
July 27, 2013
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Mr Bluthman:

You write: “As Cathy Chua pointed out, it is (in addition to other reasons) because we are unable to think as others do, that there are so many unjustified accusations of improper practice in bridge.”

In the case of Sion-Cokin there was hard evidence and a confession. This is clearly conclusive and one does not need to think at all.

In the case of Reese-Shapiro, Don Oakie's notes from *1960* when he kibitzed them have a 1:1 correlation (with one exception, from memory; I am currently overseas and away from my books) between heart length and finger signals. He did not know what the finger signals meant, he simply recorded what he saw. This, in conjunction with the observations of 1965 make a water-tight case against Reese and Shapiro. We do not need to “think as others do”, the arithmetic does it for us.

So my opinion is the statement, “That collusive cheating in bridge has occurred” is true. It's a matter of identifying them.

There are other cases, for example, the Manoppo Affair of 1974. Truscott does an analysis of 400 deals in which one of them lead 75 times from and ace or king. EVERY TIME they hit the right honour in partner’s hand. I assert that, again, we do not need to “think as others do”, the arithmetic does it for us. Still, Ms Chua maintains that they were squeaky-clean. I am unable to agree.

Back to the Avarelli hand:
What counts is not just partner's diamond length but his heart length. I assert that his expected diamond length is close to ONE. I think Mr Brenner's figure of 2.4 heart length expectancy is about right (regrettably I am away from my simulator; I would like to run an overnighter). I commented to Mr Pokorny: “If partner has one diamond and the very short hearts that cause you and Mr Bluthman such anxiety, there are many hands where partner will, quel surprise, just bid his long black suit.”

Finally, neither you or Mr Pokorny can explain the astonishing statments by Garozzo. I agree with you and Ms Chua: “We are unable to think as others do”. However, in law, there is a concept: Res ipsa loquitur. I apply that to the wild diversion between Avarelli's pass and Garozzo's refusal to even think of it as a last choice. In law, there is another concept: Mens rea. I apply that to Garozzo's “You know — after thinking about it, he is probably right."
July 27, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Aug. 2, 2013
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2… I want to to prevent N doubling or bidding 2.

And this hand is not so flash… 10 losers for the old-fashioned who fancy that tool.
July 27, 2013
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Mr Pokorny:
I see that elsewhere in this page you have updated your views on partner's expected diamond length. We are getting close to agreement on that matter.

It is my view that partner's expected diamond length is close to ONE, with not much deviation. While it is the case that North had 6 diamonds, this is way below normal expectation for a vul dealer.

If partner has one diamond and the very short hearts that cause you and Mr Bluthman such anxiety, there are many hands where partner will, quel surprise, just bid his long black suit.

If Garozzo preferred 4, 5 and 6 and never contemplated pass, I'm with him.

BTW, what a hand for transfers! +1430 when played by the doubler…
July 27, 2013
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Mr Pokorny:

You ask for the full hand. I quote Mr Wolff and apologise for having earlier had West's black suits reversed - that is the way the hand was posted elsewhere.

“During the 1972 Olympiad and while playing the Round Robin, I had the session off and went into the Vugraph to kibitz and fortunately heard Eric Murray, who also was sitting off while playing for Canada, and commentating from the podium. Finally the last hand arrived with Italy’s Belladonna and Avarelli playing against Germany. The around-the horn-players and their hands:

North
xx
J9x
AKQJ8x
Jx

East (Belladonna)
AKJx
K8
9xx
AKQx

South
Qxxxxxx
x

10xxxx

West (Avarelli)

AQ10xxxx
.10xxx
xx

North dealer, Both sides Vulnerable

The Bidding in the Open Room

North East South West

3 X All pass

Belladonna cashed the AK of clubs then the AK of Spades and then led the King of hearts and another and after cashing the high heart Avarelli led another heart promoting a trump trick to hold declarer to only 5 tricks and collect +1100.

In the closed room the Italian North also opened 3 diamonds but over East’s double West bid a normal 4 hearts and when the defense started out by leading 4 rounds of diamonds declarer ruffed with the King and later had to lose the setting trump trick to North. +100 to the Italian NS.

As the vugraph room was filing out, I ran into Eric Murray and we both headed to the elevators (both with wry grins on our faces). Lo and behold when we got to the elevators, Benito Garozzo was just getting off, having not played that set of boards (and there was no BBO back then that you could watch in your room). Eric seized his chance and approached Benito, saying “I’ve got a bidding hand for you. May I ask what you would do?” He replied “Sure!” Whereupon Eric gave Benito, Avarelli’s West hand with the seven hearts to the AQ10 in it and related the earlier action. “What do you bid over the double?” Benito smiled, shrugged and said ”4 Hearts.” “What is your 2d choice?” ”I don’t have a 2d choice.” “What if someone made you have one?” ”5 Hearts, I guess.” “What is your 3d choice?” “6 hearts, but that is ridiculous.” “What is this all about”? “Your teammate Walter passed”. “Walter passed Giorgio’s double?” “Yes.”

“What was the result?” inquired Benito. “+1100.” Benito then quickly replied. “You know — after thinking about it, he is probably right. ” AND INDEED HE WAS!! ”
July 27, 2013
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I think Mr Brenner is correct in his summation of suit-lengths and of what we can conclude from Garozzo's astonishment at even being asked for a call other than 4.

“I don't have a second choice… 5… 6 but that is ridiculous” is a mighty big smoking gun, in my view.

Mr Pokorny and Mr Bluthman produce arithmentic speculation as to suit lengths that is far beyond my my comprehension. I thank them for their efforts. Mr Brenner's calculations are in accord with my own.

Can you just imagine the look on your team-mates face when you try to explain this pass?

Somehow Mr Pokorny wishes to interpret Garozzo's violent back-tracking after hearing the Avarelli's name as enforsement of this absurd pass with no trump trick. He asserts that to even question the divine nature of his preferred pass is clear evidence of incompetence.

Observations of Mr Pokorny's previous comments on this site lead me to believe he would be a fine match for my wife (AU$20, a case of beer and DONE)… neither has ever said or done anything that is anything less than immaculately perfect and to suggest otherwise gets one an earful.

What a genius is that great Dean Pokorny
His divine likeness is yet to be born-y
If we all thought like he
What a paradise it would be
But on Bridge Winners his voice is forlorn-y
July 26, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment July 28, 2013
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Further, Mr Pokorny, I would assert that your use of Mr Pavlicek's Companion Hand Calculator is flawed, for there is a third companion - the 3 opener.

This makes your assessment of partner's “16+ with 0-1 ” at 11.6% quite incorrect.
July 26, 2013
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By “screaming standout” I meant something of the nature the evidence in the Sion-Cokin case and the Don Oakie notes in Truscott's 2004 book to which I referred earlier in this discussion.

As for the Avarelli hand, I asked “When, if ever, is a single hand genuine cause for serious concern?”

I see that that you are of the view that one should pass partner's takeout double with seven cards in an unbid major. Well, I wished to canvas opinion and I thank you for yours.

According to Bobby Wolff:
As Eric recounts it, he met Benito alighting from the elevator as he had not played that session (and in those days there was no BBO) so Benito was totally unaware of the hand or the results.

Eric recalled to me the conversation going something like …..
”Hi, Benito.” I’ve got a bidding hand for you. May I ask what you would do?” He replied, “Sure,” whereupon Eric gave Benito Avarelli’s West hand with seven hearts to the AQ109XXX (as above) and related the auction.

“What do you do over the double?” Benito smiled, shrugged and said “4H.” “What is your second choice?” “I don’t have a second choice.” “What if someone made you have one?” “5H, I guess.”

What is your third choice?” “6H, but that is ridiculous.” “What is this all about?” asked Garozzo.

Eric continued, “Walter passed.” “Walter passed Giorgio’s double???” “Yes.” “What was the result?” inquired Benito. “+800.” Benito quickly replied to the effect – “You know, after thinking about it, he is probably right.”

I see that you believe that, like me, Garozzo does not “understand bridge bidding”.
July 26, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Aug. 2, 2013
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And for those who want a refresher on the L-B case:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/30/crosswords/bridge/30card.html?_r=0
July 26, 2013
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I think Mr Feigenbaum is correct in his description of “a build up of complaints”.

I quote from Mr Lall's blog:
http://justinlall.com/tag/new-orleans-incident/

“The most high profile case of cheaters getting caught was Lanzarotti and Buratti. It was very well known to “everyone” that they were cheating already. In my opinion the evidence against them when they did get “caught” was not even sufficient (of course maybe the committees were privy to more information than the rest of the world), but they were convicted since it was well known already. Their reputation was already horrible, and it made them less respected and less likely to be hired. You might view this as a bad thing — what if they were innocent and had such a horrible reputation — but this reputation did not come from a witch hunt, it came from years and years of strange hands being talked about. Honest players don’t have bizarre inexplicable hands that are so strange they spread like wildfire, and they certainly don’t have many many such incidents like L/B.”
July 26, 2013
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