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All comments by Avon Wilsmore
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The bridge autobiographies of Hamman, Swanson and Wolff all state that the BT cheated. Swanson goes into more detail than BH or BW.

The fact is, the WBF had a policy of “minimise the scandal” from its inception until quite recently. Maybe things have changed; we will see.
Oct. 20
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I think it unlikely that Amazon will ever stock the book, but I'm only the author, and so know little about it.
Oct. 20
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Bd 37 - it was Mathe-VdP who bid 6.

Both minor-suit queens were required for 7; not so easy in 1962.

The Italian auction to 4NT is astounding.
http://www.bridgetoernooi.com/index.php/home/pbn2deal/1568

4 was not a suit, it showed 14HCP(!)

Under the Table:
Walter the Walrus would agree with Walter Avarelli. There were only 31 points combined, therefore there could be no slam. 12 imps out..

Mike Lawrence:
Bob Hamman said it best. “From central casting.” Avarelli wasn’t very good
Oct. 20
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By what means can you justify assertions about my “main arguments” when you say (elsewhere):

I guess I'd have to read the book, and then look through all of the WC records, and I have no interest in doing either.

… I don't expect to be buying Avon's book…

I have to laugh. You read a book by someone you know to be biased and you uncritically accept its findings.



In my opinion, either:

- Read the book and talk about my “main arguments” if you wish

- Don't read the book and say nothing
Oct. 20
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I received a four emails pointing out that I have not dealt with the criticism that Michael Hargreaves has made in this comment section. I did not do so because I could not read his comments, what with Mr Hargreaves being on my Ignore list (along with Dean Pokorny and Nat Silver). Too many dogmatic and erroneous statements persuaded me that I had better ways to spend my time. After a fifth email I reluctantly clicked on a number of “Click to temporarily show the comment.”

Sure enough…

MH:
…US pairs were routinely outbid on slam hands.

False.

Kaplan, 1958:
The US bid twelve slams — five made, seven went down. We missed four good slams that would have made, and one good one that wouldn’t. One of the US slams that made should have been beaten; conversely, one of those beaten should have been made. All in all, a miserable showing.

The Italians were no better. They bid only eight slams — four made, four didn’t. That looks almost respectable, but they missed five good slams, and, of the four they bid and made, two were in the wrong contract and one should have been beaten. One of the slams they bid and went down one was a good contract, but they luckily stayed out of another good one that only failed because of stacked cards.


Under the Table:
In the 1963 Bermuda Bowl final, Italy bid three grand slams; one of these was on a finesse, the other two were about 60%. If any of them had failed, North America would have won.


MH:
Btw, if it was just screens, why was the BT still routinely playing in the finals of these events?

“Routinely” is something of an overstatement. There was no final in the 1976 Olympiad, the BT was a whisker away from not qualifying in the 1976 Bowl, and they made the final in 1979 and 1983. In the European Championships of 1977, 1981 and 1983, Italy came 2nd, 5th and 2nd. Further…

New York Times Bridge Book:
As (Ira Rubin) began play (in the 1976 Bermuda Bowl final)… he noticed… Belladonna had a cigarette in his mouth… on the table in front of him was a cigarette lighter which he would click occasionally during the bidding. Rubin did not have a lighter, but he had a pen, and joined in with occasional clicks of his own.

Bobby Wolff:
…in 1983 in Stockholm… both of them (Garozzo and Belladonna) took cigarette lighters to the screened tables. I asked Benito (in a stairwell between floors) to please stop bringing lighters to the table with them… he agreed and the noises stopped


MH:
Unless Avon has listed, with all auctions and systems, every single hand from all of the tournaments from which he has assembled his chosen hands, he will not have ‘put it all together’

This list exists; it is the set of World Championship Handbooks. I do not see the need to copy it.


MH:
…no reader of Avon's book will see anything but what he has selected, and he has, it appears, selected hands on the basis of whether they prove cheating.

It is true that the reader will see only what I (and foreword author Mike Lawrence) have written. And, “it appears”! Interesting. The way to find out if “it appears” is to look. Mt Hargreaves has stated that he does not want to read my book. Fine, but why, then, make lengthy comments about it?


MH on this deal: http://www.bridgetoernooi.com/index.php/home/pbn2deal/1197 :
Note the weird (to our way of thinking) 2H opening bid on that board, on AKQJxxx and a side J.

False.

Lazard was in 4th seat, vulnerable. Encyclopedia of Bridge:
Opening three-bids and weak two-bids in fourth position show maximum values, close to an opening bid.

MH:
Weak twos were very much in their infancy.

False.

Encyclopedia of Bridge:
A prototype of the weak two was used in auction bridge and adopted in the Vanderbilt Club system.

MH:
How can this (Avarelli's pass) logically suggest that N-S were illegally conveying information to each other?

It need not. The “issue” is that his partner doubled. Did Avarelli punish partner with a series of club bids? No, as always, the BT escaped; after an action that no one else would contemplate, partner had the hand type to avoid disaster.

MH:
So the Italian South, probably even less familiar with defending these bids…

In 1956, Chiaradia wrote at length on the topic of overcalling Weak Twos.


MH:
Avon insists that the hand wherein a player doubled 3H and then switched to the heart 10 through dummy's AJxx, is clear evidence of cheating.

Damn right I do. Here is the deal: http://www.bridgetoernooi.com/index.php/home/pbn2deal/857

One comment: Against a declarer who psyches a lot…

My reply:
Ogust-Koytchou psyched 6 times out of 162 hands they played in the 1957 Bowl. Five of the psyches were at favorable vulnerability.

On the 10 shift deal, they were vul. How many vulnerable psyches have you seen, in real life or bridge literature?

It is my opinion that Belladonna had no legitimate reason to suspect a psyche.


I know of only two world-class pairs who psyched, vulnerable: Reese-Schapiro and Garozzo-Belladonna. Partner never went wrong.

Reasons for Belladonna to know that Koytchou had psyched are covered in my chapters, “The Range Signal” and “The Shortage Signal”. Mr Hargreaves has read neither.

Further, both Damo and Mr Hargreaves do not follow the thesis of the book. The key is not, “Look at this weird action!”, but, “For every weird action, partner's hand is a remarkable fit. How is this possible?”


An email correspondent asked, “Have you ever heard of a lawyer who didn't want to examine relevant evidence?” Well, until now, no. I conducted an experiment; I phoned a noted lawyer of my acquaintance and asked his opinion of my book.

“I haven't read it, so I don't have an opinion.”

Mr Hargreaves, no doubt a very fine lawyer, has no such qualms.


Edit: Added “in the 1976 Bermuda Bowl final”… removed by the use of square brackets.
Oct. 20
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Oct. 20
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I do not think this article is all fair to Tobias Stone.

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…

Mr Rapée, another member of the team, sent a strongly-worded letter to the League on Friday saying that Mr. Stone’s conduct at the tournament was only a vigorous attempt to prevent the cheating the United States team was convinced was taking place…


Bridgeport Post, 15 March, 1959:
After that tournament, league directors accused Stone of discourtesy toward the Italians and barred him from international play for a year. Stone responded by filing a $250,000 defamation suit against the league.

The Mad World of Bridge:
Stone answered back: “You can ask every member of the board to state specifically what I did that was unbecoming, and not one of them can tell you. I was tried and convicted without any specifications… The directors voted eleven to nine against trying me on the charge of accusing the Italians of cheating, and came up instead with this vague accusation of unbecoming conduct.”

“I have heard that I am supposed to have told Siniscalco directly to lower his hand. That is not true. Siniscalco was raising his hand at the beginning of play, and I complained to our captain, who went to the referee and protested that he was violating the rules. The referee instructed all players to hold their hands beneath the level of the table while bidding. When Siniscalco again began raising his hand, I protested to the referee, who instructed him that he was in violation of the rules. I said nothing to Siniscalco.

“Siniscalco also was staring at his partner, Forquet. I told the referee it made me nervous, and Forquet said, ‘Are you accusing us of cheating?’” “I replied, ‘No, it simply makes me uncomfortable’.”



Why was there no investigation, given what follows?

Salt Lake City Tribune, 3 August, 1958:
Herman Rogge, attorney for Stone, said he had presented at the closed hearing a statement in which the six members of the US team said that it was their opinion that the Italian team had cheated during the tournament. (My emphasis)

The signers of the statement were (US team members) John R. Crawford and Sidney Silodor of Philadelphia, Alvin Roth of Washington, DC, and B. Jay Becker, George Rapée, and Stone of New York.
Oct. 20
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The system did not change. You did not read what I wrote above.

The strength is fixed at 14-16 points (HONOR & DISTRIBUTION) with 5 to 6 losers.
(my emphasis)

The Roman Club books make quite a deal about hand valuation; they add “points” for shape and use LTC quite a bit.

By all means ignore texts written by Avarelli & Belladonna, but I am puzzled as to why you want to keep debating basics like Roman Club opening bids.
Oct. 19
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Books have more pages.
Oct. 19
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You are wasting your time looking at a tiny snippet of a Roman Club summary.

The full-length books, 1959, 1969, are not hard to find.
Oct. 19
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Typo on my part… repaired. 151 is the board I want to point out. (4 by GB, down 2).

Note:

- The WC Handbook lists bd 151 as the one I mention. I see no reason to suppose this is incorrect.

- The Bridgetoernooi site has the same board, but no board number - an error that occurs now and then on that site. Its place in the list shows is is board 151,

http://www.bridgetoernooi.com/index.php/home/pbn2deal/1197

- The LIN files are built from the Bridgetoernooi site… I think they have some consequent errors in board numbers. I will write to the site boss and see what can be done to repair matters.
Oct. 19
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And, if you are looking at 1959:

bd 40 - Avarelli's successful 2
bd 115 - Avarelli's pass over 2, leaving matters to the boss
bd 128 - Avarelli's lead and continuation. There is no reason GB can't be 1-4-6-2 or 1-3-6-3.

Danny Kleinman:
To give and receive illicit signals in such a way as to escape detection and still show a profit is a delicate task. Few bridge players are up to it…

Bd 74 is good for a chuckle, too…

Edit - Fix typo… bd 115 to bd 151.
Oct. 18
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Oct. 19
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There are curious anomalies here and there… a disastrous 6 by Chiaradia-D'Alelio in 1958, a silly slam by Pabis-Ticci-D'Alelio in (I think; I am away from my books ATM) 1967, a dreadful opening lead by Chiaradia in 1960.

What can we say? People make mistakes, signals or no signals. It remains a fact that the Blue Team's payout ratio is simply incredible.

Try their takeout doubles for yourself and see what happens.
Oct. 18
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Ron was talking about representing Italy in world championships… Italy won 10 consecutive Bowls and three consecutive Olympiads.
Oct. 18
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Extracts…

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, (Stone’s attorney) 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.

Ortiz-Patino:
I understood the tape well and was in little doubt of its authenticity… In places, my jaw literally dropped. The media would have loved it: smoke signals, pauses, commonplace words with coded meanings — all these came into the picture.

Alan Truscott:
Burgay … taped his telephone conversation … with Bianchi … it explained the illegal signals that had used with Forquet and that Belladonna had used with another partner, Renato Mondolfo … they involved the use of cigarettes and head positions. The cigarette could point up or down, left or right, to indicate an honor card or a suit.


Of course, we can wait for FIGB and/or the WBF to release the Burgay Tape.

And then there's the one known lengthy video of two Blue Team members in action…
Oct. 18
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Quite so… thanks for clarifying.
Oct. 17
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Michael: Perhaps you mean, 5, 4

Damo:

What board number is this hand?
♠ AQJ743 ♥ A ♦ AK10 ♣ Q87

1966/82

Avarelli's hand on board 21, 1966 is
♠JT73
♥8
♦764
♣T8754

you dispute this too?


I have never disputed this and and baffled as to how you can think otherwise.


They couldn't possibly have changed their system?

This statement make it clear that you have no idea how Roman Club works. The two-bids must be that way, given the other components of the system.

Roman Cub, Avarelli & Belladonna, 1969:
These opening bids indicate 2-suited hands with clubs (not less than four) and a major of at least five cards, always equal or longer in length than the clubs. The strength is fixed at 14-16 points (honor & distribution) with 5 to 6 losers.
e.g. A Q J x x – x x – x x – A K x x, open 2S
x – A J x x x – K x – A K x x x, open 2H

(my emphasis)

Note that “points” have distributional values added.

I have no idea what the heck you guys are talking about!

We agree on that point.

You have made no effort to understand what is being put to you. I will not be discussing Blue Team matters with you any further.

Bertrand Russell:
Where experts are agreed, the average man would do well not to suppose the opposite opinion is certain.
Oct. 17
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In fact, 2M is about 12-16. What you have read is not accurate.

From the book:

“Roman two-bids are interesting. All two-bids fill canapé-caused systemic gaps: Two of a minor shows any 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0 while two of a major shows that major and secondary clubs. There is no range enquiry.

1958 Bermuda Bowl Final, board 25
♠ 9 6 4 ♥ K Q 8 4 3 ♦ 8 ♣ A 8 6 4

1966 Bermuda Bowl Final, board 21
♠ A 6 ♥ A K 10 9 6 3 ♦ K ♣ A Q 6 3

As dealer, Belladonna opened both hands with 2♥. Of the second hand, Kleinman wrote:

”At Table 1, Giorgio (Belladonna_’s 2 opening, showing 5+ hearts and 4+ clubs, is too risky because of the danger of missing game. Dare partner raise on as little as
9 7 3 7 4 2 A 8 6 4 K 5 4, for example?

Opposite Giorgio’s actual hand, this produces not only game but a fine 6 slam.

Opposite Mimmo D’Alelio’s 2 opening on Deal 94
( A 10 8 A Q 8 6 5 Q 9 8 3 2 ) such a raise figures to turn a plus into a minus."


We are looking at a two-bid that ranges from less than a normal opening bid to an Acol Two. Opposite one example hand for responder, if we make a move we could be too high in a partscore, opposite another we are missing a slam.



What is the problem with GB's 2 underbid by an ace and a trump? Partner had a jack.


Here is another example, also from 1966, where a huge underbid was fortunate to find partner with a useless jack:

AQJ743 A AK10 Q87
3 P P ?
Vul vs not.

Kleinman:
Most incredible of all, (Pabis-Ticci) bids only 3 in the passout seat. There are far weaker hands that qualify for 3. The real issue is whether Camillo should jump to 4 directly, or double with the intention of bidding 4 next.
Oct. 17
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Oct. 17
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You may be right, but the funny thing is that, as shown in the article, Avarelli made an even worse play in handling the club suit in 1NT.

And your opinion of Avarelli's pass of 3X is what?

Ron Von der Porten:
But the world of the Blue Team did change, as Walter never played for the Team again, being replaced by Benito Bianchi in 1973. Guess the noose was getting tighter and that idiotic actions like that pass, especially against a hopeless team, doomed the good judge to Purgatory.
Oct. 17
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Oct. 17
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What was the meaning of GB's 2?

“Whatever the system was” is not going to help you understand the deal.
Oct. 17
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Nicolas:

Two 3-3 fit hands are in the book.

I think the concept of “exceeding tolerance” goes quite some way to explaining their existence.

Deb:

From the book:

While there is no currently-available video of the Blue Team in action, there are free alternatives for the reader who wishes to research Blue Team actions outside those shown in
this book.

These two sites:
http://www.sarantakos.com/bridge/vugraph.html
http://www.bridgetoernooi.com/index.php/home
provide bidding and play information for the following Blue Team Bermuda Bowls:
1957, 1959, 1962, 1967, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1979 and 1983


Nicholas:

You may accept the book as not being objective; that is your business. But:
- Do you now think the BT used illicit signals?
- What is your view about the Burgay Tape?
Oct. 17
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