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All comments by Avon Wilsmore
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Nick:

You write:
“and not one of them said ”no, I'm out of it“”

Not true.
Siniscalco pulled out of the 1961 Bowl with 10 days to go and never played serious bridge again.


You write:
“So every single member when about to join the team was examined and taught by the old ones…”

Alan Truscott:
“They (Mario Franco and Michel Giovine) represented Italy in one European Championship, earning silver medals. They soon resigned from competitive play, for reasons that were never clearly explained. One suggestion was that they were not willing to go along with their teammates by “helping each other.””


You write:
“And during all those years they managed to have a bad moment only with the Burgay tape?”

Not true.
- All members of the 1958 US Bowl team signed a declaration that the Blue Team players cheated. It was handed to the ACBL and vanished. No enquiry.

- The 1963 Gerber Letter disclosed the cheating of the Blue team. It was handed to Perroux and read out to all NPCs and many journalists. It vanished. No enquiry.


“A bad moment” is an interesting way to describe the WBF yelling at FIB for 850 days, demanding a report with findings - did or did not the tape describe cheating methods used by Blue Team players?

The whole matter vanished, with Ortiz-Patino saying:
“We all felt thoroughly convinced that the WBF and FIB could go forward together in the spirit of reconciliation. The WBF was now able to write to the new FIB President withdrawing the threat of suspension.”

But no report, no findings, no transcript, no tape.
Sept. 28
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You quote:
“Whereas the reports on the enquiry by the FIB communicated to the WBF are insufficient to provide a basis for any reasonable conclusion,”

In America, they say, “Cut the cackle.”

1. If there IS a report that was “sufficient to provide a basis for any reasonable conclusion”, where can I find it?

2. If there IS NOT a report that was “sufficient to provide a basis for any reasonable conclusion”, why did the WBF stop demanding it?
Sept. 28
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Why not at the time? This topic is discussed over several chapters of my book, and is mentioned in the article above.

The name of the game was, in Ortiz-Patino's words, “minimise the scandal.”

From my book:

The greatest cover-up of all has been the Burgay Tape, and yet the fix remains trivial: Release the tape or a certified transcript thereof. On page 45, we saw Ortiz-Patiño’s response when Leandro Burgay played his tape:

“I understood the tape well and was in little doubt of its authenticity, the background noises and such like being thoroughly convincing … In places, my jaw literally dropped … . smoke signals, pauses, commonplace words with coded meanings — all these came into the picture. How, I wondered, could we defend our championships from ridicule in the light of this?”

What is Ortiz-Patiño’s concern? Not, “How can we best root out any cheats as soon as practicable?,” but, “How can we avoid being laughed at?”

The best way to demonstrate that the WBF puts integrity before image is to release the tape’s transcript. It’s not so easy to believe that the WBF cannot do this, given that WBF officials were known to be aware of the contents.

Associated Press, 27 October, 1977:
“Although the contents of the tape were never made public, world federation officials said they revealed a cheating system based on the position of a player’s cigarette, in his mouth, in his hand or on an ashtray.”
Sept. 28
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Nigel asked about Bobby Wolff…

Bobby Wolff:
“Burgay also informed me in Shanghai, 2007 that while the tapes were all 100% true in everything involving bridge and what went on, that he still loves Italy and does not relish the role of being thought of as being a traitor to Italian bridge, but rather realizes, like I do, that the world deserves to know the truth.”
Sept. 27
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Whatever.

Where can I see any report of FIB findings, or a transcript of the tape?
Sept. 27
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Impartial investigations are not a waste of time.

Mr Casinovi regards reports that vanished, containing fabrications, to be evidence of exoneration, but fails to account for the WBF's suspension of Italy “on grounds that it failed to investigate thoroughly charges that its players used smoke signals to cheat in world competition.”

There are some mighty big elephants in the room.

1. Bianchi lied. Bianchi first stated that the tape was a fabrication. After it had been verified, he changed tack - it was all innocent chit-chat about a hypothetical matter; ways that one might cheat.

2. Where is a report? Any report.

3. Where is a copy of the tape or transcript?

4. If these are lost, under whose care were they kept?

5. If it is true that Bianchi's talk was all misrepresented chatter, *what possible reason can there be* for not making any findings, report, transcripts etc, public?

It is my opinion that the real reason FIB took 850 days to do f-all is that the tape was true and correct - an account of Blue Team cheating.

Just like the “missing” Gerber Letter.
Sept. 26
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I do indeed know of the NYT article. From my book:

============================================

“Special to The New York Times — Cheating Charge Held Unfounded Monaco, May 20, 1976

Allegations of cheating at bridge brought against some members of Italy’s world champion team have been judged to be unfounded.

A 90-page report prepared by a committee of the Italian Bridge Federation states that charges made by Leandro Burgay involving Giorgio Belladonna and Pietro Forquet, winners of 31 world titles between them, are not supported by the evidence. With different partners, the two players were alleged to have used cigarettes to convey improper information.

The tape recording of a telephone conversation between Mr. Forquet and Benito Bianchi, the former world champion, was examined by an expert, who found that the tape had been carefully spliced at two crucial points. This splicing operation made it appear that some innocent remarks were incriminating to other players, particularly Mr. Belladonna and Mr. Forquet, the expert determined.”


Now this is very strange. Either the tape is legitimate or it is not. If this NYT “special” article is true, why does this news not appear anywhere else? Why was this revelation never heard of again? Was the tape spliced or was this an attempted cover-up? No matter, this “splicing” matter was dropped and the “90-page report” was never heard of again. The FIB now rolled up their sleeves, got to work and did nothing at all for nine months. The next FIB hearing was held in February 1977 in Bari, on the east coast of Italy. Good news! The FIB played Burgay’s tape.

NYT Bridge Book:
"The hearing … relied heavily on an alleged statement by Bianchi on the tape, “I did not do those things with Pietro .”“


Therefore, the whole matter could be forgotten. Strange, then, that Ortiz-Patiño never mentioned Bianchi’s comment. Even stranger that the whole matter was able to progress at all, given that statement. But the matter did not appear at all strange to Leandro Burgay, who was adamant the tape played was fake.

The First 50 Years of the World Bridge Federation:
”The ethics commission, in its Bari hearing, did not listen to the original tape because Burgay said that he had handed it to a state court in Milan. He said he had done so to press criminal charges of fraud against whoever had tampered with the recording.

Specifically, the insurance executive denounced what he said was a spurious insertion into his original tape that would clear Forquet of the suspicion of having used the cigarette code for cheating. “A clear cover up.” Burgay said in an interview. “The Mafia is a joke compared to this affair”“


So once again we are confronted with a possible attempted cover-up

Either the tape had Bianchi saying, “I did not do those things with Pietro,” or it did not. If it did, why was this not passed on in a report to the WBF? Why was this second revelation never heard of again? As with the “splicing,” this matter vanished, quite possibly in response to Burgay’s suing for fraud. Perhaps as a consequence of this legal action, his suspension was cut from 6 years to 1 year. Bianchi’s six-month suspension was changed to a censure.

Another four months went by and the FIB did nothing, their two gambits with the tape’s supposed exoneration of Bianchi and Forquet having been declined.

========================================

I repeat the Associated Press article, 27 Oct 1977:

”The World Bridge Federation decided Wednesday to suspend the Italian Bridge Federation on grounds that it failed to investigate thoroughly charges that its players used smoke signals to cheat in world competition.“


Mr Casinovi, rather than waste time here, why don't you PM me I will send you the Burgay Tape chapters.

In the meantime, ask around and see what you can find out about who tampered with the tape and inserted the line about ”I did not do those things with Pietro". You know, the version of the tape that vanished when Burgay threatened to sue.


EDIT: removed an unnecessary footnote reference, realigned text.
Sept. 26
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Sept. 26
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Curiously, Roth & Stone did play a lengthy high-stake match-game against an Italian pair… Mario Franco and Michel Giovine.

Of that pair, Truscott wrote:
They represented Italy in one European Championship, earning silver medals. They soon resigned from competitive play, for reasons that were never clearly explained. One suggestion was that they were not willing to go along with their teammates by “helping each other.”

R&S did not demand separate rooms.
Sept. 26
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I checked… I cover that 1977 “report” in some detail.

This is what the WBF said, 27 Oct 1977:
“ the reports since submitted are inadequate to form a basis for any reasonable conclusion.”

You say that the Appeals Committee issued it ruling on 26 Feb, 1977.

Why, then did the WBF suspend Italy's membership?

Associated Press article, 27 Oct 1977:

“The World Bridge Federation decided Wednesday to suspend the Italian Bridge Federation on grounds that it failed to investigate thoroughly charges that its players used smoke signals to cheat in world competition.”

BTW, it's “Forquet”
Sept. 26
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Sept. 26
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Deleted… the post below is an update.
Sept. 26
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Sept. 26
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The fact is, Hamman, Swanson, Wolff, Soloway, Eisenberg and Kantar had to choose between playing against cheats and being banned for a lengthy period upon their return to the US.

On the topic of “intolerance”:
Logan Daily News, 27 January 1975
“However, the Italian team said it would quit the tournament if the two players (Facchini & Zucchelli) were suspended”

The topic of the official (WBF and ACBL) responses to the 1975 cheating scandal gets considerable coverage in my book.

There is evidence of a cover-up.
Sept. 25
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Well, here's a little curio, from my book.

“After the 1958 Bermuda Bowl, Roth and Stone challenged
any Blue Team pair to play them a long high-stake rubber game with fixed partnerships. There was a catch: Every player had to be in a different room. No takers.”
Sept. 25
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Pierluigi: Here is the archive on Bridge d'Italia magazines:
http://www.federbridge.it/Riviste/archiviostorico.asp

The Nov 1995 issue has an article that celebrates the 20th anniversary of Italy's last (at that time) Bermuda Bowl victory.

Can you tell me, where in that article can I find a mention of foot-tapping and cheating by an Italian pair?
Sept. 25
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While we are visiting fantasy-land, take a look at this:

http://www.bridgebologna.it/archivio-articoli/384-memorial-zucchelli-facchini-i-edizione.html
Sept. 25
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Sept. 25
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I guess, try asking Baron Barclay and see what they know. My understanding is that they get stock after Orlando.
Sept. 25
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You'll be sorry you wasted your money.

The author received an email from an Italian, saying that the author was a fool who knows nothing about bridge.
Sept. 24
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Sr Margiotta:
“…but despite what many people substained he (Burgay) stated he never reported Mr Forquet or any other bridge player.”

“Avon, where did you read Bianchi admitted to cheating with Forquet?”


Yes, Burgay did not “report” Forquet. He handed a tape to FIB President Firpo.

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… Burgay told me his partner had goner into hiding.”

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.“

WBF Management Committee:
… The Management Committee deplores the manner in which the investigations of alleged serious improprieties have been handled by FIB and further that the undertakings of the FIB President (to provide a report with findings) given to the Executive in Monte Carlo have not been fulfilled.”


850 days after Burgay handed over the tape, no report, no findings, no transcript, tapes lost and the matter forgotten.

For MUCH more detail, see ”1976: The Burgay Tape" in my book.
Sept. 24
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I stand corrected… I was referring to the comments of Mr Margiotta in his article. Thank you for pointing out my error.

Nigel Guthrie's comment in that posting is spot-on, in my view:

“Perhaps standard protocol in Italy is to lose vital evidence, suspend the whistle-blower, turn a blind eye to his assault by a national team-member and postpone a full report on the investigation for more than 35 years.”

Sections of Mr Burgay's letter are reproduced in my book; the translation was done by an Italian friend of mine.

Mr Burgay declined to answer my questions.
Sept. 24
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Without wishing to pick on Sr Margiotta, his article about the Burgay Tape is also quite surreal.

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/the-burgays-affair/

“The Burgay Tape” is the longest chapter of my book, and I believe I show that intimidation, evidence-tampering and a WBF cover-up occurred.
Sept. 24
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