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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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Melanie, YES, correct, 100% accurate. She wears two hats.
13 hours ago
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A player cheating on his own can be many different things which is why we have committees, a CDR code and each case is judged on its merits. So many factors: age, experience, pro or amateur, extenuating factors, previous convictions, etc. Penalties range from Censure to Expulsion with lots in between. Plus there is an Appeals process. Neither decisions nor penalties are taken lightly.

BUT IMHO, a player who with deliberation and very much forethought and effort, cold deck hands (prearranges a deal in a shuffled board Swiss match) is just as guilty as a PAIR using signals. The critical point is that this planned cheating, not a spur of the moment unplanned act of insanity.

Committees have great latitude in deciding the appropriate punishment. For a college kid, a suspension of “x” number of years might be appropriate. For World/NABC Champion bridge player(s), expulsion.

Expulsion should be permanent. Do something else with your life but not at the bridge table.
22 hours ago
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Bob, it may be easy to break into someone's home and steal something. And get away with it! But professional thieves keep on doing their work… until they get caught and multiple robberies are solved.

So it is with convicted cheaters. It takes a long time to collect enough evidence and get a conviction. “First” offense is a bit of a joke when it comes to the most serious and most vile cases of cheating – pre-meditated and deliberate. By professional bridge players who should uphold the highest (not the lowest) standards.

In 2005 the ACBL expelled the “cars”, Andrea Buratti and Massimo Lanzarotti). That same year they won the Spingold on a team captained by Richard Schwartz, and the Cavendish Invitational.

The well publicized 6D hand may have been the mistake that convicted them but to believe it was a one-time incident…

Bobby Wolff made several comment on my original post announcing the readmission of Massimo Lanzarotti. Here is one of them:

Bobby Wolff
Bobby Wolff
Before L-B had been officially convicted of cheating, they were thought of as BIG POISON, so much so, that I, as National Recorder, when they were coming over to the USA and playing with the Dr. Gerald Sosler team in the three Nationals per year kibitzed (every hand they played at their table) by Richard Colker who watched them and gave them a clean bill of not cheating, at least while he watched. They also did not do well as a team, (not having any high finishes) at least up to their expectations.

However, except for that enterprise, AFAIK they were not watched in other places but I heard that, while playing in the Cavendish Invitational they also were monitored every board, by professionals and although there were reports filed when I asked to get a copy of the report was denied by Bob Blanchard, in spite of being asked to send the report to me, by Bob Hamman. They refused and then allowed them back at that event (the rumor had it that they brought along some Italian backers who upped the ante bidding on certain pairs).

While I cannot corroborate what that report showed I was very disappointed to not receive a copy in spite of my (and Bob Hamman) asking them to send it to me.

Perhaps the time has come for the victims to strike back against being totally disadvantaged and likely preyed upon.

Are we now ready to start another cycle of the same????
Dec. 7 · Flag · Like · 3
23 hours ago
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Randy, expulsion is reserved for the most heinous transgressions. It is the “bridge” equivalent of First-Degree murder. Not 2nd or 3rd degree, not manslaughter, not theft, assault or B & E.

There is a reason why the ACBL CDR has a variety of punishments available from Reprimand, Censure, probation, suspension…

Expulsion is reserved for the select group who well deserve it. They do NOT go to prison, they retain their freedom to live, work and play… but not in the bridge world.

Expulsion should be permanent.

I believe it is unfair to bring up the MP and ML cases. They do not come close to the threshold required for expulsion.
Dec. 11
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100% true, Ed as my referenced post so indicates. Equally true is that the ACBL has not updated its (as of Dec. 3) under discipline list but that is probably par for the course for the ACBL.

ACBL's League Counsel and the head of the Appeals & Charges (A & C) Committee were instrumental in getting Lanzarotti readmitted. The A & C report was “accepted” by the ACBL Board in Honolulu which makes it a done deal.

Allan Falk claims ACBL regulations require these matters to be kept secret and not published or broadcast. ACBL regulations suck.
Dec. 11
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Thanks for the informative post, Allan. My only quibble is with your comment that that there is “NO EVIDENCE that Mr. Lanzarotti has been readmitted”. Perhaps a court of law requires higher standards but I have been told by multiple ACBL Board members that in Honolulu the Appeals & Charges report that was accepted by the Board included his readmission. One Board member double checked and could not find the implementation or effective as of date. But it is a done deal.

Yesterday, I saw my District Director at a bridge club who confirmed it happened. It was most definitely not a unanimous decision by the A&C Committee nor are all Board members happy. Indeed, many are demanding a change in the in the Chair of A & C . Currently that person wears both WBF and ACBL hats – conflict of interest? Who knows.

Someone on this thread mentioned that the question, re: Lanzarotti was asked at the BoG meeting and confirmed. I wasn't there.

The ACBL online under discipline link is periodically updated by the ACBL. Sometimes, the ACBL is slow in updating (currently as of December 3). Maybe the readmission only starts on January 1, 2019? I don't know.

But this is definitely NOT rumours and innuendo. A better question might be: Why is the ACBL hiding the news? Why was there no announcement in the Honolulu Daily Bulletin (the editors were aware of what transpired)? Why did the BoG Chair not address the issue?
Dec. 10
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 10
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The BoG meeting seemed to a very tame affair. Did no one question that action? Did no one ask the Board to reconsider the validity of letting convicted professional bridge players/ cheaters be reinstated? Or to reconsider the motion to raise NABC entry fees by 25% per player, per session?

The Hawaii NABC with just 6,034 tables was the smallest since Winnipeg 35 years ago! What was BoG attendance like? Perhaps everyone was suffering from jet lag and sleeping during the proceedings!
Dec. 8
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I have been told the decision came from the ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee report which was “accepted” by the Board in Honolulu. The Board routinely rubber stamps whatever comes out of the A & C Committee and whatever ACBL League Counsel recommends. Dereliction of duty? Blindly following… Perhaps the reason why the Board has refused to remove titles from convicted cheaters and now wishes to reinstate Mr. Lanzarotti.

Why no publication of what transpired? Why no report in the ACBL Daily Bulletin? To the Board of Governors? The information was known.

My sources are from ACBL Board members (plural), individuals on the ACBL anti-cheating Committee, Horn Lake employees. Few details but they all claim he is being allowed to return, has rehabilitated himself, done good work with Italian junior players, blah, blah, blah.

Professional players who win ACBL's premier team games & the money Cavendish Invitational deserve the ultimate penalty that the game of bridge allows. Expulsion should be permanent.
Dec. 7
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 7
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Kit, the arrogance of your comment “there is no way a top quality player would ever lead a Diamond on this auction” astounds me. Many top quality experts (by any definition) and multiple NABC Champions have told me they would lead a Diamond and that the auction called for a Diamond lead. About half the people polled said they would lead a Diamond.

David Grainger went public with his reasons why. Good for him. Many pros are paid so much money that will never post on Bridge Winners or do anything that might jeopardize their income.

Perhaps David hasn't won enough NABCs to reach the exalted “top quality player” level? Perhaps it is all in one's definition of top quality expert and/or who agrees with you.
Dec. 3
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Congrats again on your awesome win in the Bobby Nail Open Pairs. An excellent and brave analysis, David. Thanks for posting.

Several experts have told me bridge logic demands a Diamond lead. Bobby created a perfect auction to reach 7S (not 7NT). Yes, the client should have doubled but so what? Joe's comment should have been more than enough to cancel any UI and allow the lead.

Bid a hopeless 7NT with Qxx opposite void and then win in Committee. Greasy.

Another option the TD Committee could (and perhaps should) have chosen was to give an adjusted score. 7NT making to the “offenders” and 7NT down 1 to the Grand Slam bidders. IMHO, that would have been a great ruling.

As I said on the other thread, it is a shame to see National Championships won in Committee, especially one as controversial as this one.

Once again congratulations to all four players, Bobby, Chris, Eldad & Joe (alphabetical order) for their performance.
Dec. 1
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 1
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I've been told there were specific lighting stipulations in the Hilton Hawaii contract. Whether they are still standard today, I have no idea.
Dec. 1
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Ed: I imagine you believe justice and bridge rulings are always correct? Not the world I live in!
Dec. 1
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In the Regional ballrooms (separate hotel building – there are no less than EIGHT towers in the humongous Hilton village (tourist trap?) – it could be comfortable at one end of the room but felt like an ice box at the other. The Tapa had similar issues although with the doors wide open and yesterdays high humidity (only day with any significant rainfall), the heat and humidity was oppressive. I'm talking extremes – not a little too hot or cold for my personal liking.

As my sister who played here for 5 days commented to me “ Ridiculous to be freezing in some rooms and sauna in others. Not impressed with Hilton”.

Don't for a minute think these playing areas were cheap. The contract should state certain lighting requirements and temperature controls. Did Hilton live up to their end of the contract. Let the lawyers fight over how much the ACBL will have to pay for the Hawaiian NABC debacle.
Dec. 1
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In the first round yesterday afternoon, there was a medical incident when one player sort of fainted, briefly passed out. But he recovered, claimed he was well and continued to play. I would not be at all surprised if the playing conditions (extreme heat and humidity) were a contributing factor.
Dec. 1
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Day 1 of the 3 day NAST had 71 teams (usually well over 100), reduced to 36 for tomorrow; 18 on Sunday. Played in the Tapa ballroom that was hot, oppressive, and most uncomfortable. The front left side (as you walk in) was the only cool spot. That was where the TDs set up the reporting area. Between sessions,they cleared more space around that area, leaving the rest of us playing in hot, humid, crowded conditions. Frankly, I found it disgraceful. And next year we will be paying more for the “pleasure”!

One couple quipped that the ACBL must have run out of money and couldn't afford to pay for air conditioning. A different player commented “If I wanted to be in a sauna, I would have gone to Finland!”.

It was bad.

My latest attendance estimate: 5,981.5 tables
Dec. 1
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As Geoff suggested, this thread should be for congratulations. We have yet to see any hands or any auctions but everyone has an opinion! Mind boggling.
Nov. 30
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I played in Winnipeg in the Fall of 1985. Awesome tournament. I placed second in the NABC North American Swiss with the late Nadine Wood & Mike Cappelletti. Mike met and was hired by then 19 year old Eric Hochman at the start of the week. We played as a foursome. Amazing!

It was not held in late November but rather at the BEGINNING of the month. For the obvious weather related reasons. It was probably on the cool side (I don't remember) but I do recall that a ten inch snowstorm hit the city two days after it ended. Excellent timing!

The playing facilities were excellent as were availability of restaurants. Prices were reasonable. Unlike Hawaii this Fall, I don't believe the league lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of a poor contract and poor attendance. It's all about accurate budgeting.
Nov. 30
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I don't believe ACBL membership ever dropped as low as 145,000. I believe it has been in a more or less steady decline since its peak. Usually someone is able to find exact numbers somewhere…

The masterpoint awards changed after I made my post and incoming 2019 ACBL President Russ Jones saw it and investigated. He claimed the ACBL Board changed the rules last year to prevent the obvious inequity of the same 20,30, 40 tables playing every day with widely different masterpoint awards.

Bottom Line (1): A few years ago masterpoint awards payouts for pair games were inflated to the current high levels. There are still many inconsistencies among the awards which are kind of random and meaningless in this era of hyper inflation.

Bottom Line (2): Why are incorrect awards posted? I can only surmise it is a combination of human error and ACBL Score issues. It probably requires manually overwriting ACBL Score. What should be easy and automatic clearly isn't. One reason why millions have been spent trying to improve/upgrade/replace an outdated program.

More than a decade ago when I was on the ACBL Board we passed a motion that EVERY player who reaches Day 3 of any 3 day NABC Pairs Championship gets overall awards. Yet for several years when for example, there were more than 70 pairs in the Blues final, overall awards were capped… until corrections appeared a few days later.

Human error, technology issues, combination of both. Who knows. With declining attendance, this years Blues final only had 52 pairs and of course they all received overall awards.

Yesterday, I was told there was a major screw-up with the movement in the Final of the Women's Pairs event. Human error will always be with us.
Nov. 30
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It's always a shame when any event is decided by an Appeal in the wee hours of the morning. I'm sure it will be posted and analyzed ad nauseum.

Congratulations to Bobby, Chris, Eldad & Joe (alphabetical order) on their superb performance. They are all champions.
Nov. 30
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Unlike most tournaments, there are no cash concession stands at any playing areas. Hilton Hawaiian Village wants players to buy overpriced food, snacks, etc from their numerous stores. One popular place is an ice cream shop near the Regional events.

Tonight several players rushed to beat the 11 PM closing time. People were inside the shop and several players were at the front door when an employee forcefully closed the door saying “we are CLOSED” at exactly 11 PM.

Wouldn't happen at a mom and pop shop. But at the Hilton Hawaiian rip off, who cares about the customers or personalized service.

HILTON SUCKS!
Nov. 29
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