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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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It's snowing. A white Thanksgiving as I look outside my window from the beautiful $90 a night Grand Hyatt. Almost makes me feel like I'm back home in Toronto but today it is 50F!
Nov. 26, 2015
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Not only the Wagar KO but ALL Women's events at NABCs have been substantially declining. But the ACBL Board is rarely the first to do anything…just look at how many years they defeated motions to raise the “senior” age to 60!

Oct. 31, 2015
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As have been stated numerous times during the last few weeks, the ACBL does not announce in advance who has been charged or who has not been charged. Once the EOC meets and decides a case, the decision and penalty are published and made public.

So there may well be EOC hearings just prior to Denver, perhaps P/S and/or B/Z but it is not ACBL's policy to announce these things.

F/S and F/N had hearings planned for just prior to the start of the Denver NABC. At THEIR request the hearings have been deferred to Reno. This gave the ACBL the opportunity to suspend them immediately until the hearings are held and decisions reached.

The ACBL must follow due process and the legalities of the United States where it operates. They have been doing well on the cheating file.
Oct. 31, 2015
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There are many ways to participate in the world-wide efforts to clean up the game. The ACBL has expert players, cheat-busters, all volunteers who have been examining videos (let's call them player “X”)and working with the ACBL administration to formally charge players. Then you have the well respected players (player “Y”) who serve on the Ethical Oversight Committee and disciplinary committees that act as the jurors that set discipline. Clearly, players “X” and “Y” cannot be the same people! Next is player “Z” the all-star task force that is being formed. Some players like to be in the lime-light. Others prefer to work behind the scenes.

We are fortunate that the ACBL has opened up and is using expert players from within its membership to serve and advise much more so than in the past. This is all good news.
Oct. 26, 2015
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This is an excellent move by the ACBL. I applaud ACBL President Suzi Subeck who has been working tirelessly all year to raise ACBL standards, re: cheating, to establish new methods of nabbing unethical players, speaking to many ACBL experts who have been working behind the scenes, and even persuading ACBL management to join the campaign.

It is an excellent and varied Committee – we should give them some time to get their act together. I'm sure they will keep the membership informed.
Oct. 25, 2015
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Having served on the ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee for the majority of my 15 years on the ACBL Board, it is important to recognize that every case is different. That is why there is always a part “A” and a Part “B”. The “A” part is: Are you guilty of the charges? The “B” part is what should the appropriate penalty be? At this point one examines the players past history (first time or multiple offender) and any other mitigating factors and/or extenuating circumstances. Cases are not always black & white - there are often multiple shades of grey.

The concept of “Flagrant offenses” is too broad. The more detailed description of every possible ethical offense, the better it is. For example, was the ethical violation premeditated or a sudden rash decision made in the heat of the moment at the table? Active collusion and cold decking are clearly premeditated and worthy of the severest penalty.

But what about the sudden unexpected opportunity to foul a board? Or it is the last round in a pair game using score slips (historic, I know) and the opponents leave the table. You are having a possible winning game. Lord knows what came over you but inexplicably and out of character you change the score slip to make an overtrick (or score plus 200, down 2 instead of down 1). Are these “Flagrant” offenses? The Committee must examine each case on its merits – a teenage first time offender? A bridge professional? A multiple offender?

When I served, expulsion = five years, after which you could apply for readmission. It did not mean that you would be accepted back but you could apply. There is a huge difference. There was a list of required items you needed to present including a full admission of guilt and how you cheated, letters of support from your local area, etc., etc.

Life is not simple. Many cases are complex. There are excellent reasons why the punishment should cover a wide range depending upon the circumstances.

In Canada, 1st degree murder == a “life sentence = minimum of 25 years before eligibility for parole. Most manslaughter cases fall between a range of 4 to 15 years. Second degree murder carries a wide range where the minimum time served may be between 10 - 20 years.

My recommendation would be to clarify in as much detail as possible examples of ”flagrant". Once that is completed.

For part 1) I would support expulsion with: A) No opportunity for readmission or B) May apply for readmission after a period of at least TEN years. The Committee would decide which penalty best fits the crime. This dramatically increases the current penalty where life/expulsion = 5 years plus.

For part 2) I would change it to expulsion with an opportunity to apply for readmission after FIVE years.

Just my three cents Canadian opinion.

Oct. 19, 2015
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I know nothing about a 5th pair from Bulgaria. I thought the Bermuda Bowl WBF “Bulgaria” announcement was a false rumour. There may well be a 5th pair – several comments have been made on BW alluding to that – but I have seen nothing substantive and have no information.
Oct. 18, 2015
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Of course, there were “rumours” and whispers regarding all four pairs in ACBL land. F/S were clearly at the top of everyone's list but ALL four pairs were suspected. In early 2014, I was given that information by an expert player who preferred to remain anonymous – I sent it to the ACBL CEO who acknowledged it but said all Recorder/Ethical stuff had to remain confidential.

By 2015 the situation was significantly worse. The rumours and whispers were more like loud shouting! I sent a follow-up letter to the ACBL CEO but this time copied the new ACBL President, Suzi Subeck. As before, my e-mail was acknowledged.

By the summer Spingold final between Monaco & Cayne, the situation was intolerable. The ACBL powers that be knew it and work had started on changing the system to nab cheaters even before Boye took over. You may not believe it, but it is true.

The ACBL (unlike the WBF) is totally on board today. The CEO statement on the ACBL web site is informative. North American laws require a degree of confidentiality and due process that is perhaps higher than in other countries. But everyone is working together – expert players, ACBL administrators and ACBL politicians.

Once hearings have been held and discipline imposed, the results will be announced. I'm expecting official announcements to be released during the Denver NABC. I have also heard that the chance of seeing F/S or F/N playing bridge in Denver is ZERO.

Progress is being made and will continue…
Oct. 18, 2015
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I think JoAnna is on the right track – if we want to make changes, working from within to change the composition of the WBF Executive Council is a valid option. Starting a “new” WBF would be a huge task – is it possible? Perhaps, but the WBF is made up of individuals from around the world. Change the people and you have changed the organization.

I am still waiting for the FIVE ACBL representatives to the WBF EC to make a statement and issue a report.

I agree with almost all of Les' comments except for the boycott. Can someone explain why boycotting the 2016 World Championships in Poland would be a proper course of action? How would such a move “clean up the game”? Who would benefit? Who would be hurt?

Below is a re post of my comment from Roy Welland's Poland/Bermuda Bowl thread. Nothing has changed except that the evidence against B/Z has appreciably strengthened. Given that, the next moves are up to the WBF and PBU.
____________________________________________________

“In 1976, living in Montreal, I was one of the lucky ones who had a seat at the Olympics Closing ceremony. A large sign proclaimed “See you in Moscow 1980”. As history buffs know, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, President Jimmy Carter called for a boycott – Canada, Japan, West Germany joined them; Great Britain, Australia, France, Greece did not.

Four years later, the Russians boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Did those boycotts achieve any worthy goal? Most think not. The athletes were the big losers, many losing the only chance they would ever have to compete.

Poland is a strong and positive force for bridge. Their youth and student programs are excellent. I have no doubt the organizers have been working very hard to be exemplary hosts in 2016.

I am in the camp that B/Z have been unethical. After they were uninvited, I believe Poland should have withdrawn. They didn't. They won the Bermuda Bowl. The controversy will continue as will the case against B/Z. The Gold medal may be removed or not. Some will call it a tainted victory. Others will disagree.

But let's put all talk of boycotting Poland in 2016 to rest. It would achieve no useful purpose. As with the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, the only losers will be the players who were unable to compete because of the politicians.

Is it time to make major changes within the WBF? Do we need need new and younger people? Are we cleaning up the game? The answer is yes to all of the above.

But should we boycott the 2016 World Bridge Games http://worldbridge.org/2016-world-bridge-games.aspx? because of the ineptitude of the WBF? A controversial call by Poland? No, we should not.”
Oct. 18, 2015
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In 1976, living in Montreal, I was one of the lucky ones who had a seat at the Olympics Closing ceremony. A large sign proclaimed “See you in Moscow 1980”. As history buffs know, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, President Jimmy Carter called for a boycott – Canada, Japan, West Germany joined them; Great Britain, Australia, France, Greece did not.

Four years later, the Russians boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Did those boycotts achieve any worthy goal? Most think not. The athletes were the big losers, many losing the only chance they would ever have to compete.

Poland is a strong and positive force for bridge. Their youth and student programs are excellent. I have no doubt the organizers have been working very hard to be exemplary hosts in 2016.

I am in the camp that B/Z have been unethical. After they were uninvited, I believe Poland should have withdrawn. They didn't. They won the Bermuda Bowl. The controversy will continue as will the case against B/Z. The Gold medal may be removed or not. Some will call it tainted a victory. Others will disagree.

But let's put all talk of boycotting Poland in 2016 to rest. It would achieve no useful purpose. As with the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, the only losers will be the players who were unable to compete because of the politicians.

Is it time to make major changes within the WBF? Do we need need new and younger people? Are we cleaning up the game? The answer is yes to all of the above.

But should we boycott the 2016 World Bridge Games http://worldbridge.org/2016-world-bridge-games.aspx? because of the ineptitude of the WBF? A controversial call by Poland? No, we should not.


Oct. 14, 2015
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Notice that huge difference between the awful WBF Official Statement and the official message from ACBL's CEO Robert Hartman on Sept. 28. http://www.acbl.org/a-word-from-the-ceo/ It's difficult to realize they were talking about the same issue. We are still waiting to hear from the ACBL's five representatives to the WBF Executive Council. I hope they don't have David Harris reviewing their report!
Oct. 13, 2015
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Oct. 13, 2015
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What we could say, Josh, is that Lotan's behaviour is as execrable as his ethics. In the round of 64 (2014 Dallas Vanderbilt) I played against them in the 1st and 4th quarters. Twice Lotan went berserk screaming in Hebrew at his partner – Ron never spoke one word the entire match. In the first quarter it was a slam disaster which “explains” Lotan's reaction. But in the 4th Q, match is reasonably close, there was a nothing board where I declared 3H in a competitive auction. It had no play but Ron made a grievous error and now if the trump finesse won, I would be home. It lost and I was minus 50 instead of minus 100. Lotan started screaming at Ron – as the tables were near each other, lots of heads turned and stared at him. In hindsight, perhaps I could have called the Director but one usually doesn't do that just as honest people won't notice where the board is placed or if the card led is horizontal or vertical!

Lotan was correct in his analysis, if not his behaviour. At the other table, Boye & Espen declared 3H in a similar auction. My less than World Class teammates were plus 100 and we won 2 imps.

It doesn't take much to set Lotan off.
Oct. 12, 2015
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Scheduling is complicated. Every action has a reaction. Off the top of my head…1) Two of my personal favourite events are the BRP and three day NA Swiss. I would hate to see them opposite each other. 2) I never understood the complaints about the Reisinger and NA Swiss being opposite each other. Just fine the way it is. 3) Clearly more details and a list of secondary events need to be examined but at first glance I like the 3-7-3 format, the addition of the Soloway KO and maintaining the three premier three day pair games at the start of each NABC. Congrats to the committee for their excellent work.
Oct. 11, 2015
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The fact that prior to the “lynch mobs”, Fulvio Fantoni was a distinguished member of the WBF High Level Players committee, speaks wonders for the WBF, does it not?

I've just been informed that FF was also a SportAccord Ambassador of Bridge http://www.worldbridge.org/bridge-ambassadors.aspx
Oct. 10, 2015
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Oct. 10, 2015
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Please don't give up on the ACBL, Boye. My understanding is that the ACBL Board and management are 100% in favour of cleaning up the game. They are and will continue to make changes to the system. The ACBL CEO has posted his comments on the ACBL web site. Now that the Bermuda Bowl is over, the wheels are in motion and I expect the ACBL to formally charge the various pairs under suspicion. The ACBL's Ethical Oversight Committee (EOC) will be in charge of the formal hearings.

Due process and formal hearings do take some time. But I expect the hearings to be held as soon as logistically possible. Any discipline imposed will be published and made public. I am expecting to read those announcements before the end of the Denver NABC in late November, early December.

So let's give the ACBL a chance and see what develops between now and Denver.
Oct. 10, 2015
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What I found most appalling was using the inflammatory words “lynch mob” and “kangaroo court”. It is really, really hard to imagine how such an “official” statement could have been approved. People in high places become isolated from reality. The WBF Executive Council should read Fred's suggested statement below and learn something.
Oct. 9, 2015
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The ACBL made a progressive move in allowing non ACBL Board members apply for the position. The elected five represent the interests of the ACBL, not any one district or country.

http://www.worldbridge.org/executive-council.aspx

http://www.worldbridge.org/Data/Sites/1/media/documents/misc/Executivecouncilcontact.pdf
Oct. 9, 2015
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The ACBL has five representatives on the WBF Executive Council. Why do we not hear from them? Is no dissent permitted? Do they all follow like sheep?

I have said it before and I will repeat: the WBF is the most political animal in bridge. It is not a coincidence that Poland is hosting the 2016 World Championships. And now the controversial Poland/England 6D slam and subsequent flawed review (and flawed Daily Bulletin reporting).

Poland is poised to win the Bermuda Bowl – six players who played great bridge but should never have been allowed to participate.

The WBF created this nightmare scenario. Their official carefully scripted statements do nothing to inspire confidence.
Oct. 9, 2015
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In any election, the incumbents usually have a huge advantage…apparently not in 2015. The ACBL election results are quite interesting.

Of the three incumbents only Bob Heller was reelected in District 7 in a 3 person race. In New England - District 25, Rich DeMartino lost to Mark Aquino who won on the first ballot in a 4 person race. You need 50%+ 1 to avoid a runoff. Well done, Bob & Mark! In District 23 (Los Angeles area) Rand Pinsky (incumbent) lost to Kevin Lane (who often comments on Bridge Winners). District 19's Don Mamula has retired as of the end of this year and did not run. There will be a run off between Jeff Ford and Marv Norden, the Penticton Tournament Chair.

Departing will be Rich DeMartino, Rand Pinsky & Don Mamula. New Board members will be Mark Aquino, Kevin Lane and ???

Thus there will be three new faces on the ACBL Board in 2016 – perhaps 25 new faces would be best but this is a start.

Perhaps the ACBL membership is expressing its dissatisfaction with the only tool they have – the ballot box.
Oct. 5, 2015
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Congratulations, Boye! Well deserved. You have done awesome work and we are all better for it. I ptomise to take your photo in Denver ;)!
Oct. 3, 2015
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