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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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An ACBL Board member told me he wished he had known my feelings before the Board voted. But how could he have? ACBL members are not privy to what cases and decisions may be forthcoming from Appeals & Charges.

It is the sheer ARROGANCE of the Appeals & Charges Committee to believe they could make such a momentous decision – readmitting an expelled player (Spingold winner, Cavendish Invitational Winner – a magnet for cheaters – World Class player) without any consultation with expert bridge players, with its own anti-cheating committee, with members of the ACBL Task Force on Cheating (whose recommendations were ignored) that is so disturbing. And yet Ms. Heth was once again reappointed to Chair the 2019 ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee.

The decision to readmit was made one month ago (give or take a day or two). Now the ACBL releases a statement one month after the fact… surely as a result of the public pressure, not any desire to inform the Membership.

Much too little, far too late.
Dec. 19, 2018
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Indeed, I for one, will be most interested to see the teams and partners Mr. Lanzarrotti plays with when he next attends an ACBL tournament. In the past, Steve Sion had no trouble finding partners and teammates right up until his third and final conviction for cheating. Have times changed? We will certainly find out.
Dec. 19, 2018
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Do you really think the report was voluntarily posted on Bridge Winners? I have no doubt it was extreme pressure from the bridge community (and perhaps even some of her Board colleagues) that led to today's public announcement
Dec. 19, 2018
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Randy, Suspension is for a set period of time (maximum of 5 years). Expulsion, by ACBL's definition at one time, meant a MINIMUM of 5 years suspension after which the player(s) could apply for reinstatement. There was never any guarantee that the request would be granted and often it took more than one request before re-admittance. There was a minimum period of time required between requests.

The player requesting re-admission had to fulfill several criteria including genuine remorse, an admission of guilt as to his/her past cheating, letters of recommendation from ACBL officials/unit boards, etc,

Sometime re-admission was a multi-year process. For example, he/she could only play at the club level, then within his unit/District for a set period of time. Then more latitude as time passed.

There was ALWAYS a period of probation – usually lengthy –attached to any expelled player who was readmitted.

Important note: This is how it was 10-25 years ago when I was on the ACBL Appeals & Charges (A&C) Committee. The CDR is a living document. It is constantly being revised & updated. It can (and does) change at any and every meeting of the ACBL Board of Directors.

Every case is different and Committees usually have wide latitude in the penalties imposed. What was said over and over again when I served was that Committee decisions had to be CONSISTENT and not jump all over the place. It was critical to keep proper records of past discipline to refer to.

In the last decade, the CDR has undergone multiple changes. You can review the latest version online but I reemphasize it is constantly evolving.

What is disturbing in my mind is the new “negotiated settlements” for ethical infractions. Suspensions without any follow-up probationary period. Readmitting an expelled player – Massimo Lanzarotti the most recent example – as a member in good standing with no restrictions! He is not listed as being under probation. All of the above would have been unheard of 10+ years ago.

Some of the decisions that have come from the ACBL A&C Committee have been very disconcerting to me. How the courts would view them is open to conjecture.
Dec. 17, 2018
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Very well stated, Frank. Thank you for posting. It is always a pleasure to read an articulate comment that is not from one of the “regulars”. I'm looking forward to the Memphis NABC. Perhaps I'll get a chance to see you and say hello.
Dec. 16, 2018
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Update: As of December 12, 2018: http://web2.acbl.org/discipline/CurrentlyUnderDisciplineList.pdf

Lanzarotti is no longer listed as being expelled nor is he under probation. Appears to be a member in good standing. Disgraceful.

As usual complete silence from the ACBL Board or the Chair of the Appeals & Charges Committee.

More bad news: Georgia Heth has been reappointed by incoming ACBL President Russ Jones to be the Chair of A & C in 2019.

Clearly the cheaters are back: Lanzarotti in the ACBL, Fantoni in Europe, will Steve Sion be the next to return? Thanks (NOT), ACBL
Dec. 13, 2018
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Update: As of December 12, 2018: http://web2.acbl.org/discipline/CurrentlyUnderDisciplineList.pdf

Lanzarotti is no longer listed as being expelled nor is he under probation. Appears to be a member in good standing. Disgraceful.

As usual complete silence from the ACBL Board or the Chair of the Appeals & Charges Committee.

More bad news: Georgia Heth has been reappointed by incoming ACBL President Russ Jones to be the Chair of A & C in 2019. Clearly the cheaters are back: Lanzarotti in the ACBL, Fantoni in Europe, will Steve Sion be the next to return? Thanks (NOT), ACBL
Dec. 13, 2018
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 13, 2018
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Update as of December 12, 2018: http://web2.acbl.org/discipline/CurrentlyUnderDisciplineList.pdf

Lanzarotti is no longer listed as being expelled nor is he under probation. Appears to be a member in good standing. Disgraceful.

As usual complete silence from the ACBL Board or the Chair of the Appeals & Charges Committee.

More bad news: Georgia Heth has been reappointed by incoming ACBL President Russ Jones to be the Chair of A & C in 2019. Clearly the cheaters are back: Lanzarotti in the ACBL, Fantoni in Europe, will Steve Sion be the next to return? Thanks (NOT), ACBL
Dec. 13, 2018
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 13, 2018
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Melanie, YES, correct, 100% accurate. She wears two hats.
Dec. 12, 2018
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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.
Dec. 12, 2018
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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
Dec. 12, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 10, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 7, 2018
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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, 2018
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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, 2018
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 1, 2018
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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, 2018
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Ed: I imagine you believe justice and bridge rulings are always correct? Not the world I live in!
Dec. 1, 2018
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