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All comments by Mark Leonard
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If you're not cheating, then you have absolutely no reason to feel uncomfortable.
Sept. 16, 2015
Mark Leonard edited this comment Sept. 16, 2015
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“Cheaters are on the whole not psychopaths, they do it as an intellectual exercise, almost as an adjuct (sic) to their bridge skills”

What evidence do you have of this?
Sept. 14, 2015
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@Hanan -

Your characterization of “those who have made up their minds far in advance” is setting up a strawman. While there may be those that fall into this category, I suggest that a far greater portion falls into “those that have viewed the evidence presented with an open mind, consider it conclusive and are ready to move to the next phase of the process.”

Calling for the “accumulation of the largest possible body of evidence” sounds very reasonable, but as an unquantifiable goal, it serves the purpose of forever delaying action by allowing claims that more can still be done.
Sept. 4, 2015
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Without making any claim to be an expert player, I think the question is if you (or another pair) always do this.

If there are some hands where you don't make the negative double and some hands where you do, then there are questions that arise - especially if partner tends to have your major when you double, and not have your major when you don't.
Aug. 30, 2015
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With apologies for being pedantic, “Peanuts” has been one of my lifelong loves. The orginal quote is “You're a good man, Charlie Brown!”. While I can live with changing “man” to “kid”, misspelling his first name is a felony. :)
Aug. 30, 2015
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Sathya, I'm not sure that because no commentator said anything in the chat that it is safe to conclude that none of them thought that it was “out of the ordinary”. The commentators are not required to put every thought into chat.
Aug. 30, 2015
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Steve,

While I agree with your facts, I can't agree with your characterization. The ACBL Bulletin is (or should be) charged with marketing the game of bridge. What you call “propaganda”, I would refer to as “a key part of a comprehensive marketing and business plan”.

That is why it is important to have sites like BW that provide independent journalism. For parallels, see the work that ESPN did with “Game of Shadows” for Major League Baseball and PBS did with “League of Denial” for the National Football League. Neither of those stories was originally promoted on MLB.com or NFL.com
Aug. 30, 2015
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Kit,

I mentioned this elsewhere. My apologies if this is considered redundant.

First, my complete respect to you for doing this analysis. This does not seem simple nor the circumstances fun.

Next, there seems to be an implicit assumption in your work that a pair in possession of illegal information will always use that information. If so, doesn't this create an incentive for a pair that cheats to occasionally do something suboptimal in order to create credible exculpatory evidence?

To me, this seems quite analogous to poker strategy of randomizing bluffs (Sklansky, IIRC), in order to not create a pattern that can be identified. Or put another way, "if you never get caught in a bluff, you're not bluffing enough.

Aug. 30, 2015
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@Timo - I am in agreement with you. I am NOT questioning any of the evidence already provided. I am merely trying to get to the bottom of statements that appear to be logically inconsistent.

@Roland - You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But I find it odd that you would dismiss “suspicious hands” as evidence but include “rumors of wrongdoing” as a basis for your opinion. Finally, I will just say that it appears that our definitions of “plausible”, “undeniable logic” and “borderline” appear to widely different.

Aug. 30, 2015
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There is a problem with Kit's approach in that it adds a level of game theory into the “process” of catching cheaters.

There is an implicit assumption that a cheating pair will always take advantage of the illegally obtained information. Kit (and others) suggest that if there are hands where there appears to be a lack of information then it is exculpatory.

This makes it optimal behavior for a cheating pair to occasionally do something unusual, but unsuccessful, as a way of creating a shield against accusations.
Aug. 30, 2015
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Roland,

I am confused by your comment - “I also believe F/S are guilty of cheating, but - once again - not because someone found a handful of suspicious hands and presented them as clear evidence.”

1) Where are you getting evidence of cheating if not from the hands?
2) Are you in possession of evidence other than this to account for your belief above?
3) If the answers to 1 and 2 are no, what is your basis for concluding that they are cheating?

Aug. 30, 2015
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In light of other BW investigations (see Technology Committee) that have been very instrumental in creating positive change, I would hope that BW will take a lead on this topic as well. I would like to suggest two items:

1. I would hope that BW has or will reach out to Mike Passell for a interview where he would tell his side of the story but also be open to answering questions without conditions.

2. BW could also create a panel of top players, probably virtually, to discuss cheating - how, when and why (no names needed). IF the ACBL is constrained in policing cheating because of the speculation above (and I have no reason to believe or disbelieve the speculation), then self-regulation among the bridge pro community may be the answer.
Aug. 17, 2015
Mark Leonard edited this comment Aug. 17, 2015
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I don't want to get far off topic, but a particular touch point of mine was mentioned here. No one's “freedom of speech” is violated in a forum such as this when they are moderated or suspended. The First Amendment protects individuals from censorship by the government. BridgeWinners is perfectly within their rights to have guidelines for what can and cannot be posted on their website.

If anyone wants to put out information that is not allowed on here, you are welcome to create a blog (which since you all have the technology to post on here, can be done with zero additional financial costs).
Aug. 17, 2015
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Scroll to the right…
Aug. 9, 2015
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You may have never heard a complaint about it because there is no alternative. However if that is truly the case, let me be the first to tell you that it is an anachronism.

I am confused by those that say that receiving their assignments electronically “takes much of the fun out of the game”. Perhaps I am just sheltered, but in the circle that I frequent “much of the fun” of the game is playing the game, not in the administration of the game.
Aug. 9, 2015
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Love this service. Great work.

On Day 2 or 3 (a guy can dream) of an event, do you still have to wait in the line for your assignment or is there a way to deliver the assignment virtually like on Day 1?
Nov. 4, 2014
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David B.,

Your first statement is a fine sentiment, but I would fear its practical implications.

You would try to find some other word than “usually”. I would propose that someone that doesn't understand the meaning of that word is unlikely to be able to understand one of its synonyms as well. What would you suggest as an alternative for “usually”? For that matter, how many different versions of “usually” is one to provide in order to fulfill the obligation you place upon the explainer?

What about if my opponent doesn't seem to understand the meaning of “non-forcing” or “relay”? What level of English comprehension is the minimum standard?
July 29, 2014
Mark Leonard edited this comment July 29, 2014
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@Nat Silver - I think we all agree to the stipulation that Vugraph is great and that if there were sufficient resources - human, technology and financial - we would all like to see more matches covered. Since you are willing to pay and the Vugraph operation is largely a volunteer operation, I suggest you start to organize more people like yourself that would be willing to financially support it (lest you think this is merely a jab on my part, I would gladly pledge to such a fund).

But in the bridge world we live in now, there are limited resources available. And Jan, Joe and their band of Merry Men and Women must deal with reality. So, it is here that I part ways with your sentiments about the “small crime” committed. You state that the fault was discovered “WHEN (the match) turned out to be so pivotal” (emphasis added). So, if the 42 IMP difference had ballooned in favor of Nickell, while the 5 IMP match had been an exciting back and forth with the outcome unknown until the last card of the last deal, then would the “crime” have been not covering that “pivotal” match?

In addition, I'm not sure of the meaning of “Not all the matches were the equal of the one already being covered”. Would you expand on your criteria to judge the quality of the Spingold matches?

July 26, 2014
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