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All comments by Richard Willey
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> Far better if people on a web site decide on guilt or innocence and
> then also decide on sentence. All this hearing witnesses and studying
> written evidence is much overrated.

Comment 1: I would think that we could objectively agree that the system in which a partnership who confesses to cheating receives a significantly more harsh sentence than a pair who did not confess and cheated in many more and more significant events.

Comment 2: The set of information available to the wed forum is most certainly biased. We have not seen the arguments that F+N presented in their defense. At the same time, folks here aren't subject to the same constrains as the Italian apparatchiks who chose the eventual punishment. Who is to say which set of biases are worse.
April 6, 2016
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Does anyone understand how the Olympic committee defines a “first offense”? It appears as if there is evidence that F+N cheated in multiple events. I would think (hope) that each instance might be considered to be an offense.

In any case, this is (yet more) evidence that attempting to make bridge an Olympic sport has cost the game enormously…
April 6, 2016
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> the ACBL hearings haven't happened the EBL
> hearings haven't happened, B-S are still
> playing in Poland. But the Israeli hearings
> which are ongoing have a few delays and the
> IBF and everyone around it is losing credibility?

The IBF is being criticized because they are consistently failing to meet their schedule. They set targets and over and over again, they fail to meet expectations.

I agree that the ACBL hasn't done much yet. You do, of course, realize that part of the reason for this is that the ACBL is waiting until the IBF concludes its own investigation before starting their own up…

> I contend the SEC is doing a great job
> under trying circumstances. The Panel
> members had no idea what the outcome would
> be from a time perspective when they started.

Given that F+S were threatening million dollar lawsuits from the moment this all started, I find it hard to believe that you panel couldn't have expect that this would be time consuming. If they really were that ignorant, this bodes ill for their judgement.
April 5, 2016
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> What's the point of this? I suppose the various authorities are
> aware of the possibility of electronic communication, and may
> be operating detectors at major events. The fewer people who
> know the details of what they can and can't detect the better.

I have zero confidence that the authorities will deal with these issues in either a timely or competent fashion. I don't trust their claims and think that independent verification is required.

As a general rule, I don't like security through obscurity and think that things work much better if people understand the strengths and weaknesses of a security regime and are able to have open discussion about these issues.
April 4, 2016
Richard Willey edited this comment April 4, 2016
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Best way to defend against the “hearing aid” is to time delay the Vugraph such that they only one who could be broadcasting is the another person playing the same board.

Presumably the individuals playing the boards will be subject to physical proctoring and it will be easier to detect an xmitter that needs to broadcast from a known location.
April 4, 2016
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> Who would you propose to pay for all of this?

I can make arguments in favor of assigning costs to a number of different groups.

1. The same technology that will help with the whole “cheating” issue will also lead to dramatic improvements in our capabilities for online Vugraph as well as generate electronic records for publications like the World Championship books that Eric Kokish used to write up. In turn, one might argue that the following groups might end up contributing towards the solution

A) National organizations like the ACBL might determine that they have a vested interest in subsidizing online vugraph as part of their efforts to promote and popularize bridge. (Ultimately, the costs would devolve down to the membership)

B) The owners of sites like BBO (Hi Fred! Hi Uday!) might decide that this is an effort that they would be willing to back. I don't consider this far fetched, especially since BBO is already pursuing some efforts along these same lines)

C) In theory, one might start charging for Vugraph

2. Today, sponsors pay enormous amounts of money in order to hire pros to win events for them. The main thing that the cheating scandal is doing is degrading the value of those investments. (If I were Pierre Zimmerman, I'd be pretty damn pissed to potentially be losing a whole bunch of titles because two of the pro's that I hired turned out to be cheats). Paying to improve the security being used could easily be viewed as a prudent investment.

3. User fees assigned to the players participating in the events.

Practically speaking, I expect that a solution to be funded via a combination of:

1B
2
1A
April 4, 2016
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Greg:

Prior to join Akamai (where I work for the company's Information Security group) I spent several years at the MathWorks where I was the product manager for MATLAB's statistics system and did lots of work that combined Statistics Toolbox with Image Processing. (For example, we did some cute work that would take a picture of a sudoku, solve it, and then spit out the answer).

In any case, while I agree that computer vision could be used to solve this sort of problem, I think that (in practice) if would be much more difficult to build and maintain, much more error prone, and quite annoying to set up.
April 4, 2016
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Hi Greg,

I think that we are going to inexorably be forced into a situation in which major events are held using an electronic playing environment.

There is no easier or more cost effective way to get a perfect record of bids made / cards played / tempo than competing using computer terminals.

In a similar vein, if you are trying to detect electronic communications, the further you can separate the players the better.
April 4, 2016
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This begs the question: Why were no culprits found?

1. Because they don't exist
2. Because no one is bothering to look
April 4, 2016
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> His stated opinion is: “For me, doing really,
> really w{ell} and clearly exhibiting behavior
> that is consistent with cheating is enough
> to string them up.”

Ray, I realize that you aren't smart enough to contribute anything to these discussions other than whining and snark, however, please make some effort to follow the conversation at hand.

The quote that you provide is perfectly accurate, however, you are offering it without any context. The discussion at hand had to do with formal hypothesis testing and whether or not it was necessary to “break the defendant's code” as opposed to demonstrating the existence of a side channel.

You might not like my opinion or they way I chose to express this, however, I assure you I can point to any number of other players on these boards who feel the same. Moreover, if we are going to deal with players who adopt slightly more sophisticated methods of cheating -for example changing their signals between rounds - it will be absolutely necessary to move to these types of standards.

Thanks for trying however. Maybe we can arrange to give you a special prize for participation…
April 4, 2016
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> If anything they should be gaining in credibility daily.

That comment is almost offensive

1. If you can't attend hearings for something this important, you shouldn't be on the panel to being with

2. The panel needs to be large enough (and include sufficient alternates) that this kinda of crap doesn't happen

That fact that these cancelations are occurring more often than not shows that the IBF really screwed the pooch. (And claiming that you deserve credit for being more organized than the Italians is setting a very very low bar)
April 3, 2016
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> Not sure where to comment on this event
> in Reno. When playing in the Reno Ballroom,
> a man came into the playing area using foul
> language and went to the water cooler in
> the middle of the room. It was disruptive
> to say the least. What about security at bridge
> tournaments?

Shit happens.
Grow up.

How was this horrific event eventually dealt with? (I am guessing that the folks who are responsible for running the venue cite were notified and that they removed the individual in question)

In all seriousness, the folks who own and operate the site need to deal with these sorts of issues 365 days a year.
Why would you ever want or expect the ACBL to develop some kind of competency in addressing this sort of problem.

(For christ sakes the ACBL can barely mange to sell entries and can't manage to post event results. Why would you ever want them to deal with terrorist threats?)



March 25, 2016
Richard Willey edited this comment March 25, 2016
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I am not a lawyer. With this said and done, I know that MS is an “Employment at Will” state.

Here is a relevant quote from the Mississippi bar

“Employers and employees need to have clear understandings of their rights in the workplace, both individually and in relation to each other. One area of evolving legal definition is an employer's rights in firing an employee and, conversely, an employee's rights to job protection under the law. What may have once been considered a legal firing may now be considered a wrongful termination of an employee.

Mississippi law follows the ”employment at will“ doctrine, which gives an employer the right to dismiss for any reason an employee that was hired for a period of time or an indefinite term. However, both the Mississippi Supreme Court and new federal laws have clearly defined specific instances where an employee's firing is wrongful or illegal.

Mississippi's high court has ruled that if a company creates procedures that employers must follow in terminating an employee and outlines those steps in the employee handbook or guidance policy, supervisors must follow them. In addition, anyone employed for a definite term, including through a written contract, cannot be fired at will. In such a case, the employer must show just cause for terminating the employee before the term expires.”

The following web page might also be of interest

http://www.xperthr.com/employment-law-manual/employment-at-will-mississippi/7407/
March 23, 2016
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> No Richard, I'm not a native English speaker.
> I wonder why you have to ask.

I only asked because it seemed more polite than what what I had originally written…
March 21, 2016
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> Are you splitting hairs, Richard? Is the word “completely” confusing
> you? It shouldn't, because it doesn't make “random” any more random.

Kurt, are you a native english speaker because I don't think that your postings mean what you think they do.

You initially wrote a posting that states the following

> You would like to have a conviction based on exceptionally good
> leads and pen movements that appear completely random.

Your use of words suggests that it is impossible recognize any type of pattern with respect to the way in which the pens (boards) are being placed. However, that is completely untrue in this example.

> Don't you think the outcome of tossing a fair coin is random?

The outcome of a coin flip is (pretty) limited to heads or tails. In contrast, if I chose a location in a two dimensional space, I can chose from a near infinite number of locations. If I am limiting my choice to a fairly small number of very discrete locations, that suggests something.
March 21, 2016
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Perhaps we have different definitions of “completely random”

When I look at the board positions, I don't see boards that are placed completely at random, rather I see that the placement varies across a relatively small number of distinct and discrete locations. I cant understand boards that always get placed in the same spot. (For example, precisely what happens when F+S are not defending). I can understand slopping board placement. (Boards whose placement is assigned by some kind of continuous probability density function). However, when the variation happens across a small number of discrete spots, I start to think signaling.
March 21, 2016
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> The letter also contradicts my personal experience working with
> the ACBL on entries. They seem to be finally recovering from the
> immeasurable loss of Jeff Johnson.

Systems that can not operate if you remove a single individual are, by definition, badly flawed.
March 20, 2016
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I believe that the ACBL is in a death spiral. The only question is whether or not it drags all of North American bridge down with it.

The most responsible thing that the organization could do would be to disband completely, as quickly as possible, in the hopes that something better might still be able to spring forth.

Absent this, I think that the single most important change is radical reform of the governance structure start with shrinking the Board of Directors down to a manageable size.




March 19, 2016
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Rezo wrote:

> Why do I need to find out what happened elsewhere if I
> am not supposed to neither by allegation nor by defence?
> Can please explain? Oppinion is not on whether they
> cheated or not!
> I am not mind reader and if you would listen to video I
> said it many times it takes lot of time and effort to look
> at all the videos which I often times not have. So I
> concentrate my efforts on what was presented to
> me by allegation!

There's an old saying. In English, it goes
“Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.”

No one asked nor required you to submit your “expert” testimony. This is something that you chose to do, and, from what I can tell, chose to do in a remarkably slipshod manner.

I'm sorry, but if you're inserting yourself into the proceedings by volunteering expert testimony, you damn well shouldn't then be saying “Sorry, I bother to research the case properly. That would have taken a lot of time and effort.”
March 18, 2016
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FWIW, I think that there (should be) some debate regarding the appropriate standard of proof regarding video evidence with respect to cheating.

From my own perspective, I think that “breaking the code” is too high a standard of proof. I don’t think that there is any guarantee that coding is stationary. (I am somewhat surprised that F+S appear to have been using the same coding across multiple events). I would instead substitute the following

If a pair exhibits what appears to be deliberate use of a side channel AND
That pair exhibits unusual success

this is sufficient to impose penalties.

In the case of F+S, their board placement on a specific, easily identifiable set of hands is very consistent with signaling.

• Board placement is not static (always in the same place)
• Board placement is not continuous
• Rather, the placement of board varies across a small number of discrete positions

In conjunction with this, F+S have had a truly remarkable run.

For me, doing really, really way and clearly exhibiting behavior that is consistent with cheating is enough to string them up. (Past penalties for cheating are merely icing on the cake)

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on these points. At the same time, I don’t think that there is any clear consensus regarding what the standard of proof should be and I don’t think that it is any more reasonable to dictate that the “code” must be broken.

It will be interesting to see what standards people suggest if F+S ended up being cleared based on questions regarding the accuracy of the code…
March 18, 2016
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