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All comments by Richard Willey
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I agree that the existing recorder system appears to be badly broken. With this said and done, I think that any system based on reporting/recording “suspicious” hands is highly problematic.

Part of the reason that I have long supported the development of a system like Fred's BBOH is that this provides us with a mechanism to automatically record ALL hands.
Dec. 7, 2015
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> What surprises me is that the statisticians seem to rule
> out that top players/top analysts can sense/prove cheating
> based on bridge logic and by looking carefully into the
> hands. Just because you don't get it yourself doesn't mean
> it isn't a fact.

Hi Boye

I never claimed that top players / analysts are able to sense cheating by looking carefully at hands. Where we differ is whether these same techniques are sufficient to prove cheating in any meaningful sense of the world.

I have heard that various top players were convinced for years that F+N, F+S, and the Doctors were cheating. Nothing was able to move forward on this front until the fortuitous introduction of video feeds provided a tool that careful observers could use to match various out of band signalling techniques with hand holding and defensive decisions.

Ultimately, the fate of these pairs will be determined by careful analysis of hands and presentation of facts. In turn, this means that do care needs to be exercised to ensure that the data was analyzed fairly and that the prosecution is not cherry picking hands.
Dec. 7, 2015
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Your “top players/analysts” were cheated blind for 15 years. They may have had a sense that something was wrong, but they certainly couldn't prove anything. In the process, almost every major event has been tainted or discredited.

The only reason that things moved at all was a combination of

1. The novelty of video feeds
2. The folks who were cheating were really stupid about how they were communicating information

Now that the cheaters are aware of the strengths and weakness of video technology, you aren't going to be able to catch folks any more (and I doubt that the reason is that the game is suddenly completely clean)

Personally, I'll put my faith in the statisticians. However, I also know that these techniques need large and clean data sets to operate on.



Dec. 6, 2015
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> Create a database where every bridge player in the world
> can send in peculiar hands (must be easy to contribute with
> hands). The contributor has to identify himself/herself so
> it is possible to verify the facts (and avoid rumours and
> false accusations). I believe this database should be open
> to the public, as should all video tapes. Transparancy is a
> key.

Speaking as one of the stats types on this list, I need to emphasize that any system that only records “suspicious” hands is much less useful than a system that records all hands.

> If the thought is to use this mechanism for top level
> bridge, why don't we ask the top players? If they prefer to
> continue playing a card game (even knowing that it gives
> their opponents a better chance to cheat), don't you think > that speaks volumes about how great a card game bridge is?

The conclusion that I would draw is that people - particularly old people - don't like change. At the same time, I also believe that folks acclimate pretty quickly once they are dragged (kicking a screaming) out of their comfort zone.

One point that is worth noting: I think that we've reached the tipping point at which more hands of bridge are being played online than in F2F tournaments. You might think of bridge as a card game, however, I don't think that demographics agree with you.
Dec. 6, 2015
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Tom Peters might be on to something when he mentioned cardboard.

Triple wall card board is extremely strong, heavy enough that you don't need to worry about it getting knocked over, and much much cheaper than wood. (A decent number of folks are actually using cardboard for low cost furniture these days).

In a perfect world, you might be able to drop the costs low enough that disposable cardboard screens might be a viable substitute for shipping.

Don't discount the possibility of constructing an integrated screen / table out of cardboard rather than renting those. If designed properly, you'd also be able to block toe tappers.
Dec. 6, 2015
Richard Willey edited this comment Dec. 6, 2015
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Sadly, I don't think that players can be trusted to bring their own hardware. Its too easy to add some kind of app to facilitate cheating.

I do believe that the app itself (maybe even a tablet) should be provided to participants well in advance of the event so players have the option to practice with the new technology.
Dec. 6, 2015
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David / Sabine,

You might want to check out a new game called Crowfall. (Between this and Warhammer: Total War, 2016 is looking really exciting)
Dec. 5, 2015
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> why make me share in this cost?
> for 90% of the ACBL they don't care why make them pay these > costs?

The ACBL claims that the nonprofit's mission is to promote the game of bridge.

This system represents an enormous improvement in broadcasting and recording games. WRT Vugraph you automatically get the ability to live stream every single table being played. You also get a perfect record of every bid that is made and every card that is played. I can not help but believe that this will be good for the game. (Imagine what Eric Kokish or some other author could do to create a world championship book).

While this system doesn't go as far as I would like to prevent electronic cheating, it make it much more difficult to use more traditional methods. In addition, if we can force players to use electronic mechanisms to cheat, it does make the trial phase relatively simple. If a player is caught with a transmitter in his shoe, its going to be very hard to explaining this one away.

(BTW, I still strongly believe that you're going to want to delay hands by five minutes or so)

Dec. 5, 2015
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I think Karl hit it on the head.

Let's assume that you're dealer. You get to see when LHO bids, but that's no different than with a normal screen.

After that, you get to see when RHO bid (same information you get with a screen). However, unless there is an audible signal, you can't tell how much time was spent by partner and how much by RHO.

Dec. 4, 2015
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> Finally, and not very seriously since I suspect technical
> measures could be devised, it seems to me that any sort of
> network communication, essential to the method, might be
> susceptible to being hacked.

As shocking as it might seem, there are well established protocols to encrypt tcp connections.
Dec. 4, 2015
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I have no first hand knowledge of the architecture that Fred is using. However, I am presuming that

1. The tablets are all running client processes.
2. These clients are all communicating with a local server that is running the tournament.
3. That same server is relaying information back to BBO's main system which is responsible for handling Vugraph.

This type of system would mean that the tournament can continue to function even if the Internet feed goes pear shaped. At the same time, you don't need to worry about thousands of spectators clogging the Internet feed to whatever hotel you are playing at.
Dec. 4, 2015
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Why would anyone ever do that?

1. It is much less secure
2. The security of the system relies you trusting individuals rather than processes
3. It is un-necessary



Dec. 4, 2015
Richard Willey edited this comment Dec. 4, 2015
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As far as I can tell, table presence is a mysterious ability to pick up on minor hitches and ticks in the opponents, while simultaneously not noticing any such behavior by the partner who you play with orders of magnitude more frequently.
Dec. 4, 2015
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I prefer a system in which alerts/announcements are EITHER

1. Automatically provided to the opponents from the system file (without any indication to the pair making the bid)

or

2. Typed out by hand

The choice will depend on whether the current bidding sequence has been populated into the system file.

In a perfect world, I'd like to have a app editor that watched me play and manually alert/announce and automatically populated this information into the system file. This would have the advantage that common bids get quickly get populated into the system file. We should converge on something useful relatively quickly.



Dec. 4, 2015
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Hi Fred,

Thanks for posting such a well written description. In particular, documenting your cost assumptions is much appreciated. Here are a couple additional points that you might want to consider.

First: I suspect that you might encounter problems where people accidentally “see” a hand on a tablet at another table. It is possible to equip the screens with a privacy filter so the screens can not be viewed at an angle. The following link provides a representative example.

http://www.amazon.com/3M-Privacy-Desktop-Monitor-PF19-0/dp/B00028ONIA

Second: I think that there is value in having a mechanism by which you can demonstrate that the hands for a session are being dynamically generated in a “secure” manner. You want to make sure that people have faith both in the hand generator program and the mechanism used to seed the system. I’d recommend a system like the following

1. Use an open source program to generate your hands (Hans van Staveren’s Big Deal would be the obvious choice

2. Have a set of teams collaboratively generate the seed the program at the start of the event. Here’s one possible (elaborate) implementation. At the start of the round, four teams are chosen at random. A hand of bridge is dealt out, with a member of each team receiving the cards. Each player shuffles his own hand, marks down the order of the cards, and then hands the cards to the TD. The TD then shuffles and deals a second deck. The seed for the round is generated from (the set of four hands specified by the players salted with the second deck). At the end of the round, each principle (the four teams and the TD) publish their input in generating the seed to verify that the set of hands match the specified seed.. This may seem silly and over engineered. Perhaps it is, however, this system will provide enough randomness to be cryptographically secure. People trying to social engineer the system would need to have players on four different teams collaborating, plus have the Tournament Director in on the act.
Dec. 4, 2015
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> Jan, given ACBLs demonstrated inability to police both the
> game and their BoD it gives me little comfort to hear
> Nicholas only had access to certain parts of USBF software
> prior to trials. How can we entrust computer security to
> those who have failed us in those and all other regards?

Earlier in the thread when you stated

“Richard, only USBF can state definitively whether or not Mr Hammond's access to their system would have enabled him to retrieve hand records.”

You might want to tack on another clause like “Unless the USBF disagrees with me, in which case I'll ignore what they have to say”
Dec. 3, 2015
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The BBO system only works if folks flag the content and Gabrielle's posts are far too amusing to want to censor. (I am halfway convinced they're some bizarre type of performance art)
Dec. 3, 2015
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> Perhaps ACBL should offer Mr Hammond the opportunity to
> cede copyright / ownership claims on Score+ in exchange for
> dropping investigation into his involvement in the Score+
> bidding process (as a member of tech committee) and his
> suspicious behavior just prior to start of 2013 trials.

Comment 1: Is the ACBL actively investigating Mr. Hammond? In previous posts you kept complaining that no one but you cared about this, so its kinda difficult to reconcile your claims.

Comment 2: So, you are advocating that it is appropriate for the government to threaten individuals with investigations in order to force them to give up their personal property? (Given all you complaints about criminal over reach by the US government, it is surprising to see you advocate these kinds of tactics. I guess anything is fair so long as you dislike the victim)

Dec. 3, 2015
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Excuse me…

When did we establish that Hammond had access to the USBF computers?

We know that he attended the trials to watch how things were being done. This is not the same as having access to their machines.

You keep making lots of assumptions and given your strong dislike for Mr Hammond, I'm not incline to give you much latitude here.

We've already established that you refuse to talk to Hammond. I am curious whether you have bothered to talk to anyone at the USBF to validate any of your claims. (or would that detract from your fun little insinuations?)
Dec. 3, 2015
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> Please tell me you think someone displaying such bizarrely
> defensive behavior, without provocation, should be given
> access to sensitive data such as hand records the day
> before USBF trials are to start?

Personally, I don't think that ANYONE should be granted access to the hand records the day before the trials are supposed to start.

At the same time, I don't think that you have demonstrated that Hammond had access to the hand records. (I don't anything about what type of physical security is used nor whether there are any mechanisms to detect whether the hand records might have been opened)

FWIW, I have already described that system that I would implement in an electronic playing environment to generate hands in a verifiable and secure manner.






Dec. 3, 2015
Richard Willey edited this comment Dec. 3, 2015
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