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All comments by Richard Willey
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15 years worth of major tournaments and world championships irrevocably tainted hardly seems “perfect” to me…
Sept. 18, 2015
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Larry, we're all running the Red Queen's race here. However, this is no excuse for giving up.

In answer to some of your questions:

1. Yes, players could be using electronics to communicate. However, there are controls for this. You place members of the same partnership far apart to increase the strength of the transmitter and receiver and make it easier to sweep for bugs. You delay the transmission of the Vugraph feed to prevent outsiders from broadcasting information.

2. Yes, someone might bribe an official to give them hands in advance. As such, you create a public, audit-able mechanism to generate the seed for your RNG at the start of each round and publish the seed at the close of each round.


Sept. 18, 2015
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Dear Mr Hamman,

Let me start by saying that I strongly support efforts to transition to an electronic playing environment at the top levels of the game and am gratified to see your offer to subsidize such an effort. With this said and done, I think that it is much more important to make sure that this transition is done “right” rather than having it happen immediately. I believe that a failed move in this direction would discredit the entire effort. As such, I encourage a slow and considered migration.

I’d like to throw out a few considerations that I believe should be address as part of any such transition. I hope that these prove useful.

1. The application that will be used for tournament play needs to be provided to all participants well in advance of the event. I think that it is crucial that the participants have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the application and practice with it well for at least six months prior to the event. (You’ll probably also get a number of good improvements to the user interface)

2. Have a mechanism in place by which you can quickly audit the tablets at the close of each round. You need a mechanism by which you can ensure that no one can add a third party app to the tablets that you are distributing.

3. In addition to preventing cheating, transitioning to an electronic playing environment could be a dramatic boon for Vugraph. Imagine a world in which one could chose to watch any table from the Cavendish pairs or and or any match from the Bermuda Bowl. I strongly believe that it is best for bridge if all these feeds are available for free real time broadcast rather than locked down by Our Game or BBO or the WBF. The benefits to bridge players as a whole far outweigh the advantages in letting the WBF sell the rights to watch this event. The Intellectual Property issues need to get locked down up front.

4. I think that it is critical that any broadcast includes a fixed time delay. (10-15 minutes or so should be sufficient). No boards that have been broadcast to the internet should ever be in live play. I know that some people (for example Fred Gitelman) strongly disagree with me on this. However, if live boards are being broadcast, you introduce easy and obvious ways to cheat. (I personally would build a receiver into a hearing aid)

5. You want to have a protocol in place at the start of each round of the tournament to generate the seed for the hands for this round. Make the algorithm to generate the hands from the seed public. Publish the seed at the end of each round so folks can be sure that nothing untoword happened. Here is one possible implementation. At the start of each round, select four teams at random and have them deal out four hands. Each team selects one of these hands, writes down the cards, and hands the cards to the official. The set of all cards provides the seed for generating the hand for that round. Cracking the seed would require collusion across a set of four randomly chosen teams.
Sept. 18, 2015
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Hi Allan,

For all intents and purposes, the table that you describe has already been invented. There are very similar systems already in use for poker. The casinos have equivalent systems in place to track player performance at blackjack and the like. Most of the systems are either based off RFID technology or video feeds with image recognition software.

Where life gets complicated is the cost. My understanding is that these systems aren't cheap (Josh Donn might be able to provide concrete data). These systems are cost effective for casinos and poker because they amortize the cost over a very large number of events. This isn't nearly as feasible for bridge.

Sept. 17, 2015
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Jean-Charles,

This ridiculous focus on Boye is a sad attempt at distraction. I couldn't care less why Boye decided to make a public accusation at this point in time. All I know is

1. The WBF, the IBF, and Monaco's bridge federation had been unwilling to take any action with respect to F+N and F+S before now.

2. Boye was able to produce convincing enough evidence that neither F+N or F+S are playing in the Bermuda Bowl next month and we might have a clean championship for a change.

I think all of us would have preferred if these issues were able to be solved using regular procedure. Perhaps if your organization had done its job back when F+S were (effectively) barred from competing in the Cavendish, some of this might have been avoided.

It might be better if you spent a little less time complaining about other people and a little more running your federation.

Sept. 16, 2015
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Actually Gene, if you look at the title you see that this is an clause rather than a complete sentence. The first couple lines of text of the post extend this and make it clear that discussions about an electronic playing environment are a natural consequence of this cheating scandal.

You claim that an electronic playing environment is not a real option, however, in a previous thread Fred Gitelman and Alvin Levy both commented that the powers that be are already working to test this type of solution for high level events.

Simply put, you have no clue what you're talking about.
Sept. 16, 2015
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FWIW, I made the same suggestion as Gábor a couple weeks back. Needless to say, I think that this is a (more than) reasonable suggestion.

As David and Gábor both note, we need better information about the shape of the data before we can evaluate how well this method works.
Sept. 16, 2015
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I am guessing that Nat's intent was to suggest that Gary has been obsessing about this for years and that his mental well being will be much improved if he puts this behind him.
Sept. 15, 2015
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Bridge isn't going to be on TV in any meaningful way.
Bridge isn't going to be in the Olympics.
The sooner we put these pipe dreams behind us, the better.
Sept. 14, 2015
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1. For the overwhelming majority of players, the only exposure that they have to “top level events” like the Bermuda Bowl is via Vugraph or event write ups in the Bridge World of The Bulletin. if anything, migrating to an electronic playing environment will dramatically improve these aspects of the game because you get comprehensive Vugraph for free and a complete set of records for after the fact analysis.

2. From what I can tell, the main thing that the top level players want is an end to cheating in top level events. I am sorry to say that I don't see any good way to square the circle. if you want a nice friendly social game, you're going to continue to get taken advantage of.

3. As I have mentioned several times before, I'm not proposing that any of this gets rolled out either in clubs or low level events.






Sept. 14, 2015
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Hi Gene,

There very fact that you are asking for a foolproof / perfect solution means that you aren't qualified to engage in a discussion about security. Nothing in security is “foolproof”. Any system can be broken. The only thing that you can do is make things more difficult for the adversary. (I recommend going and looking at the way in which safe's get rated. The ratings describe how long a given safe is able to resist a given set of attacks).

With respect to your second set of demands:

I envision the following type of system for top level bridge events (the Bermuda Bowl, the Cavendish, the three major NABC titles, the European championships, the Transnational teams).

1. The entire event, from start to finish, is run over BBO (or some equivalent). The event is run off a local server with the option to fall over to a networked server on the internet.

2. Hands for each round are generated at the start of the round, seeded using a physical source of entropy.

3. All North's are physically segregated in one room. All South's are physically segregated in a second. East's in a third. West's in a fourth.

4. Participants bid, play, and communicate using tablets provided by the event organizers. This information can be broadcast to the internet with a time delay.

With this said and done, I am not demanding that this exact system gets implemented. What I do consider to be essential is that the powers that be commit to implementing some equivalent system AND they kick off discussion to design this.

If the WBF or whomever wanted to hire me to design them a system, I'd be happy to do so. However, they'd need to hire me away from my current gig doing this same type of work for Akamai and I don't think they're going to match my salary.




Sept. 14, 2015
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One reason that I have been stressing physical separation for members of the same pair is to force the use of more powerful devices that will be easier to catch via a “sweep”
Sept. 14, 2015
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This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

http://www.imp-bridge.nl/sites/default/files/Fantunes.jpg
Sept. 14, 2015
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Video tapes work great if the cheaters are stupid enough to rely on primitive communications channels like the placement of cards or bidding boxes or what have you.

People have been using electronic devices to cheat at chess, backgammon, blackjack, and the like for decades.

Why do you believe that bridge players are less capable in the way that they cheat?

The only cheats that you are catching are the stupid ones.

Sept. 14, 2015
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Could you also label F+N
Sept. 14, 2015
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Since you were asking for predictions, I would expect to see

1. A positive correlation between skill as a declarer and skill as a defender

2. F-S scoring significantly higher on defense than on offense
Sept. 13, 2015
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Hi Nic

Any chance that you could (easily) generate the following:

First: Examine ONLY those cases in which the same contract was declared at both tables.

Next, for each pair, calculate their IMPS score when they are defending and when they are declaring.

Generate a scatter plot showing where each pair is located in this space.

Last, but not least, label the point that corresponds to Fisher Schwarz. If the data set appears to show a strong linear trend, label a few of the outliers.

Thanks!

Sept. 13, 2015
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Out of curiousity, what happens to that information after the game? Does it get sent to the NBO and stored in a readily accessible database? Alternatively, does it all get deleted as soon as folks get their masterpoints?

I, personally, wonder about the accuracy of that information if it is being input by “volunteers”. (By which I mean players at the table who don't understand why this information is so valuable)





Sept. 12, 2015
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I think that its worth flagging (in a good sort of way) Mark's second comment.

I am of the opinion statistics based on comparing a pair of values may very well provide better information that statistics based on looking at one value in isolation (hence my interest in comparing scores when declaring with scores when defending).

If we have the luxury to compare and individual's opening leads within a given partnership with opening leads across partnerships this could provide some very useful information.

Sept. 11, 2015
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Parity leads / PRISM signals
Sept. 10, 2015
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