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All comments by Richard Willey
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Mainly, flogging a dead horse.

I have been speaking publicly on multiple bridge forums about the need for high level events to transition to an electronic playing environment since the Tenerife scandal. Throughout this time, I have consistently been emphasizing the advantages of having comprehensive hand records to search for evidence of cheating, as well as the benefits of separating players from their partners.

I certainly don't claim that I got everything correct. In particular, I never envisioned how beneficial video feeds would be in detecting low tech cheating methods. (In my defense, I think that this caught F+N and F+S even more by surprise). FWIW, I think that there are still pairs out there using more sophisticated (high tech) methods to cheat.

I'm sure that you are going to respond “so what”. And you know what. I agree. Compared to the work that Boye was responsible for, my claims don't amount to that much. However, I am consoled by the fact that it looks like much of what I was advocating for and described appears to be coming to pass.

Oct. 31, 2015
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From my own perspective, I considered it “obvious” that there was significant cheating going on in high level bridge. The combination of significant cash rewards and lax security made this nigh inevitable. The WBF did nothing to address this issue, despite a series of well known cheating events in other mind sports (many of which involved electronic communications).

As a of the WBF's incompetence, the results of nearly every major event over the past 15 years has been irrevocably tainted.

I think that we can do a lot better.


Oct. 31, 2015
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Hi Fred

For better or worse, if you title an event a “World Championship” you are going to set expectations in people's minds. Some of those expectations will be helpful (as you note, this might make it easier to attract corporate sponsors). Others will be less helpful.

On the later front, I would expect that the WBF to view the establishment of an alternative “World Championship” with skepticism to say the least. I think that you want to be cognizant of this from the get go. I also think that you will open yourself up to a lot of different potential critiques around representation.

From my own perspective, I think that your easiest path would be starting with small private tournament that was not branded as a world championship. Once the tournament was well established, you'd always have the option of rebranding this. (You'd potentially have a more legitimate claim)

If you do decide that you want to claim the title “World Championship” from the get go, I think that you'd be better off biting the bullet and dealing with issues surround more open representation.

Regardless of which way you decide to proceed, I think that you're in the privileged position that you can compete based on the quality of your product offering. If you can provide superior security to your participants and superior spectator experience for the international audience, I think that you'll have a very real chance at success. (And I wasn't kidding that you should get Kokish or some such to create an ebook covering the event)




Oct. 30, 2015
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For the record, I own three Maine Coon cats.

(BTW, this may very well surprise Fred, however, the picture of the two cats in the BBO portrait gallery are two of mine)
Oct. 29, 2015
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Yuan asked

> one issue is however why people would play

Here's my perspective: If the cheating allocations against F+N, F+S, and P+Z prove to be true, then the results of almost every top tier tournament over the last 15+ years has been irrevocably contaminated.

Consider the time and effort that top players spend preparing for these events. Consider the amount of money that top sponsors have spent hiring teams. Then consider that all this has been for naught and that the WBF isn't rising to the occasion.

I don't find it surprising that the top talent is investigating ways to improve upon the current situation.

Ultimately, I believe that the success of this type of venture will be determined by the top tier of pros and sponsors. The WBF can't stop them from splintering. Legitimacy will be granted by the caliber of play. Don't forget that BBO is (presumably) going to be actively involved which means that the quality of record keeping and broadcasting will dramatically improve over what is currently available. (If I were actively involved in this, one thing that I would do is hire on Eric Kokish to provide commentary on the hand records much as he used to do for the WBF events)
Oct. 29, 2015
Richard Willey edited this comment Oct. 29, 2015
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Ian, you give me far too much credit if you confuse something that I describe as a straw man proposal that I threw together on my morning commute with some kind of stalking horse for the North American bridge establishment.

I'm not going to speak for Fred's proposal about nominating teams. Please recall that my own proposal was significantly different.

1. I advocated doing away with the entire idea of national teams. If a pair of Norweigans wants to team up with a couple of Italians and a pair of Russians, more power to them. In a similar vein, if a team of six players from Singapore wants to participate and is able to either win a satellite game OR purchase and entry, more power to them.

2. I believe that strong players from small countries are considerably better off under my proposal then they are in the existing system. In the system that I advocate, these players have the freedom to join together and form a strong international team. Under the existing system, players need to hope that six world class players are born in Singapore at the same time.

Oct. 29, 2015
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Hi Fred,

Thanks for sketching out what you are thinking of.

One quick question about your proposal: From the sounds of things, you want to teams to represent countries.

Do you have any perspective how the participants for “Team Uzbekistan” would be selected? There are a couple of obvious solutions, but arguably, there are problems with either.

On the one hand, you could have the USBF, the EBU, the PBL and the like select the members of the team, however, its unclear that they would be willing or able to support dueling World Championships. Alternatively, you could invite the players directly, but this leaves you open to people making weird claims about favortism.

Oct. 29, 2015
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> Until someone can come forward with a true balance of costs
> (fees and sponsorships vs operation and manpower) this
> trend is another thinking exercise.

Personally, I find it useful to think about things before implementing anything.

On a more serious note, I do think that it is both possible and useful to try to reach agreement on certain broad principles before jumping straight to the fine details.

FWIW, the reason that I am going down this path is because I would very much like to see an alternative world championship flourish and thrive. However, I am practical enough to believe that generating sustained cashflows for such an effort will be extremely difficult.

Traditional funding sources won't be available. You might be able to get a very wealthy donor to kickstart the effort, however, I would be surprised if you can get a long term endowment. In turn, that means that you need to use entry fees to cover your costs.

I see this sort of split entry model as the best way to ensure that less affluent individuals have an equal opportunity to participate. (If you try to spread the costs evenly a lot of them will be priced out of the event). I understand that many folks don't like the “visuals” associated with selling entries, however, in all honesty the same thing is happening today through different means. I'm just suggesting that we make things more explicit and place some bounds on it.
Oct. 29, 2015
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I just looked at the lastest version of the ACBL's GCC.

Item 1 under responses sanctions “ONE DIAMOND as a forcing, artificial response to one club.”
Oct. 29, 2015
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Are you referring to the response structure over the 1 opening?

If so, most any of the structures that I've seen, dating all the way back to Matula are GCC legal.

Dan Neill has a decent enough summary of this at http://www.bridgewithdan.com/systems/Matula_text.txt


Oct. 29, 2015
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Hi Brad,

I am very interested in your comment about creating a new world championship event that is not affiliated with the WBF. (FWIW, I think that this is a great idea)

I strongly encourage you to create a separate thread to discuss this effort when you have the opportunity. I am guessing that open discussion during the early planning stages might yield some innovative ideas.
Oct. 29, 2015
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> Another sure way to lose new players at a club game is to
> psych against them. Whatever you gain from psyching isn't
> worth the hostility it creates. They'll think they've been
> cheated no matter what anyone says to them.

And that same group of novice players will get horribly aggrieved if you dare point out that their own bidding bears no relationship to the cards that they hold in their hand.

Sadly, “working the refs” seems to be the first skill that the novices pick up.


Oct. 29, 2015
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> I can only speak for myself – my urging the team from
> Poland to withdraw, was not the use of “words intended to
> insult” them, or to injure their reputation. I believe that
> others thought – as did I –that the withdrawal would have
> been the right thing to do, and would have enhanced their
> reputation.

All that you are doing here is building a straw man.

Over the course of the last couple months I saw plenty of disparging comments regarding the disclosure proprieties of Polish players.

This is gratuitous because the magnitude of the two types of improprieties seems incredibly different (doing a poor job filling out convention cards / submitting convention cards / answering questions is far from desirably conduct, however, it seems categorically different than having a wire).

It seems obvious that this is a slur.
Oct. 27, 2015
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The degree of transparency and respect for process is a breathe of fresh air.
Oct. 27, 2015
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> “Democracy can't work. Mathematicians, peasants, and
> animals, that's all there is — so democracy, a theory based
> on the assumption that mathematicians and peasants are
> equal, can never work. Wisdom is not additive; its maximum
> is that of the wisest man in a given group.”

Definitely a prototypical Heinlein quote

1. A specific grandiose claim
2. Rooted in simple obvious logic
3. WRONG

Oct. 26, 2015
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Gene,

From what I can tell, you want cheaters expelled for all time, with no hope of redemption. You've figured out that you can't get your way on this point, so now you want to play the spoiler and hound individuals who cheated in the past out of tournaments. Color me unimpressed.

I believe that we are best served with a fairly black and white approach towards cheaters.

It's fine to ban a player from an event. However, once you make a decision to let a player participate in an event you treat the player the same as any other. If you are unwilling to do so, you shouldn't have un-banned them to begin with.

Oct. 26, 2015
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The question seems nonsensical.

If I were running a tournament, the last thing that I would do is offer players the option of screwing up movements and requiring board adjustments, all so I could have the privilege of watching players express how sanctimonious they are.

If you want folks out forever, throw them out forever. If you are letting them play, then let them play. But don't make life complicated for the folks running the tournament just so a few idiots can engage in political theater.
Oct. 25, 2015
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Anyone else feel sick to their stomach whenever the WBF launches into yet another quixotic invocation of the Olympic charter?

I understand that WBF officials are salivating at the thought that they might get to start selling Olympic Gold Medals to well heeled sponsors. However, its been 20 years. You haven't gotten anywhere, and there are a lot more important things that the WBF needs to focus on.

Drop the obsession with the Olympics and get your damn house in order.
Oct. 25, 2015
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Michael wrote

>> If you know which pairs are “dirty” and you don't identify them
>> to the task force, then you could reasonably be judged as being
>> part of the problem.

And Gabrielle replied

> I fully intend to share everything I know regarding ethical
> improprieties with the committee. I can still remain skeptical
> of the committee's ability to overcome political inertia.

I believe that the presence (or absence) of a large library of videos in North America will be a much more important factor than inertia. I don't think that it is coincidence that so much evidence of cheating has been suggested so quickly after the introduction of videos in Europe.
Oct. 23, 2015
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10 years ago or so, I was partnering Tim Goodwin in a KO in Newton. The opponents were playing “Montreal Relay”, so I felt obliged to have a bit of fun and overcalled 1H on

S xxxx
H Qxx
D Axxxx
C x

or some such. Tim made an aggressive raise to 2H on something like the following:

S xxxx
H Kxx
D x
C Axxxx

and I found myself playing 2HX. The opponents lead a minor, and I ended up scoring two aces and six trump tricks on a cross ruff.

The opponents REALLY weren't amused about that one…
Oct. 23, 2015
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