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All comments by Richard Willey
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Encrypted signals use a key that is known to the defense but not (initially) to declarer to encode the signalling method.

For example, consider a case in which we use standard count and attitude if the “key” takes value A, but upside down count and attitude if the the key takes value B.

Some possible examples of a key include

1. If we know that declarer has a nine card trump fit, the key takes value A if trumps split 2-2, otherwise B

1. If we know that declarer is missing the queen of trump, the key takes value A is North holds the Queen, otherwise B

Note that if declarer can break the signal (he can determine that the defense is using UDCA) he can use this information to derive information about the placement of the Queen or how trump is splitting

Sept. 19, 2015
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Real time observation seems unnecessary, expensive, and useless.

There are any number of academic studies that show that humans are actually quite bad a observing and remembering events in real time.

I am in favor of an electronic playing environment, however, I consider video to be an incredible step forward.
Sept. 19, 2015
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FWIW, I agree that there is a significant difference in coming forward and admitting guilt before your code has been broken and doing so afterwards. (For that matter, I also agree that there is a difference, though not as extreme in admitting guilt before official judgement has been rendered)

As such, I do not believe that the death penalty is warranted. With this said and done, I do believe that any return to bridge needs to be predicated on the following

1. Complete description regarding the methods that the pair used when it was cheating

2. Refunding all cash prizes won and fees received (monies to be paid to an internationally recognized charity)

3. A lengthy break from the game for each individual (five to 10 years seems about right) and a death sentence for the partnership.




Sept. 19, 2015
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Migrating to an electronic playing environment might not be a direct response to the use of electronic devices to cheat, however, it does have a number indirect effects, most notably

1. Moving to an electronic playing environment means that you can physically separate members of a partnership by greater distance. In turn, this significantly increases the size and power requirements for the transmitter and receiver making them easier to detect.

2. Moving to an electronic playing environment gives you comprehensive records. There larger the data set that you have available, the more powerful your statistical analysis becomes and the greater your range of options

Sept. 19, 2015
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I doubt that video is going to be anywhere near as effective in catching individuals who are cheating in the days / years ahead.

Don't get me wrong. I think that Boye, Ish, Per, and the like have done phenomenal work, but we're all running the red queen's race here. The techniques that sufficient to catch the last rounds of cheaters aren't going to be sufficient for their smarter children.

I expect to see much more complicated codes that get used for shorter periods of time and more use of electronics.

Personally, I'd be investing in bug sweeping technology. I also think that we need to dramatically increase the corpus of hand records as to permit more sophisticated statistical analysis.

Sept. 19, 2015
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I've played plenty of matches under just those conditions over in Europe and somehow my poor little head didn't explode.

I understand that this gors against the whole theory of American exceptionalism, but you really might want to consider that the rest of the world doesn't have these same restrictive system regulations (and by the way, they also have a player base with members under the age of 60)
Sept. 18, 2015
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I'd say that my most important credential is that I am an ex ACBL member. Up until 10 years ago when I had the opportunity to “work” with the C&C committee on some suggested defenses I was an extremely active member of the ACBL. I played tournaments at least twice a month and played in 1-2 club games a week.

After the C&C wasted months of my time on a snipe hunt, I pretty much gave up playing the game in North America. I still play online. I'll occasionally play in tournaments in Iceland and the like. However, I avoid the ACBL to whatever extent I can.

FWIW, I just the sort of person that the ACBL should mourn that it lost as a member. I have a decent amount of free time, lots of money to spend on events, travel, and even pro's if I wanted to. I really enjoy challenging intellectual games. However, I doubt that I'll play serious" bridge in North America until the ACBL passes from the mortal coil. (Judging from the age of folks at the local regional, I don't have too long to wait)

Sept. 18, 2015
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And was mocked terribly a decade ago for even suggesting it…
Sept. 18, 2015
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Damn straight! If people from other countries are wiling to work harder at the game, we need to ban their methods!

God forbid that Americans need to invest time or effort in preparation when we can game the rules instead!
Sept. 18, 2015
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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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