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All comments by Richard Willey
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Personally, I don’t think any kind of “corrective action” is warranted. The fact that the Israeli government is unwilling to allow its team to participate in a sporting event is regrettable, but not the end of the world.

Moreover, I am pretty happy with the way the WBF is handling the situation.

1. I don’t consider the behavior of GABSI or the Indonesia government to be beyond the pale. (Nor do I consider the Israeli decision to withdraw to be unreasonable) I wish that the whole thing had never happened, however, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it and I think that inflating the significance via boycotts or some such is a mistake.

2. I don’t think that the WBF has any obligation to work with a random group of internet cranks who are trying to stir up a shit storm. Indeed, I’d suggest that engaging with a bunch of aggrieved individuals whose main interest appears to be causing trouble is unproductive. Like it or not, none of “us” has any standing in the matter. Lots of people have strong opinions on any number of matters. However, at the end of the day, the WBF’s membership is compromised of NBOs not individuals. I have no idea what kind of discussions – if any – took place behind the scenes between the WBF, GABSI, and the Israeli Bridge Federation. Then again, I don’t need to know because I am not directly involved.

If any individual entity should be leading this charge, I would think that it should be the Israeli Bridge Federation. I can’t help but noticed that they have been studiously quiet throughout the entire situation. It’s almost as if the people who are directly involved prefer to work through channels, rather than trying to whip up a mob…
July 26, 2013
Richard Willey edited this comment July 26, 2013
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I had a series of increasing annoying discussions with the Conventions Committee. Their position appears to be that any methods where a direct seat takeout double is not optimal is too complicated for North American players to defend against.

Personally, I think that they are trying to suppress high variance methods.
July 13, 2013
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The 2D bid in question has been banned in ACBL land.

1. The powers that be have deemed any assumed fit preempt that could be opened on a 4-4 pattern to be inherently destructive.
2. The same group refuses to sanction defenses to a bid that could show a 5-4 pattern
July 13, 2013
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>though you brought along no security people, were you aware
>of any who might have been there anyway? or did someone from
>the embassy in ankara, perhaps, advise you on security
>precautions? guys who do that kind of things often hold
>insignificant sounding positions, like fourth junior
>cultural attache for dance affairs :)

Earlier in the discussion, Ron Lel discussed cultural differences between different countries. We may be seeing another one here, where an Israeli seems to have difficulty imagining that a bridge team could travel to Turkey without some kind of security detail.

As I mentioned earlier, I understand why Israeli's have the need to be more conscious of these issues. At the same, this is also an illustration why I don't see a requirement that host countries provide special treatment for the Israelis. They are a special case and outside the norm.
July 10, 2013
Richard Willey edited this comment July 10, 2013
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“If I am not a member of the WBF, what am I then?”

The following seems apt: http://xkcd.com/386/
July 9, 2013
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“We did not ask for a cute story about two humans and a donkey. We asked for facts regarding the WBF decision to exclude the Israeli women who qualified for the event.”

Surely this is preferable to being called a jackass directly?

In case it escaped your grasp, the point of the “cute story” is that the world is full of people with strong opinions with no directly standing in the issue at hand and it’s a mistake to engage with them…

It’s a polite brush off…
July 9, 2013
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“It is not acceptable for me, as a member of the WBF”

Article 5 of the WBF Constitution states:

ARTICLE 5

MEMBERSHIP.
The National Bridge Organization, herein called NBO, of any country is eligible, subject to the By Laws, to apply for membership of the WBF, and may be elected by the Executive.

I am somewhat confused how you, an individual, claim WBF membership. It's almost as if you are deliberately exaggerating for effect…

July 9, 2013
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Sounds like a very plausible guess…
July 9, 2013
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It should be noted that absence of a “like” could mean any number of things from feeling neutral about the decision to not having sufficient information to reach an informed decision.
July 9, 2013
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I don't doubt the veracity of the information. Rather, I m interested in seeing how this information gets framed and explained when it is officially announced.
July 9, 2013
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Interesting piece of information. Personally, I am going to reserve judgement until more information is available.

In particular, I look forward to a comment by either the Indonesian Bridge Federation or the WBF explain how this decision was reached.

I would not be surprised to see a completely non-committal statement like the following: “The Israeli team chose to withdraw from the event.”
July 9, 2013
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“if I understand you correctly, we can ignore the fact that Indonesia does not recognize Israel? It does not matter even when an official Israeli team under Israeli flag travels to that country?”

The issue of diplomatic recognition was well know in advance of selecting Bali as the event sight. I don't see the point of introducing this issue now. With this said and done, we don't seem to care too much about hosting games in China, regardless of the status of Taiwan. I don't see why Indonesia's failure to recognize Israel should be any more of a concern. Moreover, as I understand matters, Indonesia was set to establish a consulate in Ramallah as part of a plan to normalize relations with Israel. This had be scrapped when the Israeli government refused to allow the Indonesian foreign minister to enter the country.

Personally, I'm finding it very difficult to get too worked up about this whole situation.

1. There didn't seem to be any significant problems getting visa's issues. (If Indonesia refused to issue visa's I'd feel very different about matters)

2. I have no problem if the Israeli insist on extra security if their athletes are going to participate. Arguably, this is a prudent thing to do. At the same time, I don't have any problem if the Indonesians don't want to invest extra time and effort accommodating the Israeli requirements.

At the end of the day, if the Israeli's aren't willing to use the same systems as the other teams, then there's really no need for them to participate in the event.

July 7, 2013
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I've seen claims that

1. The Israeli women's team has already withdrawn and been replaced with Sweden

2. The primary issue wasn't Visa's, but rather private security. The Israeli team insisted that Israeli security personnel be allowed to accompany the team. The Indonesians refused.




July 3, 2013
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Few quick comments:

1. I feel (strongly) that any country that refuses entry Visa’s to members of a team should not be allowed to host a WBF Championship. The same should true be it Indonesia refusing Visa’s to members of the Israeli team or the United States refusing Visa’s to members of the Pakistani team. With this said and done, I agree with Michael Rosenberg’s observation that we can’t really know what would happen without a test case. I'd also want to understand why its possible for Israeli tour groups and businessmen to get Visa's but why its so difficult for the bridge team.

Personally, I wouldn’t pull the venue in advance. Rather, I’d take a wait and see attitude and let it be understood that any Visa issues would permanent disqualify Indonesia as a venue for future events.

I do feel obliged to note that this would be much easier if Indonesia had a consulate in Israel. Indonesia was scheduled to open a consulate in Ramallah in 2012. This was cancelled after the Israeli government denied entry to Indonesia’s foreign minster…

2. I don’t feel the same way about “refusing to discuss security arrangements”. I understand completely why issues related to security are of special concern to members of Israeli sports teams. The recent bombing in Boston is yet another sad example that large sporting events are potential targets for terrorists. Even so, I don’t feel that this should be a singular reason to exclude Indonesia from consideration. If the Israeli team does not feel that they can travel safely to Bali without extensively coordination then perhaps they should not participate.

3. I can’t help but think that raising this issue in a public venue is a poor way to effect constructive change.
July 3, 2013
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This is not the sixties.

1. People don't have nearly as much free time
2. People who want “an enjoyable way to socialize” have much better options available to them.
3. College students have much better ways to socialize

Like or not, bridge is going to transition from a mass market form of entertainment to a game that appeals to a niche market and the differentiator is the complexity of the game.
June 22, 2013
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50 years ago - before there were a 1,000 cable channels, before there was an internet, and before there was a playstation in every household - a simple game that you could play with a deck of cards was pretty cool thing. However, now-a-days, if I want to kill time without thinking too hard there are a lot better things for me to do.

The primary attraction of bridge is the complexity. The sooner folks realize that this is a plus rather than a minus, the better.

Oh yeah, about all those different bidding sequences… Perhaps you might find it easier to play a relay system like symmetric relay or numeric relay. You'll find that a small number of simple rules can be used to describe the vast majority of bidding sequence. Oh wait, I forgot… That's not “natural”…


June 22, 2013
Richard Willey edited this comment June 22, 2013
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Personally, I don't give a damn what the USBF teams do, so long as they play good bridge. Then again, I don't make the mistake of conflating the ability to play bridge well with being a good person (whatever that might be). If members of the teams wants to toke up between rounds, go for it. If the team captain wants to sacrifice a goat to Baal in exchange for bad opening leads, more power to them. If someone wants to hold up a small sign disparaging the US government during the awards ceremony, great! They won the event. To the winner's belong the spoils.

Personally, I think that the whole brouhaha surrounding SHanghai was a ridiculous waste of time and money. I was quite pleased to see the USBF cave when the team members (wisely) chose to lawyer up. Hopefully, this will help convince the BOD to stop playing morality police…
May 6, 2013
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I know that this is probably a pipe dream, but I’d like to see much better mechanisms in place to record top-level events.

I’d like a combination of

1. Basic information (who is playing, the event, the date)
2. The systems being used at the table
3. A recording of every hand that is dealt / bid that is made / card that is played along with tempo information
4. A good database format to make searches and analysis easier

Needless to say, all this information should be piped in real time to BBO or whatever other service providers want to carry the feed.

Personally, I see a couple different ways to capture this information. I would prefer a system that dispensed with the pasteboards altogether and substituted personal computers. I think that this system is the most economical. It also allows one to significantly improve event security. (All the North’s can be segregated in one room, all the South’s in another, …) If people insist on using cards, start using decks with imbedded RFID cards, with card reader’s on the tables.

I see three clear benefits in adopting such a system

1. The ability to improve Vugraph (both in terms of the quality and quantity of information presented)
2. Dramatic improvements in dealing with irregularities. (Perfect information about tempo violations, the ability to segregate players, an accurate database for thorough statistical analysis)
3. A massive corpus of hands for individuals who want to follow in Kokish’s footsteps and publish analyses of major events.
May 6, 2013
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Judy wrote

> The USBF was in the process of taking measures to deal with
> the embarrassing behavior of the victorious Women's Team in
> China until a wealthy New York bridge player stepped up to
> the plate to defend the girls by hiring a lawyer to
> represent them. Because of the threat of a lawsuit (to both
> the USBF itself and the individual members who were intent on
> dealing with the transgressors), the organization felt they
> had no alternative but to drop the charges – and who could
> blame them? To me, the humiliating Shanghai debacle was one
> of the darkest moments in the annals of U. S. bridge! I,
> like you, was very offended.

Damn due process…

So much easier when if we could dispense with luxuries like the legal system and move directly to smiting the wicked…

April 15, 2013
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The whole notion of a “formula” presumes that you're using parametric techniques.

As I mentioned before, I think there is an insolvable tension between

1. The requirement to produce accurate outputs
2. The requirement to have something that end users understand / accept

Personally, I would recommend that any serious efforts at producing rating systems should

1. Start by ranking partnerships rather than individuals
2. Focus on rating a small subset of players - for example, individuals enter prestige events like the US team trials, the Vanderbilt/Spingold/etc.

Arguably, a real rating system is of the most value in these events (We see all sorts of discussion around seeding events).

You have less problems with isolated sub populations.

There is less data to keep track of…


March 15, 2013
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