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Cheating: Who, Why, Personality, and Why These Matter

HISTORY: Cheating is as old as wine; in 388 BC, Ancient Greek games, the boxer Eupolus bribed did Nero centuries later; we always had cheaters and scam artists, always will....

WHAT KIND OF CHEATING: 1.Impulsive low level: looking in someone's hand, looking at the bottom card when dealing, looking at the hand at the next table; these are not what we are very concerned about, but rather: 2. Pre-meditated, cold blooded serious partnership cheating; 

WHY CHEAT? Money, glory, "because we can"....for the pre-meditated, serious cheaters, cheating becomes a way of life, part of their DNA, they cannot get away from it...Same for Olympic and other sports cheaters, scam artists(Bernie Madoff, or anyone on American Greed(CNBC))...

PERSONALITY TYPES AND CHEATING: The bridge partnership cheaters will usually have at least one person with a personality disorder(PD); the other person may have just been carried along, or have PD characteristics, but is not necessarily all that bad. The majority of cheaters and scam artists are PD's, usually "antisocial". Studies have indicated that they have a high degree of narcissism, manipulation, cynicism, and antisocial behavior. They can be very charming, but relationships tend to be volatile and superficial. They are often deceitful, with little remorse, no insight, and they definitely do not "play by the rules"....there is a major sense of entitlement. 

Personality disorder behavior does not start at age 25; it begins usually by age 12, with cheating and scammy behavior going back to middle or high school. 

The brain is much different in those with personality disorders; they have frontal lobe problems(impulsivity, lack of empathy, etc.), among other  changes.  Personality disorders have a somewhat a genetic basis(or at least begin in utero), with major influences by the early environment(for instance, if someone is born with the tendency toward antisocial behavior, and has a very stressful first 10 years, they are more likely to develop sociopathy). 

WHY AM I WRITING THIS, AND WHY DOES IT MATTER? Because personality disorders need outside controls(in society, often the police). They will not reform or play by the rules unless forced to. SO, it is wishful thinking that "we need to just all love this beautiful game and play fair". They could care less about that. They want to cheat and win. Serial serious cheaters have major changes in their brains, they will not voluntarily "straighten up". 

WHAT TO DO: It is not possible for viewgraph operators or opponents to "crack their code"; that may happen every 5 or 10 years. Bridge organizations(ACBL,WBF,etc.) risk enormous lawsuits if they accuse without absolute proof. Possible steps that may help: 1.Round 16 and after, have N and E sit in 1 room with tablets, S and W in another; some social aspects are maintained. I hate saying this, but when partners are in 1 room, a few  will find a way to cheat. Of course, this leaves electronic body devices, but that is more difficult. We can't make it foolproof/hackproof.... 

Also, possibly having players sign agreements mandating forced arbitration if accused; this raises many questions, but in the U.S. the legal system makes it difficult to address this issue. 

DUE PROCESS: Due process is important, but what about due process for the many who have been cheated?..these players cannot be ignored.  All of those lost opportunities to advance to the later rounds, or win, squashed because a pair was wired. We need a balance between perpetrators' rights, and rights of the victims. 


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