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Jump-Starting the Process

When we launched Bridge Winners in 2010, our goal was to create a social network for bridge players to read, learn, and discuss relevant topics. As usual, when you get enough people together, there will be conflicts and disputes. Over time we have established guidelines for people to follow, and asked our users to help us police these guidelines, as we felt it was important to ensure a positive and constructive environment. One guideline in particular is to not accuse someone of cheating in public without proof.

It’s no secret now that “whispers” had been circulating in the community of top bridge players about Fisher-Schwartz for years, but the sense amongst top players was that nothing was being done. When Boye Brogeland announced on our site that he and his teammates were taking a stand by vacating titles won with Fisher-Schwartz, he was clearly making an allegation of cheating. As such, we had to decide whether it fit within our guidelines. Based on extensive consultation with Boye and selective other bridge experts, we were confident we knew how the story would end. Given how long these allegations had been in the background, it seemed like this was the best way to jump-start the process.

Instead of taking down his posts, we gave Boye a platform to bring forth his charges. Once he delivered his “Jack of Spades,” our community went to work. Players from multiple bridge federations, collaborating now in the open, provided corroborating evidence that indicated the scale of damage was much larger than previously known. Many players scoured videos for evidence, and eventually Per Ola Cullin cracked a code that proved so damning that their Israeli teammates have already taken the much-applauded step of vacating their Bermuda Bowl berth. Meanwhile, many players have come together on our site to discuss ways to reform the process going forward, and the ACBL itself has indicated interest in their discussions.

Our critics have argued that nothing should ever bypass due process, that only chaos and anarchy will result. They ignore history. Systems work, as long as people feel that justice is being served. But when systems break down and stop serving the people they’re supposed to help, going outside the system is often necessary to get things back on track.

We firmly believe our support of Brogeland was necessary. With reform apparently underway, we ask that our community refrain from “outing” other suspected cheaters in public unless there is significant proof. Cheating allegations should be dealt with through the proper channels. If you suspect a pair of cheating, you should bring it to the attention of your NBO. Bridge Winners is not the place to air cheating allegations. We will remove unsubstantiated cheating allegations immediately.

We realize that this policy is subjective. We don’t know how we will handle everything that comes up in the future, but we will attempt to make the best decision based on the information we have. The game is not yet fully clean, but we do believe that the events of the past month had to happen. It’s time to let the process that our community has jump-started do its work.

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