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Nostradamus

The March 1974 issue of England's BRIDGE magazine contained this editorial by the venerable Eric Milnes. I reproduce it without comment.

A proposal by Julius Rosenblum, president of the World Bridge Federation, that screens and bidding boxes should be used in the 1974 Bermuda Bow is contained in the latest issue of the World Bridge News. The issue also contains a long article in support of the proposal by Jaime Ortiz-Patino, the well-known international. Mr Rosenblum believes that the situations are not caused by outright cheating but by partnership communication in the ‘gray’ areas of manner, tempo and intonation. He further says that at almost all of the many WBF tournaments he has attended he has heard of innuendos about unethical conduct as well as direct accusations of cheating. His suggestion invokes the principle that prevention is better than cure and rather ingenuously purports to protect the innocent against calumny.

I have no doubt that this proposal, if carried out, will succeed in its objective of eliminating whatever cheating exists at international level. What it is also likely to do is eliminate international competition itself. One finds it difficult to believe that players will tamely submit to such a humiliating procedure, but even if the top internationals can be dragooned or persuaded into joining in the experiment, the rank and file will certainly have nothing to do with it. Mr Ortiz-Patino argues that international bridge and social bridge are two different things. So they are; but he is talking about the extremes, between which there are many other levels of performance – home internationals, national competitions, congresses. If screens and bidding boxes are generally adopted they will kill competitive bridge in three years. Does anybody really want to play – or watch – a game played under such conditions?

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