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All comments by Eric Kokish
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It's a waste of time for BW readers to see so many people calling each other names. Deal with the topic of this thread. It's outrageous that this has happened and an outcry from the world might achieve something. All this online sniping cheapens the medium. PBU seems to have acted badly but WBF did not have to give them the opportunity to do so by failing to explain its case against B/Z. If he evidence was not of the quality of that in the other cases the field has been forced to choose between hailing the fact that an evil pair is not playing and decrying the fact that the actual solution seems unfair and illogical. Letting Gawrys/Kowalski play (why were they here in Chennai if they did not know of the case against B/Z?) is not exactly a hardship for a team that might not have qualified in Optaija without B/Z) and letting them play two different systems for the first 3 days and the 2nd 4 days is outrageous.
Sept. 27, 2015
Eric Kokish edited this comment Sept. 27, 2015
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Yes, Drewski, full disclosure is good for the game, saves time, avoids committees, and ensures you obtain no hidden advantage from your methods
Sept. 20, 2015
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Perfect!
Sept. 20, 2015
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A colleague suggested they might be clicking their pens sometimes but not always, and did not show any emotion when asked to stop. No correlation to unauthorized information was investigated at that time - the final of a major event. Unfortunately, anything other than hard evidence like the videos is merely speculative and not good for the game, but when a formal investigation is conducted anecdotal evidence (either pro or con) can be presented more meaningfully as it could support empirical evidence or suggest additional situations to consider by the investigators without prejudice.
Sept. 14, 2015
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That's true as far as it goes Tom, but in that type of situation the singleton message is the only relevant information. I'd be surprised to learn that this was NOT what was being conveyed.

If our intrepid videographers could look at those Opatija hands to see how third hand played its cards I believe we'd learn a lot more about the Loony Fantunes catalogue.

The other area that always interested me was how responder reacted to opener's 10-13 two-bids with a misfit for the suit opened or with modest strength that might be useful only if a secondary fit were located. My early research suggested nearly 100% accuracy in these cases but not in recent years. Information in these cases would have to be entirely different because the aperture would be closed during the bidding.
Sept. 14, 2015
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About horizontal and vertical: The now infamous deal in which Nunes led the DA and gave Fantoni his D ruff without cashing the CA: the card we needed to watch all along was Fantoni's, which must have conformed with the “singleton or hidden honor” strategy. If there were video to confirm that, we'd know for sure that signaling on the opening lead was open to BOTH partners.
Sept. 14, 2015
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The nature of 4C is important, as is E's 5D when he could have passed, redoubled, or bid the spade control West knows he has. I think it's wrong to treat 4C as a game try or ambiguous rather than a game force, as West can bid economically if he knows that East won't pass below game.
Aug. 29, 2014
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Jo-Ann Sprung really hit the target with her comments. It's not wrong for OG to broadcast the event and increase its revenue base; it's the exclusivity aspect that rankles so deeply.

If OG believes it can field a sound product that millions of Chinese speakers will watch - with or without expert English-language commentary, what need is there to exclude BBO's normal audience from their preferred broadcast medium? If OG made exclusivity a deal breaker for supporting the Sanya tournament then OG has taken a very short-sighted view of the value of good will and community.

Imagine that OG's cash input was to secure its position as a supporter of WBF and to guarantee that the needs of the Chinese bridge fans could be accommodated through complete cooperation by WBF on an ongoing basis. For example, WBF could name OG an official (or sole) sponsor of the event and request that bridge fans everywhere give their software a try. Would not that sort of overture not be universally well-received without trying to stifle BBO or anyone else from providing alternative VuGraph options?

Without the exclusivity aspect, payment for expert commentary would not be a bad thing. I see no reason why the market should be restricted. The fact that I would not do paid commentary for a non-BBO site should not reflect badly on others supplementing their income this way. But then, I don't watch VuGraph for the commentary, audio or written. I want to see the bidding and play in both rooms in clear easy to review form with the possibility of downloading the records afterwards as a complete session file that can be converted to text or WORD.

I consider OG's proposal and WBF's acceptance as short-sighted, and all the rhetoric about open competition being good for bridge really does not enter the equation when the OG deal really does the direct opposite.
Aug. 10, 2014
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There is a strong rumor that OG will hire non-Chinese expert commentators for their Sanya broadcasts and pay them well. Although I can imagine some experts needing the work and accepting overtures from the coordinator, I'd like to think that many if not most would find this morally reprehensible and politely decline, stating their loyalty to BBO. It's one more way the bridge community can express its displeasure with the “exclusivity sell-out.”

Though I found the technical discussions mildly interesting (and Avon's comments on the destructive potential of the software particularly instructional) the real issue is the proprietary rights to the tournament data and its accessibility to battle-tested and proven potential broadcasters and through them to the world bridge community.

BBO is perfectly willing to accept competition from OG and others (the Swan Games reference is poignant in this regard) and has never implied interest in exclusivity, but suddenly the rules of engagement have changed simply because an opportunity for financial gain has presented itself. At least it's transparent!

And shameless.
Aug. 8, 2014
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The continuing adventures of Captain Gregory always bring a smile to my day, and with such a pure Canadian element, irresistible is the adjective that bubbles to the top of my exploding brain.

I can hardly wait for the Moose Jaw Sectional
July 15, 2014
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It's natural when accusing a pair of cheating to be careful to leave their teammates out of the blame loop, but when the results are consistently outrageous and otherwise inexplicable, it's wrong to assume that there was no knowledge of sharp practice. The better the players the more difficult it becomes to believe that they did not realize that something was going on. Sure, it's great to compare scores and look for something else to do with your energy but in reality, who hasn't succumbed to “what was the lead on board 7?” or “did they leave you room to show your stiff spade on board 3?” Over the course of a long tournament or several events it's virtually impossible that any good player would not know that their teammates were not cooking with kosher salt."

As for the Geneva incident, it came at a time when bridge relations between Europe and N America were horrible (mostly politics) so when the German team won the Rosenblum they were applauded without reservation by the throngs outside the playing area despite their documented behavior in the scoring incident. It was a low point in World Bridge Championship history.
April 11, 2014
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Sure, for most Canadians the possibility of a much easier road to the Bermuda Bowl (and Venice Cup) was a happy development.

But not for all of us.

Having played in the NA Team Trials and competed in the major team events both as an amateur and a professional, it was clear that the only way Canada was going to be competitive on the world stage was to play in the same events as all the leading American players. The new Bermuda Bowl scheme in 1985 effectively made Canadians “poison” for American sponsors interested in competing in the US Trials, so unless we could legitimately relocate in the USA and build strong partnerships attractive to American sponsors, our upside was limited to building a compatible and talented Canadian team that could afford to travel to NABCs and foreign tournaments to get the practice and consistently strong competition required to have a chance to win a world championship for Canada. Whatever we managed to achieve after we voluntarily (Henry is largely correct about that, though the decision was made by the 6 CBF Zone Directors in negotiations with the ACBL BOD, albeit with the best of intentions) gave up our right to participate in a North American Trials has had a few highlights but a mediocre overall body of work.

If I were still an active player I would much prefer a return to an open NA Trials process that would permit Canada to earn all three NA spots if the stars were so aligned, appreciating that being shut out of the BB and VC entirely would be far more likely for at least the first few years of the process. WBF would not like to see 3 US (or Canadian) teams represent our WBF Zone, but change is always difficult to achieve and if any method could preserve our Canadian talent in the long run that would be a good thing for our country.

Who have we lost over the years? Peter Pender, Hugh Ross, Ralph and Billy Cohen, Bruce Ferguson, Neil Chambers, Peter Nagy, Mark Molson, Geoff Hampson, Fed Gitelman, Gavin Wolpert are the names that immediately come to mind. The exodus will get worse before it gets better, I'm afraid, but until Canadians refuse to settle for their easy route to the BB/VC and do something to get back into the NA mainstream, we're stuck in the mud.
May 28, 2011
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