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All comments by Jim (JJ) Johnsen
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The ACBL has language to this effect on every entry form you submit for an event.
Nov. 12, 2015
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Great post, Steve. I have a few comments.

I like the idea of looking for a global solution to deter, prevent, identify and prosecute cheating. I do think it needs to be carefully constructed to avoid corruption - a system with checks and balances. Furthermore, the scope of its purview needs to be carefully defined. World class competitions would seem to be the target; I can't imagine this body would have the time nor the interest in dealing with Joe and Flo Schmoe from Podunksville. So, there would still need to be effective ways of dealing with cheating at the local/national level, and in a matter better than the status quo.

With regard to prosecuting cheats, I agree that a bar somewhere between ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ and ‘preponderance of the evidence’ is the right threshold, and further agree with those that have stated more than a simple majority should be required. Considering the recent 4 cases exposed would all likely achieve unanimous decisions from an expert panel, it shouldn't be hard to get a super majority on all cases where the cheating has occurred, while having the added benefit of not convicting any innocents.

When I think about what all has developed from something as simple as video taping the most recent EBTC, these are some things I ponder:
1) Did it ever even cross the minds of anyone in the 4 pairs that those little cameras would be their undoing? How could none of these 8 people have the foresight in the age of youtube, especially with such blatant methods?
2) How many pairs, upon seeing the cameras present, did have some foresight and decide to call “methods off”? Were there any pairs who came up way short of expectations in that tournament?
3) How many other pairs were cheating at the EBTC, but are either too low on the totem pole to be looked at closely, or are utilizing more advanced (encoded) methods?
4) All of these cases are from videos at once continent's championship. There are 6 other continents… okay, we'll give Antarctica a pass here… 5 then. To me that means there are surely more pairs out there collusively cheating. Will the not-yet-busted pairs a) decide it's time to give it up (this is what I hope for), or b) strengthen their cheating methods to escape detection.
5) What has been the impact of all of this on the lower tiers of the bridge world? Will these scandals scare the scoundrels and help to eradicate cheating (again this is what I hope) or will it have some undesired effect?
6) I do like the fact that despite hiring expensive attorneys, hiding under rocks, or whatever they decide to do, at least some of the cheaters who have to date profited greatly at others' expense will profit no more.

When it comes to sentencing the convicted, I like the notion that when someone takes Smirnov's route, even though guilty and exposed, fessing up to it instead of fighting back is worth something. I know people aren't going to come forward without being accused (at best, they'll just stop cheating), but saving many people tons of time and heartache is worth something.

Finally, just a comment on the ideas about what to do with titles won by convicted cheaters. I think it's obvious that they must lose everything they've “won” as a pair whether or not it's proven they cheated in the specific events. Although extremely unfortunate, I think their teammates must also lose those same titles and I congratulate Boye, Allan, Richie, Espen, Roy, Mariusz and others who have given up titles preemptively. I can see pros and cons for moving others up, or leaving the titles blank. However, I think the organizations need to take this head on, and not just sweep it under the rug.
Nov. 12, 2015
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And you like responding to your own posts and editing your responses to your own posts because????

nm…

where is that ignore option>?
Nov. 9, 2015
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Good approach Louis. After all, in court cases the prosecution makes its case first and then the defense responds. The prosecution's case is out there for those that want to look at it. For those that are waiting for the defense case to then make up their minds, that is certainly just, but IMO as one of the viewing public (not on a panel deciding the case), I'm not bound by that to make up my mind about certain facts I've seen.
Nov. 9, 2015
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Hey Tom,

Some people actually have watched hours of video from the Opatija tournament and studied the actions carefully. There is not just a pattern, but a blueprint to the cheating. Kit's articles were well titled: “The Videos Speak”. I don't need to hear the prosecution or the defense to know that information was being transmitted at the table. Once the code was revealed, everything was clear as a bell and uniformly consistent with collusive cheating.

I'll listen to what they have to say in defense, if for nothing else than entertainment, but the videos are worth more than a million words.

I don't even need to worry about the icing on their cake: the coughs, Lotan peeking through the crack in the screen, gesturing the danger hand after he's looked at opps cards, etc. They probably cheated in more ways than we'll ever find out.

You should watch Michael Clark's short videos on F/S, F/N, and the doctors. If you choose to wait for some committee to issue its ruling, fine. But you cannot discredit and criticize those who have taken the time to look at what happened in Opatija and draw conclusions.

When I find out in their hundreds of pages of defense that the videos were doctored, or they were instructed by the director where to place the board every hand, then I'll eat my hat.

ETA: And of course that would have to be proven, not just asserted. I believe I know what's going to be in those many paged: Discussions about whether the so-called lead director was the best choice, times when signals were ignored, all the boards where they didn't signal and could have indicated a killing defense, etc. In other words, a lot about nothing. All I want answered is a question they cannot answer: Why did you remove the tray and place the board nicely in the center of the table every time you were declaring the hand, and either not remove the tray in a timely fashion, or do so and place the board in one of four completely different locations every time you were on defense? That's all. If there's a reason, that should take about a paragraph or maybe a page to explain.
Nov. 9, 2015
Jim (JJ) Johnsen edited this comment Nov. 9, 2015
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I can hear it now:


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I now call my expert witnesses. Wait for it… not just any experts, no I call the #1 and #2 bridge players in the World who will attest to the innocence of the accused.

…and for no compensation other than returning the favor at a later date…
Nov. 9, 2015
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Nov. 6, 2015
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Another great piece, Michael. Thanks for the link.
Nov. 6, 2015
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Just like with the F/S facebook page, there will always be smoke screens put up in hopes of being exonerated.

The proof is in the pudding.

The evidence speaks (and shouts) for itself. Btw, can't wait for Michael Clark's video.

IMO, nothing about their actions and lack of public statements since their dis-invitation to the BB have lent any credibility to their case. Picking on a couple “errors in the analysis” are just last grasps at straws imo.
Nov. 5, 2015
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I applaud what looks to be lifetime bans for collusive and/or flagrant cheating with possibility of parole after 10 years for timely confessions.

Edited to add: It looks like they're also getting tough with partners and teammates vacating their masterpoints and titles for the 4 years prior to an admission/conviction of cheating. That's going to vacate many titles right away with P/S and many many more to come with F/S, F/N, and B/Z…

Thanks to Boye and company for setting the tone by relinquishing their titles won with F/S!
Nov. 5, 2015
Jim (JJ) Johnsen edited this comment Nov. 5, 2015
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You don't need to convince me with calculations. I agree their bid spacing could not be random. My point was directed toward those that might point out where the panel's consensus of hand strength differed from the observed spacing message. It is not at all unreasonable that the 9 differences appeared, imo all contributed to differences in hand evaluation.
Nov. 2, 2015
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Kurt, let me try to explain why I think my comment is valid:

I was merely trying to point out that the 9 out of 65 apparent “misses” are probably not due to any of the other things Kit mentioned (not choosing to signal, carelessness, personal reasons, etc.) but only his first point - differences in hand evaluation even among experts. B-Z would figure to be in the minority of this 5-member panel at least 9 times out of the 65 boards, and to be the sole outliers only 2 times is lower than would be expected!
Nov. 2, 2015
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Hand evaluation is an interesting piece of this. Your 5 panelists were only unanimous on 40 of the 65 deals. Looking at the boards where 4 panelists were in agreement, I see that all of them except Chip (with 1) had at least 2 boards where their evaluation differed from the other 4 experts. This means that it is totally reasonable that B-Z would have been the lone outlier from the panel on the two unanimous boards shown in red.

Another way to look at it: there were 25 boards where the panel was not unanimous. So each panelist on average was in the minority with their view 5 times out of the 65 boards. If we added B and Z to the panel, one could extrapolate that they might be in the minority 5 times each as well. So on 10 boards, B-Z would be in the minority and that's essentially exactly the difference between the 56 matching the code and the 65 total boards.

Compelling stuff!
Nov. 2, 2015
Jim (JJ) Johnsen edited this comment Nov. 2, 2015
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Playing at a sectional swiss yesterday, I encountered a situation where I think my opponent and I had perhaps read some of this thread earlier in the day. Playing in a part score I errantly pitched a card instead of ruffing and immediately said “oops.” LHO said, “that's ok, go ahead and change your play.” I said, “thanks, that's nice but my mistake.” He replied “no, I don't want to play bridge that way.” I said, “Thank you, but it's a rule. I must play this card.” He insisted again, so I acquiesced at the table, ruffed the trick and ended up going down 3. I scored it as down 4 on my personal scorecard and we ended up with a 1 imp disparity after results were compared. We identified the discrepant board and smiled at each other. Looking at the VP ranges, the imp was irrelevant, so we walked away all feeling a little better about ourselves.

Having said that, I generally don't fault anyone for calling a director and trying to play within the rules. I try not to judge others motives negatively, and try to have the right motives when I make a call. I think there's lots of shades of grey.

Oct. 26, 2015
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Reminded me of this gem: Comparing after a swiss round at the Monterey regional, I notice my teammates (a pro and his sponsor) allowed an impossible 3nt game to make. The pro's hand had solid diamonds except for the ace and declarer had only 8 tricks. If on lead, the diamond lead is easy, and if not, the pitch of the K of diamonds to help partner (who had all the entries) is easy. After we tallied up the 1 imp loss, the sponsor said “sorry, I missed one of my partner's discards on that 3nt” to which he immediately replied: “You know, I could have placed a small donkey on the table with the King of Diamonds sticking out of it's mouth and you wouldn't have seen it!” :)
Oct. 23, 2015
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Coopers?
Oct. 23, 2015
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Lol. That reminded me of another. I'm playing in the palm Springs regional. I go into the tank on defense and finally my partner mumbles “play a club.” The declarer called the director and said “this guy just said lead a club while his partner was thinking” My partner said “I didn't realize I said it out loud” :)
Oct. 21, 2015
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A regular partner of mine and I decided on a whim to play an evening game at Adventures in Bridge in San Diego. We met for some Chinese food down the street at around 6 and after we ordered Paul said, “the game is at 7:30, right?” I said “No, 7.” Not believing me, he called the club and Johnny the director answered. Paul said “What time's the game tonight?” to which John replied “Which game are you looking to play in, the 299er or the open game?” With irritation in his voice, Paul said “My name is Larry Cohen; I have 25 thousand masterpoints, which game do YOU think I want to play in???” Startled, Johnny said, “Oh, sorry. It's at 7 o'clock Mr. Cohen” so Paul thanks him and hangs up. After a few minutes he said to me, “You know, I don't think John recognized my voice. I think he really believes he might have been talking to Larry Cohen!”

Well, we're not ones to miss out on a good prank opportunity, so I waited about 10 minutes, mustered up by best fake voice, and called the club. Me: “Hello, may I speak to the director?” John: “This is John, I'm the director.” Me: “Hi there. I'm currently on the road coming from LA and might not be there until just before game time, but I would like to request a N/S in your open game if at all possible. You see, my hip is acting up on me so I'd like to not move around too much.” John: “Sure, that shouldn't be a problem. Who is this?” Me: “Edwin Kantar.” John in an excited voice: “Oh, hello Mr. Kantar; you must be playing with Mr. Cohen.” Me: “yes.” Johnny: “No problem sir, looking forward to having you at our club!”

Well, it was an entertaining dinner thinking about the frenzy we had likely created - or maybe Johnny was on to us and new it was a prank? We'd find out soon enough.

The answer was obvious when we pulled up to a nearly full parking lot (for a Friday night game that usually only had about 10 tables). We were having trouble controlling the laughter and upon seeing us walking to the door, John knew he'd been had. He had spent most of the hour trying to verify the possibility it was Kantar and Cohen (having people check the internet to make sure Larry wasn't on a cruise, etc). He had called his girlfriend and they called about everyone they knew to alert folks to the surprise appearances. Word traveled quickly and people who are never there on a Friday night had shown up… most had put on their finest, brought their books to be signed, the works.

You know some people just can't take a joke. There were a bunch of pissed off people that night, mostly at John for being so gullible. Many pairs didn't even stay for the game and just left. Although some thought it was hilarious, surely none as much as Paul and I, but let me tell you, it WAS funny.
Oct. 20, 2015
Jim (JJ) Johnsen edited this comment Oct. 28, 2015
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BTW, if I win the lottery, I promise to organize a world bridge championship which directly conflicts with the dates in Poland 2016. :)
Oct. 18, 2015
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From my perspective, international bridge is at a crossroad. Although I'm not someone who would have been at this upcoming world championship in the first place (nor a BB), I do think it's time for a good old fashioned revolution.

I actually quit bridge for almost a decade because I couldn't stand the rampant cheating I felt I observed at all levels. I've been back for several years now because I love the game and friendships in the bridge community. I try to ignore the cheaters, it's usually not enough help for them anyway. Enough of my story.

There is one man, and one man alone who started a campaign against cheating with everything at stake and everything to lose: Boye. He attracted numerous followers/supporters in a very short time including me. I feel his intentions to be good and honorable. IMO, looking at more than a decade of tainted competition at the highest level has largely invalidated International Championships of all kinds while the governing bodies did nothing to discourage, detect, and root out cheating..

So, Boye has done their work for them and started a huge movement to cleanse the top tier of the game. It was a great opportunity for WBF to apologize (thank you Fred for the way it should have been handled), and propose a new course forward. Instead, Godfather Rona and Consigliere Harris have published a statement beating down the lynch mob and kangaroo courts. I waited for a retraction. Perhaps a clarification? An apology? Still nothing. Oh and why was it again that BZ were disinvited? Never mind, I know, you're not telling.

Ok, so I'm walking. Perhaps it's serendipitous that next year's event is in Poland given the cloud over the BB win. Again, it's not like I would be participating, or even traveling there to watch. But, I will say that I won't be watching any vugraphs, reading any daily bulletins or in any way within my power supporting a world bridge federation that pursues an olympic dream while disregarding its constituency, conducts all of its affairs in private behind closed doors and still lists FN as #1 and #2 in the world. I will encourage my ACBL to withhold funding and redirect it towards a legitimate World Bridge Federation led by someone like Boye. I hope it happens soon.
Oct. 18, 2015
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