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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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Warren and Bill with Sharon personally ran the initial stages of the program.

I do not know how much money they gave to different programs.

They then gave the remainder to the SBL. SBL created some nice material but relied on local schools to do the teaching. I do not know if SBL were charged with seeding programs with money or not.

SBL would not have spent $600K.

I think W&B were going after the schools, not clubs. Someone should ask them.
Aug. 19
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The “And I Wanted To … ” series probably deserves its own category on BW.

I suspect it would quickly fill up all available disk space.
Aug. 19
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Warren and Bill did put up money. They personally helped administer it in its early days. See https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/buffets-gates-world-view/ for some of the stories. I know first hand of programs that received money (not ACBL-affiliated) and also programs that requested funding and received nothing. As the Gates/Buffett program progressed, the money was transferred to the now defunct School Bridge League.

I don't know when Jeff requested money, but follow the link I provided for one positive story.

To see a successful outcome: http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actuarial_discussion_forum/showthread.php?t=86708
Aug. 18
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I hope people appreciate the difference between a good tournament and a great tournament. It is stuff like this. Hopefully Kevin got paid for making this number of board sets; it's typically a tournament expense, almost certainly it is not part of his ACBL salary.

Kudos to the tournament organizer/chair for understanding that these things improve the player experience.
Aug. 16
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@Kevin: Bridgescore+ automatically creates this movement for 9 team RR brackets.
Aug. 15
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For those that know of Little Britain, some of the “computer says no” skits are at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n_Ty_72Qds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lu1xyYx3Eo
Aug. 15
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Pure extrapolation. I am searching for a good reason why they were so bad statistically compared to their previous statistics at other tournaments.
Aug. 15
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@OP: “It will be very interesting to see what comes from this.”

There were _at least_ two top pairs that are identified in the book as cheating pairs (but not mentioned by name apart from in the MD5 hashes) that played in the recent Spingold. I provided details to ACBL on the pair(s) and which parts of the game they are cheating in. This would make video inspection easier. These pairs were “targeted”. I'm struggling for the right word to use; “targeted” is not quite the right word, but there was some additional things that were done for these pair(s). ACBL may have had their own list and own additional pairs to target; I don't know about any additional pairs. Obviously the idea would be that the pair(s) would be unaware of any additional activity, but it seems that at least one of the pairs was aware. People talk. I don't think any of the other players in the room (and I was one for the round of 64) were aware of anything different; and that's the way it should be. To catch some of the cheaters, will take some additional actions. No, I was not part of any covert activity.

Bridgescore+ has processed the Spingold 2019 data.

One of the pairs that was “targeted”, had a statistical aberration. They played nowhere near their normal historical level. Was it because they were aware of possible additional activity? Or just a bad tournament? I can look at their results from all previous tournaments and compare. Statistically they ranked n-1 out of the top n pairs (not giving out ‘n’ as don't want to give out too much information), but n is at least > 10. This is not their normal performance or reputation.

If the knowledge that you can be detected stops players cheating, this is a worthwhile benefit to the honest players.

There's some more statistics on the Spingold that I will post later.
Aug. 14
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@Richard R: “Nicolas, while you’re at it…Do I have a shot with Elizabeth Hurley? ;-)”

The computer says no
Aug. 14
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment Aug. 14
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@Richard F. Certainly possible. Also third hand play at trick one is rarely analyzed properly. ACBL don't record the opening lead so all I can go on is data that this pair does better when Anne is on lead. The reasons why they do better are unknown. But my money is on Anne being the better opening leader.
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Aug. 14
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You cannot, legally in the US, test or prevent (some forms of) illicit technology being used for communication.

Here's an excerpt from my book (p139-p140):


In July 2016 at the Washington NABC, I organized a private meeting on security in Bridge. ACBL kindly provided a room. I invited some non-Bridge players I knew from my previous work in computer security. The people I invited used to work for some of the US Government (USG) Three Letter Agencies (TLAs) and were familiar with all aspects of security from hardware, software, encryption and data transmission, but were not Bridge players. Representatives from USBF, EBL, WBF were invited and attended.

I walked the group of security experts around the playing site, and showed them the rooms where the Spingold was being played, where hands were being duplicated and various tournament director (TD) functions. I explained what you need to do to cheat in Bridge - pass information to a player. In computer security, we measure things in time. They estimated that most of the current procedures in place to protect cheating in Bridge were in the five to ten minute category. In other words, a knowledgeable agent, with the right tools, could defeat the current security measures in place, undetected, in five to ten minutes. That was my estimate as well. Some of the ways they suggested around the current system were quite ingenious, a couple were impractical, but most would work undetected. The meeting focused on the counter-measures and remediation that could be put in place to prevent or detect the attacks we discussed. To the best of my knowledge, none have been implemented by ACBL. Most tasks are still in the five to ten minutes category.

The meeting was held early in the morning. To show the capabilities of the people in the room, by lunch time one of my invited participants had created an app that could secretly and haptically transfer information. I played in the afternoon game with a pickup partner and though there was a little temptation to see this work in the real world, by having someone outside the room signal information to me in the room, we did not. Had we done so, it would not have been detected.

As a result of this meeting, the World Bridge Federation (WBF) quietly changed some of the upcoming rules on electronic devices for the 2016 World Championship in Wroclaw and those changes remain in place.
Aug. 14
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@Jurgen: “After it has been independently verified.”

I'll be happy to take the same set of data (e.g. Vugraph), have someone anonymize all the names, then run the software against it and see what it shows. To avoid any specific coding, you can even some some set of tournaments. The code will detect the known cheaters.

Not sure how else this claim can be independently verified.
Aug. 14
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@David: Ultimately the value of the book I wrote will not be on detecting cheating but on improving someone's game. For example, the US is significantly worse than Europe in certain parts of the game (it's in the book). I blame the coaching/teaching in each country.

I can do individual or pair analysis. For example, for you/Anne you are both equivalent (and very good) as declarers. As a pair, you are very good on defense. However, she is better on opening lead than you are. Ask her for some tips.

Unlike most partnerships you actually do better against stronger players. This means you are probably concentrating less when playing against weaker players. This is a part of the game that you should work on.

With these tips, you should be able to win that first title. Both of you have the ability (that's what the stats say).
Aug. 14
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At what point does it become an assertion not an assumption? The software is able to detect the recent known cheating pairs. It states that Buratti/Lanzarotti are a cheating pair. This is based on data from the 1990/2000s which were not part of the original data set.

To be specific, and to quote the first three paragraphs of the book:


It is possible to detect collusive cheating in Bridge using statistical methods. This had been an unsolved problem in Bridge for over 90 years. It was solved about four years ago in 2015. More importantly, it does not require humans with expert Bridge logic to analyze individual hands to determine if a pair is cheating. Computers with sophisticated software do the work.

To be more precise, it is possible to detect pairs that collusively cheat, without knowing their cheating methods, within statistically acceptable limits. Given sufficient data, these same methods can be used to detect historical cheating.

Using similar methods, it can be statistically determined how good a player and/or partnership is. Similarly, it is possible to use the same techniques to determine weaknesses in an individual player or partnership for training purposes.
Aug. 9
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@Barry. I'll keep the distribution small. Stick a copyright on the data. Possibly just District/Unit recorder. What they do is up to them. I'm not going to do it for all Units/all Districts. Just someone capable of verification of the claims.
Aug. 8
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Might be fascinating for you, but not for me!

The advice I got was this is all statistical data from public sources therefore publishable.

However… the advice also said if I listed names I might get sued. I would probably win, but the hassle was not worth it. I have shared some of the names with some of the Bridge organizations but there is no reason for me to give everything away for free.

So… most names taken out. I left in cheating pairs. I left in “public” players. These are considered the “top” players in the sport. They are easily identifiable by the number of boards played so would be silly to attempt to remove their names. “public” players are Meckwell, Lauria/Versace, Helgemo/Helness etc.

Some top pairs agreed to have their names listed; for example, Kit Woolsey/Fred Stewart agreed that it was OK to list their names. This is very useful because you can compare their data with other top pairs.

There is more than enough data in the book to infer there are active players in the top 100 pairs that have cheated in the past.

I cover the Bermuda Bowls 1955-1983. It was an interesting chapter to write; hopefully interesting for the readers. Possibly some surprising results.

@John: “Perhaps particularly those who do well on defence. Your process seems to place people as suspect (edit) for the same reason”. Wrong supposition. My process doesn't. You'll have to read the book to see why.
Aug. 8
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Thanks.

The book needs some more independent review; outside those who read draft versions.

Total sales will likely be in the small hundreds, not tens of thousands. Those interested in reading the book are a small subset of Bridge players. Over time, coaches and top level players/sponsors will come to understand the need for them to have read it and apply the results from the data.

“Most of the conclusions are based on a Magic Formula (MF)”.

Actually no…. it may seem like it, but the crux of detecting cheating is in the Advanced Cheating Detection Functions.

The MF value is an indicator. A very useful one. If you have a high defensive MF value, you are not likely to be cheating on defense. If you have a low defensive MF value, you may be cheating; but there may be reasons for this. It's in the book. For example, data from Seniors and Women events. The MF factor allows for some easy charts to explain things at a very high level.

You want validation….. how about this…

You have San Diego data. You know San Diego players.

How about I send you data on just sectionals from San Diego, and regionals. It would be a list of people that the software suspects is cheating.

We can email each other privately on what the ground rules are going to be.

You can then let me know how close the data is to those who are suspected locally.

Or I can give the data to your District recorder (or unit recorder if they still exist).

It's all public data, so there is nothing wrong in me processing the data and providing statistical results to anyone.

It may be a couple of weeks before I can get to this, but the offer is there.

I'm making the public offer because it is hard for anyone to validate this software, other than the top administrators. You are one of the few with the necessary computer skills to understand some of what is going on.
Aug. 8
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No. Screens are helpful to reduce UI and easy cheating methods.
Aug. 8
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I don't use cameras. I use statistics.

Software looks at the results. Therefore it should be able to detect, given sufficient number of boards, UI problems.

The difficultly then becomes assuming that you play the same F2F as online. I suspect most people don't. The concentration level, intensity, time are all different. I would expect more errors on-line than playing F2F.

Screens help prevent UI. But they do not completely prevent all UI.They help prevent cheating; but they are not fool-proof against someone determined to cheat.
Aug. 8
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