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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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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, 2019
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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, 2019
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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, 2019
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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, 2019
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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, 2019
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No. Screens are helpful to reduce UI and easy cheating methods.
Aug. 8, 2019
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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, 2019
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I have data on Balicki from the 1991 Bermuda Bowl onwards.

All the data suggests that he and Adam have been cheating since then.

You have a copy of my book. Take a look at page 106 which shows the data when top players play against other top players. You are listed in a scatter chart when playing with Bob Hamman. BZ are also listed on this chart. Look where they are on this graph. Look at all the known cheaters. They are all to the left of the chart. This is their lifetime data against top pairs.

No-one can be this good for this long against the world's top players without cheating.

BZ were not particularly good declarers. They were, however, above World Class when defending. Lifetime data against all top players.

I do not think Balicki was a truly great bridge player. We will never know. He never played the game.
Aug. 6, 2019
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Anyone can edit Wikipedia. If you see a known error, and can cite sources, please edit it.

Wikipedia needs more Bridge playing editors willing to write/edit Bridge articles.
Aug. 6, 2019
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@David: “as far as I can tell, not a single deal was adduced in evidence of how the alleged illegal communication worked to its users' advantage”

Correct. The EBL Bridge Expert was asked by FN lawyers and could not cite a single instance from EBTC 2014.

The WBF incorrectly implied this was evidence was required for a conviction in the German Doctors case (see their report). All three of the WBF committee members were bridge players and lawyers.
Aug. 6, 2019
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I attempted to do something similar for a cheating pair to show how difficult it was to work out their bidding methods absent any information other than video.

Although conceptually simple; the process is very hard.

Some examples:

1-P-2! is game forcing; may not have clubs.

P-P-1-P-2! shows 3 spades

P-P-1-P-2! shows 4 spades.

Doubles are particularly hard. Sometimes takeout, sometimes penalty, sometimes support etc.

You need a very large data set for the computer to even attempt to infer what's going on.

1NT-P-2 shows spades. Obvious really.

1NT-P-2 is a size ask.

Bridge is full of bidding conventions. It is virtually impossible for a computer to work out your bidding system absent additional information.

Edit: Move some !
Aug. 6, 2019
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment Aug. 6, 2019
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Also easy to identify your opponents. You got a top for 3NTx and your opponents were still fuming and went down in a cold 4 contract the next board giving you another top. I'd be thanking them not insulting them.

Some pairs have the agreement that a double of 3NT asks for a spade lead.

Your opponents had a 38% session.
Aug. 4, 2019
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I find it a little condescending towards South, PS, for thinking (s)he could not find this play.

You could ask in your original post what happened at other tables without the implication towards your known opponents.

Five players polled agreed with what South did.

Perhaps you should ask your “considerably stronger” friend the logic for their J continuation.
Aug. 4, 2019
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The problem with detailed posting of hands and specific events is that it is easy to look up who North and South were.
Aug. 4, 2019
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The European Bridge League archives start in 1996. No detailed results before then. See

See http://www.eurobridge.org/championship-archives/

The 1995 tournament high level data is at http://www.eurobridge.org/TeamChampRP/?qmenudetid=38
Aug. 4, 2019
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“First, how hard would it be to create an app that has a guide for all the events, starting times, floors and room locations for the tournaments”

Well….. you have short memories. ACBL did build this app. They outsourced the development. Worked great for the first NABC.

Then they did the second NABC. The story was something like: Whenever they wanted to update the app; it took 10 days for Apple/Google to approve any changes to the app. All the data in the app was hard coded. If there was an update to a room/time etc.; the app had to be re-created, a new version created, and hope that everyone would download the updated version. Yup…. the original spec did not include a requirement that the data for the app was external to the app.

“Look at the disaster that was ACBLScore Plus. The ACBL managed to piss away close to two million dollars on that one.”

The software was $1.5M. ACBL wrote off a previous project to re-write ACBLscore in Java. That was about $100K. The spent about $100K on a technical report after the project to try to justify why ACBLscore+ should not be used. Unfortunately the results of that report were highly favorable to ACBLscore+ and the report has never been distributed to the board/membership. My guess is the other $300K was on lawyers. I keep offering to run events at NABCs with Bridgescore+ (the successor to ACBLscore) but ACBL decline saying the players don't want it. Why wait 30+ minutes for events to start, 30+ minutes for every NABC+ Swiss session etc. etc.. The real reason for ACBLscore+ debacle was the ACBL lawyer who originally negotiated the contract. Peter Rank, now deceased, negotiated away the copyright. ACBL's outside counsel later told the ACBL that they had to have the copyright or not use the software. No-one on the board was competent enough to realize that Copyright was not needed. So… the software is still there, just not used by ACBL at its NABCs.
Aug. 4, 2019
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This is part of the enhanced version of Bridgescore+. Post or PM the hand and I'll give you the reference.
Aug. 3, 2019
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@Chris: The membership is. The ACBL By Laws require a CEO. See Article V.1 at http://web2.acbl.org/documentlibrary/about/Bylaws.pdf

“The Board shall employ a Chief Executive Officer to manage and conduct ACBL business in accordance with policies and regulations established by the Board of Directors”

The ACBL has been without a CEO for some time. The By Laws require that the Board employs one.
Aug. 2, 2019
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ACBL Bulletin. April 2019. Page 40. Matt Smith answers your question.

You may not ask your opponents to stop alerting in ACBL events.
Aug. 1, 2019
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