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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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@Avon: “Nicolas: We were certainly looking at different things.

I searched for deals where Blue Team players made a lead that:
- almost no strong player would choose
- suited partner very well indeed”

Absolutely. But you are now getting into subjective opinion on what strong players would do. Some people make quirky leads.

The software can look at ALL leads and see how successful they are.

This is different from finding opening leads that are “suspect”.

I cover this in the book.

A good thought exercise (before you read the book please!) is to construct an algorithm that you think will detect cheating on the opening lead. See what you end up with. Then compare to what is in the book.
July 20, 2019
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@Richard, “Not that much difference between Avarelli and Belladonna when playing with each other. The difference between Belladonna partnering Avarelli and partnering Garozzo is eye-catching.

How was Garozzo partnering (a) Belladonna, (b) someone else?”

In order for statistical analysis to be valid, you need a large data set. I only have enough data on Belladonna/Avarelli and Belladonna/Garozzo so can't comment on Garozzo with anyone else.

The difference is not that eye-catching. Better partnerships understand each other's overcall style etc.
July 20, 2019
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment July 20, 2019
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@John: “Hadn't realised ZIa and Meckstroth were quite that bad…”

Obviously, I deliberately chose a famous player/pair close to them in the rankings.

Detecting cheating on opening leads is quite complicated.

One possible approach is to check for how successful the lead, which is the data I presented above for some pairs. Is that the best approach for cheating? Details in the book. These details are very useful for improving your opening leads.

Meckstroth ranks #222 out of the 400 pairs when playing with Eric.

Zia ranks #18 when playing with Meckstroth.
July 20, 2019
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment July 20, 2019
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@Avon: I took the data from the top 200 pairs from the top tournaments. This includes Belladonna-Avarelli.

I sorted the 400 players based on the percentage of safe leads, i.e. leads that did not give up a trick.

Avarelli ranked #268, two spots above Zia, playing with Michael Rosenberg.

Belladonna, playing with Garozzo,, ranked #33, two spots below Bob Hamman, playing with Bart Bramley.

Belladonna, playing with Avarelli,, ranked #335, seven spots ahead of Jeff Meckstroth, playing with Zia.

Avarelli was not that good at opening leads…. using this statistic.
July 20, 2019
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I met him as well. He has a PhD from MIT. He's still working on new mathematics.
July 19, 2019
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See http://www.detectingcheatinginbridge.com for details about the book, include from snippets from some chapters and some of the figures in the book.

“Next: If I understand things correctly, it should now be possible to inspect the hands that WILL be used for individual tournaments, identify boards that the expert system will use, and then generate a hypothesis in advance regarding pairs that are unusually likely to make the right decision.” Not quite. What has happened is that the software identified a pair. Video of this suspicious pair was done, the software analyzed the data, and was able to predict boards where something “unusual” happened before the video was watched. Watching video proved that indeed something “unusual” happened on those boards.

In order for this system to work it relies on a large data set. Given a large data set, if a pair is defending better than say, Balicki/Zmudzinski who were transmitting information about suits, then this raises flags.

There are multiple algorithms detecting cheating in different parts of the game. If they are released, then cheating pairs will modify how they play in certain parts of the game making it more difficult to detect cheating. Comparing results from top players quickly flags the outliers. Once the outliers are outside normal statistical deviations, they become more suspect.

However…. I hope the long term effect will not be in detecting cheating but how using statistics can improve your own game.
July 19, 2019
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Microsoft Ready and Inspire 2019 convention (40K attendance) finishes today. Presume it might free up a certain person to come and play.
July 18, 2019
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I did start with WBF, not ACBL… Last time I complained about something with the ACBL, they changed their By Laws.
July 17, 2019
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Not useless for me because I teach, but I didn't use any of those images. My point remains the same. It should be easy for a non-ACBL writer to find a (free) image to use in a publication.
July 17, 2019
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Nowhere does it state that these are free for commercial use. There should be a lot more on this site so that someone who writes articles can use. See Gita's post on the problem.
July 16, 2019
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I found this the funniest and saddest quote. Someone posted the comment

“Article written about the authors’ discovery that playing the card game Bridge is surprisingly fun and enjoyable.

Shows picture of Texas Hold ‘Em”

The author, Gita Jackson, replied:

“PLEASE FIND ME A PICTURE OF HUMAN BEINGS PLAYING SPECIFICALLY BRIDGE THAT DOES NOT COST HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS TO HAVE THE RIGHTS TO USE, IN A HALF HOUR TURNAROUND, NUMNUTS”

Got to appreciate the author's sincerity.

Surely this is something that the WBF and ACBL can easily fix by making available a set of images/photographs that are free for commercial use and easily downloadable from their web sites….
July 16, 2019
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Details of book are at http://www.cheatinginbridge.com
July 15, 2019
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Or too young! Sorry about earlier typo.
July 12, 2019
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I played with my then six year old son at the Atlanta NABC a few years ago. It was an open pairs. We had no late plays, no director calls, and we didn't finish last or second to last. We played Stayman, transfers, no carding. Every child is different and will learn at a different pace. Your grandson is not too old to play.

My son got tired of every pair that came to the table wanting to know how old he was. He wanted to ask the same question in return but was too polite. He just wanted to play and not answer personal questions. We didn't return.

Make sure that when your grandson starts playing, it is in a positive environment.
July 12, 2019
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Do you think that the modern defenders are better than the pairs from years ago because there are more/better agreements on defense than years ago?
July 9, 2019
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@Avon/Peter: I cover 1955 in my book. Form your opinion from the data when you see it.

If you had to rank R/S, F/S, F/N, B/L, P/S, B/Z, E/W, Belladonna/Garozzo, Hamman/Wolff, Hamman/Soloway, Belladonna/Avarelli, Meckstroth/Rodwell, Lauria/Versace, Helgemo/Hellness on defense, what order would you put them in? I have a tool that can measure performance on defense)? How many standard deviations from the average would a pair need to be before you were convinced they were cheating?

I have the least data on R/S. When I include them in lists, I have the top 380 pairs in the world in a data set. I sort on a defense formula I use. What is the ranking of each pairs? Their ranking is anywhere from 1-380.

There is a second formula I use. If you rank high on both formulas, then you are either brilliant, incredibly lucky or you cheat. In this second formula, F/S rank first, then B/L.

The position of R/S on these lists, along with other data, gives me information on how likely they were cheating.

Pick your favourite top world class player. Do you think they are better than R/S when defending?
July 8, 2019
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@Jim. Some people have the 1965 book. But no-one has transcribed it AFAIK.

Avon and others recently did the 1958 Bermuda Bowl. I added summary information from the 58 BB to my book, but it was too late to add the player data to my player profiles.

A brief summary of 1958 was that the Bridge was equivalent to other Bermuda Bowls in that era.

I have an analysis of the 1955 Bermuda Bowl in my book. I know how well R/S played and can compare them to their peers in that era, can compare them to the top players now, and can also compare them to the known cheating pairs. I can do the same for all players from that era.

Any volunteers for transcribing 1965? Anyone have a copy of the book?
July 8, 2019
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One suspects that the R/S incident causes a change from 1963 to 1975.

There are some books on sale on eBay that have the 1963 Laws. It appears that there might be a 1971 Amended edition.
July 8, 2019
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David wrote, “The table record is rarely going to be demonstrative.”

A single table record is not. Multiple table records are.

Suppose setting the contract relies on switching to a certain suit in the middle of a hand. Dummy/I have the same cards in both suits. It is a 50-50 guess. A cheating pair will get this right more than 50% of the time. One hand says nothing; multiple do.

Let's say I cheat. Let's say I have double dummy knowledge. There will be situations where if I take advantage of my unauthorized information that I know I might get caught. This is a risk/reward situation. My perception of this risk may be different than yours. Therefore there will be some situations where I deliberately play the wrong card. If you look at my playing record, I am not 100% perfect. If I were, you would catch me cheating. Therefore I can cite all the times I was wrong as examples that I was not cheating.

I have software that does all of this. I can compare any pair's results to known cheating pairs. If you are better than the known cheaters in certain aspects of the game then you are highly suspicious. I know the known cheating pairs make mistakes. All cheating pairs do.

If someone is willing to put the data from the 1965 World Championship into BBO LIN format, this will be a great help.

Instead of a subjective analysis of the data, I can have software do an objective analysis.
July 8, 2019
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