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All comments by Nigel Guthrie
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Ray Yuenger
It doesn't need to qualify as a frequent psych to become a partnership understanding.
Unfortunately, some partnerships deem infrequent calls, about which they have illegal understandings, to be psyches.
Feb. 15
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 15
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Jonathan Steinberg
In one of your posts you stated you gave SOME names to the ACBL & WBF (but not all) and never charged for it. But in the same post you said you can't give away your services for free. Which is it? I've been told by ACBL sources that you want the ACBL to pay you big $$$ to reveal names and methodology. Are you a volunteer who wants the best for the ACBL and the game of bridge or are you a businessman who works for profit?
The statements can all be true, in different circumstances. Nicolas Hammond told the WBF and ACBL his suspicions and named some names but, seemingly, his pro bono work has practical limits.

Jonathan Steinberg
Personally I find it very unfair to publicly smear the game by stating you know top players are cheating, you know who they are, but you won't help the ACBL convict them or release that information.
It's the responsibility of the WBF and ACBL to investigate cheating allegations. Nicolas might well be willing to help but it's ridiculous to expect him to do everything himself.
Jonathan Steinberg
How are sales of your US$39.95 book going?
In particular, how many books have been bought by the WBF, ACBL and other regulators :)

When foreigners were suspect, BridgeWinners speculated on who they were, hunted down alleged cheats, demanded immediate official action, and enthusiastically crowd-sourced investigation. Now that Nicolas Hammond has brought the circle of suspicion nearer home …
  • The ACBL seems more concerned with concealment and procrastination
  • The public silence of top-pros is deafening.
  • Jonathan Steinberg rightly draws our attention to libel risks.
Feb. 9
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 9
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Boye Brogeland
There are greyer cheating areas, though - like fouling a bad board, scooping a hand (or a score card), deliberately entering the wrong score, blatant use of UI, gamesmanship and more - which affect bridge more than collusive cheating.
Gary Hahn
Do not allow high profile players to cheat brazenly, and then in high secrecy get the most mild of pinkie slaps, for their abuse of the common player.
Each time the ACBL protects a top professional law-breaker and denies victims redress, it further encourages would-be cheats.
Feb. 8
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Nicolas, suppose that you program 2 Bots, in partnershp, so that they sometimes share a bit of information (e.g. that they are good for their last call/play). Assume that, in other respects, their skill-levels remain unchanged. Then, surely, your tests would quickly flag up the cheaters. For example …
  • Won't the defence of cheating bots be better than honest bots?
  • But their declarer-skills stay average?
  • And you would expect this effect, whether the bots' underlying skill-level is novice or world-class?
Feb. 7
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 7
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Nocolas Hammond
No details. Person(s) involved sucked it up. Moved on. Doesn't complain. Doesn't want to get involved in these types of discussions.
The ACBL seems to be overly sympathetic.

Nocolas Hammond
Case 2 was complicated for ACBL and all involved. At least one of the two teams had > 4 players.
Rumor has it that one team had 6 players, the other 4.

Nocolas Hammond
Not all players necessarily knew or were involved. Some willing to plead guilty, take a light punishment and move on irrespective if they were ‘guilty’. Others not so. Any plea-deals are typically not public (I have no specifics).

Authorities can investigate who played/knew – and then rule accordingly. Authorities rather than law-breakers should decide punishment.

Nocolas Hammond
The ‘victims’ would be the other teams (excluding these two) who were in the event. I believe the event was rescored with 0-0 VPs for each team, so the other teams were not victims. Some of the players on the two teams inadvertently became victims as well.

  • 1st case: The law-breaker damaged his victims by depriving them of a big win on the board. The law-breaker was deemed to have won the event.
  • 2nd case: Other jurisdictions would disqualify both offending teams (at the very least). The ACBL allowed a law-breaking team to keep its 2nd place.
  • In neither case did victims receive redress.

Authorities should be more open. Before addressing historical issues (e.g. Burgay-tape cover-up) we should put our own house in order.
Feb. 7
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 7
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Nicolas Hammond
There were some serious personal repercussions, though little known, for some of those in case 2; for example, inability to represent the US in world events for a period of time. I know of at least one player affected.

Thank you Details would be welcome.

Worrying aspects of these and previous cases are: paucity of facts, vouchsafed by authorities; inordinate delays in ruling (or releasing any information at all); and absence of redress to victims.

It would improve appearances if (even fragmentary) justice were sometimes seen to be done.
Feb. 7
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 7
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2 relatively minor incidents, discussed on BridgeWinners, illustrate cause for concern about recent reactions by an organisation to its top-player infractions.

Case 1. Allegedly, about 5 years ago, playing a Swiss-match board, a declarer was defeated in 5. Then he found a card on the floor. In his attempts to restore the deal, he fouled the board. Hence, even 4 became unmakeable. Later, when opponents tackled him, the law-breaker admitted his infractions. He tried to placate them by explaining that his team lost 2 imps on the board. Unfortunately, his opponents were unsatisfied. They complained to the director. The director didn't rule in favour of the victims. Instead he told them to complete a player-memo. Long afterwards, on appeal, the ACBL deprived the law-breaker of the matchpoints that he won in that competition. They also suspended him over the Christmas period. The ACBL and the law-breaker issued a joint-statement. As yet, there is no redress for the victims.

Case 2. Allegedly, about 4 years ago, in another Swiss-match, 2 teams sat the same way. The CoC stipulates that the match be scored 0-0. instead, the teams agreed to submit a score of 10-10. On that basis they were assigned teams for the next round. Unfortunately a whistle-blower reported the law-breakers to the director. Belatedly, he scored match correctly. One of the teams finished 2nd in the competition. Seemingly neither team was fined. In fact, there seems to have been no official ruling.

In both cases …
  • Authorities suppress key-facts. (We know more about the 1st case because the law-breaker, himself, started a topic on BridgeWinners).
  • Officials seem to treat offences by top-players as hot potatoes, waiting a long time, for them to cool. Allegedly, among the law-breakers are internationals, an ACBL board member, and a former member of an ACBL law committee.
  • When attention is drawn to an infraction, you should report it the director.. Presumably, experts are unaware of this rule (among others).
  • Most American commentators defend the law-breakers.
  • Since these incidents, it's rumored that some of the law-breakers represented America, internationally.
  • Organisations are reluctant to redress the damage suffered by victims of top law-breakers.
  • Without the BridgeWinners platform, and the hard work of Jim Fox and Garry Hann, few ordinary players would be privy to such incidents.

Perusal of other threads about ruling-disputes between countries, shows that opinions divide on purely patriotic lines.
Feb. 5
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 5
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The ACBL messed up negotiations with Nicolas Hammond about the Bridge-scoring program. An expensive disaster for both sides. The ACBL, EBL, WBF, etc.. should be able to use that experience in enlisting Nicolas's help to find and prosecute suspected cheats.

So why do they ignore his offer?

Avon Wilsmore suggests the likely explanation. Cheating is a hot-potato. Hence, Bridge-organisations wpuld rather cover up cheating and collude with cheats. We must quickly end that culture and policy.
Feb. 5
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Presumably, this straw-man army hopes to revive the controversy about ACBL failure to negotiate source-code access to Nicolas's Bridge-scoring program. Richard Willey allays some relevant fears ..

Richard Willey
And, for anyone who cares about the methodology, he published an entire book on the subject
Feb. 3
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Mike Nelson
… And I think that a proposed change in regulation you are suggesting is a reasonable one, but to impugn the ethics of all players who would prefer to retain the existing reg (in those RA's that still allow it) seems rather excessive …
That would be excessive. But IMO. it's reasonable to criticize the rules themselves.

Mike Nelson
… I really don't care which rule is in effect, but I have the right to follow the applicable rule without having my ethics questioned …
Of course. Complying with Bridge-rules (including UI rules) is ethical.

Mike Nelson
… By the way, I have advocated for ch*aters to be banned from bridge for time and eternity retroactive to the beginning of time, so I don't think anyone can argue I tend to look the other way at bad ethics …
IMO, many current Bridge-rules are unnecessary and add no value to the game. In practice, some rules (like this one) can encourage law-breakers.
Feb. 3
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 3
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Jonathan Steinberg
Nicolas, are you asking to be paid to supply the ACBL with your information?

Nicolas Hammond successfully focused his considerable skills on diagnosis of the virulent cancer that threatens the game of Bridge.

Surely, the WBF can afford to enlist Nicolas's help. Especially as the WBF's own efforts have been pathetically ineffectual, over the past 60 years,
Feb. 3
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 3
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Mike Nelson
… I have prevented revokes with the question, especially with partners with failing eyesight. That may well be an issue for half or more of the field these days with our aging membership.
Bridge is a game of mistakes, to which we players with poor eyesight are prone. The “Having none?” rule helps prevent our revokes. Unfortunately, UI consequences are common. They are hard to detect and prevent. The rule will continue to engender suspicion and to spoil the game until it's scrapped.
Feb. 2
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When partner shows out, unless you always or never ask, you are likely to convey count information.

For example suppose that, when partner shows out, you usually ask; but you don't bother to ask when you can see all the remaining cards of the suit, in dummy and in your own hand.

Deliberately or inadvertently, you convey useful defensive information to partner.

The rule that you can ask “having none” is one of the many that should be scrapped.

Cynics argue that those, who campaign to keep this rule, prefer “attitude” signals :)
Feb. 2
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Feb. 2
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AFAIR, Terence Reese made a similar suggestion A cheating pair could simply agree a Good/Bad signal (for calls and plays). This would confer a significant advantage. Such a binary signal could vary with time, board-number, dealer, vulnerability, or whatever.
Feb. 2
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Richard Willey
Remove the CAS from having any role in adjudicating these sorts of disputes in International bridge

To reduce cheating opportunities. at top-level, it would be a good idea to introduce an electronic playing-environment, with NE playing in separate rooms from SW.

In the interests of fairness, however, convicted suspects should still have recourse to independent arbitration. IMO, judging from a CAS report, Bridge-officials could have done a more thorough job.
Feb. 2
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Sabrina Miles
… And if the mistake did occur, the score surely would be reported correctly.
Cunning!
Jan. 31
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Mike Lawrence
… Now. Put yourself in the shoes of an honest player. You play in a country which has proven cheats. Do you think that the taint of the cheats does not spread to others of your ilk? Guilt by association is pervasive. Honest players don’t deserve this but it’s real …

We sympathize entirely with Mike Lawrence. Journalists like Avon Wilsmore perform a vital role; but history shows that National bodies find it hard to be objective about suspect local heroes.

IMO, the WBF must urgently assume responsibility. The buck must stop somewhere.
Jan. 31
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Jan. 31
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Match-point scoring is similar to IMPs but more skilful. Each board has equal weight so that one lucky board is unlikely to be decisive :)
Jan. 30
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Robert Geller
… bridge organizations have to do something in advance to handle the legal problems …
IMO, Robert Geller is right. The WBF should appoint responsible officials with powers to define an investigation protocol and to co-ordinate fair and systematic prosecution. Lawyers must carefully anticipate legal complications.

Presumably, would-be competitors already need to sign …
  • Appropriate waivers?
  • A commitment to abide by independent arbitration, when a dispute is incapable of internal resolution?

Vagaries of international law complicate matters; but courts tend to side with Bridge organizations against bolshy members.
Jan. 30
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Jan. 30
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Dale Johannesen
Incidentally, Mike Becker's account of the BJ-Hayden affair differs from what you say here.
Like Dale, I've no 1st hand knowledge. In that thread, he commented …
Dale Johannesen
I have heard that B Jay Becker-Dorothy Hayden were asked not to play any more at some point. That was before my time and I know no details.
Bobby Wolff
B-H (Becker-Hayden] were caught red-handed and tried at the Atlantic City Pair Trials in either 1966 or 1967 and found guilty as charged, but were only asked to not play together to which I believe they agreed, only to violate that covenant a relatively short time later. Their methods were very blatantly done and compared with the well known French version (however France compared to Italy has been, through the years like comparing a bathroom shower with Niagara Falls). The supposed common French method had to do with simply how high the perpetrators were holding their cards put into code.
The above very lax penalty was, of course, selected by Lee Hazen, who was around when the ACBL was first formed (1936) and then became the ACBL lawyer for almost 50 years. Yes, there are some number of USA cheats still plying their trade, but in spite of at least two stings I set up to catch them, I had a very difficult time from keeping some people who were helping me from giving away the farm. However, it did me little to no good to continue since others who supposedly denounced cheating turned out to listen to the many lawyers (like all of them) to shy away on the ground that only danger lurks in the US courts rather than ridding bridge of all who have attempted to forever destroy our game. At one time in the 1980s there were perhaps 10 husband and wife pairs who obviously were cheating, but very hard to prove, particularly so with no budget for law enforcement. Thanks to hard work and strong determination we got rid of about 5 of them and my thought is there is only one player in that group still playing.'
Mike Becker
The unanimous “verdict” was that the accusations were “unproven.” Neither innocent or guilty <snip> Sometime after the 1968 pairs trials in Atlantic City, my father told me that he and Dorothy had been quietly asked to not play together anymore. I don't remember who asked them. It was a request. He was beside himself, and we thoroughly discussed whether they should stop playing or continue. He and Dorothy decided to end their partnership, so I wound up partnering him in the 1969 Vanderbilt.
Richard Willey
Did the ACBL maintain any kind of records; better yet a copy of the report?
ACBL's shredders are probably just as efficient as FIGB's. National bodies shouldn't investigate cheating allegations against their own local heroes. The WBF should co-ordinate them (after getting its own house in order).
Jan. 29
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Jan. 30
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