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All comments by Wayne Burrows
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A better solution to record the cards played would be to have the cards recognised as they are played on the table. Bidding cards could also be recognised.

With a screen (like now or modified) the information could be electronically transmitted to partner (the other side of the screen).

I feel there should be a possibility of designing a screen where you can see both opponents but not partner as well.
Sept. 18, 2015
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There should be a way for a screen designed so you can see both opponents but not partner. For players to play their cards and make their bids in front of them. The bidding and playing cards could be recognised by the table and the information conveyed around the table.
Sept. 18, 2015
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I think we should openly encourage analysis of all pairs as a means of prevention not accusation.
Sept. 17, 2015
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“Any such action would potentially imply a public accusation of a pair…”

I do not think that a public accusation that someone “coughs” or “scratches” is problematic.

A full and complete description of what actually happened at a table publicly available and coded would allow anyone to look for patterns.

What I am saying is that given the videos are publicly available a transcript of the actions shown on the videos should not be considered tantamount to an accusation of cheating. However it would be a warning to any potential cheaters that their actions may be recorded and made available for public scrutiny. That public scrutiny would be a good thing in my view.
Sept. 17, 2015
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Now if a pair suddenly and unexpectedly have a very bad tournament there will be suspicions.

Otherwise, perhaps they will quickly need to read “Card Play Technique”, Watson's “Play of the Hand” and “The Rodwell Files”.
Sept. 16, 2015
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Debbie I have seen videoed interviews that when replayed because of cuts and edits bore no resemblance to what I witnessed when it was recorded live.
Sept. 15, 2015
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Winners are routinely tested every time they compete at least in major events. That is there win is verified by a clean drug test. This seems analogous to verifying a bridge win by analysis of their results.
Sept. 14, 2015
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This seems to be the WADA policy

“According to WADA and other international standards, an athlete can be selected for testing any time and at any location.”
Sept. 14, 2015
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Every pair should be analysed. With drug testing they do not just test suspect pairs. You need to be tested in order to compete. I do not see why it should be different here.
Sept. 14, 2015
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Of course in the real world if you do what you say you were always going to do then some of your opponents will not call the director, sometimes when the director is called the score will not be adjusted etc and in the long run you may well benefit.

In that regard I think the laws are deficient in that, at least in practice, they encourage people to not follow the requirements of the law.

To address this in my view there should be many more procedural penalties applied to players who do not follow Law 73C by not carefully avoiding taking advantage of UI. Even though the law is written with the strongest language - “must not” - directors are reluctant to penalise players for choosing illegal options.
Sept. 13, 2015
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Kit, We are misunderstanding each other. I am not 100% sure where the misunderstanding is.

My understanding is loosely that:

1. You look for hands where experts would take a different action if there had been a signal for some particular suit.

2. Then you examine the pair's actions to see how often it matches the presumed signalled for suit.

My quibble is that based on this you cannot say they it is likely that they might be signalling. Well I don't even like that language. Rather that using that language of “likely” and “signalling” is misleading in context.

You made no test to determine any reason why this pair chose their action. All you know is that their action matched the action that various expert players would choose if they had some additional information a certain percentage of the time. From your data the reason for this may or may not have been illegal signalling.

This methodology may throw up anomalous pairs who then could be investigated to determine whether or not they were signalling. Identifying anomalous pairs is valuable but it needs to be carefully pointed out that it usually will not be proof of signalling. I suspect you understand this. However I think your language may be misleading to others less numerate than yourself.
Sept. 13, 2015
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Michael: I would prefer there is a mandate. My experience in other situations is that people say they “always” do something when they don't. Last person to try that made that claim about asking about our 1NT “always” but they only asked on one out of three boards in the match.

When I look at the FS videos I see a lot of sloppy procedure which allows for players to manipulate the situation to exchange information. For the record the sloppy procedure was not just from FS which doesn't mean that I think others were cheating just that they help create an environment in which others can exploit the situation. I think one way we can help combat cheating is by making more procedural things more strict.
Sept. 13, 2015
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This is what the law says

“73A2. Calls and plays should be made without undue emphasis, mannerism or inflection, and without undue hesitation or haste. But Regulating Authorities may require mandatory pauses, as on the first round of the auction, or after a skip-bid warning, or on the first trick.”

It seems quite plain to me that if the RA does not mandate a pause then one is not required. I don't think that it would be appropriate under those conditions for an individual player to say well I am always going to pause anyway. Without having videos of every hand where they are in that seat there is no way of verifying such a statement.

It would be much better, including to stop people using variations here as a means of communication, to either have a pause mandated or have no pause expected. To leave it up to individual players just opens a way to vary procedures and allegedly in a nutshell that is what Fisher and Schwartz are accused of.
Sept. 12, 2015
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I understand what Kit is trying to do. I think his language is imprecise and influenced by what we know or rather he knows about other things about this pair.

Say we investigated by the same means Meckwell or Zia who we know are good and in the latter case prone to non-standard actions. It would not be surprising to find that in both cases they took a significant number of actions that were different than some group of so-called ‘peers’.

We would not conclude that it was "likely they were (or might be) signalling (illegal) information. Its additional information not explicitly in the data Kit is analysing that sways him to frame his hypothesis and conclusion in the language he has used.
Sept. 11, 2015
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I tried to make this point before but I think it deserves repeating. I do not think that this method makes any claims about whether or not a pair were signalling. You are not testing any data about any signals.

“The methodology is for the purpose of identifying if it appears likely that a pair might be signaling certain information.”

I do not even understand what this sentence means. To me it does not make sense to qualify “might be signaling” with “likely”. Quantifying the sentence it is like saying there is a 90% chance of some indeterminate chance (“might be”) that they were signalling.

To me it is giving the false impression, especially to non-numerate or less numerate people, that you have actually tested for signalling.

All you have done is tested that their actions were different than (other) experts and were consistent in some sense with the actions other experts would take if they had additional information (which you presumed came from an illegal signal).

The results may be an indication that a pair have additional information they are not however an indication that that information came about by illegal signalling. That is a perception that you derived from other sources.

We do not even know how much advantage would be accrued from having additional information and therefore what sort of profile of results we would get from a signalling (cheating) pair. The poll of players asking them what they would do with a signal goes some way toward this. Even this though presupposes the nature of the information that was being signalled.

All we can do by looking at the data from how hands were played is to identify anomalies in how a pair or player played. We can not from that data alone determine why those anomalies occurred.

Kathy Chua wrote an excellent book “Fair Play or Foul - Cheating Scandals in Bridge” in which her thesis was there are broadly speaking two ways of playing bridge - “two handed” or “four handed” - and those differences would manifest in different bids and plays. The point being that someone who does something different does not necessarily make them a cheat (they must have been signalling). They might simply have a different style that happened to be more successful on this set of hands (and in some cases even individual hands).

To determine if a pair are signalling we need to discover how they are signalling. Not presume any difference from expert standard necessarily is based on illegal information. Perhaps in extreme cases the data might be enough say for example if a pair or player always played double dummy that would be enough. Where the line is though is subjective and we certainly do not want it close to where legitimate experts are, even legitimate experts who play a different style than what we consider expert standard.
Sept. 11, 2015
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“He gave me two hypotheses. One was that they were signaling club length. The other was that they were signaling presence or absence of a heart honor.

I tested both of these hypotheses…”

With all due respect it is impossible to test these hypotheses based on the play of the hand alone. To test an hypothesis concerning whether they are signalling or not you need some data on the actions that might be considered signalling. You did not have that here although there maybe such data available now.

What you appear to have done is gathered some data from the hands and gathered some data from other expert or world class bridge players. Your null hypothesis should then be that Fisher/Schwartz make the same plays as (other) world class players. The alternative hypothesis would be that they make more successful plays than (other) world class players.

Perhaps the hypothesis is that they make the play that would be suggested by additional information. There is nothing in the cards that proves that the additional information necessarily comes from illicit signalling.

It could be that they play legitimate signalling methods or style of play that give them superior information that allows such plays.

It could be that they have analysed situations and derive more information from standard signals than other experts.

It could be that they are better at reading the opponents and therefore make more good plays.

It could be that they are exchanging illegal information.

I am not claiming that any of these alternatives are the reality. However certainly in and of themselves some of the example hands have not been compelling that they must have been exchanging illicit information.

I do however think that it is misleading to suggest that you are testing “they were signalling …”. You are only testing that their play differs from some expert or world class ‘standard’ based on a presumption that those experts have the same legitimate information as Fisher/Schwartz.

Sept. 10, 2015
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Indeed I am amazed at how unsophisticated the alleged methods of communication are.
Sept. 9, 2015
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“proof” or “evidence”? These are different things.
Sept. 9, 2015
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This is not according to the law. You have no right to wait at trick one as a defender. There is a precedent of an appeal at a Venice Cup where a defender who paused at trick one was ruled against.

The laws allow for the possibility of RAs regulating a mandatory pause at trick one. I am not aware of any RAs so regulating. Therefore you are not entitled to any extra time at trick one. A tempo break is subject to the provisions in other laws.
Sept. 9, 2015
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Ed arguably the law is not completely clear. It says it is desirable but not always required to maintain steady tempo. The explicit exception is “Otherwise, inadvertently…”. From that I infer that to deliberately vary the tempo is not explicitly allowed.

In addition players are asked to be particularly careful when a tempo variation could work to their sides advantage. If one is particularly careful then I think we can and should avoid tempo variations mid-trick - it is not being particularly careful and it is not inadvertent.
Sept. 8, 2015
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