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All comments by Wayne Burrows
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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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In the end players justify their actions by their table presence. There is too much danger that such presence is based on subtle UI.

Also it is all well and good to tell partners not to use UI but the practice is that few do go out of their way to not use UI on a consistent basis when the UI is a minor tempo variation in the play - not choose from among logical alternatives one that could be demonstrably suggested.
Sept. 7, 2015
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Ed Law 73D also addresses tempo. There is no provision in the laws for a player to stop mid-trick and say I am just thinking about the hand. You can ‘otherwise, unintentionally’ vary the tempo but not deliberately when you have an automatic play on this trick. If you need to think about the hand and it has no impact on your play to this trick it is my view it is not proper to stop mid-trick to do so.

Between tricks there is much more to think about. Within a trick you have a choice of legal cards to play. To the next trick you have a choice of suits and cards. At that point it is natural and normal to plan your play or defense. And it is much less likely to mislead compared with hesitating mid-trick with two small or worse a singleton.
Sept. 7, 2015
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“1) Not allow players to think for a long time while bidding or in defense. Something like a chess clock is the perfect solution. ”

This is not a perfect solution. In chess essentially the conditions are identical for both players and where they are not it is directly because of what the other player has done or because of their own previous moves. It is nothing like this is bridge - one player has a singleton and has to play it another has a choice of plays and many many variations on that theme. More generally the decisions that we have to make can be very very different for each of the players at the table on any given hand based mostly on luck.

The only way a clock could be used would be over a much longer time frame to measure slow and fast players.

On the other hand measuring time for individual actions could be used to quantify time taken for tempo breaks and establish facts in situations of dispute.

There is protection in the current laws for players who mislead based on their tempo but I agree sometimes it is hard to prove. The laws also do not support players holding up play to think about the whole hand when it is their turn to play mid-trick. The situation is different between tricks.
Sept. 7, 2015
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I can't imagine the hand where partner with three hearts would freely introduce them in this auction at the two-level. I must have been playing with the wrong experts as I have never seen that at the table on this sort of sequence.

Bidding with four hearts and five clubs is an art. You might need to predict what the follow up auction is going to be. If the bidding goes:

1 X 1 2; 3 p p ? or similar you would have wished you introduced your clubs first. It might then go:

1 X 1 2; 2 p p ? and you can conveniently introduce your hearts.

However if it goes:

1 X 1 2; 2 p p ? or would have wished you introduced your hearts first. It might then go:

1 X 1 2; 2 p p ? and you can conveniently introduce your clubs.

You may also be influenced by the relative quality of your two suits.
Sept. 6, 2015
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3NT can only make if partner's clubs are solid or partner has a diamond honour. Even then you still might require another good quick trick from partner - 3=4=1=5 with AK produces only 8 tricks.

I am not sure on everyone's style but perhaps some with KQTx and Kxxxx might bid 2 first and try to buy the contract. Its a bit of a balancing act because if you do that and the opponents compete to 3 then it will be inconvenient to introduce your clubs. Against that if you bid clubs first you may never get to bid your hearts.

If that is so then maybe partner has good clubs and poor hearts to bid clubs first.

I was hoping some of the responses might help with understanding the style but with so many passes perhaps the inferences are not that strong.
Sept. 3, 2015
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I see only three defensive tricks and partner certainly has not promised two more.
Sept. 3, 2015
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The alleged scheme as presented that Fisher and Schwartz are using is not elaborate.
Sept. 3, 2015
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“Either go for broke and get them all, or do nothing, half a job wont scare the people that have been doing this for 20 years.”

Exactly
Sept. 3, 2015
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