David Owen has a good overview piece on cheating in bridge at the New Yorker. (Read the article here.)
As I read it, I realized that one aspect it highlights is the crowd sourcing of the challenge: when somebody thought players were cheating at bridge, but could not see how, posting the videos on Youtube, and inviting the world at large to view and investigate brought about a solution. Also, it does seem that there may be a future opportunity to use a Big Data approach, if anyone puts the time and effort into converting all the on-table behavior into some kind of analytical data. Fascinating.
I still believe that there is a technology solution for professional bridge.
I have blogged a few times about the allegations of cheating by Israeli bridge players (for example, here) but it’s now no longer just Israelis in the frame. Although slightly late with this, it is worth noting that the excellent Bridge Winners site now hosts a damning (and extensively researched and detailed) post:
“…alleging improper communication between the world’s #1 and #2 ranked bridge players, Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes, during the 2014 European Championships. The pair was on the Monaco team that placed second in this event, earning Monaco a spot in the upcoming Bermuda Bowl.”
See the post, here.
Thank goodness it’s not only Israelis that are involved.
Judging by some of the comments around the site, bridge has a problem with cheating. To me, the solution – certainly at the top levels of competition – has to be in better use of technology. For example, taking away the cards, and having all communications done electronically through specially designed consoles, instead of face to face (including card play). The players would need to be chaperoned to avoid email, text, and the like circumventing the arrangement. And that human element remains the weak link. Is there no perfect solution?
The bridge scandal (see here, here, and here) continues to develop.
The two gentlemen in the (very) hot seat, Fisher and Schwartz, have matched their legal offensive with a Facebook campaign. It’s not much of a campaign, though, and if these guys want to make a better impression, they are going to have to get down and get dirty with the detail. By that, I mean they are going to have to directly answer the specific instances of alleged use of codes. That’s a difficult challenge. But they are going to have to show, probably, that so called signals were no such thing, with evidence of the ‘signals’ not being followed. Saying ‘we did not cheat’ will not cut it.
At the same time, there has been fallout affecting the Israeli team. With Fisher and Schwartz in the team, they had qualified for the Bermuda Bowl. Now the Israeli Bridge Federation (IBF) has withdrawn the Israeli team A smart decision, by the looks of it.
Also, the IBF is carrying out an investigation. It has indicated it will allow Fisher and Schwartz time to go to court, but it is continuing to make its inquiries. The IBF is well aware of the public interest, as well as the potential for litigation, and cannot be happy about the trouble it has been landed in.
More to come, inevitably.
The current bridge scandal (see here and here) continues to gather pace.
- There have now been articles published claiming to identify the systems used (see here and here).
- Inevitably, a member of the legal profession has stepped forward to refute the claims of cheating, calling them (here – PDF) “serious, malicious and offensive defamation” and seeking, among other things, damages.
This one is unlikely to die down quietly.
By way of follow up to my Bridge crossing post, I have found a website focusing exclusively on this massive bridge scandal. Called bridgecheaters, it’s presented by Boye Brogeland, a former team mate of Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz, and one of those who blew the whistle.
If you are at all interested in bridge, this is a fascinating site, well worth visiting. There are sample hands, commentary, video, history, and more.
The site has a strapline of “The greatest scam in the history of bridge!” which is probably an exagerration, but only a slight one.
I’ll repeat: I do hope these guys have not been cheating.
[Bridgewinners.com appears to be back up and running. There’s other information about the situation, as well as general bridge articles that have nothing to do with cheating.]
I saw this earlier in the week at the Times of Israel:
Thee normally sedate game of bridge was hit by a scandal this week when two world class Israeli players were accused of cheating by their teammates, who have handed back three of the prestigious titles they won together.
Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz were named and shamed by teammates Boye Brogeland, Allan Graves, Espen Lindqvist and Richie Schwartz, with Brogeland writing on the bridgewinners.com website earlier this week that they “believe in a clean game.”
“If you have a cheating pair on your team, I believe you should lose whatever master points, seeding points and titles you have won together,” he wrote. “The Schwartz team from the two previous cycles… has decided to give up the Spingold Trophy, the Reisinger Trophy and the North American Swiss that we ‘won’ in 2014 and 2015. We believe in a clean game and we love bridge.”
Fisher and Schwartz have denied any foul play, and Fisher has accused the foursome of acting out of envy at their superior skills. “Jealousy made you sick,” he said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “Get ready for a meeting with the devil.”
The full story is here.
I checked out some of the stories at bridgewinners.com yesterday, including detailed analysis of some of the hands played by the two alleged offenders. Interesting.
Today, this is what I get at bridgewinners.com:
Presumably there is more to come about this story. I do hope these guys have not been cheating.