Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Cheating in ... Bridge

Last year saw a couple of cheating scandals in the Bridge world. A number of the worlds top pairs were accused of signalling for opening leads by how they placed the bid tray, or showing suit holdings by how they played their cards. Apparently this had been going on for a while, but it took a combination of video evidence and some serious sleuthing before the whole thing went public.
While this has parallels to chess, it is obviously not the same as cheating using an engine. The closest comparison (at least to me) is when a player receives advice from another player. This has happened on a number of occasions (some quite famously), but as far as I know, very little action is ever taken (including by me). While FIDE has taken action to deal with computer aided play, it hasn't established robust mechanisms to deal with other forms of cheating (eg outside assistance or throwing games for cash )
The Bridge establishment is of course taking all this seriously, but as far as I know the actual ethics cases are still ongoing. if you want to dig through some of the detail you can visit bridgewinners.com where there are a number of articles and posts on the topic.


Anonymous said...

One just ended, at least the German case where the guys admitted it. Six years, minus two years probation. The "German Doctors" case of a couple years back, also drags on, into civil courts IIRC.

The bridge establishment took it so "seriously", that they allowed Poland to play in the championships, while at the same time refusing entry to their top pair. And their press conference was a bit of a farce (helped a bit by Zia not being able to ask a proper question, but rather making a political statement with a gratuitous "do you agree?" at the end, to much applause).

Anonymous said...

It is a bit funny. The bridge crowd looks to chess as a paragon organization, and chess players do the same to bridge. The WBF is not quite in the same position as the FIDE, but I would not count on their acumen (better, the various national and regional associations IMO). Poland was awarded the next championships, and they have a big money donor for senior championships, so nothing too bad is likely to happen to them.

Laar said...

One thing I find about Bridge Winners, is that it is much more highbrow than most such forums, with a large number of top players (still US oriented, but some Euros too). Think if "Chess Winners" had half of the top 100 registered, and 10 fairly frequently active. And also, there are a lot of loving amateurs, with real world skills/jobs, which is something you miss on chess comments. But at the same time, given the number of lawyers in bridge, it's a bit daft how unclear they are all about the procedures of banning, the CAS, etc.

Anonymous said...

I saw this blogpost, about the aftermath. They don't know how to adjust rating points, from those who haven't admitted anything yet. The author was a bit over the top: If I were the attorney for any of these pairs ... I would go straight to Federal Court and present these seeding point reductions as evidence of the ACBL’s conviction of the pairs before the Ethical Oversight Committee has heard the case."


Name/URL said...

"At the captains meeting following the semi-finals, I approached Tournament Manager Disacco and told him I was not accusing anyone of anything but I wanted a monitor on the German Doctors. He informed me that he could not grant that request without proof."


Maybe the writer doesn't mean "proof" here (meaning "evidence" instead), but still it's a bit bizarre that the burden to achieve even monitoring is unfittingly high. I guess it happens in chess also, and in particular now with the formality that some want to apply in the ACC complaint process. As seen in Chakvi, effectively it implied that people who had suspicions couldn't even ask the director to be more vigilant without enduring wrath and threats.
Admittedly, the director can have some leeway. In the Nigalidze case, Petrosian complained, nothing was found when they searched him, and TP still insisted, leading to the bathroom being searched (and AFAIK, all w/o a "formal" complaint being launched by Petrosian). I had thought the formality of the ACC complaint process was to ensure that there wouldn't be any public accusations such as Toiletgate, Rudolf, Kurnosov, but I guess no good thought goes unpunished, and the extreme view (that private preliminary measures can't even be suggested without attendant "proof") has unfortunately taken root in some places.