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All comments by Boye Brogeland
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Well done to all the players making a stand against cheating. If we follow Team Harris' example and band together, we will succeed.
April 19, 2019
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Ron.

I have responded to that question numerous times. No, I didn't know. I had heard rumours, and I got more concerned as time went by. The two hands I found most troublesome were where Fisher-Schwartz found the wrong lead (but still hit what would be their partner's preferred lead), but the normal lead (in my view) would have succeeded. Opinions on leads can differ, but when I asked them for their logic behind those leads, their responses seemed made up. Was it enough to “know” that they were cheats? I certainly wouldn't bet my life on it, as I did after August 15th 2015.

Regarding Piekarek-Smirnov, Elinescu-Wladow and Fantoni-Nunes I had also heard rumours, but I was still very surprised when FN got busted (I had played quite a bit against them, and also on the same team as them, never experiencing anything suspicious).

In hindsight my alarm clock should have gone off earlier for Fisher-Schwartz and probably some of the other cheats. But one must remember that the awareness of the cheating problem (at least to me) was totally different pre and post August 2015. It was the people who knew before August 2015 who could (and should) have done more.

I mentioned Balicki-Zmudzinski because I remember that you heartily defended them. There had been rumours about them too over the years. So where did you go wrong regarding Balicki-Zmudzinski since you seem to have no problem knowing who the (other) cheats are?
April 19, 2019
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Ron. What about the team mates of Balicki-Zmudzinski? Would you give the same «ban» as team mates of Fisher-Schwartz and Fantoni-Nunes?
April 18, 2019
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An impressive win by Tony - in his first American outing - and the three Norwegian lads. I believe they won their first 12 matches in the tournament! These days nice guys finish first!
April 2, 2019
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Congrats to the Wolfson team for an incredible win. Terrific players - and great guys!
April 1, 2019
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My suggestion would be a 20 seconds mandatory pause for declarer. Then third hand must play in tempo unless he/she has a bridge problem in the suit (not a signal problem). As declarer you get the benefit of taking more than 20 seconds at trick one if you feel you need it.
March 26, 2019
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Has Lanzarotti served his 10+ years ban in the USA? Yes. Has he been involved in any cheating incidents after his return to European bridge more than ten years ago? No. Has he sued his way back through non-bridge courts? No. So he meets most of my criterias for getting a second chance, which is still possible both in Europe and in the USA. Where the ACBL failed, was in not demanding a clearer admission of guilt in order to reinstate him. Admitting cheating solely on the queen of diamond hand in Tenerife shouldn't have been enough. It's frustrating that the Appeals & Charges Committee didn't get this right, and thereby pushing the problem over to the players. I believe that many of us would be willing to boycott tournaments if certain cheats were allowed to play, but personally I don't draw the red line with Lanzarotti.
March 26, 2019
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United we stand, divided we fall. Let's follow the examples of Erik, Morten, Maria and James so that bridge organizations never again forget how important a clean game is to most of their members. If bridge federations can't keep Fantoni, Nunes and other cheats in denial away from their tournaments, at least give other participants the opportunity to refuse playing against them. And give each pair 50 % score, which is way more than cheats deserve.
Feb. 21, 2019
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I met Richie some 20 years ago during a Cavendish in Las Vegas. He was a very interesting guy, always keen to discuss various bridge topics. As a sponsor and team mate he was superb, encouraging us to back our judgment and handling bad results and losses very well. After the cheating scandal in 2015, he supported the idea of renouncing our illgotten titles. He was a fierce competitor, always giving it his everything. The final of the 2014 Reisinger in Providence is a good example of this. A few minutes before game time Richie tripped in a wire on the floor, hit the ground hard and hurt his knee. He insisted he still wanted to play, though, getting medical treatment with cards in his hands. Richie and Allan (Graves) played great that day and we were in the lead after the first session. Thanks for all the good times, Richie. I will miss both you and Margie.
Feb. 10, 2019
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In bridge you make a vast number of decisions. Many decisions are automated and based on experience - and you don't always anticipate the problem you are actually facing.

When the opponents bid to a grand slam, and even more so when it's 7 NT, you don't expect partner to have an ace. So you normally try to find a passive lead. But as soon as partner thinks over 7 NT (with or without a double), you pretty much know he has an ace - the UI has woken you up to the actual problem.

I agree that diamonds is the indicated lead on this hand, especially if you take into consideration that your opponents may be off an ace. But when Joe Grue doesn't think about this during the bidding (in an event he is in contention to win) - is it obvious to think about it when you are on lead? If you do smell a rat when Grue corrects 7 spades to 7 NT, make sure you pick that diamond out of your hand before a possible UI situation ruins the deal.

For tempo-sensitive situations we need to get better at bidding and playing in tempo. It will be hard to achieve that if the “tanking” side is given the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand I would like to see more of a Mensch approach when we face situations that can't really be solved fairly in court. Maybe Grue's comment about a possible diamond void should have made them accept their destiny. There are more than one way to win.
Dec. 5, 2018
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To Jean-Charles.

People ask because people care. Not everyone is comfortable with CAS making crucial decisions for bridge. I have played in the Cavendish 14 times and would be keen on knowing if Fantoni and/or Nunes might get an invite for the 2019 edition.

If I remember correctly, Fisher-Schwartz was allowed to play in the Cavendish Teams in 2013, but not the Cavendish Pairs. To me, if you are convinced that someone cheats, you don't invite them at all. Other wise it just looks like a business decision (Accepting Fisher-Schwartz = Fewer players participating = Less money and prestige).
Dec. 5, 2018
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Embarassing for everyone involved in bridge.
Oct. 11, 2018
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Marion, thanks for expressing what so many bridge players around the world are feeling. United we stand.

When I hear that Fantunes get a warm welcome in Italy, and I read Avon Wilsmore's revelations about the Blue Team, there seems to be a deep cultural gap. Unless we can bridge that gap, how can we ever see eye to eye on how the game should be played?

The WBF slogan “Bridge for peace” is all fine and dandy, but first we need to come to peace with the past. Silence and denial don't cut it. It's time to speak the truth.

#saynotocheats
#cleanupourgame
Sept. 22, 2018
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It seems like we are going in circles Andy, Michael, Ron et al., and I am going to close mine with a story I heard in Atlanta a few weeks ago. I think it says a bit about a “rules are everything” approach. This is how I remember it:

The bidding goes 1S - p - 4H - all pass. The 4 hearts bid was meant as Splinter, and after the lead one of the opponents says (something like this): “I don't want to win this way, please correct your bid to 4S.” This offer is duly accepted, only to be followed by: “Tournament director - lead out of turn!”
Aug. 22, 2018
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And for the record, Andy, Michael, Ron et al.: This isn't about “threat”, “intimidation” and “bullying”. It's about trying to secure fair play. I'm pretty sure all players at the table both agree and agreed how we are/were supposed to play in tempo-sensitive situations. From time to time we all “sin” in this department (even “heroes” if you thought someone doubted that). The main thing is that we try our very best to play the game right.
Aug. 21, 2018
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Andy. I think out-of-tempo signalling happens quite frequently. Was the defense affected by this, or would the same defense have been found without the huddle? Sometimes it's impossible to tell and normally I give my opponents the benefit of the doubt and move on. The same goes for BIT in the bidding. Do I remember the last time I called the director for BIT in the bidding? No. Neither do I remember when I did it for BIT in defense. But when I feel the opponents have stepped over the red line I call the director for BIT both in the bidding and in the defense (and also for “creative” declarer huddles).

Do you remember the out-of-tempo signalling at trick one from the Reisinger final a couple of years ago? It was a hand that decided who won the event. What would have happened if this case went to the directors or the appeals committee? Justice would be served and the deserved winners would prevail?

I much prefer this solution: Don't make insta-plays at trick one (even if some All-Time Greats do it all the time), and let your RHO get a fair amount of time to play in tempo. And then RHO should do exactly that. If Alan Sontag and Ron Pachtmann had followed this, a fair-play procedure IMO, we WOULD have gotten the right outcome on the hand (and the right tournament winners).
Aug. 21, 2018
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Bobby Wolff has difficulties getting access to his Bridgewinners account, and has asked me to post this comment for him:

It is with no great surprise, at least to me, that Boye, in his fervent desire to make competitive high-level bridge the best it can be, has reached out to the top players. His plea zeroes in on banding together to eliminate the second greatest bridge violation .. Deliberate Tempo Breaks to a willing partner to convey unauthorized information, often disgustingly elevating losers to winners.

History has revealed that several of the USA top players back in the early days of tournament bridge (1930s-1950s) went so far as suggesting to their contemporaries (and some .. even to their students) that helping their partners via unethical behavior, emphasis and general body language will frequently deceitfully improve their scores. This practice is commonplace today even among some very talented partnerships .. with young newbies following in their footsteps.

My experience in this realm has been primarily in the U. S. where I created both the Recorder System (in 1985) and the Ethical Oversight Committee a few years later, although the latter was dissolved by the BOD for fear of exposing one of their own! The EOC was then reinstated .. with appointments made solely by the political Board of Directors.

Now, almost thirty years later (with many issues in between) .. Another Hurdle: Deliberate Tempo Break Issues. And here again .. with “Our Boye” .. leading the charge.

It will take cooperation by all bridge loving top players, who may, at times, risk losing friends, but in return be doing a great service to the perpetuation of our game. Anyone who thinks otherwise should make it known to other top level players exposing oneself as either a total wimp or one who values friendship with an unethical bridge player more than our game itself. Justice will eventually prevail, but not without a struggle. I cannot think of any process that has a better chance of succeeding than the one Boye has clearly advocated!!
Aug. 21, 2018
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Hi Josef. Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

When you realise that a game is infected by cheating, you have two choices as I see it: 1) You start cheating and utterly ruin the game or 2) You start working to save the game.

Unfortunately when many choose 1), competition becomes ridiculus. It's no longer the best and deserving players/athletes who win, but the most succesful cheats. This has been the name of cycling, and bridge has suffered big time too. Luckily it has been a change for the better the last three years, but bridge certainly ain't cured.

What would have been a good thing, is if the cheats finally chose 2, admitted to wrongdoings, served their time and sincerely asked the bridge community to give them a second chance. Personally I would have no problem playing against cheats who managed to take this path.

What I, and I believe most of the bridge community, do have a major problem with, is cheats refusing to acknowledge that they cheated both the game and their opponents. Denying any wrongdoings and blaming something/someone else than themselves for the travesty, meanwhile costing the game well needed money and human resources in phony legal battles.

I encourage you to choose 2 and help the game flourish. If this should be in an electronic environment is a question for another (long) thread, though personally I feel it would take away a lot of the human and social interaction which made me fall in love with bridge.
Aug. 17, 2018
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The ACBL is one of the few bridge organizations which has had a recording system at all. Unfortunately it has been working badly for several years, but with Robb Gordon as the new National recorder I have hopes that it's moving in the right direction. Sure, I would have liked to see more of the player memos actually making a difference. The alternative, though, not to report at all, is far worse than a flawed recording system.
Aug. 17, 2018
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Both. TDs are very good at law enforcement, but many players have a better understanding of the bigger picture.
Aug. 16, 2018
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