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All comments by Boye Brogeland
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To Ellis, Randy and more.

The facts are that when I (we) got aware of the bad claim the next morning I went to Richie Schwartz' room and we contacted the Cayne team to inform them about the situation. We also got in touch with Matt Smith (Tournament director) to hear what the rules were and what could be done. Later we were told by the TD that it was too late for anything to be done with the scoring mistake (bad claim). I only heard about one member of the Cayne team saying he didn't want to win this way and wanted to play extra boards; Lotan Fisher…
June 1, 2016
Boye Brogeland edited this comment June 1, 2016
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Hi Aldo. Many thanks for posting the YouTube link. The difference between what was shown live on BBO together with what the BBO operator later confirmed (the bid was 4 spades) and the score cards from Fisher-Schwartz and Fantoni-Nunes (the bid was 3 spades), made this an interesting hand to look into. To find out what really happened one would need to look at the video from the third quarter of the Spingold final, but unfortunately the ACBL wasn't forthcoming in releasing it. Instead of closing this suspicious hand in August 2015 (the video does indeed show that the bid was 3 spades), it has taken seven months (!) before someone (it would be interesting to know who and why…) has leaked it on the Internet. 210 days too late in my opinion, but better late than never.

I strongly recommend both the ACBL and the WBF to publish all relevant video material immediately in an effort to clean up the game.
March 31, 2016
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Well said, Paul. I hope many read your thread, and that a lot more pick up the important message.
Jan. 22, 2016
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Hi Michael and Ken. They wanted me to pay them $1.000.000 and retract all my allegations - other wise they would sue me (for a lot more of course). Lotan sued an Israeli guy for calling him the c-word and got money. Lotan wanted to sue Bobby Levin for calling him by his right name in Chicago (who knows, maybe he is still planning to go forward with this). Whatever happens in various courts I would be fine with them suing me. Then hopefully we can straighten things out so people can see what these guys are really all about. Trust me, we would not limit the case to the placement of the board - there are more to it.

I would be amazed if Lotan and Ron couldn't pass a polygraph test since they seem to have a hard time knowing right from wrong.
Dec. 19, 2015
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Hi Lars. I am not at all sure that the hesitation tells that partner has the king of hearts. He might hold the queen of hearts; that could also be a really “nice” card to get across. Or the hesitation might not mean anything else than that East didn't know which card to play by their agreement (or he was flustered by the whole situation). The main point is that the leader knows his partner doesn't have a singleton after the hesitation. So he has to defend as if his partner could have a singleton. Playing the second diamond honor is a clear cut defense. Then he is faced with the bridge problem of the hand. If the hesitation suggested anything, it sure was that three rounds of diamonds were not a stand out defense for East, so if this is a logical alternative West has to choose that.

Next time your LHO leads an ace, spend 15 seconds before you call for the first card from dummy. Hopefully you will be able to avoid this sort of mockery.
Dec. 11, 2015
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Hi Michael. I think a lot of players call for a card from dummy very fast, too fast in my opinion. Alan's name, who I consider a friend by the way, came up since he was in the heat of the battle on this hand. It comes with the territory. I can mention Jeff Meckstroth and Geir Helgemo as two other players who I have experienced playing very quickly from dummy at trick one. They do nothing wrong by this, and why shouldn't we all use the same “tactic” to get advantages in certain situations? Because it's not the way the game should be played as it creates a whole lot of ambiguous UI situations. This is my opinion, but unless we raise our voices (so other people also see these problems for what they are) we won't get the changes we would like to see. You may decide “to stay low” not to hurt other top players' feelings, but I don't see it as offending to mention Alan, Jeff or Geir. They are all great guys who play according to the rules, but maybe not helping the game to move in the right direction playing this way. Again, it's my opinion, and I have no problems with you or other people taking a more lawful approach. The changes have to start with the players, who are the ones who understand what the game at the top level is all about.
Dec. 11, 2015
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Hi Ray. I am not sure what Michael thinks, but to me this is a topic which should mainly be enforced at the top level. The reason is that you need to be at a certain level to know enough about the game to do “the right thing” in many of these situastions (unless it's clear cut situations which players at any level can relate to).
Dec. 10, 2015
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Ray. I believe Michael plays the game as it should be played. This is the way to get partner not to think in UI sensitive situations. It will definetely make the game better and the playing field more even.
Dec. 10, 2015
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Hi Michael. Even if it's not yet in the law, Michael (it's actually in the Norwegian Bridge Laws), just give your opponents the courtesy of some extra seconds to plan the play on the first trick (my guess is that you already do this). You can do that yourself, and there's nothing wrong in recommending this “method” to other players because this approach will help the game to be played in a better fashion. Don't get stuck in the letter of the law - sometimes common sense is better.
Dec. 10, 2015
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Hi Michael. That's definetely the right way looking at this hand. It's also the “right” answer not to comment about what you really feel about the hand. I think (my kind of) justice was served on this hand as the quick diamond from dummy may have created the whole tempo issue (so I wouldn't feel good about calling the director if I was in Sontag's shoes). I just wondered if you shared this view since you have been really strict on sticking to the letter of the law in other situations - and therefore a director call should be in it's place for you here?
Dec. 10, 2015
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It's definetely not irrelevant what card he plays. As his partner you just have to defend based on his card, not influenced by his hesitation (which normally - especially in a well established partnership, not the case here though - would convey some sort of UI).
Dec. 10, 2015
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Thanks for putting this out, Kit. I think it is a very uplifting post for the future of bridge. It shows that the last few months have been good for the game in more than one way. When most of the cheating is done away with, UI questions definetely need to be addressed at the top level of the game.

Some positive developments in the aftermath of the cheating scandal:

- More videos are made public so facts become available.

- The new environment makes it feasible to post facts and ask questions about certain hands and actions without players taking offense (at least they sholdn't)

- The new environment has created more awareness of both cheating and UI situations.

Over to the specific hand in question:

First of all I think declarer should take 10-15 seconds pause before he calls for the first card from dummy as a courtesy to his opponents. Hopefully this will be included in more than the Norwegian Bridge Laws.

Ron should try to play his card without hesitation. Most top players have clear cut rules for which card to play in these situastions. You normally don't need much time. On the other hand, being the last round of a gruelling tournament where you are fighting for the victory, you might not be able to play your cards in a perfect tempo. I think it is good that Ron has stated his thoughts on the matter - I have no problem believing that's exactly what went through his head. Spending 5 or 50 seconds extra to make your play doesn't really make much of a difference; knowing your partner, you pick up on the smallest hesitations very easily.

To me the thinking is not the problem here (even the shuffle of cards I can live with), it comes down to what partner does afterwards. Here both the hesitation and the shuffling of cards give UI; partner doesn't have a singleton diamond. In such a situation you have to play as if partner has a singleton diamond because continuing diamonds for sure is a logical alternative.

When you see that diamonds are 2-2 after cashing the second diamond honor, you are faced with the bridge problem of the hand: playing for an uppercut, or playing for partner having the king of hearts. Again, partner's hesitation (not knowing what to signal for) demonstrably suggests switching to a heart (without a heart honor it would stand out to show interest for a ruff). So you have to continue with a third round of diamonds. This is active ethics at top level bridge, and it's how we should all try to play to even the playing field. Then top players will learn that they can't gain anything by conveying UI to their partner. And what would happen? For sure players would start playing a lot quicker in UI sensitive situations.

So Sontag should have made 4 spades doubled to win the Reisinger? According to the laws at the moment (not having to pause before the first card is played from dummy) he might have been entitled to a score change. On the other hand I think he did the right thing not calling the director; his quick call for a diamond may have lead to the whole tempo issue. I am not sure if this was his thoughts or if he just didn't realise there could have been a UI problem.

I hope that Michael Rosenberg, even if it might have cost him the Reisinger trophy, shares my opinions about the hand.
Dec. 10, 2015
Boye Brogeland edited this comment Dec. 10, 2015
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Hi Han and Yogesh. I would of course like to play under fair conditions where players didn't take advantage of UI. On the other hand I wouldn't use UI to my own advantage since I would feel terrible winning this way. If I cycled or did athletics I hope I would have the same mentality and didn't use doping. At the same time I would fight hard to get rid of doping in those sports. That's what I am trying to do in bridge at the moment. Both when it comes to cheating and UI (and to some extent general behaviour). I would love to see bridge thrive; it's actually too good a game not to.

PS. Please have a look at this thread which address a lot of important issues with UI: http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/reisinger-final-round/#new_1
Dec. 10, 2015
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I do that, Michael, both in bridge and life, but “bending” the rules to your own advantage just isn't a good trait. If you do that, your 10-year-old or 18-year-old will soon pick up on it and use it for what it's worth. I rather give other people (especially beginners and weaker players) the benefit of the doubt in these situations. Soon enough I will get the points back, and they might not even feel bad about losing. I believe this attitude serves both my son and bridge well.
Dec. 9, 2015
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If my 10 year old son enthusiasticly had claimed the rest of the tricks on this hand, his plan was to take his tricks from the top. He didn't intend to take any finesse what so ever. He would know that the queen of clubs was missing, but miscounted the number of tricks. So he shouldn't be allowed to suddenly wake up and take a finesse. But when it was his lucky day I couldn't bring myself to force him taking a finesse into the doubleton queen for two down. If people want to win like this, so be it; bring your law book to the table and read your opponents their rights. They will sure think that justice is done and can't wait until the next time they can show up in the club, claim for the courtesy of all players around the table, just to be handed another bottom when they didn't spell out every eventuality in the claim. As I have stated before, I am very happy that I didn't learn bridge in this kind of environment.
Dec. 9, 2015
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Hi Arno. It was harder than usual to comprehend your previous post, but I believe a “Nordic approach” to how we behave at the table would be good for bridge. It's about attracting new players to the game and getting them to stick around. Bridge sure needs that - and I am very happy campaigning for it.
Dec. 9, 2015
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The top Swedish players have the right approach in my view, but I am afraid you would find more “law enforcers” in Sweden than in the rest of the Scandinavian countries. So it wasn't a coincident that Sweden was left out. By the way, I think Eldad is a great ambassador for bridge.
Dec. 9, 2015
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To Rainer. I should probably have written “offending side” or something else - it was merely a way of describing that the “thinking side” has no downside in a lot of the UI related situations. The point of asking players what they would do in UI situations is to find out if there exist logical alternatives. You don't always find a good answer to that by just asking someone what they would bid. You can disagree and use lots of exclamation marks, but I don't think your view is backed by the laws.
Dec. 9, 2015
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The more comments I read regarding bad claims, the more I think it has a cultural aspect to it. I can not imagine that hardly any players from Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland or the Faroe Islands would have any problems accepting their destiny with Qx of clubs. It was declarer's lucky day.

Think of declarer as a family member or a friend. She miscounts her tricks and thinks she has the rest by taking her top tricks. For everybody's courtesy she tries to speed things up by claiming. She would normally not get more than six of the last seven tricks as the queen would normally not fall, but she gets lucky when the queen drops. So now we are going to force her to take a different line than what she intended - to go one or two down? Really?

In bridge there is yet not a law stating that you have to get punished for every mistake you make at the table. If you for example explain a convention wrongly, the misexplaination must be somewhat linked to your opponents bad result for the result to be changed. Not everybody seems to think this is fair and has a hang to look for any kind of redress. Here are two examples from the recent Fall Nationals in Denver:

In the Nail Life Master Pairs the bidding went 1 D - 2 NT. Partner explained that he thought it was forcing. We had two convention cards at the table, but hadn't checked the box for 1 m - 2 NT. I said I could check the box right away so my RHO knew the meaning of the bid (she had no intention to bid as she had passed over 1 D). She wasn't interested in sorting it out the easy way, but preferred to call the director.

In the first match of the last two-day regional KO I explained our agreement of a double of Namyats. Partner had forgotten, though, that pass followed by a double showed a more balanced hand with points, while a direct double would be more take-out. Declarer misplayed the hand to go an extra off, but his play was just plain wrong - it had nothing to do with neither the explanation nor partner's actual hand. Still, the tournament director was called to see if it was possible to get some sort of redress.

There is of course nothing wrong in calling the director, but nowadays it seems like people get offended by a bad result. Instead of taking the bad result as a gentleman or lady, the director is used to check and double-check if there is any chance to get some sort of redress. I don't think this “law” approach is good for the game, and it's defintely not attracting new players to stick around.
Dec. 9, 2015
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One suggestion: In many UI situations the offending side seems to have no downside. Taking advantage of the UI just give them an extra chance for a better result. Only if their opponents decide to call the TD and only if the TD (or the appeal committe) agree with the non-offending side, the result will be ruled back to the normal one. If there was a penalty for taking advantage (or possibly taking advantage) of UI, players would become much more careful in these situations. Wouldn't that be good for the game?
Dec. 9, 2015
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