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All comments by Doug Bennion
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For randomly dealt hands, 44.3% should have a longest suit (or tied) of 5 cards. In that sample of 218 EBTC deals, BZ should have had 96 such hands whereas apparently they only were dealt 94 of them, so something seriously is not amiss.
Oct. 13, 2015
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The showing of an open, spread hand to indicate possession of a 5-card suit, makes sense to me only if it is one signal in a battery of signals. If you were going to cheat about just the one thing (I have a 5-card suit somewhere), a smart cheater would signal in the safest most innocuous way. I don't know what precisely that way would be, but it wouldn't be awkwardly spreading out my open hand, inviting easy comparisons to my holding.

However if one was sending two or more signals, it would make some sense for the UI method to also be a memory aid. So if there is anything to the 5-card business, I’d wager something else is going on.
Oct. 13, 2015
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A supermajority of 75% of 5 arbitrators is 3.75 arbitrators. Would you round up, or down?
Oct. 12, 2015
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I said pretty much the same thing in another thread. It seems an inefficient use of cheating resources to waste the signal on a confirmation (you can legally signal like or dislike), when you have other suits to exploit.
Oct. 12, 2015
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I don't understand why B would be signalling how he feels about the suit that is led. Since he can signal legally how he likes that suit (more or less), why would he waste a good cheating opportunity on a mere confirmation signal? Wouldn't it be more useful to signal information for some brand new suit? Maybe, for example, the closest dummy suit to him that is unbid and unlead. That would also mix things up from hand to hand, making detection more difficult. I tried to check that hypothesis, unfortunately the video often/usually lacks sufficient detail on the layout of dummy's cards.
Oct. 11, 2015
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Oct. 11, 2015
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Responder might have just a ‘normal’ negative double (and not a GF double) so he should be able to bid 4 as a forward going raise, not GF.
Oct. 10, 2015
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What would add interest, at least for me, would to have deals at both tables played at the same time, with the Vugraph interface showing both tables. That would slow things even more, but would add drama and bypass the clunky having to bang a few keys to find out what exactly happened at the other table, if played.
Oct. 7, 2015
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I love bridge, play it OK, but cannot watch these matches for any length of time because they are tooooo slow. Any casual onlooker would zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz very quickly. The BBO JEC matches (for example) are much more watchable at about 5 minutes per hand. If you want the world to watch, you'll have to dramatically speed up the game.
Oct. 7, 2015
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Nic: I checked all the deals in that match where Z leads. The first board 17, the spades were flung carelessly quite close to B, too close, and I can see why he would want them moved (and should have asked) so he moved them lol.

The second board 19, the 6 hand, dummy placed the cards more carefully (maybe as a result of the earlier board) and not as close to B (but kind of closeish), and B takes some time before quite deliberately moving them as seen in the clip. I agree it now looks borderline suspicious … it was delayed and possibly with illicit purpose … but maybe too it's a bit of a, what, territorial dispute between dummy and B, or B thinks hey I moved them once I can move them again just to bug someone. I might be grasping for straws a bit with that. But is B good enough to scan that board in just a few seconds and see the danger of the squeeze and want partner to have precise count, dunno.

Next board 25, B had lotsa room.

Next board 26 heck I might have asked to be straightened, a little close and a lot messy, but B did not.

Next board 27 B had room.

So to answer your question did it help .. maybe a tad but I'm still unconvinced (although mind open). The mechanics of B's repositioning was totally as I would move them were I to flout convention.




Oct. 6, 2015
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Melanie: Yes I have watched much material. I just finished watching some random matches to see how often ‘gaps’ and ‘spacing’ varied with ‘honest’ pairs, and they are allll over the place with their bid spacing. Narrow here, next deal wide, then wide-narrow. The very first match the very first hand (Ireland-Russia), a Russian was showing 3 widely spaced passes, then 3 narrow ones, on the same hand. Seems to me the more deliberation goes into the bid, the more likely the player places the bid thoughtfully and deliberately, tending to be narrow-normal. Looks to be normal behaviour with most/many of us (small sample I agree), to more or less randomly space our bids, so attempting to derive meaning from BZ spacing is probably futile. It's not unusual nor should it seem suspicious, to see varying gaps.

The clips of Balick positioning dummy cards look 100% UNsuspicious to me … make that 500%. Sure he should not be touching dummy's cards, so bad on him for that, but the movements look completely no-signal natural. Here is a few-second loop from board 19 Israel Poland.

https://www.youtube.com/v/sZfhiMO_5lo?version=3&start=1592&end=1600&loop=1&autoplay=1&playlist=/sZfhiMO_5lo

There are four spades in dummy. They are widely spaced, spanning several inches. Of course he uses his full hand to move the suit as a unit, as a block. What is he supposed to do, poke away with one finger moving a card at a time? Looks completely unsuspiciously natural to me. Then he moves the shorter suits with fewer fingers! Omigod he must be revealing his distribution! I don't buy it, although I did buy it originally until I asked myself how would I move those cards, even if I shouldn't.

Also I don't see the point to watching the thing unspool at 0.25X speed … Z is seeing it at 1X speed and that's what we should be doing.

John: I think the players will have statistical ‘profiles’ and it's entirely possible, I'd bet on it, that a cheating BZ profile would be weird in a sense or two. I'd like to see anyway.

Oct. 6, 2015
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All I am saying is if they signal and somehow pass UI, the results of the ‘cheating’ should be traceable in the stats. If they ‘bulldog’ better than they ‘should’ because they ‘illegally’ know partner's distribution or hearts or hand strength or whatever, I expect that will manifest in some statistical measures.

What specific illegal signalling have you and others observed in the evidence?
Oct. 6, 2015
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If they bulldog better than others, that would be reflected in their overall stats.
Oct. 6, 2015
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If they are signalling they must leave some kind of statistical trail. I'm not sure what that would look like but it should be there. Maybe their defence will be disproportionately stronger than their declaring skills. Maybe the opps will make fewer contracts than they should. Maybe they take more tricks on defence per HCP held. Something has to be out of whack in the stats. If everything is ‘normal’, it seems to me to be unlikely they are cheating, despite all the odd-looking and suspicious gesticulations. Maybe they are just really fidgety guys.
Oct. 6, 2015
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Some good ideas there. What is beginning to bother me, is there are almost incontrovertible signs of cheating (fingers showing distribution, bid-gaps showing something or other, wild gesticulations), but no signs of results, no off-centre leads or plays or tactics or lines of play (at least nothing I have seen written about). So their ‘cheating’ either doesn't work, or they use it so subtlely nobody can see it, or yikes it doesn't exist.

Presumably there are statistical suggestions that point to anomalous results, but to the best of my knowledge, they haven't been revealed.
Oct. 5, 2015
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Canada's population is about 11% of the US population, call it 10%. Canada's bridge-playing population is likewise, approximately. The fairest way of assigning three team slots to the two countries would be for the US to divide itself into 9 (or 11 may be easier to work with) sectors with roughly the same bridge-playing population, each of which would have trials to field one winner. Then the 9 US winners and the Canadian winner would enter some kind of continental playoff with the top three teams qualifying to play in the BB. If the sectors had approximately the same bridge strength, Canada would be represented some 30% of the time, which sounds about right to this Canuck.
Oct. 4, 2015
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I thought they had to be passing UI by tray. The first thing that struck me when examining the Israel match was the wide card-spacing on some of the deals, especially with Pass cards. The video quality isn't good, so maybe there were similar large gaps between suit cards, but I couldn't see them. ‘Narrow’ gaps look more natural, and really skinny gaps would look odd, so I wonder if the signals are one way only. Wide = better-than-expected values, not wide = nothing special values, something like that.

I had noted three incidents of what seemed to be unnaturally wide gaps, so applying Kit's theory:

On board 19 (approx 0:25), Z really liked his unusual 2NT overcall with x/KJTxx/x/KT8xxx, when he wide-gapped after B made a free bid of 3C.

On board 22 (approx 0:50), B wide-gapped with AKxxx/Jx/xx/xxx while passing with no convenient bid (Z had overcalled 1H).

On board 29 (approx 1:57), Z wide-gapped while having to pass throughout with AQx/Axxx/Kxx/xxx.
Oct. 2, 2015
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A YouTube clip is worth a thousand words. Maybe even scores of Bridgewinner threads. Masterful job, and a lot of work. Thanks very much.
Oct. 2, 2015
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The ‘gap’ thing, if it is a thing and not a coincidence, might also apply to just the Pass cards. Sometimes they are widely spread, sometimes piled nearly on top of one another. In the Israeli match, board 29 (approx time 2:00), they are widely spread in Z's tray, narrowly in B's tray. Also big spreads in B's tray board 22 (approx 0:51) and Z's tray board 19 (approx 0:26).

BTW Robert Deniro would know what to do with cheating fingers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa1IsxGVuc
Oct. 2, 2015
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Is it possible those ACBL videos that cannot catch cheating while actually playing, might be useful to catch bad guys peeking at scorecards and cards at other tables, listening to chatter, whatever other techniques cheaters use.
Sept. 29, 2015
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