Bridgegate

April 18, 2012

 

In 1965, one of the top pairs in the world was accused of cheating. The pair consisted of Terence Reese and Boris Schapiro. Reese is and was considered to be one of, if not the best bridge player in the world. The accusation came up during the world championships, and they were found to be guilty. In the following years, Reese wrote several publications, stating his innocence, and in 1968 the world bridge federation stated that the suspension ould be lifted, and they were allowed to play again, albeit never again as a pair.

 

As a result of this case, and others after, competitive bridge has developed many means to prevent cheating, or more so to prevent inadvertent signals being transmitted between players.

These precautions include bidding boxes, screens, symmetrical decks and specific rules.

 

Bidding box: instead of saying what you want to bid, you use a special card which states what you want to say.

Screen: A moveable compartment which is attached to the table, preventing players to have visual contact with his/her partner

Symmetrical deck: A deck in which the cards are illustrated in such a way, that they don’t have an ”up” or ”down”

 

At the club-level the means of which the players are ”controlled” is usually by having the director seated at a point from which he/she can see the players and be called by them if there is a problem.

In bigger tournaments there are usually several directors on the floor, and one head director who has the superior rank of the directors.

 

The organization of the room is usually so that the players are as far away from their teammates as possible. The positioning of tables is also important, all those who are sitting in the east chair for example, should be aligned so that if a player accidentally gazes on another table, the only cards that he/she can see are those of the other east players. Which means that they all have the same cards, so there can be no unallowed information gained from watching other tables close by.

 

These disciplinary tools are not implemented because it is believed that all players are inherent cheaters, it is because it is desirable to eliminate the accidental cheats, that comes from nervousness, or overagitation in any other way. In regular club bridge it is however often so that there are a lot of small-time or ”innocent” cheating going on, but those who cheat don’t actually realise that what they’re doing is cheating. Arguments about what is to be branded as cheating often arise, even though the rules are quite clear on what is or what is not allowed to do.

 

In the more frequent, smalltime cases the penalties are usually issued by the tournament director. Cases that cannot be solved at the table, or if the ruling is being contested the case moves up the latter to a jury, who can either confirm the directors decision or overrule it. If this ruling is not accepted, it goes to the law comittee (sort of like supreme court).

 

There are rules for what kinds of cases that can be contested, and there are usually also a fee to be paid, which is returned in cases where the opposing side has been proven right.

 

The ultimate penalty a player can suffer is suspension, and the duration of the suspension stands in proportion to the offense. Disorderly behavior can be punished with a couple of months suspension, if it is a first offense. Organized cheating, physical abusiveness and leaving a tournament prematurely will result in a 1-2 year suspension. This is a bit like the detention or isolation cell, with the intention of letting the player know that if this behaviour persists he/she will eventually be banned from ever participating in organized play again.

– Kristin Nedlich

 

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