Professional bridge has a cheating problem  MAR 03 2016

Players in the top ranks of the world's professional bridge organizations have been caught cheating and the evidence is on YouTube.

On deals in which Fisher and Schwartz ended up as declarer and dummy, they cleared away the tray and the board in the usual manner. But when they were defending-meaning that one of them would make the opening lead-they were wildly inconsistent. Sometimes Fisher would remove the tray, and sometimes Schwartz would, and sometimes they would leave it on the table. Furthermore, they placed the duplicate board in a number of different positions -- each of which, it turns out, conveyed a particular meaning. "If Lotan wanted a spade lead, he put the board in the middle and pushed it all the way to the other side," Weinstein said. If he wanted a heart, he put it to the right. Diamond, over here. Club, here. No preference, here."

Here's a video showing what Fisher and Schwartz were doing:

Once you see it, it's obvious they're cheating.

What an odd seeming game when played at the professional level, BTW. Players seated so they can't see their teammates. Information is passed through bidding, but only through signals that everyone is aware of. And some available information you can use and some you can't:

Expert poker players often take advantage of a skill they call table feel: an ability to read the facial expressions and other unconscious "tells" exhibited by their opponents. Bridge players rely on table feel, too, but in bridge not all tells can be exploited legally by all players. If one of my opponents hesitates during the bidding or the play, I'm allowed to draw conclusions from the hesitation -- but if my partner hesitates I'm not. What's more, if I seem to have taken advantage of information that I wasn't authorized to know, my opponents can summon the tournament director and seek an adjusted result for the hand we just played. Principled players do their best to ignore their partner and play at a consistent tempo, in order to avoid exchanging unauthorized information -- and, if they do end up noticing something they shouldn't have noticed, they go out of their way not to exploit it.

As the story goes on to say, there are technological fixes that would curtail the cheating, but would get rid of the actual cards in a card game. Why not get rid of the humans as well and just run games as computer simulations? Again, odd game. (via @pomeranian99)

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