- Defined as any behavior outside the Laws intended to give an unfair
advantage to one or more players. This may involve a sole player,
partnership, team, or other arrangement involving dishonest activities.
The Bridge Laws merely discuss the Proprieties of Bridge: See Laws
75, which envision nothing worse than Law
- Prearranged Communication
The gravest possible offense is for a partnership to exchange
information through prearranged methods of communication other than
those sanctioned by these Laws. A guilty partnership risks expulsion.
delving into the darker side of cheating, some forms of cheating may
ostensibly be tongue-in-cheek pranks. One example is the
where serious money or championship tourney play is involved, unscrupulous Poker and
Bridge players have been enticed into more serious forms of cheating.
Bridge Books on Cheating:
Fair Play or
Foul? - Cheating Scandals in Bridge
Story of an
First, distinctions may be made between hard cheating (see below) and
soft cheating. Soft cheating include those items well articulated
75. Of course,
some activities are not cheating, per se. An anecdotal example might
be a player successfully setting the tempo of bidding or play of their
opponents, such as a "quick play" maneuver as declarer, hoping defenders
will not become aware of a vulnerability during play. Similarly, offering the opposition alcoholic beverages is not soft cheating, since each
player can decline the offer - Alan Sontag discusses this in his book "The
Bridge Bum: My Life
and Play". Playing an unanticipated card may also
fool an unsuspecting or tired opponent, as in the
Omar Sharif World Individual
However, before we
get too deep into exploring the assorted misdeeds by opponents, we should
cover a few caveats.
1. Consider the
possibility that the opponents misdeed is attributable to an innocent
2. Be aware
accusing anyone of cheating is a very serious charge.
3. We should always
be certain of the facts and present them in a rational manner, avoiding
claims against an opponent's motivation or character.
4. Generally, it's
unwise to make accusations which cannot be proved. Whenever possible,
privately describe the infraction with the director, your partner, or an
unbiased observer - ask the third party to watch for continued occurrences
of the observed behavior. That said, don't be surprised if your rulemaking
organization does not seem enthusiastic to prosecute the incident. In our
increasingly litigious world, Bridge authorities tend to be very cautious
when handling cheating accusations without physical evidence (videotape
The ACBL has documented the process to handle disciplinary actions.
5. The information
presented here is certainly not intended as a manual to delve into cheating!
BridgeHands offers this information to our loyal readers in
Inadvertent Laws Violation
Fisrt off, one
might argue the ethics of a player who claims innocence due to a lack of
knowledge of Bridge Laws. This certainly has merit for newcomer and
novice Bridge players. However, since this newsletter is intended for
intermediate and advanced Bridge players, we shall assume players should
have a fairly solid understanding of rudimentary Bridge Law Proprieties.
Here's the sections for Duplicate Laws - Contract/Rubber Bridge have
LAW 72 - GENERAL PRINCIPLES
LAW 73 - COMMUNICATION
LAW 74 - CONDUCT AND ETIQUETTE
LAW 75 - PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS
Saving Law 73
for last, let's highlight the other proprieties. In essence, Law 72
makes it clear we must follow the rules of the game, with the Director
assuming enforcement. The law includes an interesting discussion of
inadvertent infractions, stating a player is not required to draw
attention to such errors in bidding and play. For instance, if a player
revokes (reneges) and has not discovered the irregularity until after
the revoke is established, the player is not required to point out the
infraction to the opponents. Of course, the Law goes on to say a player
cannot deliberately conceal an infraction (such as subsequently hiding a
card which would expose an earlier revoke).
Laws 74.A and
74.B remind us to be courteous and not to do something that may annoy or
embarrass another player. Certainly we would all agree Bridge is
supposed to be an enjoyable game. Etiquette wise, we should pay
attention to the game, avoid gratuitous remarks, avoid detaching cards
before play, avoid prolonging play to disconcert opponents, and show
courtesy to players and the Director.
provides self-explanatory examples of violations:
different designations for the same call.
2. indicating approval or disapproval of a call or play.
3. indicating the expectation or intention of winning or losing a trick
that has not been completed.
4. commenting or acting during the auction or play so as to call
attention to a significant occurrence, or to the number of tricks still
required for success.
5. looking intently at any other player during the auction and play, or
at another player's hand as for the purpose of seeing his cards or of
observing the place from which he draws a card (but it is appropriate to
act on information acquired by inadvertently seeing an opponent's card).
6. showing an obvious lack of further interest in a deal (as by folding
7. varying the normal tempo of bidding or play for the purpose of
disconcerting an opponent.
8. leaving the table needlessly before the round is called.
Law 75 informs
us we must provide all information about our partnership agreements to
our opponents. Incidentally, 75.B is often misunderstood - a player may
(at player's own peril) violate a partnership agreement, provided the
partner is unaware of the violation. While we may not appreciate
deceptive bidding and play, the writers of the Bridge Laws permit such
Communications, targets many forms of deviations from adherence to the
laws, with Law 73.B.2 addressing cheating (see Prearranged
Communications below). While you won't find the "C" word specifically
stated in the Laws, BridgeHands defines cheating as any
deliberate behavior known to be outside the Laws, intended to give an
unfair advantage to one or more players. This may involve a sole player,
partnership, team, or other arrangement involving dishonest activities.
While this newsletter will refrain from focusing on the laws, let's
highlight a few areas where well-meaning players seem to inadvertently
stray from the Laws.
Law 73.A.2. and
B.1. make it clear players cannot use gestures, mannerisms, voice
inflections, hesitations or haste during bidding. If our partner
violates these principles, Law 73 says we must not take advantage of
ill-advised, over zealous, and unscrupulous players sometimes foul on
Law 73. Certainly it's a no-no to make a bid or play and stare at one's
partner to quietly reinforce the meaning of one's action. And while we
are all passionate about Bridge, overt actions such as sighs, groans,
growls, snorts, coughs, snapping/slapping/dropping/thumping cards, or
other abnormal gestures are not permitted. Yes, biting, spitting,
elbowing, slugging and even crying are similarly prohibited! Of course,
Bridge requires an imaginative mind, so one can always think such
thoughts (at least until the writers of the Bridge Laws discover we have
players with telepathic minds among our ranks).
Law 73 is
included here for your reference:
Communication between Partners
1. How Effected
Communication between partners during the auction and play shall be
effected only by means of the calls and plays themselves.
2. Correct Manner for Calls and Plays
Calls and plays should be made without special emphasis, mannerism or
inflection, and without undue hesitation or haste (however, sponsoring
organizations may require mandatory pauses, as on the first round of
auction, or after a skip-bid warning, or on the first trick).
Inappropriate Communication Between Partners
1. Gratuitous Information
Partners shall not communicate through the manner in which calls or
plays are made, through extraneous remarks or gestures, through
questions asked or not asked of the opponents or through alerts and
explanations given or not given to them.
2. Prearranged Communications
The gravest possible offense is for a partnership to exchange
information through prearranged methods of communication other than
those sanctioned by these Laws. A guilty partnership risks expulsion.
Receives Unauthorized Information from Partner
When a player has available to him unauthorized information from his
partner, as from a remark, question, explanation, gesture, mannerism,
special emphasis, inflection, haste or hesitation, he must carefully
avoid taking any advantage that might accrue to his side.
in Tempo or Manner
1. Inadvertent Variations
It is desirable, though not always required, for players to maintain
steady tempo and unvarying manner. However, players should be
particularly careful in positions in which variations may work to the
benefit of their side. Otherwise, inadvertently to vary the tempo or
manner in which a call or play is made does not in itself constitute a
violation of propriety, but inferences from such variation may
appropriately be drawn only by an opponent, and at his own risk.
2. Intentional Variations
A player may not attempt to mislead an opponent by means of remark or
gesture, through the haste or hesitancy of a call or play (as in
hesitating before playing a singleton), or by the manner in which the
call or play is made.
A player may appropriately attempt to deceive an opponent through a call
or play (so long as the deception is not protected by concealed
partnership understanding or experience). It is entirely appropriate to
avoid giving information to the opponents by making all calls and plays
in unvarying tempo and manner.
F. Violation of Proprieties
When a violation of the Proprieties described in this law results in
damage to an innocent opponent,
1. Player Acts on Unauthorized Information
if the Director determines that a player chose from among logical
alternative actions one that could demonstrably have been suggested over
another by his partner's remark, manner, tempo, or the like, he shall
award an adjusted score (see Law 16).
2. Player Injured by Illegal Deception
if the Director determines that an innocent player has drawn a false
inference from a remark, manner, tempo, or the like, of an opponent who
has no demonstrable bridge reason for the action, and who could have
known, at the time of the action, that the action could work to his
benefit, the Director shall award an adjusted score (see Law 12C).
Soft Cheating: "I would prefer even to fail
with honor than to win by cheating." Sophocles, from a classical
We profess that
not all players will agree on what constitutes soft cheating or even
attempt to differentiate soft and hard cheating. Certainly some highly
competitive players enjoy playing "on the edge" under the auspices of
being a shrewd player fostering gamesmanship. From the ethical Bridge
player's perspective, these are the type of folks who exceed the posted
speed limit, believing they are not in violation of the basic speed law.
Interestingly, these shrewd folks will indeed slow down when in the
proximity of a law enforcement official. And at the table, these players
seem to modify their behavior when in the presence of a Bridge Director
or prospective mother- in-law. Thus, some of us may infringe on certain
laws for a number of reasons, perhaps listening to the "dark angel" on
our bad shoulder. So despite a consensus among us, let's discuss this
so-called soft cheating.
Let's begin with a crafty play that borders on the line of deceptive
play - others might say it skirts the line of ethical behavior. In Dan
Romm's book "Things
Your Bridge Teacher Won't Tell You", he describes a shifty method to
better one's finessing odds (page 21).
10 9 x
A K x x x
x x x x
A K J x x x
Q x x
The contract is
6 Spades in the South. West begins leading the CQ to South's CA. Playing
in tempo, declarer South begin with the Ace of Spades and smoothly
continues with the King of Clubs! West was probably
expecting the declarer to draw trump, anticipating the King of Spades.
The declarer South casually observes West, looking for a "tell". A pause
by West (before realizing the Club switch) indicates the player may be
out of trump, considering which card to pitch. In this case, the
declarer wins the trick, goes over to dummy with a Heart, finessing
East's King. Otherwise, if West seemed to be prepared to play another
Spade then declarer South will play both players for doubletons,
continuing with the SK to drop opponent's Queen. While some might not be
impressed with such "parlor tricks", technically speaking
BridgeHands would not categorize this tactic as unethical
Later in Dan
Romm's book, he recaps a diabolical declarer play from the 1950s. First,
let's set the stage - a well known pro was playing with a client
opposite two senior women in a duplicate tourney. On this hand the pro
was in 6 Spades. After the Heart lead the contract seemed doomed,
assuming East held the HK.
A Q x x
K J 10 x x
K J 10 x x x
Q x x
Losing the HK
and the CA, the contract would be down one. So what could the pro do to
improve his odds? Well, the pro tanked for many minutes giving the
appearance of considering a spectacular play. In reality, the pro
was about to make an unethical play - what was it?
South-seated pro figured the opponents were sufficiently distracted
enough to completely lose focus on the play, South played his HQ from
his declarer's hand (instead of the correct rotation from the
dummy)!!! Sure enough, the weary East player was seduced into following
the incorrect counter-clockwise rotation of play, going up with the HK!
At this point, the pro faced his cards and made a claim of 12 tricks. We
agree with Dan's assessment; certainly this nameless pro infringed on
the ethics of Bridge. If you don't already own a copy of "Things
Your Bridge Teacher Won't Tell You", we whole-heartedly recommend
you purchase a copy of this excellent book.
into soft cheating, certainly the
Alcatraz Coup goes over the edge. The Alcatraz Coup is actually a
tongue-in-cheek name used to describe nefarious methods when trying to
deduce opponents' holdings. This obviates the "who holds the Queen?"
guess when holding the remaining honors. Here's an example:
A 8 7 6
A 9 8 7
K Q 4
3 2 5 4
8 7 6 5 Q J 10 9 4
Q 3 2 5 4
J 10 9 8 A 7 6 5
K Q J 10 9
K J 10 6
Contract: 6S in South
in, South leads the SJ, providing an opportunity to observe West's
ethical behavior during play. South's careful lead of the SJ seduced
West to believe the declarer was missing the SQ, thus attempting a
finesse. The bait is set - how will West respond? If West hesitates or
fumbles his cards as though he holds the SQ, declarer South has a read
on West's "tell" (West likes to fake it). The declarer now safely
pulls trump, switching to the low Heart and surreptitiously observes
West behavior. This time West smoothly plays a low card in tempo.
Accordingly, the declarer may deduce West's holds the missing Queen
based on the new demeanor, i.e., an "inverted tell." Thus, the declarer
finesses West's Queen.
tells, as we mentioned earlier a player should not intently watch an
opponent for the sole purpose of discerning "tells". Worse, a player
should not intently watch the gestures of partner and opponents,
particularly noting the placement of cards withdrawn from the hand when
particular order, we will begin with
Law 73.A.2, Correct Manner for Calls and Plays: A player may not
attempt to mislead an opponent by means of remark or gesture, through
the haste or hesitancy of a call or play (as in hesitating before
playing a singleton), or by the manner in which the call or play is
Bridge player attempt to control the tempo of bidding or play of
their opponents. These players use ploys such as the declarer "quick
play" maneuvers, hoping the defenders will not become aware of their
vulnerability during play.
unscrupulous declarer might realize the contract is doomed if the
defender offer a normal defense, thus delaying play an abnormal interval
in an attempt to distract the opponents (the "Sominex" coup).
Along the same
lines, during play a sneaky declarer may realize they are playing from
the wrong hand; after waiting a considerable period, the declarer plays
from the wrong side, hoping the opponent will have forgotten the correct
side and mistakenly play to the out-of-turn trick.
at the end of play is always a controversial topic; devious opponents
have been known to quickly make bad claims to secure a winning score.
As the Romans taught us, "caveat emptor!" - let the buyer beware! Never
accept a questionable claim when the declarer should be clearly stating
the line of play. And don't allow the declarer to "play it out" knowing
the offending defender holds the questionable cards. Instead call the
Director for assistance. If playing Rubber Bridge; L69 begins: The
objective of subsequent play is to achieve a result as equitable as
possible to both sides, but any doubtful point must be resolved in favor
of the defenders. Declarer may not make any play inconsistent with the
statement he may have made at the time of his claim or concession. And
if he failed to make an appropriate statement at that time, his choice
of plays is restricted thereby (etc).
you and your partner should discuss the ethical obligation when dummy
notices their declaring partner's claim is ambiguous (not clearly
stating all lines of play).
examine a few low tech forms of cheating. Deliberately logging an
incorrect (better) score occurs from time to time. When an opponent
resorts to this type of devious behavior, lacking repeated instances
it's not easy to prove malice. Always validate the contract score with
the scorekeeper, carefully looking at the recorded score. Duplicate
players should not permit North to record the score without showing the
recorded result to you or your partner.
Along the same
lines, be wary of the unscrupulous declarer who quickly claims an
incorrect number of tricks. Do not fold up your cards until you and
the declarer have an accurate agreement of the correct tricks taken, the
contract result, and the resulting score.
Sontag's delightful book, "Bridge
Bum: My Life and Play" he describes the ploy of offering the
opposition free alcoholic beverages, heavy meals and the like before
play. On the face, such tactics do not directly constitute cheating yet
seem to skirt the ethics of fair play.
How do you feel
about shuffling and dealing? Would it matter if the opponents didn't
thoroughly shuffle the cards or dealt more than one card from the pack
to the same player? First, let's take a look at how the cards are
placed on the deck from the prior hand. During the course of play,
suits tend to be played in groupings of 3 or more cards. So at the end
of play, cards are clumped adjacent to one another by suit. Thus, if
the cards were not shuffled and dealt out one by one to each player,
each player would tend to have the same number of cards in each suit,
i.e., flat hands. Ahead in a match, the devious dealer might be tempted
to avoid distributional hands that might lead to wild scoring swings.
So if you are behind in a match and note the opponent making a cursory
shuffle, ask for a thorough shuffle. Similarly, if the opponents are
behind in a match, do not permit the dealer to deal multiple cards from
the pack to the same player; so-called "goulash" dealing may lead to
wildly distributional hands.
A player should
not deliberately note an exposed card or hand held by an opponent
(L74.C.5). Bridge professional Charles Goren was known for holding his
cards far away from his chest, while his partner Helen Sobel did quite
the opposite holding her cards extremely close to her chest. On the
other hand, on one occasion Helen signaled Charles for a Spade ruff
while Charles kept leading other suits, which caused Helen to noticeably
fidget in her chair. Finally, Charles stated, "Helen, you have to stop
that - it makes for a bad partnership. Besides, I have no more
Along the same
lines, be wary of an opponent who deliberately exposes non-essential
cards to opponents. The player may be hiding an important card, causing
the opponent to think a critical card is held by the other partner.
A player should
refrain from "keeping an open ear", listening to players discuss results
at another duplicate table when the eavesdropping players have not
played the board. Another variation is to peek at opponents' personal
scoresheet in an attempt to observe their results for boards yet to be
played by the unscrupulous observer.
As we mentioned
earlier, once a revoke is established (and was unknown by the offending
partner at the time), a player is not obligated to disclose the error to
the opponents. However, a player may not hide or otherwise conceal
revoke cards at the termination of play.
A player may
not make extraneous or overt actions with the express purpose to
frustrate or distract a player. Some unscrupulous players use various
emotional hooks, snapping cards, drumming fingers on table, inducing FUD:
Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt, false flattery, sarcasm, embarrassment, greed,
etc. Better known as "coffee housing", such misdeeds include making
improper remarks, gestures, hesitations or the like, with the intention
to confuse or mislead opponents (Law 73). After numerous deliberate
opponent hesitations, Charles Goren advised a perpetrator, "Madam, that
second hesitation certainly was an overbid!" Similarly, George Kaufman
once retorted to his opponents, "Let's have a review of the bidding
again, with all the inflections."
Beware of acts
of one-upmanship. In the 1934 Men's Pair New York Championship, Ely
Culbertson partnered with Ted Lightner against Oswald Jacoby and David
Burnstine. With the tourney outcome on one hand, Lightner risked
bidding 6 Spades. Knowing Ely would be quick to table dummy after the
all important opening lead, David deliberately paused to get a stick of
gum out out of his pocket, take it out of the wrapper and chew it for a
moment. After a further delay, Burnstine finally threw the paper down
on the table - not the lead card but the wrapper! Sure enough,
Culbertson tabled the dummy, giving Burnstine a good look before making
the killing lead to defeat the contract.
Watch out for
the shifty declarer claiming they made an improper call or that a card
from the dummy was a "slip of the tongue" when in fact the error was
actually a thinking error (slip of the mind). Certainly when a
duplicate player pulls a bid from one area of the bidding box, they
cannot legitimately claim the error was attributable to a mechanical
error when the new bidding card was not adjacent to the prior bid!
Be wary of an
opponent who deliberately fails to alert a conventional bid or giving an
inadequate or misleading description when asked by an opponent.
not permit an opponent to surreptitiously glance at one's own convention
card in order to refresh their recollection of a partnership agreement.
During play, the convention card is available for your reference, not
opponent may know the consequence of a law better than the opponents.
Rather than calling the Director, the player innocently offers the
opponents what initially appears to be a satisfactory resolution when
their side commits an irregularity. For instance, an opponent may have
made an insufficient conventional call. Let's say an opponent opened 2
Notrump and their sleepy partner made an insufficient Stayman bid of 2
Clubs. The opponent is aware the Laws and Director's forthcoming ruling
- the offender's partner is barred for the remainder of the auction. So
our devious opponent innocently offers the opponents to "make the
contract sufficient" by bidding 3 Clubs and continue playing normally.
Should the opponents be seduced into this trick, the offender is off the
hook. Always call the Director when an irregularity occurs at the
Be wary of an
opponent who asks leading questions about the auction before partner has
made a face down opening lead, providing partner clues about the best
lead or play. Unless a player is intending to bid, they should refrain
from asking unnecessary questions before the face down opening lead by
How about the
situation where an opponent strongly wants their partner to refrain from
bidding? Beware of the unethical tactic by a player taking an unusual
action that will force an action by partner. For instance, do not
permit an opponent to deliberately hesitate during a competitive auction
to force one's partner to pass or refrain from making a double when
opponents' contract is makeable. Again, call the Director who may need
to adjust or assign a score. Most players are unaware that when an
opponent hesitates, the Director may adjust the auction both up
and down to restore equity! (if dictated based upon a player's logical
tournament players have been known to resort to a tactic known as
"double insurance," attempting to get the best result. Let's say a
player inadvertently forgets to alert a conventional call known by the
opponents to be conventional call. The shrewd opponent neither asks the
opponent for clarification, looks at their convention card, nor calls
the Director. If a good result is obtained upon viewing the score
(perhaps the traveler), the player overlooks the infraction; if the
shrewd player decides a more favorable result could be realized, the
player belatedly calls the Director to get a second chance to obtain a
good result. The
San Francisco Fall 1996 Appeals addressed this issue for ACBL
we must call
the Director when the irregularity occurs as opposed to "reserving our
rights" after play (the practice in international play).
an unscrupulous opponent may attempt to expose a played card very
quickly, then quickly face down the played cards. A similar tactic is
to tilt the card at an angle with the intent to make its face hard to
discern. When in doubt, do not face your card down and kindly ask the
opponent to clearly face their card. Ditto when the dummy's hand
conceals cards in the dummy or some cards are hidden behind other
cards. Incidentally, speaking of the dummy it is within the dummy's
rights to see each card faced by the opponents. While a dummy is not
permitted to first call attention to an irregularity during play, the
dummy is allowed to note the occurrence of the irregularity and call the
Director after the completion of play.
situations, an opponent will modify, withhold, or fabricate facts to the
Director. Be sure to have a clear accounting of the facts and clarify
ambiguities or misstatements to the Director.
tactic should win a booby prize for the most creative form of unethical
behavior. Here the player creates a diversionary tactic to cushion
additional time needed to make a thoughtful bid or play. Lacking the
distraction, the player might draw a Director call due to a hesitation.
The tactic typically involves asking to view the opponent's convention
card or unnecessarily inquiring about the meaning of an opponent's call,
disturbing cards from the bidding box and the like, with no intention to
use the response other than to buy the player extra time. We are
unclear whether such tactics merit a hearty laugh or Director call!
Cheating: "See what it is to play unfair! Where cheating is, there's
mischief there." By poet William Blake
saved the worst for last. If soft cheating is a misdemeanor, than hard
cheating is reserved for felons involved in blatant misconduct. Let's
take a look at various cheating scandals and other overt techniques.
Frenchman Franck Bodier and Pierre Figeac were found to always make
perfect leads. Without noting the signaling methods, a tournament
committee eventually summoned the pair, who chose to resign and
disappear from Bridge. In 1974 Indonesian brothers M. F. and F. E.
Manoppo were also noted to make flawless leads. After the World Bridge
Federation reviewed 600 hands and confronted the brothers, they were
suspended and barred from playing together in official tournaments.
Austrian pair Karl Schneider and Max Reithoffer were found by Swiss
expert Jaime Ortiz-Patino to hold their cards in peculiar positions
based on their Ace holding. Interestingly, Reithoffer was the President
of the Austrian Federation hosting the actual tourney. After the
accusation was discreetly offered, without inquiry the pair agreed never
to play in a major tourney again.
In 1958 the USA
team (Tobias Stone) accused the world winning Italian team of cheating,
stating they held their powerful hands up high not only for kibitzers,
but for the benefit of their partner.
In 1933, Ely
Culbertson hired card detective Mickey MacDougall to watch suspected
opponent Willard Karn for cheating. Posing as a waiter, Mickey noted
Willard would interleave high and low cards when taking a trick before
his turn to deal. When shuffling, Karn would use a false pull-through
shuffle, crimp the deck before offering the cut and restore the deck
with a hidden return cut before dealing favorable cards to his side in
their Rubber game.
Bermuda Bowl was the setting for the notorious "Buenos Aires Incident",
the USA team accusing England's Terence Reese and Boris Schapiro of
cheating. B. Jay Becker noted Reese and Schapiro had unusual hand
placement when holding their cards, asking partner Dorothy Hayden to
confirm his observation. After several sessions comparing noted hand
signals with printed hand records, Dorothy noted Reese and Schapiro's
hand positions regularly coincided with their Heart holding. Here's an
10 8 3 2
Q J 7
A 8 4 3
9 5 4 K 6
A 8 6 5 J 2
A 5 4 K 9 8 3 2
Q 10 2 J 7 6 5
A Q J 7
Q 10 7 4 3
1S - 3S; 4S – AP
On behalf of
the United States playing team, Dorothy Hayden noticed Terence and Boris
seemed to awkwardly hold their cards in different manners and became
suspicious. Between sessions, Dorothy discreetly discussed this with her
playing partners, B.J. Becker and Alan Truscott.
After the U.S.
team observed and logged more questionable play and compared the
gestures against the actual cards, they lodged a formal complaint.
Britain's captain, Ralph Swimer, withdrew his team from the tournament,
conceding the matches.
On the above
hand, Schapiro was sitting West and made a surprising underlead of the
H5 to partner's HJ, won by South. The declarer returned a Heart to
West's HA, who returned a third Heart that was overruffed by Reece
sitting East with his S6. Terrance returned a Diamond to partner's Ace,
followed by another Heart, again overruffed by Terrance to set the
contract by two tricks. Perhaps underleading the Ace was an inspired
lead - just be certain you are not strangely holding the cards from hand
In the "1975
Bermuda Bowl Incident", newspaper correspondent Bruce Keidan observed
Italian team partners Gianfranco Facchini and Sergio Zucchelli were
using foot signals to communicate under the table during bidding and
before opening leads. Reported to the tourney committee who assigned
observers to confirm the findings, small coffee tables were ultimately
placed diagonally under the tables. These events led to screen usage in
In the 1977
"Houston Affair", Larry Cohen and Richard Katz suddenly resigned in the
middle of the final round of competition. Newspapers articles speculated
the pair were using improper communications based on prior agreements (Law
73.b.2) Similar to other high-profile scandals, the accused filed a
massive lawsuit which ultimately led the ACBL jurisdictional body to
reinstate the pair in full standing, with the ACBL's insurance company
reimbursing the legal fees of Cohen-Katz.
In the 1979 "Sion-Cokin
Affair", the ACBL found Steve Sion and Alan Coken of improper
pre-arranged communication (Law
73.b.2). The ACBL found the pair used illegal signals based on the
placement of their scoring pencils after writing down the contract. The
ACBL barred the pair from ACBL play, reinstating them after 5 years but
disallowing them from partnership play.
Here is a
litany of other highly unethical misdeeds:
Beware of the
scorekeeper (North) who deliberately enters an incorrect score to
benefit their side.
against the dealer who specializes in "bottom dealing." Bottom dealing
is a method of illegally influencing the outcome of the game by way of
dealing certain known cards from the bottom, rather than the top of the
pack. Generally, a bottom dealer will sneak a peek at the bottom card of
the deck just after or during the cut, then dealing marked cards to self
Watch out for
the card mechanic ("artists") who specialize in sleight-of-hand
manipulation of cards often with various forms of misdirection, exposing
cards to partner when dealing, false shuffles, "mechanic grip" (holding
pack with index finger in front of cards to obscure which one is dealt
to opponents), faro shuffles (false riffle), false cuts, palming,
switching to stacked decks (cold decks), and blind shuffles. See
Mississippi Heart Hand and
Duke of Cumberland Hand.
Keep on the
lookout for the base dealer/second dealer who specialize in dealing
second cards (next to the top) or other known locations pre-arranged by
the dealer or an accomplice.
Believe it our
not, in some card games the nefarious dealer may be a "paper player" who
exploits the use of marked cards, slick or shiny Aces, marked edges
(crimping, culling, denting, rounding, punching, sanding,
nailing/indexing, etc), daubing (golden glow) and luminous readers using
either special glasses or contact lens.
Then there is
the hand mucker, who specializes in switching cards from hand to hand.
A variation in
Bridge is when the opponents are already aware of the hands and outcome
of play. In some duplicate Bridge team events (Swiss and Knockouts), a
team is reassigned to the same table between events. Here's a prime
example why players should always reshuffle cards in the presence of
likely in non-Bridge card play, some dastardly "machine players" cheat
by using mechanical holdouts as clips under the table or up the sleeve,
mirrors, reflective rings, etc.
refers to a traveling hustler, purporting to be a so-so player in order
to fleece average players. In Bridge, these folks seek money Rubber
Keep your eyes
open for the colluders, spectators/kibitzers that pass signals to a
player after peeking at another player's cards, or observing the playing
results of the duplicate board from a prior table
As we've seen
above in the Bermuda Bowl Incident and other scandals, take note that
one of the most common (and hard to detect) forms of Bridge cheating
involves the signalers - those who send bidding or play signals to their
partner. Then there's the whimsical "Chicago
Convention", ostensibly a tongue-in-cheek prank by Rubber Bridge
players. In essence, the players look at their cards and when they both
hold inferior hands, they signal one another through a pre-arranged
question and answer. Like spies using a challenge-response protocol, the
nasty players immediately claim one has too few cards - the other too
many cards, so they intermix their cards and insist on a redeal.
The dumpers are
a consortium of players who privately pool aggregate winnings against a
rotational "partner" in a crooked game. The consortium plays poorly with
their unsuspecting mark, playing soundly with their colluding partners
to fleece their mark. Alan Sontag provides how both a personal friend
was on both sides of this scam (along with Alan's assistance) in his
Bridge Bum: My Life and Play".
The peekers are
players who deliberately look at cards being shuffled, dealt, sorted,
and held by players.
A marker is a
player that manipulates marked decks, using color readers (including
contact lens), or cuts the cards (often detected by "going to the
movies" - flipping through the deck rapidly).
cheater, involving tactics including artificially positioning the cards
in a board (not fully inserted in board pocket, etc) or positioning the
board differently (backward, upside down, etc) among a set in a team
event, etc. The purpose of the North cheater is to send distinguishing
characteristics (signals) about the hands to one's playing partners when
the boards arrive at their table, such as a hand that produces a
surprising slam result, etc.
eavesdropper is a player that carefully listens to discussion about
results or player's holdings at another duplicate table with the
intention of using the information at the table when the board arrives
at the table. In a match point game, the stationary South player is in
the "ideal position" to eavesdrop on the results for boards headed
towards the player (boards move up).
Poker Cheating, Card Cheating