Before presenting certain hands from this year’s Spingold and a couple of other events, I would like to put attention to how I think we need to go about to catch world class cheaters in bridge.
If you knew a couple of card tricks when you were young or maybe how to make a coin disappear – would you then be able to break Harry Houdini’s secrets? I think it is better we ask David Copperfield how Houdini made his magic tricks. Even if the rest of the world can’t spot it, I am pretty sure that Mr. Copperfield could have told us a whole lot about the logic behind Houdini’s illusions.
If you haven’t seen it already, please take some time to read Larry Cohen’s suggestion on how to catch world class cheaters at Bridgewinners.com. Soon the IBPA-editor John Carruthers will have an editorial where he encourages a WADA of bridge, in a similar fashion like Cohen suggest.
Bridge is such a logic game that I am willing to claim that it is almost impossible to cheat against your peers at the top level for long. Provided we have a mechanism to look into the logic of mysterious hands that occur. As of the moment the ACBL, the EBL and the WBF are looking into reported hands, but the chances are slim that they will catch sophisticated cheaters. They neither have the resources nor the expertise to do these kind of analysis. They might brag about how they got the doctors (forgetting to mention it was way overdue). But how did really the doctors get caught? It was Eddie Wold, a top class and highly experienced player, who broke their code.
My approach to discover cheating by world class players is to look at non-obvious actions and the success rate of these. If you take 100 boards where Versace, Helgemo and Hamman were faced with the same problem, how many non-logical actions do you think they would choose? My guess is none. So when players and pairs choose non-logical actions, which in addition have a great success rate (the actions are deemed as non-logical because you would expect them to have a lot worse success rate than 50 %), we should raise an eyebrow. The proof is in the pudding.