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Mike Bearden
Mike Bearden

Belladonna [cheat]l

Commonly cited instances of cheating include: conveying information to a partner by means of a pre-arranged illegal signal, viewing the opponents' cards in a board prior to their arrival at the table, altering the records as to the results of a board; in certain games, it may include illicit shuffling to deal favourable cards to oneself or one's partner or marking cards so as to make their denomination and/or rank apparent to the perpetrator.

Belladonna [cheat]l

This example doesn't require coordination beforehand, but is illegal information sharing, as the partner can indicate the strength of their hand to allow for more accurate bidding. If attempting to cheat in at a more serious tournament, players might pre-arrange code words, hesitations, facial expressions, styles of speech, and so on as a ploy to share details on the strength and nature of their hand that would not even require small talk to execute.

and any deliberate act or behavior which conveys or obtains information other than by those means prescribed by the rules of the game constitutes cheating and is subject to sanctions by the governing bodies.

Apart from unlawful exchange of information, other forms of cheating include: viewing the opponents' cards in a board prior to their arrival at the table, altering the records as to the results of a board; in certain games, it may include illicit shuffling to deal favourable cards to oneself or one's partner, marking cards so as to make their denomination and or rank apparent only to the perpetrator, etc.

Early in 1933, the Crockford Club (Ely Culbertson) hired card detective Mickey MacDougall to watch Karn for cheating. Posing as a waiter, MacDougall claimed that Karn would interleave high and low cards when gathering 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 games.[9] Karn denied the accusation but nevertheless resigned from the club and withdrew from competitive and social play.

In his 1945 book, Why You Lose at Bridge[13] S. J. Simon referenced the Austrian team playing the British team the following year and noted the "devastating leads" made by the Austrians, alluding to their cheating on the choice of opening leads.[12]

Players who cheat are regularly more successful in opening leads than are their opponents. Sixty-five years later, the verdict of history must be that the Austrians should be disqualified and the Americans were entitled to reign as world champions.

Back in the United States after having lost by a large margin, Stone continued to accuse the Italians of cheating and the Italians threatened a lawsuit. The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL)censured Stone and barred him from international play for one year owing to his "conduct unbecoming a representative of the American Contract Bridge League." Stone sued the ACBL for $25,000 in damages for defamation and asked the court to set aside the one-year ban. A petition by one hundred prominent players moved the ACBL to drop the ban and Stone dropped the lawsuit.[20]

Analysis of the boards played at the match was undertaken by Charles Goren and also by Edgar Kaplan together with Alfred Sheinwold. Kaplan and Sheinwold concluded that it was impossible to prove either side of the issue. Goren was unconvinced that the Italians cheated and felt that the Americans did not do well because they were distracted by the thoughts of being cheated; Goren publicly apologised to the Italians.[20]

The 1963 Bermuda Bowl was held in St. Vincent, Italy with the Americans and Italians in the finals. An anonymous letter written in Italian was delivered to the American coach John Gerber. He secured a translator to read it aloud but asked the translator to stop after the first paragraph, to deliver the letter to Italian captain Carl'Alberto Perroux, and to explain that Gerber had heard only the first paragraph. The writer had accused the Blue Team of cheating by signaling with the positioning of their cigarettes. After reading the letter to his team, Perroux suggested that the match be played with screens running across the tables (12 years before modern screens were introduced), but Gerber would have none of it. The goodwill engendered by this exchange inspired Perroux and his team to present their championship trophies to Gerber and the American team in what was described as the greatest act of sportsmanship in bridge history.[23]

At the 1960 championship held in Turin, Eric Murray told Reese "your opponents are quite convinced they were being cheated". Don Oakie of the USA also identified suspicious mannerisms but was asked to keep quiet to avoid embarrassment. Harold Franklin was asked to pass the information to the British Bridge League; he did not do this but did tell Reese that there were suspicions. Truscott wrote that Reese and Schapiro did not participate on British teams again until 1964 in New York when they lost a semi-final to Italy,[26] but in fact they were on the team which won the European Championships in Baden-Baden in 1963.[29]

At the 1975 Bermuda Bowl, Facchini and Zucchelli were accused of communicating by means of foot tapping under the table. A committee was unable to find specific correlation between the foot movements observed and the bidding or play of the hands, a factor usually considered essential to conclusive proof of cheating.[34]

What a pity it is that these happenings should have been soured by yet another accusation of cheating, this time against the Italian pair Facchini and Zucchelli. Bidding screens were of course being used, so the accusation now was that the pair were communicating by playing "footsy-footsy" under the table. The matter was reported to the World Bridge Federation authorities, who, in an almost unanimous vote, threw out the accusation. They rather spoilt the effect of this, however, by reprimanding the two Italians for "improper conduct with respect to actions of Mr. Zucchini moving his feet unnaturally and touching his partner's feet during the auction and before the opening lead". Well, now, what does this mean? Either the Italians cheated or they didn't. Very well, then. For what are they being reprimanded?

When newspaper articles quoted "reliable sources" as saying that the pair had been guilty of serious infractions against the proprieties of bridge, Katz and Cohen filed a $44 million lawsuit alleging defamation of character, interference with business interests, false accusations of cheating, coerced withdrawal from the trials and forced resignation from the ACBL.[44] They demanded that they be reinstated as ACBL members and that the trials resume. Katz and Cohen later filed another suit accusing the ACBL of violation of federal antitrust actions.[43]

Five players, all students from the area of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and active in the bridge club at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were suspended by the ACBL for cheating by passing illegal signals at the July 1984 NABC in Washington D.C.[51][52]

After the penultimate set, the monitor concluded that the Germans were cheating by means of their cough signals but due process obliged that they would continue to play so that more hands would solidify the proof. The Germans 'won' and Compton was assured that the matter would be resolved after the tournament close.[77]

Passell was requested to attend a meeting in Chicago during the summer Nationals of the ACBL Ethical Oversight Committee (EOC). While there were differences in the recollection of some details of the event by the players involved,[83] Passell was found guilty of, among other things,[84] of "prearranging a deal or part thereof", which carries with it a mandatory penalty of 13 months probation and 25% of total masterpoints. He was found not guilty of cheating, but believed the public statement by the ACBL read like he was found guilty of cheating and given a lenient sentence; he appealed.

The initiative garnered support from others and Brogeland received tips that other top players were also cheating. Brogeland and others investigated further and posted their analysis and conclusions on internet websites. Ultimately, this caused teams from Israel, Monaco, and Germany to withdraw from the upcoming 2015 Bermuda Bowl and a pair from the Polish team had their credentials for that event withdrawn at the last minute. The following four partnerships were ultimately sanctioned by their respective governing bodies.

In September 2015, Brogeland received an anonymous tip about cheating by a top German pair Josef Piekarek-Alexander Smirnov. Faced with the evidence, Piekarek and Smirnov decided to come forward and confess with the following statement:[91]

The EBL appointed an Investigation Committee which reached the conclusion that disciplinary proceedings should be initiated against Balicki and Żmudziński for using illicit prearranged methods of communication. On May 30, 2016, a Disciplinary Commission was appointed to hear and determine the cheating allegations. After an exchange of written submissions, a hearing was held on 2 February 2017, at EBL headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Subsequent to the conclusion of all disciplinary investigations regarding pairs involved in the 2014 EBL European Championships, EBL revised the final standings of the event. Germany and Israel, having fielded pairs which received bans for cheating, were disqualified from the results. This moved Poland to a bronze medal position.[107] In response, PBU, along with the Monaco team (for whom Fantoni and Nunes played in Opatija) refused to accept the place inherited through these disqualifications.[108]

In March 2021, Curtis Cheek admitted to cheating online by looking at all four hands ("self-kibitzing") during the United States Bridge Federation (USBF) Invitational Tournament in June 2020. Accordingly, in a negotiated resolution, the USBF imposed the following discipline:


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