CHEATING IN CHAMPIONSHIP BRIDGE. John Colapinto had an article in Vanity Fair about current cheating scandals in championship bridge. It can be an enormous advantage at the championship level if one player has even a little illegal knowledge about the cards in his partner’s hand. Colapinto gives the example of Terence Reese and his partner Boris Schapiro, who at the 1965 Bermuda Bowl “were discovered using finger signals—clutching their cards variously with two, three, or four fingers, with an array of odd spacings between the digits—to communicate the number of hearts they held.”

Colapinto tells how bridge officials have responded to cheating incidents after they have been discovered. Screens are now placed between players so they can’t see their partners. There have been barriers under the table since two members of the Italian Blue Team were caught in 1975 communicating via “footsie”. Players who are caught can be banned for life.

Proving illegal signaling requires figuring out the code. For example, one pair is accused of communicating by whether they placed their lead card vertically or horizontally. Videos showed that a proposed code predicted how the lead card would be placed in 82 out of 85 deals.

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  1. bruce abel says:

    Between 2000 and 2004 I spent too much time representing John Blubaugh against the ACBL and their accusation that John cheated at a Nationals. Google “Blubaugh and cheating” and you will find articles on the case. He was also invited to appear on John Stewart’s show and I recommended against it. That was before I knew much about Stewart.

    The article was in the Wall Street Journal.

    I was surprised that the New Yorker article did not mention the Blubaugh case.

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