CHEATING ON ANOTHER LEVEL.............. ( Article by Carp )
In the bizarre world of bridge a curious and absurd situation has arisen now that duplimated boards have appeared on the scene.. This computorised process eliminates the need for hand shuffling , providing print outs of all the hands for players to read and analyse after the bridge session is over. With bridge clubs eager to embrace this wonderful computer technology , duplimated boards have rapidly become the norm in England for most tournaments , competition matches and duplicate sessions.
When match boards are prepared in this automated way the only requirement is that procedure involved is subject to "satisfactory " security arrangements being in place. This choice of word in my view is a cop out.
What is of fundamental importance is the need for tight control. This in turn necessitates " best " practice in establishing and setting up foolproof security arrangements, along with thorough and rigorous monitoring.
So what would constitute the very best security safeguards ?
Firstly , given the club and its appointed individuals might well receive ( via the computer ) hand data to program the duplimator , then this information itself must be kept in secure files with highly restricted access. So secure it is capable of thwarting even the most competent hackers. Moreover, these individuals should not be involved in any of the matches where these boards are going to be played.
Secondly, these same individuals need to be above all suspicion , men/ women renown for the complete honesty, ethical behaviour , praised for their unwavering impartiality and integrity. People.... who would declare their allegiance towards and/or membership of other clubs where these duplimated boards might also be played.
Thirdly, once the boards have been made up along with the printed hand-outs , they need to be immediately placed in a locked box inside a locked cupboard. Keys themselves should be limited to just two individuals who themselves can guarantee their safe keeping.
Finally , if prior to the match there is the slightest suspicion of foul play , the captain of the aggrieved team may exercise his/her right to replace the duplimated boards with hand shuffled ones , done there and then at the table with all four players in attendance. If suspicions arise during the match that certain players seem to possess an insight which amounts to detailed knowledge ( no matter how small ) about the hand , then these must be recorded in writing and thoroughly investigated. Indeed, rumours have circulated around Yorkshire of a player involved in an inter-city match , who having some involvement in the preparation of the boards and print-outs , become the only player to bid and make a grand slam in diamonds , which only made because of the fortunate layout of the cards.
So yes , cheating can appear in many shapes and forms but prior knowledge of the hands is I believe on another much higher and more sinister level. Matches can be won or lost on two or three crucial boards where on some boards players would have done well to keep out of a doomed slam , while in other instances slams are bid , despite their poor odds , only to come rolling in. Once is good fortune. twice is co-incidence but three times there has to be something suspicious going on. Even if prior knowledge, no matter how small or insignificant , arrives say by virtue of pre-match loose gossip, there is without doubt a serious breach of security. Any even when an eavesdropper doesn't have the opportunity to act upon it to his/her benefit that is no excuse to the justified accusation of a security breach.
Security must focus on the elimination of opportunities for cheating to occur. Those who act upon unauthorised information of this kind are the real cheats , but those who responsible for any lapse of security are equally at fault , aiding and abetting such a crime. The pursuit for a level playing field along side the crack down on cheating must be relentless. Security measures currently in place may appear to be good enough , but are they ? Vigilance is needed at all times, and players who regularly appear to have something more than just the gift on insight need to be carefully and discreetly investigated. Always get the evidence first before making any charges.