Has anybody been caught doing this in bridge?

May 23, 2015 at 7:31 am 4 comments

There was a story last week in the chess world about GM Tkachiev’s exploration of a cheating possibility.

In essence he conducted a test where he had a tiny receiver in his ear hooked up to a person who was watching live transmission on a computer. He only had to be given a couple of suggestions in his match against a fellow GM to be an easy winner.

You can check out the chess version here.

It that made me wonder if the same thing has been done in bridge – presumably it would be just as simple. Has anybody been caught? Is there a way of stopping it other than by making the transmission not live? In general are sophisticated technological ways of cheating in bridge as rife as they seem to be in chess?

Your thoughts are appreciated!


Entry filed under: theory. Tags: .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Richard  |  May 24, 2015 at 4:05 am

    I don’t remember the incident that prompted it, but a couple of years ago the ACBL initiated a “no electronics” policy at big tournaments. All phones are required to be turned off (actually off, not just on vibrate) in the playing rooms, and not visible at the table. So I think someone was either caught texting or was at the least seriously suspected of it, but I don’t know who or when.

    • 2. cathyc  |  May 24, 2015 at 4:12 am

      This method of cheating, which one imagines has been tried a lot, isn’t going to give you the critical information at the critical time. You don’t get to do that in the middle of a hand. The idea of the tiny receiver is that nothing will ever happen unless you need it to. One can see the advantages and the difficulties of preventing it. Given that bridge hasn’t managed to prevent mobile phones being present during bridge, what’s the chance of catching something more sophisticated?

  • 3. Peter  |  May 23, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    As far as I know, nobody has been caught doing this sort of thing in bridge. There were whispers about some Chinese players possibly using electronic communications at a US Nationals a few years ago, but it all led to nothing.

    I wonder if it goes on at bridge. I don’t know.

    One deterrent at bridge is that if your partner thinks that you are cheating, your partner might abandon you, and getting good teammates might become hard. This deterrent applies to bridge more than to individual games like chess.

    • 4. cathyc  |  May 23, 2015 at 11:53 pm

      I guess that’a a deterrent at bridge, but why should the partner know? Once or twice in a critical encounter you are going to think a bit longer than usual and then get it right.

      The thing is, as GM Tkachiev points out, it isn’t something you need to do all the time, not if you are already an expert. So it is very different from the cheating cases in chess where a weak player needs help every move, and very different from the bridge cases where collusion between partners is necessarily an ongoing thing rather than a matter of getting quality information when it counts.

      I guess we await further developments….


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