The best and the worst of our game…By Alvin Levy                    November 7, 2005


On the “best” side…promoting our game is taking place internationally, nationally and locally.  At the international level the Mind Sport Confederation has just been formed.  The four founding members are the World Bridge Federation (WBF), the International Federation of Chess (FIDE), the International GO Federation (IGF) and the World Draughts Federation (FMJD).  With the support of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) this new confederation seeks to organize the “Intellympic Games” and be recognized by the International Olympic Committee.  The confederation’s first president is Jose Damiani, president of the WBF, and the main organizer of the new confederation.


The ACBL has many promotional projects underway.  With the help of an outside promotional firm the league has set up a website.  Also a mini-bridge website is being enhanced.  A number of youth bridge projects are also underway.


Locally, the Nassau-Suffolk Bridge Association and the Greater New York Bridge Association are both involved in teaching bridge in our schools.  On Long Island, with Carol Mathews taking the lead, the NSBA is promoting bridge in middle- and high schools as well as at libraries.   Carol and Saundra Jones have each been featured in the Bridge Bulletin for their efforts in teaching bridge in schools.


On a “worst” side…two cheating scandals are in the news.  Massimo Lanzarotti and Andrea Buratti, a world-renowned pair from Italy, were expelled from the recent European Championships for cheating.  This professional pair is hired to play in many of our NABC events, and won the prestigious Vanderbilt KOs this spring in Pittsburgh.  They were also the winners of this year’s Cavendish Pairs, with a first place pool worth over $250,000.  In all likelihood Lanzarotti and Buratti will no longer be welcome at ACBL tournaments.


recent actions...

On November 18, 2005, the American Contract Bridge League Ethical Oversight Committee found Mr. Andrea Buratti and Mr. Massimo Lanzarotti guilty of violating Law 73 of the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge for deliberately communicating unauthorized information at the European Bridge League Championship earlier this year.  As a result, the Committee expelled Mr. Buratti and Mr. Lanzarotti from the American Contract Bridge League effective immediately.  Mr. Buratti and/or Mr. Lanzarotti may appeal this decision to the League's Appeals and Charges Committee within thirty (30) days.


At almost the same time, the Italian Bridge Federation announced its findings, banning them for 30 months and stating that they may never again play as partners.


In the most famous cheating scandal, in 1965 Terence Reese and Boris Shapiro were alleged to have used finger signals to tell each other the number of hearts in their hand.  While most were convinced that they were passing signals, proof that they were using the information to best advantage was not overly convincing.  This June, 40 years after the cheating incident, David Rex-Taylor revealed that Reese had confided in him the details of his actions and asked that David wait 40 years to tell the world.  Reese’s explanation was that they did pass information on the length of their heart suit but that they didn’t use the information.  Their “cheating” was to be revealed in a book that Reese was going to write.  His purpose was to show that cheating could be practiced undetected.   I’m sure every bridge magazine will have an article and view on this newly revealed “confession.”  I want to believe the explanation as Reese’s books made bridge exciting for me when I took up the game in the 60s.  I await an explanation on how Reese expected to convincingly prove that they had actually passed information as no third party monitor has been mentioned.


The best of bridge is overwhelming and only slightly marred by the few cheating scandals.


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