Release 2.19n
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Issue #5.  

1♣  Open "Could be Short" Announcement.  

If 1♣  opener could have <= 2♣, and their convention card says they can have <= 2♣, you MUST announce the 1♣  "Could be Short".  (e.g. 5♠, 3♥, 3♦, 2♣ )

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Detecting Cheating in Bridge

by Nicolas Hammond

Review by Marty Hirschman      (from MBA's Table Talk)

    When we last met Nicolas Hammond a few years ago, he was embroiled in a dispute with ACBL over whether his software company had performed properly under a contract with the league to update the ACBLScore program used to keep score at our club games and tournaments.
    ACBL was a little vague about what the problem was.   Hammond says his new program, ACBLScore+, worked just fine, but the league was worried that it would not own the copyright on the source code for the program and decided not to use it.   Eventually ACBL paid Hammond’s company $1.5 million for the work it did, Hammond reports.
    Now he has taken his software, renamed BridgeScore+, and enhanced it in an effort to use statistical methods to determine how much cheating is going on at bridge tournaments and, to a limited extent, who the cheating pairs are.
    It is all explained in his fascinating new book, Detecting Cheating at     Bridge.
    Until now, cheaters generally could be caught only when their cheating methods were uncovered.   Hammond’s approach is different.   Basically, he compares how well players, and particularly pairs of top players, perform compared to best double-dummy play.   Over a large enough set of results, the theory goes, a pair can only do so well without cheating.   Particularly on defense.
    The last paragraph is a big oversimplification, but it captures the basic idea.   Hammond’s approach does not require knowing how the cheating is done.   That may or may not be determined later by viewing videos of hands played by suspect pairs in major tournaments, particularly international tournaments, over the past five years.
    I cannot begin to assess the validity of Hammond’s approach, partly because I don’t have the technical background and partly because he has withheld details of some of his methods.   I can, however, report some of his more startling findings and statements:
♦ His software would have flagged all four of the major international pairs that were caught cheating in 2015, plus two pairs that were caught in 2005 and 2013.
♦There were at least four other pairs, perhaps as many as eight, who were cheating in the 2014 European Bridge Team Championships.   They have not been caught.
♦There was probably a significant amount of cheating at the Bermuda Bowl in 2009, 2011 and 2013, even excluding the pairs that have since been caught.   Also at the Bermuda Bowl in 1955 to 1983.
♦Cheating in top-level bridge declined after 2015, probably because pairs were afraid of being caught, and some suspect pairs have stopped playing together.
♦At least 30 pairs among the 300 pairs who play the most in ACBL tournaments are much better on defense than declarer play, an indication of unethical behavior if not outand-out collusive cheating.
♦There are over 130 active pairs in ACBL who are acting unethically by playing undisclosed partnership agreements designed to allow the better player to declare more of the hands.
♦There is no evidence that there is cheating in computer bridge.
♦There is a 90 percent chance that as of 2016 some pair or pairs “cracked” the hand-generation program of the ACBL and thereby had access to hand records in advance of playing.
♦Code-cracking experts working with Hammond easily developed software that could take the 52-card layout on the first three deals of a set of hands and generate the rest of the hand records. (ACBL changed its hand-generation program after this was reported.)
    The book is on sale for $39.95 at

    Shortly after the Summer NABC in Las Vegas, Hammond posted the following provocative remarks on Facebook:
“Back in Atlanta from Las Vegas. I hope everyone took lots of pictures of their favorite players.   Some of these players will not be there at the next NABC…
    “A bold statement.... some top pair(s) will not be there at next NABC or major event... but you read it here first. Give me 1-12 weeks…
    “Just a question of which pair I decide to work on first.   The book shows there are several.   I'll probably start with the ones that avoided eye contact with me all last week... doesn't narrow it down much …”  12/1

    Assistant Techie

MBA-SOMBA Need Assistant Techie

Bill Landrum, who maintains the website for the MBA-SOMBA Directory, is hoping to train someone so that he isn’t the only one who knows how the software works.   If you have technical ability with websites and programming and are interested, contact:
Shelley Boschan, 248-225-1700, or
Satish Shah, 586-932-1817 or 586-944-6708,

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January 28th Bridge Central SWISS TEAMS *** January 29th Better Bridge #1 JUNIOR FUND GAME

              New SOMBA Members
November December
Virginia Digiuseppe Prashant, Mahajan
Suzanne Koth Elliott Bettman
Catherine McQueen Smita Bhatt
  Arlene Cobau
  John Cobau
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       Masterpoint Achievements

                 November Achievements

Junior Master Elizabeth Elie
Junior Master Lauren Fisher
Junior Master Eric Hanson
Junior Master Patricia Olson
Junior Master Joseph Reimann
Club Master James Verhage
Sectional Master Judge Susan Borman
Sectional Master Carol Kupinski
Regional Master Janet Gumenick
Regional Master Barbara Kaluz
NABC Master Carol Burkett
NABC Master Judith Kamins
NABC Master Manus Nemeth
NABC Master Evelyn Rosen
NABC Master Hugh Rosenthal
Life Master Julie Baba
Lifee Master Warren Block
Bronze Life Master Julie Baba
Bronze Life Master Warren Block


          December Achievements

Junior Master Micki L Levin
Junior Master Andrena Neeley
Junior Master Myrna Sweetland
Club Master Lori A London
Sectional Master Robin J Lewis
Sectional Master Patricia T McCabe
Sectional Master Dr Jane Stewart
Regional Master Mark M Merritt
Regional Master Ellen M Skuta
NABC Master Ronald W Zurilla
Adv. NABC Master Alan Hassoun
Silver Life Master Vishwas V Gadgil
The Steps of a New Bronze Life Master

by Warren Block

I would like to thank all of the hundreds of people I have enjoyed playing bridge with and against over the past 69 years. I started playing when I was 5 years old with my family. I learned how to steal the bid of 3 no trump from my dad who always wanted to play the hand when playing with us. In middle school my Home Ec. teacher, Dora Scanlon was a life master in Grand Rapids, and graciously played with us when she came to our house for dinner. That was the first time I had heard of a life master. I would play occasionally in my parent’s social bridge club that met monthly for over 20 years. After high school I would only play sporadically, not so much in college, but occasionally in Vietnam and Grad School. I started playing Duplicate in the late seventies going to games without a partner and playing with players no one would play with. I didn’t play much in the 80’s as teaching, coaching and raising a family of 4 children consumed my time. 

I started playing duplicate again in the 90’s at the Traverse City Senior Center where I got to play with really good players thanks to gracious and competitive directors. It was here where I learned to pay attention to your opponents and enjoy their company. After an intense evening of bridge I noticed the name, Roy Hickes and his wife, who I had just competed against. He was vacationing in the area. He had been a favorite Professor at Wittenberg University and I had done a two-week stint in his wife's classroom as I prepared to become a teacher. After 30 years, I had not recognized them while playing. It was nice to reconnect and go fishing with them. So please pay attention to your opponents, you might be pleasantly surprised how you connect outside the bridge world.

My quest for life master began in earnest when I retired in 2009. I joined the Birmingham Senior Men’s Club. The individual movement allowed me to play with players of all skill levels. I would like to thank Kirby Callam, the director, for his acceptance of all players no matter what their skill level was. Over the next 10 years, I picked up points playing with multiple partners such as: Tom King, Jim Smallwood, Tai Chan, John Kokobu, Jim Bayson, Ron Zurilla, Arnie Brandt, Vickie Vallone and many, many others.

A special thank you goes to the Traverse City area duplicate clubs. Especially, Paul Christ, Lynn Larson, Jane Vetter and over 20 players that I enjoyed picking up points with. Also, I would not have made it to the finish line without the robots of BBO.

It was nice to see my name next to Bob Ondo in the December Bridge Magazine. In one of my first forays to a Bridge Connection Tournament, Bob with 0 points needed a partner and since I had 200 points I was happy to play with him. We did quite well, as I remember. So, I encourage all players no matter what level to enjoy playing with others, be friendly and accept that all players make numerous decisions during the play based on their experience and skills and while those decisions may not be as “correct” as yours, they deserve respect  12/14