The History of Cheating in Bridge (Part 1)


Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 04/11/2016
Level: General Interest

We'll take a rest for now from Ethics, but if you missed any of the articles, they are all here.

There were some "cheating episodes" pre-1965, but I wish to start my exploration in that year with a "Story of an Accusation." That is the title of the book written by Terence Reese, claiming his innocence. Taking the other side, was Alan Truscott in "The Great Bridge Scandal."

This all took place in the World Championships in Buenos Aries. Did they cheat? After reading both books, I was more convinced by the latter. It seems that Reese and partner Boris Schapiro were signalling illegal information. Based on how many fingers they held behind their fanned cards, they were potentially passing information about the heart suit.

 

Terrence Reese is facing the camera (between the two women). You can see only the back of his partner's (Boris Schapiro) head.
Source: The Great Bridge Scandal.

This is a "conclusion" from Wikipedia:

In May 2005, the English journalist David Rex-Taylor, a bridge player and publisher, claimed that Reese had made a confession to him forty years earlier, one that was not to be revealed until 2005 and after he and Schapiro were dead. The purported confession claimed that Reese and Schapiro were indeed signalling, but only to show that such signaling was possible (and so were not actually paying attention to each other's signals), purportedly as part of a book on cheating (which was abandoned after the scandal broke). Although this explanation could conceivably reconcile the use of finger signals with the absence of evidence from bidding or play, there is no corroborating evidence to support this account. In contrast, Shapiro's widow claims he continued to deny the accusations to his death.