The History of Cheating in Bridge (Part 4)

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 08/01/2016
Level: General Interest

In previous articles, we looked at cases from the 20th century.

The early 21st century was quiet as far as major cases go. However, there were "whispers" about some prominent pairs. In 2015 several of those pairs were caught.

During the past decade, more and more top-level matches have been videotaped. This, along with recording of every bid and play (during live internet broadcasts) provided a ton of information. Several prominent bridge player/analysts (led by Norway's Boye Borgeland) were instrumental in "breaking the code."

The #1 ranked pair in the world, Fantoni-Nunes were sending information by the way they played their cards on defense. A card placed vertically meant one thing. A card placed horizontally meant another. All the details are summarized nicely in this video by Michael Clark:

Another highly ranked pair, Fisher-Schwartz were sending information to their partner to help with the opening lead. The player who took the bidding tray off the table was putting the board back in a place to indicate which suit he wanted led. Another Micahel Clark video was prepared which nicely illustrates this illicit scheme:

Aside from these two major cases, a top German and Polish pair were accused (one pair confessing) of cheating. Several mainstream publications published featured articles on the case (as below).

While it is very disturbing to see these things taking place, there is a bit of a sensational/gossipy side to it. For better or worse, it did put bridge into the mainstream news.

While it hurts to know how many titles were stolen by this unthinkable partnership cheating, it is good to know that these pairs will never be allowed to play together again. Furthermore, procedures are in place to prevent further cases from occurring in the future.

Mainstream news publications on the 2015 cheating cases:

New Yorker Magazine:

Rolling Stone Magazine:
(note: The Larry Cohen mentioned is not the author of this article/website)

Vanity Fair Magazine:


Note: In July, 2016, the Ethical oversight committee expelled Fantoni-Nunes and Fisher-Schwartz from ACBL