Bridge

Bridge | 5 September 2020

5 September 2020

9:00 AM

5 September 2020

9:00 AM

A major pandemic has been sweeping through the bridge world since the game went online — and it’s called cheating. Who would have thought so many people would succumb to temptation, and what does it say about human nature? ‘Self-kibbitzing’ — that weirdly euphemistic term which means logging on under a different name to see all four hands at your table — has been rife, from club players to world champions (such as the two Janet named in her recent column). Even worse, some pairs have been cheating collusively — yes, actually texting or phoning each other to convey information.

Things are so bad that almost half my bridge friends seem to be employed as cheat-catchers by various bridge bodies. It’s pretty obvious who’s at it: players who regularly make anti-percentage plays or strange bids which work miraculously well, or whose scores have rocketed to implausible heights since lockdown. But the anti-cheat squads still need to sift through hundreds of hands to gather enough evidence to make an accusation or force a confession. So far, only a handful of cheats have been named and banned. More are sure to follow.


In this climate, it was a relief to play my first face-to-face game since lockdown with friends last week. Defending this hand, Neil Mendoza showed brilliantly how a player can still practise deception without resorting to cheating (see diagram).

Neil led his singleton diamond. I won and played a spade to my ♠Q, whereupon Neil (who knew from the bidding I held five spades) dropped his ♠J! Not suspecting him of being so crafty, I assumed East had begun with ♠K76 and tried to cross to dummy’s ◆K to finesse again. Neil ruffed, and the expression on my face, he told me, was precisely why online bridge could never replace the real thing.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
Close