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Catching card cheaters by crowdsourcing

By putting tournament videos online and asking for help, the codes that the players were using seem to be obvious. Since every table in a tournament is given duplicate cards, just a slight tilting of the odds gives a cheating team a tremendous advantage.

Professional bridge has a cheating problem
[Via kottke.org]

Players in the top ranks of the world’s professional bridge organizations have been caught cheating and the evidence is on YouTube.

On deals in which Fisher and Schwartz ended up as declarer and dummy, they cleared away the tray and the board in the usual manner. But when they were defending-meaning that one of them would make the opening lead-they were wildly inconsistent. Sometimes Fisher would remove the tray, and sometimes Schwartz would, and sometimes they would leave it on the table. Furthermore, they placed the duplicate board in a number of different positions — each of which, it turns out, conveyed a particular meaning. “If Lotan wanted a spade lead, he put the board in the middle and pushed it all the way to the other side,” Weinstein said. If he wanted a heart, he put it to the right. Diamond, over here. Club, here. No preference, here.”

Here’s a video showing what Fisher and Schwartz were doing:

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I love that by allowing millions of eyes to look at this, the answers were found. Distributed approaches can find solutions to complex problems so much faster than hierarchical approaches.

Now if the institutions with authority can just take action.

Image: Shannon