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IBPA Bulletin: John Carruthers on Self-kibitzing

When I saw Nowosadzski’s ‘confession’, I immediately had three thoughts. The first was that
the admission of guilt did not seem voluntary, it seemed coerced, of the nature of, “You have 24 hours to come clean or we will out you.” I have no personal knowledge that that is the case, but the statement just seemed a little too ingenuous. My second thought was,”Here’s a perfect opportunity for the Polish Bridge Union to consult with the EBL, WBF, ACBL and CCBA (Chinese Contract Bridge Association), all the places where Nowosadzki plays face-to-face bridge, to coordinate a response, decide on a punishment and determine a protocol for further action, since there are bound to be other cases. My third thought was that someone, as they did for the cheats in 2015, ought to go back and check all Nowosadzki’s deals that are in the BBO archives to determine if his assertion that he never cheated in
face-to-face play is true.

Following through on the second thought, I wrote an email to the president of the Polish Bridge Union, Witold Stachnik, suggesting that he convene a meeting of those organizations to discuss Nowosadzki. Here it is:

Dear Mr. Stachnik,
I am John Carruthers, editor of the International Bridge Press Association. Like everyone else, I was amazed and devastated at the ‘confession’ on Bridge Winners by Michal Nowosadzki. I had always believed that Kalita and Nowosadzki were honest. Now it appears I was only half right. In my next editorial (to be published no later than August 10), I am going to suggest the following:

1. that the Polish Bridge Union should take the lead and organise a conference call among the PBU, EBL, WBF, ACBL and CCBA (in other words the jurisdictions where Nowosadzki played most, if not all, of his bridge)

2. that all those jurisdictions come to a consensus on his punishment

3. that that punishment should include a ban of at least five years from all bridge, face-to-face and online– the punishment should be strong enough to deter other cheats but lenient enough for those who confess

4. in the light of his confession, that he be allowed reinstatement after five years as long as there is no other nefarious action by him (such as setting up a BBO account under a different name) – Nowosadzki should be advised of this 5. all online titles won by Nowosadzki and his team be nullified and the second-place team be declared the winner (any other action is too complex). It is my understanding that Nowosadzki has already been expelled from the Polish National Team. It is not enough.

I am telling you this so that it does not come as a surprise and to give you a chance to comment, if you wish, before my editorial. I would love to be able to report this as a fait accompli rather than as a wishlist. Here is a chance for the Polish Bridge Union to get out in front of this and to organise a unified response with Europe, North America, China and the WBF. Surely it would be better for all organisations to take the opportunity to present a unified front and tell the rest of the bridge world that they care. There does not appear to me to be a downside to this. I regard the fact that the cheating did not take place in a PBU/EBL/ACBL/CCBA/WBF event as incidental. He cheated, has admitted it and merits punishment. All bridge organisations should be concerned.
Yours sincerely,
John Carruthers

P.S.: I am copying all the organisations I mentioned above.
WBF: Gianarrigo Rona (President)
EBL: Jan Kamras (President)
ABCL: Joe Jones (Executive Director), Robb Gordon (National Recorder), Mitch Dunitz (Chair, ACBL AntiCheating Commission)
CCBA: Sun Cheng Mo (I hope I have this name correct, from the email address)
PBU: Marek Wojcicki, Editor, Polish Bridge

An indirect response came from the WBF, whose Management Committee released the following statement from the WBF President, Gianarrigo Rona:

Statement from WBF President »

The only personal response I received was from Jan Kamras, who played what I call the “Jurisdiction Card”, i.e., the EBL has no jurisdiction over a private online event. That, of course, can be true of all those bridge organisations, including the PBU. Nevertheless, the PBU did take immediate action, kicking Nowosadzki off their national team. One hopes that the various Credentials Committees make a note in their files also.

One also hopes that the WBF will take point 3 to heart and very carefully consider whether they should ever allow Nowosadzki to play in one of their events again. Similarly, the EBL, the ACBL and the CCBA. The ink had barely dried (figuratively) on Nowosadzki’s admission of guilt when another ‘confession’ appeared on Bridge Winners, this time involving another former World Champion, Sylvia Shi of the American Women’s Team Torlontano Trophy champions in 2016.

While the perpetrators have been commended by some for coming forward, their ‘confessions’ ring a bit hollow for me. Would they have done so if not under threat from outside sources? Very doubtful. Meanwhile, some bridge organisations and players are taking action. Robb Gordon, the ACBL National
Recorder, has advocated that the ACBL make all its NABC events invitational, allowing them to ‘disinvite’ unwanted players or pairs. The EBL and the WBF already have this mechanism in place, although it is rarely used. It will apparently now need to become more common.

On another front, the organisers of the Alt and OCBL events have created an informal committee of prominent, impeccably ethical, honest players to recommend to them whether or not a player should be admitted to their events. The formation of this committee was also announced on Bridge Winners.

Larry Robbins was one of a group of young Chicago bridge players making a name for themselves in the early 1980s. The group included Howie Weinstein. Ralph Katz, Bart Bramley, Steve Garner, Jerry Goldfein, Hal Mouser, Jack Oest, Greg DeFotis and Claude Vogel. Over a period of 13 years, that group, supplemented by veterans Milt Rosenberg and Gerald Caravelli, won three Grand National Team titles and were runnersup in three more. Each event began at the grassroots level with hundreds of entries. In addition to being a pretty good bridge player, Dr. Larry Robbins is a renowned physician in Chicago, a neurologist who specializes in headache and psychopharmacology. He has been named one of “America’s Top Doctors” every year since 2002. Here is Larry’s take on the current online self-kibitzing pandemic, published by Bridge Winners.

John Carruthers

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Source: International Bridge Press Association (IBPA) Bulletin August 10, 2020

 

 

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