Jan van Cleeff has realized an interesting interview with Boye Brogeland. We offer here some excerpts of the interview.
Jan van Cleeff: Here we have the guy everybody’s talking about, not only in the bridge world but also outside. A lot of media attentions in the last two months and also it’s the main reason why International Bridge Press Association has elected Boye Brogeland, sitting right next to me, as the bridge personality of the year 2015, congratulations. This must be giving you some comfort to you in these difficult times for you!
Boye Brogeland: Winning the prize? It’s always nice when they recognise what you have done but to me it’s not such a big thing, I mean, it’s not like me getting “likes” on Facebook or anything, this is for bridge.
JVC: You want to clean the game, right?
JVC: Talking about that, you started this campaign immediately after you lost the quarter final in the Spingold this summer in America and did you ever consider that you would take a more official roads informing first WBF and ACBL?
BB: And EBL? Yes. I thought about that… I slept for only 2 hours the day after we lost the quarter final. I woke up at 7 o’clock and I went to the internet and I started to have a look at BBO to see what happened in the other tables. What I saw there it just didn’t make sense from the bridge prospective, it was like no logical actions that I could not imagine that anybody at this level could take, so I understood that something was going on. After that I’ve been just working so much on this and more and more things and when I came back from Chicago I contacted Kamras in the EBL, informing him these things were coming out here and it was huge. I think that EBL should look into this and try to do something quick because these guys should not play in Chennai. I wanted the EBL on board but the feedback I got was that this was taking a long time and you have to send them stuff like everybody else… All people send them stuff too but nothing happens.
JVC: So from that moment you decided to put everything on internet…
BB: Yeah I just decided because there was no way of going through the official channels because that would have taken forever. We needed to do this before Chennai, the World Championship, we cannot let play people that we know are cheating.
JVC: From that all started and how did this affect your personal life? There are some rumors that you had to leave your home house, to leave for safe.
BB: That’s was the media I created. The only thing I did I called the police because I knew it was a big whist-blower case and they could not really tell me more. One advice was that maybe just before this come out, maybe not to stay at my home address if I didn’t need to, so I went to our cabin, the rest is made up of the media.
JVC: So far your actions seem to be successful in the respect that three pairs already are not allowed to play here, they don’t play here. And now 4 pairs, also Balicki-Zmudzinski but Poland is still playing. What is your feeling about that?
BB: Bad feeling. Because they say “ oh we don’t know anything happened” but I am of a totally different opinion and if you look at the evidences you will be quite…. If you are a good bridge player you know how to play at top level so it’s quite clear. I think to most people that something, whatever you call it, something is not good.
JVC: The authorities did not allow Balicki-Zmudzinski to play here in Chennai, they are probably convinced that you have enough evidence that there is something not correct or right and on the other hand Poland is still playing. Does it make sense?
BB: To me it makes totally no sense. When something happens everybody says “oh they need to withdraw”, but when something happens to themselves they need to make a sacrifice. Nobody wants to make a sacrifice, before it is totally totally necessary. And this is for Poland, like for the other teams like Israel, Monaco and Germany. They came to the point that they thought that was absolutely necessary for them to withdraw. There was pressure from bridge community for them to withdraw. And there is also pressure from the bridge community for Poland to withdraw but they have decided to play on and the WBF are not willing to step up and say OK this is intolerable. I think that at EBL they are working much better than it have been doing for a long while, they are trying to do something but they have to try to be even more tough on the WBF to get Poland off.
JVC: We will see if that happens. Now my last questions is: are there more players which you consider dubious, is there still more to come?
BB: We’ve got three cases in which someone tipped us anonymously: the Germans, Balicki-Zmudzinski and another case that was looked into. For a long time we couldn’t find any evidence, but since last night I think there also might be evidence against this last pair.
JVC: So there might be another pair. Are they here in Chennai?
BB: Yes, they are playing at the moment. From the European side that third pair is the last one that we have heard any whispers about or received any anonymous tips. For other zones I cannot say as much because we haven’t had any videos. In the material from Opatija we had both the hands, which are very important because I think the proof is in the pudding, and also the statistics that we have. For me you cannot say that someone cheats just based on statistics, but that is a very good way of seeing which pairs you should look into. We can see in the statistics that many of the pairs are just up there. That of course isn’t enough, we cannot just say they are cheating because of their statistics, we have to look at the hands. And also we had the possibility to check things that are not looking good against the videos. We could see if we could find out how are they get the information across.
JVC: Another last final question: who is “we” in your team?
BB: All the world, this is incredible. It’s amazing, just normal bridge players. Also Meike Mevius, really incredible. People from around the world are sending stuff and there is so much work. I’ve been working when I was at home during my holidays, 15 hours a day, sleeping 3 hours for 4-5 weeks and everything I did was only about these cases. They gave a very strong signal, they have nothing to lose. Meike, she has 2 children and she figured out the code after 2 minutes watching the video and sent everything to me and I sent to Ishmael Del Monte. And that’s it.
JVC: This is unprecedented in sports.
[English edition by Federica Buttò for Neapolitan Club]