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‘Dirty Tricks’ brings back memories of 1975 cheating incident

Figure 1

I watched the documentary Dirty Tricks last week, which is about a cheating scandal at the very top of the bridge world involving a player who at the time was considered one of the best in the game.

It is a riveting story at times, and hugely sad at other times, when it sinks in that the pair in question have been handed a lifetime ban from a game that they lived and breathed for almost all their lives starting from an early age.

There is a lot of factual information and a lot of opinion from some of the great players in the game, such as Bobby Levin and Fred Gitelman. It is certainly worth watching if you have access to Showtime or a black box.

Bridge at the top level in face-to-face play is now hugely clean compared to the 70s and 80s, and the introduction of screens, bidding boxes and foot barriers have all played a major part in cleaning it up. In top-level games one now cannot see one’s partner, as there is a diagonal screen across the table and one cannot hear partner as bids are not spoken but bidding cards are placed in a box — so physical signals, voice inflections, etc, are a thing of the past.

There is also a footstool under the table to guard against what happened in the Bermuda Bowl World Championship which was held in Bermuda in 1975, where one player held his feet steady under the table while partner basically used his feet to type out Morse code – I kid you not!

I was “monitoring” in one room and the cheating was discovered by two monitors in the other room, including one of our local players, Tracy Denninger. It was a major scandal at the time and the American team immediately refused to play the next round but were finally persuaded to play after the “foot soldier” pair were “rested”. It was an interesting event, to say the least.

This week’s hand is all about thinking ahead and taking your time at trick one (see Figure 1).

South opened 1 diamond and soon found himself playing the small slam in diamonds — West led the Queen of spades.

So — a couple of hints before you tackle the play – firstly, think ahead, and secondly, think back to a few columns ago where I covered the Morton’s Fork, where a defender is handed two options, both losing ones.

Ready? The key here is to ruff the first spade and not use one of the high honours from dummy as you do not really have a useful discard to make – at trick two South leads a low heart and West is, there are many words I can use here, in an impossible situation.

If he ducks, declarer wins the Queen, draws trumps and both remaining hearts go away on the top two spades – now declarer can take the club finesse for an overtrick but settles for 12 tricks.

So, West must take the Ace but declarer is still ahead – win any return, cash the heart Queen, draw trumps and now pitch a club from dummy on the heart King. Now declarer’s losing club can be ruffed in dummy – once again, 12 tricks.

Go back to trick one – if you win the spade in dummy, no matter what you discard from hand will allow the defenders to beat you – try it!


Friday, February 18


1. Molly Taussig – Charles Hall

2. Elysa Burland – Magda Farag

3. Pat Colmet – Julia Beach


1. Inger Mesna – John Rayner

2. Marge Way – Jane Smith

3. Wendy Gray – Richard Gray

Monday, February 21


1. Donna Leitch – Kathleen Keane

2. Elysa Burland – Greta Marshall

3. Charles Hall – John Rayner


1. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

2. Tracy Nash – Des Nash

3. Dorry Lusher – Joe Wakefield

Tuesday, February 22

1. Richard Keane – Nick Jones

2. Malcolm Moseley – Mark Stevens

3. Janice Bucci – Angela McKittrick

Wednesday, February 23


1. Molly Taussig – Tony Saunders

2. Lynanne Bolton – Greta Marshall

3. Wendy Gray – Richard Gray


1. Marge Way – Charles Hall

2. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

3. Joyce Pearson – Heather Woolf

Thursday, February 24

1. Gertie Barker – Lynanne Bolton

2. Linda Pollett – Jane Smith

3. Stephanie Kyme – Charles Hall

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Published February 26, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated February 25, 2022 at 11:39 am)

‘Dirty Tricks’ brings back memories of 1975 cheating incident

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