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World's top-ranked contract bridge player suspended for doping

Discussion in 'General Sports' started by charlieoscar, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    "As announced Thursday by the World Bridge Federation, Geir Helgemo was suspended for one year after he tested positive for synthetic testosterone and Clomiphene, a fertility drug that accelerates testosterone production in men, after September’s World Bridge Series in Orlando. The WBF said Helgemo — a Norwegian-born player who now competes for Monaco — admitted to doping and accepted his suspension, which ends Nov. 20."

    "Because the WBF is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, it must follow the IOC’s anti-doping policies, hence the drug testing after major competitions."

    "The sedentary world of top-level bridge has somehow been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s radar for years. WADA’s 2016 summary of that year’s drug-test results found that 22 percent of the doping tests done on bridge players came back positive, up from 3.6 percent in 2014. Most of the 2016 positives were for 'diuretics and other masking agents,' though one was for 'anabolic agents.'" --Washington Post, Mar 1, 2019
     
  2. Ale Xander

    Ale Xander Member SoSH Member

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    Seriously? Who cares? It's bridge, not bridge climbing.
     
  3. djbayko

    djbayko Member SoSH Member

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    What's going on here exactly? Is this basically saying that roughly 22% of the general population would also fail stringent doping tests because we're not exactly watching what we take in and possibly have medications which are on the list? I'm assuming no significant link between bridge and PEDs.
     
  4. luckiestman

    luckiestman Son of the Harpy SoSH Member

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    I bet they are taking banned substances on purpose hoping to beat the test.
     
  5. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    I played Contract Bridge quite seriously for about 25 years and I have no idea why players would be doping. Could it be that some think there is a pill or combination that improves mental capacity or concentration? I certainly found some trying to cheat but if you figure out their method, it benefits you more than them. I just thought it rather amusing to learn that world-class players were being tested.
     
  6. Bob Montgomery's Helmet Hat

    Bob Montgomery's Helmet Hat has big, douchey shoulders Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    31,099
  7. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    17,374
    Wait...like the card game? Bwahahaha
     
  8. snowmanny

    snowmanny Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Those cards don't lift themselves
     
  9. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    You don't hold your cards any more. They are placed in a rack in front of you...I think to stop the possibility of signaling by the way they are held (finger positioning).
     
  10. LogansDad

    LogansDad Member SoSH Member

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    16,505
    Bit it's a card game...

    Oh, never mind. This tells me all I need to know right here.

    The Russian gymnasts are cool, though, right?
     
  11. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    I know people who have played bridge very seriously.... :)

    It probably has something to do with recovery. Tournament sessions are no joke.
     
  12. trekfan55

    trekfan55 Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    This has to be the funniest story I have ever read. I was looking for an Onion link.
     
  13. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    That's what my wife said when she showed me the story.
     
  14. oumbi

    oumbi Member SoSH Member

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    Some people seem to care for the same reason many other people care about other things.

    NOT YOUR GRANDMA'S GAME
    Million-Dollar Hobby: Inside the World of Big-Money Bridge
    https://observer.com/2013/11/million-dollar-hobby-inside-the-world-of-big-money-bridge/

    MAKING IT IN BIG-TIME BRIDGE
    https://www.nytimes.com/1987/07/26/magazine/making-it-in-big-time-bridge.html

    High rollers foot the bill for bridge pros
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/high-rollers-foot-the-bill-for-bridge-pros/article1215566/
     
  15. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    This is an article about cheating by top-ranked bridge players from Newsweek, 23 Sep 2015. It's long but some of you might find it interesting. A short part is: "“Bridge is the easiest game in the world at which to cheat,” says Kit Woolsey, a highly accomplished bridge and backgammon player who has written extensively on both games, “because you’ve got a partner and you can signal.” His father was my bridge partner for a while.
     
  16. djbayko

    djbayko Member SoSH Member

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    I immediately wondered about this when I read your previous post about not holding the cards anymore due to signaling. People must come up with some pretty sophisticated ways of signaling each other. Because it has to not only work but also be undetectable...or at least indecipherable.

    I think back to playing friendly games of pitch in college, trying to send ESP vibes to my playing partner and thinking to myself that we should have worked out a signaling system before the game.
     
    #16 djbayko, Mar 3, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  17. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    Ages ago when I was in the military, we would play double-deck pinochle in the barracks for a nickel a point, so much a game, and so much a set. A game went to 500 points (or overage) and the pints were determined by subtracting however many the losers made from that total. This pair beat us one day, surprisingly though until I realized they were signaling suit holdings by the way the held their card. So, after losing a bit. I made an excuse to cut the game short and when I got a chance, I told my partner what had happened and said we'd get even. Since I could tell what their suit distributions were and I knew mine, I could tell what my partner's was. It was easy to get the pair to overbid and set them so we ended up winning games by close to 1000 points. It didn't take long for them to quit and never challenge us again and the one that owed me ended up asking if I would accept his Nikon 35mm camera in lieu of cash.

    If you are going to cheat, you had better be able to outsmart your opponents.
     
  18. djbayko

    djbayko Member SoSH Member

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    I was fascinated by the article you posted, so I did some further research on YouTube and other sources. I'm astounded by how brazen some of the cheating was. The constant coughing. The obvious placement of the board in different positions - like, it was sometimes so far away from the middle of the table, that it would be annoying. Sure, it's a lot easier for me to say this with full hindsight. But while I understand that it might take a lot of work to break the actual code, I'm slightly shocked that players didn't know right away that something was going on based on these strange actions alone. Especially in a game that all players know is so susceptible to team cheating. I'd be watching everyone like a hawk.
     
  19. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    I think the first cheating I came across in bridge was Pass/I Pass, where a player would say one or the other depending on what he held. The meaning could be varied depending on when it was used in a bidding sequence and what the sequence had been. Not surprisingly, this was picked up and a rule imposed on players that one must always say one or the other but could not use both phrases. And today, there are rules about the tempo in bidding, drawing out words, etc., that didn't exist when I first started playing.
     
  20. DanoooME

    DanoooME Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I've played bridge, but double-deck pinochle is the best game on the planet.
     
  21. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    I grew up playing single-deck pinochle; it wasn't until I joined the USAF that I got rid of all those nines. But I prefer bridge.
     
  22. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    Nice humblebrag, though not sure how many people reading this thread get it. :)

    You might be interested in this 2018 article trying to prove that the "great" Italian Blue Team cheated its way to success: https://bridgewinners.com/article/print/the-talk-that-never-was-the-blue-team-rule/.
     
  23. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    I played Auction Bridge when I was growing up and one day on my second overseas assignment (Italy) the pinochle game I was playing in at the Airman's Club ended and just after that I heard someone call out, "We need a fourth for bridge." So I hastened over to that table and proceeded to play auction bridge while the other three were playing contract bridge (that was soon straightened out). They were bridge playing fanatics and when their fourth roommate soon shipped out, I switched rooms and we played a lot of bridge (occasionally with two tables going on). This was at a time when the Italians were dominating the game and I started following their bidding systems (Roman Club, Neapolitan Club).

    I do recall the use of screens in world championships to preclude cheating but as for the article you mention, I have some reservations about how well it proves cheating. The author makes some suppositions based on looking at all four hands. If there has only been one suit bid, you don't have many clues as to what the best opening lead may be; if you can see all four hands, then you can tell what you should lead. Also, Roman Club is an extremely difficult, artificial bidding system and you might have a hand that only marginally fits a particular opening bid or response, so you are forced to choose the best available bid. That could explain some things that the author believes to be cheating. I'm not saying there was no cheating but it has been about 50 years since I played that bidding system and I can no longer re-analyze each hand.
     

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