A DEVIOUS PRACTICE ……
For those of you who have not read (or do not remember) Bobby’s candid recall of days gone by in
“The Lone Wolff,” I’d like to focus on an unbelievably clever way of raping one’s opponents in such a clandestine manner and .. had Bobby not gotten wind of it .. it might still be in existence. This is an excerpt from Chapter XV – leading up to the subject story which I find absolutely fascinating in a gross sort of way.
“…….Professionals make many positive contributions to the game. That said, there are some dark sides to that scene, particularly at levels where the pressure to win seems overwhelming and success, at any cost, is the singular objective!”
“There have long been stories of pros meeting each other in the restrooms during tournaments to exchange information. Player A has already played Boards 7 and 8, for example, and he knows that every card is lying right for a 25-point grand slam on Board 7. It’s too late for Player A, but not for Player B, who hasn’t played Board 7 yet. Player B, meanwhile, knows that on another deal, a heart lead rather than the normal spade lead will defeat 3NT, so that information gets passed along. The matchpoints gained from these kinds of exchanges could be he different between third in the section and first – or even several places in the overall standings. This is reprehensible, but some competitors will give in to the pressure to win, especially when they are playing with weak players, and will look for whatever edge they can latch onto.”
“In the mid-nineties, I learned about another disgusting ‘technique,’ a private, surreptitious arrangement between contending teams: deliberately reporting incorrect scores, resulting in massive tampering with Victory Points For about a year or so, some of the professionals had been participating in a scheme amongst themselves, making deals that only the most devious of minds could have concocted. Here’s how it was pulled off.”
“Let us say two teams play in the late stages of a Swiss Event – not unlikely because the pros can be found at most tournaments during the year – and both are in contention to win. The top three or four teams, for example, might be bunched up within 3 or 4 Victory Points of each other, possibly a little more. With a 30-point VP scale (or even in the 20-point scale), there’s a lot of room for movement on the final round and the standings can change radically between the penultimate and the last round, depending upon the margins of victory.”
“The expected scenario is that you are likely to be playing one of the top several teams in the event on the final round. You have to be pretty darned lucky to be still in contention if you aren’t a tough team to start with.”
“Anyway, in the final stages of such an event, if two contending teams are playing each other, it probably won’t help either side if the outcome is a close win by one of them. All it would take to knock them both out of contention would be to split the Victory Points. For example, on a 30-point scale, a tie results in 15 VPs for each side. If it’s a two point win, the split is 19-11 – still not great for either team if there are several contenders with a shot at the victory.”
“So the deal was this – whoever won when two “friendly” teams played each other, NO MATTER WHAT THE MARGIN, the loser signed off on a score ticket that indicated a blitz. The next time, it might be the other team that won and got the benefit. What benefit, you might ask? You must be kidding! Well, if you’re a pro, how much better is it going to be for you if you can help your client garner first place rather than fifth or sixth? Won’t your client be more inclined to hire you again if you win 35 or 40 gold points than if you win 6 or 7? That’s all you would get if your team ended way down on the overall list.”
“The unscrupulous creators of this ruse named it ‘DOUBLE IMPS’. It was sickening to think about all the teams that were screwed – teams that were playing honestly. And who wouldn’t be upset to find that their second-place finish really should have been first and that they were jobbed out of it by a phony blitz on the last round? I felt that the perpetrators should be in jail, but I also felt that I had an opportunity to nip this thing in the bud. I was less interested in punishing the criminals than I was in just ending the practice.”
“To this day, I don’t know who started it, but I’m 99% sure it’s not going on any more. I learned the names of some of the principal characters, and at the next NABC I looked up one of the players involved in the scheme and took him aside. ‘I know what’s been going on with the Double IMPs,’ I said. ‘If this continues, I’m going to try to run you out of bridge.’ People who know me have no doubt about my sincerity and that I don’t make idle promises or threats. I’m serious in matters of this sort, and the person I was talking to had every reason to believe I would follow up on my threat. Individuals with larceny in their souls will do as much as they feel the can get away with, but if the heat is turned up and their livelihoods are threatened, they’ll toe the line. They may do it begrudgingly, but they will behave. The potential loss of earning can be a very cogent argument for conformance!….”
SO MUCH FOR DOUBLE IMPS.