Although the life is too short to hold grudges, I decided to preserve an incident from European Teams 2018, where the behaviour of our Polish opponents reached to depths unseen.
As we managed to deal with those
lying cheating bastards gentlemen of dubious
ethics in the best possible way – by beating them at the bridge table, fair and
square, I personally don’t care about it any much (though with more resolute TD’s
we could have overtaken Finland and Latvia on tournament table – but I have
never enjoyed beating friends and neighbours), especially when Poland didn’t
qualify for Bermuda Bowl – otherwise one can assume the Italians being quite pissed off, so the sole aim of this post is to forewarn my bridge playing
So here we go – Exhibit 1. ETC 2018, R15, Estonia vs Poland.
NS – Naber – Luks
EW – Jagniewski – Gawel
After two passes West opened 1NT, which was written on their CC as 13+ - 16. I doubled to show good hand and East bid 2♣ (showing diamonds). When the tray returned, West had bid 2♥ and all the auction proceeded as follows:
East South West North
pass pass 1NT DBL
2♣ pass 2♥ 2♠
pass pass DBL pass
3♣ 3♠ pass pass
4♦ pass 4♥ pass…
And before opening lead my screenmate called for TD and said that he suspects that other side had received different explanation.
Sure, he was right about the different explanations, Leo had said, that the DBL was showing one-suiter.
Why was that: while I read the opponents’ CC, Leo didn’t bother and just asked opponent about their NT range and got the answer „in VUL 14-16“.
And as it happens, we are playing different defenses against NT’s which include the option of 13 points vs those which start at 14. Though we had agreed beforehand that we take this 13+ as „weak NT“ and I even had used on a previous board (nr 3) corresponding methods.
As you can see, the contract was unbeatable, so the Poles had reached to the best possible outcome, so they couldn’t complain. I gave matter a little thought and figured out, that they had stumbled to the right contract by accident, which was direct result of their mis-explanation of their methods, otherwise they can’t get the heart suit on picture and either they’ll play 3♦ or 4♦ or we’ll play 3♠.
So I let my screenmate know that I would like to discuss the board again with TD after the match, he shrugged and said „OK“. When the last board was over, I went to find the TD, expecting him to accompany me, but as it happened, he opted for walking away rather quickly. Anyway, I presented my case to TD and went home.
As it happened, next morning the Poles flatly denied everything, saying that they haven’t explained to Leo such thing as 14-16 (there were no written evidence); and as for me, I should understand from their CC, that they are playing 14-16NT with occasional upgrades, which I won’t buy: 13+ may be „occasional upgrade“ but it may be „if i want to, i open 13 points in NT, if not, then something else“. So basically TD decided, that the matter was word against word and the result stands, especially when it was unclear if reaching to the best contract was influenced by explanation. Like we would have conjured the case out of the blue.... Especially considering one of Polish, admittedly the other pair's upgrade on another board, which appeared on 14.06. Daily Bulletin, page 19:
By the way, that pair's system card states (13)14-16, which in my book is more corresponding with "occasional upgrade".
OK, unpleasant behavior and bad sportsmanship are sadly not uncommon among the top bridge players (see for example Multon vs Iceland: same Daily Bulletin, page 30) and we can live with the decision, but the opponents in other table went even further, entering to the zone of outright cheating.
Exhibit 2. ETC 2018, R15, Estonia vs Poland.
NS – Narkiewicz – Buras
EW – Levenko – Sester
The board is quite dull, almost whole field made game in spades with occasional sacrifices in 5♣. 15 declarers (out of 32) got a diamond lead and made 11 or 12 tricks – with only exception of Estonian declarer. How that happened (I wasn’t there, so i rely on my teammates’ story):
Sven took the diamond lead and played two top spades – and after ♠J didn’t come down went back to diamonds – and discovering that the same defender had length in both diamonds and spades claimed that if ♥K is onside, he’ll make 12, if not 11 tricks.
The guy with bridgemate entered 10 tricks.
By the time we discovered the difference, there was no Polish guy around, so again we presented the matter to TD. Next morning the Polish guys put the tactics „play dead and deny everything“ again to good use. When Sven was trying to speak with Narkiewicz, he was greeted with „I don’t want to talk to you“ and the guy ran away; when confronting Buras, he was told „I must speak with my partner“ and later „he didn’t agree, we think you didn’t discard a club from dummy“. As it went to the Directors, they again decided that it’s a case of word against word and if we don’t come to agreement, the result entered stands – despite overwhelming evidence that any declarer worth his salt would make 11 tricks on the board (and looking at the results, we are not so hapless bridge players).
So what’s the bottom line:
* Check the results! Though there shouldn’t and usually there is no problem with coming to agreement (f.e. against Germany they accepted the wrong trick count right away, though they were quite angry to us – well, to our other pair – on the different matter), against certain countries you can assume ugly tricks.
* Don’t allow the opponents walk away in the hope to settle the things later. I wouldn’t be surprised, if Polish tactics to vanish and later deny everything were something pre-rehearsed, it does look very suspicious that both pairs took a quick walk away from premises.
*Don’t expect protection from Directors (maybe it’s different for bigger NBOs) – even when all things are clearly pointing to one direction (in ex. 1: clearly we know what we are playing against 1NT, having made different overcall before; in ex. 2: clearly every even moderately competent declarer takes 11 tricks), they don’t have the guts do call out blatant liers.