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Cheaters Never Win! ... Or Do They?

Written by Rick Archer
October 2014


The 1993 HBO movie titledAnd the Band Played On dealt with the early days of AIDS - the denial, the confusion, the mystery, the horror.   

Many things about the movie disturbed me greatly, but there was a subplot that has never left my mind.  To me, the most disturbing part of the movie were the strong allegations that an American doctor working for the National Institute of Health tried to steal credit for the discovery of the AIDS virus. 

The movie made it clear that while people were dying left and right, Robert Gallo, a prominent medical researcher took advantage of the findings of French scientists to suddenly proclaim the AIDS virus had been his discovery all along.  

As I watched the movie depict this man's pathetic grab for glory, I could not help but think of all the people in the world who try to get ahead by climbing the shoulders of other people who are trying to do the right thing.  

I have long been fascinated with ethics and morals.  Two years ago I wrote a long article about Joe Paterno, a childhood hero of mine.   After extensive research, I came away totally convinced that Paterno allowed a Minotaur-like monster named Jerry Sandusky to systematically use his Penn State connections to lure little boys into locker room showers.  By turning a blind eye to one warning after another, well over a dozen poor little boys saw their lives ruined by the monster. 

It was more important to Joe Paterno… a man who had spent his entire career proclaiming his moral virtue…  to protect his own lofty reputation and career than to do the right thing.   I came away from the story full of disgust.

The ethical lapses that took place in the AIDS situation had similarities to the Paterno situationThere are people in this world who will always put themselves above others in their drive to 'win'.

I wonder if the human race will ever learn to work for the common good.  


“Cheaters never win.”

That axiom has been drilled into most people since from the moment they could speak. 

I don’t know about you, but I am not so sure I believe that is true.  I would imagine ‘cheating’ improves one’s odds of winning dramatically.  That explains why there are so many cheaters in the world. 

I think a lot of it boils down to one’s conscience.  Some people feel remorse if they commit a crime, some people could care less.  I am sure the same thing could be said about cheaters.

I once cheated on a German test in high school.  I was mad that they made us memorize the names of famous German authors.  I was taking German to learn how to speak it, not some German Lit class.  How stupid was that?  That’s what I had an encyclopedia for.  So I just copied the names down and saved myself ten minutes of memorization.

At the end of the year, I was given the award as the best German student in the school.  And all I could think about as I accepted the award was that I had cheated on that test.  It was a hollow victory indeed.  I could not get those thoughts out of my head.  I was crestfallen to realize I had cheated myself out of the pride I deserved to feel.   I learned a valuable lesson. 

However, like I said, not everyone has a conscience. 


Business Ethics

Cheating in the business world goes on all the time.  People talk about “business ethics”.   How utterly absurd.   People cheat in the business world any time they think they can get away with it.  

One way people cheat in business is by not paying their bills.  Another way people cheat in business is spying on their competitors.  Some companies don’t think twice about tricking their stockholders by publishing false reports.  Think Enron.  And of course many bigwigs use insider information to milk the stock market.

“Business ethics.”  Give me a break.  The only thing that stops most people from cheating is the fear of being caught.

It really does seem that ethics in business have fallen to an all-time low.  I once noticed a blurb in Time Magazine that said “24% of Wall Street executives say that illegal or unethical conduct may be necessary to be successful in finance.” 

I think that statistic vastly underestimates the truth of the matter.  There’s an old saying… “I’m just one stiff drink from telling you what I really think.” 

Give those same Wall Street executives a few stiff drinks and my hunch is that percentage would quickly rise well above “24%”.  

People cheat to succeed in their careers all the time.   Pyramid schemes, lying on resumes, selling company secrets, hacking, income tax evasion, shell companies to avoid taxes, defaulting on business contracts, non-payment of bills, insider trading... the list is endless what people will do to 'succeed' in the business world.


Rick Archer's Note: Here is a comprehensive article that explains the controversy between Montagnier and Gallo.

Who Discovered HIV?

By Lisa Rainey
06 July 2006

The origin of AIDS has presented numerous puzzles to scientists since the first recognized cases appeared in the early 1980s.

Until 1984 its cause was the subject of fierce debate. Scientists, public health authorities and gay community leaders blamed everything from a promiscuous flight attendant to a suspect experiment involving the clotting factor given to hemophiliacs.

Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo

No one could be sure what the true origin was.

There was a possibility later proven to be the case that a handful of cases known in 1981 were the first of many, that an infectious agent was responsible.  At the time, health experts had no idea how rapidly the disease was spreading. It so happened that the new syndrome exceeded their worst fears.

That report produced a crescendo of activity by researchers. And in the search for the cause of AIDS, two labs and the titanic egos of the men that ran them took center stage.

Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris and Dr. Anthony Gallo of the National Cancer Institute in Washington both raced to find the cause of the disease.

On January 23, 1983, Montagnier found a suspect virus he called LAV (Lymphadenopathy Associated Virus). Montagnier published his findings in May 1983 so that other researchers could test his results, a standard procedure.

In July, the Pasteur Institute sent a sample of LAV to Gallo. Another sample of LAV was sent in September, and by December, Gallo’s lab was successfully cultivating LAV.

But Gallo had his own theory of what caused AIDS. A few years earlier, in his search for the cause of cancer, Gallo had discovered two retroviruses that looked similar, which he called HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 (Human T-cell Leukemia Virus). In December 1983, he submitted a paper for publication proposing the theory that an HTLV-type retrovirus was the cause of AIDS.

Then, on April 23, 1984, Margaret Heckler, the secretary of health and human services, announced that Gallo had isolated the virus which caused AIDS, that it was named HTLV-III, and that there would soon be a commercially available test able to detect the virus with “essentially 100 percent certainty.”

Dr. Gallo stood before the press conference at the National Cancer Institute to announce that he had discovered the virus. What he neglected to mention was that Montagnier had also identified what turned out to be the same virus. The two institutes had previously shared samples; they agreed to publish together and even make a joint announcement. But when the press got wind of the news, the NCI felt compelled to proceed without the French.

“If I could relive those days, I wish they had been at the press conference,” Gallo said. “I was a little swept away.” 

At the press conference, Gallo showed pictures of HTLV-III. But it didn’t look anything like HTLV-1 or HTLV-2, and it was hard to see how they could be of the same family. As it turned out, the picture of HTLV-3 was actually a picture of the LAV virus sent to Gallo by Montagnier.

The cause of AIDS had been discovered by Gallo. Or was it?

The French didn’t think so. The picture of Gallo’s HTLV-3 was indisputably a picture of Montagnier’s LAV virus.

On the same day Gallo announced that he had found the cause of AIDS, he filed a U.S. patent application for a blood test that would detect signs of the virus in people.

By May 17, private companies were already applying for licenses to develop a commercial test that would detect evidence of the virus in blood. In addition to its usefulness for patients, a test was wanted to screen the nation’s supply of donated blood.

In 1985, a blood test, ELISA, became available that measures antibodies to HIV, which thereby detects the body’s immune response to HIV. This blood test remains the primary method for diagnosing HIV infection.

But there was also considerable and often acrimonious controversy, including accusations that Gallo improperly used a sample of HIV produced at the Pasteur Institute.

And so began a three-year, high-level diplomatic negotiation between the U.S. and France.

The controversy which would embroil the American scientist’s career for almost the next decade began when the United States government denied the French scientists a patent for the AIDS test and awarded one to Gallo’s team instead. The patent would be worth about $100 million a year in sales and $100,000 personally to Gallo.    (click here for
Complete Story)

All’s Fair in Love and War... or is it?

There’s cheating in romance.  That goes on all the time. 

I suppose some women can be just as guilty as men, but my experience is that "men" do the preponderance of the cheating.

Like 99% of the human race, I have been cheated on.  The first time it happened, I was beyond devastated.  I was so badly blind-sided that it took me years to recover my confidence.

However, as our good buddy Friederick Nietzsche would say, "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I survived and became much wiser for the experience.

Knowing how much pain I felt, I have been reluctant to inflict a similar blow to the women I have cared about.  Thanks to a strong conscience, I have always made it a point to not lie to women.  Unfortunately I cannot say the same for my fellow man.

Rick's Note: 
The following is an interesting article on the subject of cheating. 

Three men got together and wrote a manual on how to cheat on women.  A female writer named Anka Radakovich reviewed the book and wrote this article for British GQ in October 2013. 

Oh, Come All Ye Faithless

Written by Anka Radakovich
British GQ

For anyone dying to cheat, thinking about cheating or just wondering how other people cheat, a new book has been published telling you how to do it without getting caught. Cheat: A Man's Guide To Infidelity (Simon & Schuster, £18) is written by three stand-up comics and admitted "scumbag cheaters" who will teach you how to cheat successfully. "We're not telling you that you should cheat," say Bill Burr, Joe DeRosa, and Robert Kelly, "We're telling you how to cheat. But if you do get caught cheating, don't start whining that 'the book made me do it'."

As a single woman reading this book, my big question is: if you spend so much time coming up with elaborate strategies to cheat, why don't you just break up or get a divorce? The rationale of the men who wrote the book goes like this: "This is information you need, especially in these harsh times when... demands of forty grand a month in child support... [is] not considered highway robbery." (When I interviewed married men who cheated with married women on a "married but dating" website and asked why they didn't get a divorce I got the same response: "She'll get half my income, the house, the kids, and the dog.")

The book is written both for married men who want to cheat on their wives and for single men who want to cheat on their girlfriends and put other girls on the "rotation". The authors warn that there is anywhere from a low to a high possibility of getting caught, so getting busted is "part of the game" and the high stakes "makes a caper so god-damn exciting". The three veteran cheaters have come up with a step-by-step guide through the entire process of cheating, from "choosing your mark" to keeping the glitter out of your pubes.

The first step in the process is "letting go of shame and guilt". The second is "avoiding the truth". To get into cheating mode they recommend saying out loud, "Cheating is not my fault." They also recommend being totally honest about your dishonesty with the person you are cheating with. Suggested dialogue would be "I'm already in a relationship, but it's 'damaged' and not doing well." Then if she agrees to have sex with you, you cut her off afterwards and tell her that your girlfriend found out and is now mad at you. This avoids the drama of your new girlfriend finding out and hitting your car with a baseball bat.

Other cheating tips include using Facebook "to troll for some ass", keeping your mouth shut, avoiding witnesses, such as nosy neighbours and doormen, and never ever bringing your cheat back to your place because your girlfriend or wife could find a hair extension or the dreaded "lone earring" in your bed.

The book also goes into detail on how to negotiate Asian massage parlours, escort services ("the last resort"), "casino whores" in Las Vegas, brothels in Nevada, and "women of the night" in Rio: "Take a cab everywhere, know the place you are going to before your go... [or] have the girl come to you. If you do all that, you should have one of the most amazing times of your sexual life in Rio de Janeiro, otherwise known, to the truly deviant, as the Motherland."

Halfway through reading the book I had a horrifying revelation. On more than one occasion, unbeknownst to me, I have been what the authors refer to as "side puss" - just as I thought things were going well in my exciting new "relationship", the guy disappeared. This was confusing at the time, especially because one guy told me I "was the best sex he ever had" and that I gave him "the best BJ of his entire life". The authors' recommended way to cut things off is to "just disappear". No more phone calls, texts or emails. "Be ice cold," they say. "Wow. We're assholes."

Texting is the communication of choice for the major cheater. "A great time to... set up a cheat," they report, "is while you're watching a sporting event on TV. Your girl will think you're texting your 'bro' about the game, when you're really setting up some ass."

They also tell you who not to cheat with: the chick at work "[because] it will eventually dawn on you that if this girl wants to, she can call your girlfriend and tell her everything"; the chick at the gym "because you are definitely going to see her again"; your girlfriend's roommate or best friend; your neighbour; and a married woman "[because] her husband [could] burst into the room and shoot her through your back".

Near the end of the book they concede that "a relationship is over the second the trust is gone", and that you are cheating because you are missing the passion and sex you deserve in a relationship. That's when they suggest using the "Romantic Cheater" method and saying to your cheat, "'I haven't felt this way in a long time.' Translation: 'I want to put my penis in your mouth and then f*** you in the backseat of my Chevy and then go home to the woman I love.'"

After reading a book about how men can cheat the right way (like Frank Sinatra) and avoid doing it the wrong way (like Arnold Schwarzenegger) I now have to order four more books just to recover:

 Is He Cheating On You? 829 Telltale Signs
 Spying On Your Spouse: A Guide For Anyone Who Suspects A Partner Is Cheating
 The 30-Day Love Detox: Cleanse Yourself Of Bad Boys, Cheaters, And Men Who Won't Commit
 and the book I will read first... Dump His Ass


Charles Van Doren

There seems to be plenty of cheating when large sums of money are involved.  One of my favorite movies, Quiz Show, details the story of how a remarkably talented man, Charles Van Doren, was persuaded by the directors of the TV show Twenty One into cheating.

The film chronicles the Twenty One quiz show scandals of the 1950s.  It focuses primarily on the rise and fall of popular contestant Charles Van Doren after the rigged loss of Herb Stempel, who was extremely bitter over his fate. 

Stempel was brilliant, but not very sexy.  He was ordered to lose.  It didn’t help his ego that his successor Charles Van Doren was so handsome and charming.  The ratings when Van Doren was on were astronomical.   Van Doren won several times in a row strictly on merit.  However, once his popularity kicked in, the producers could not bear the thought of Van Doren ever losing.

Consequently, they began to feed him the correct answers before the show even started.  The producers were just as much a bunch of crooks as Van Doren was for cheating.   Only one problem – Stempel was furious at getting the short end of the stick, so he went out and found someone to investigate.  Congressional investigator Richard Goodwin's subsequent probe revealed the truth and exposed Van Doren.

Charles Van Doren was the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, literary critic and educator Mark Van Doren.  There is a scene at the end of the movie where Charles Van Doren has to face his father, a man who was famous in his own right, with the truth.  The disappointment written on the face of Van Doren’s illustrious father is so profound that I would never want to get stuck in a similar situation for all the marbles in the world.   The father’s expression of pain told the story – here was a son so smart he didn’t need to cheat, but he did it anyway. 

Charles Van Doren was now forced to endure both the most excruciating public humiliation and private humiliation imaginable.  And, unfortunately, Van Doren appeared to have a conscience.  In his case, it is definitely true that cheaters never win… especially when they are caught! 


Money is the Root of all Evil

Back in 2001 over in the United Kingdom, a man named Charles Ingram cheated on the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and won a million pounds for his efforts.  Only one problem – he got caught.   After originally winning £1,000,000, the prize was cancelled after it was revealed that Ingram had cheated his way through most of the questions.

Ingram’s secret was to name all four choices aloud and wait for confederates in the audience to cough after the correct answer.   Since the show was taped, once the allegation of cheating was raised, both video and audio replays confirmed the systematic cheating.   TaTa to the big prize.  

However, it is a little more difficult to judge the value of cheating for those who are not caught, isn’t it?   Maybe those cheaters do win. 


Leona Helmsley


It would be interesting to hear the story of a cheater who “got away with it”, but rumor has it that people who ‘get away with it’ have a disappointing habit of keeping their mouth shut.   ‘Silence’ seems to be one of the ways people get away with it.  What a shame because we lose out on some great stories that way.

And then there are others who just can’t seem to keep their mouth shut.  They try to get away with it, but their ego is so huge that they think they can say and do whatever they want without consequence. 

They act like they are above the law.  The rules don’t seem to apply to them.  One famous example of someone whose big mouth prevented her from ‘cheating and getting away with it’ would be Leona Helmsley.  ‘Cheating’ was at the very core of her personality.

Gordon Gekko, the sinister inside trader in the movie Wall Street, was a fictional symbol of the “Greed is Good” ethos of the Eighties.

For people who preferred a living, breathing embodiment of the same ethos, they had Leona Helmsley, the legendary Queen of Mean.

Leona Helmsley’s trial in 1989 for tax evasion was a delicious toast to the decade of decadence,

Helmsley’s big mouth offered up for the average person the guilty pleasure of watching the Queen of Mean, outrageous, nasty, and entitled, take a precipitous fall from the penthouse to pen house.  Imagine the blow of being forced to swap a 10,000-square-foot Park Lane penthouse for a prison cell.  Talk about mental cruelty!   And here we thought there were laws preventing cruel and unusual punishment.  Guess not in Queen Leona’s case.

Helmsley was a famous New York real estate mogul who lived the American Dream.  Her early story was taken straight out of a rags to riches saga. 

In fact, if she wasn’t so downright cruel, Helmsley could have been someone we admired.  She was a person who got somewhere by hard work, savvy career moves, good looks, and sleeping with the right married men.

Leona Helmsley was richer than King Midas and lived high and mighty.  Too bad she had to spend 18 months in prison.  That definitely rained on her parade. 

Leona was a divorced sewing factory worker with mouths to feed before she met and married real estate tycoon Harry Helmsley (the fact that he was already married mattered little).

In 1980, Harry named his wife Leona as the president of his opulent Helmsley Palace Hotel.  Helmsley ruled her domain like a despot.  Her tendency to explode at employees for the smallest infraction earned her the title "Queen of Mean."  Her employees feared her so much that they actually developed a warning system to announce her impending presence.

The slightest mistake – a crooked lampshade, unseen dust under a desk, a discarded toothpick in the corner - was considered grounds for firing.  In the process, Helmsley was known to shout insults and obscenities at targeted employees just before they were terminated.  It wasn’t enough for Helmsley to pick on underlings too intimidated to speak back, she wanted to make sure they were humiliated in the process.

Leona Helmsley was clearly a bully of the worst sort.  But she had a fatal flaw.  Helmsley was not only arrogant, she had an obsession with avoiding taxes. 

Helmsley once purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry from Van Cleef & Arpels, but said she preferred not to pay sales tax.  So she persuaded two senior store officers to let her walk out with the jewels without paying thousands of dollars in New York City tax.  The officers got around charging her the city taxby recording it as an out-of-state purchase.  To cover their tracks, they mailed empty boxes to her out-of-state address.

Only one problem.  The officers were under careful surveillance.  Caught up in a sting involving these two employees, Helmsley received immunity for testifying against the jewelry-store employees.  They went to jail and she went scot free.

In 1988, Leona and Harry were indicted for a smorgasbord of crimes, including tax fraud, mail fraud, and extortion.   Despite the Helmsleys' tremendous wealth (net worth well over a billion dollars), they were known for disputing payments to contractors and vendors.

One of these disputes would prove to be their undoing.

In 1983 the Helmsleys bought Dunnellen Hall, a 26-room mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, to use as a weekend retreat. The property cost $11 million, but the Helmsleys wanted to make it even more luxurious than it had been before.  They spared no expense.

In the process, they made two mistakes.  First, the Helmsleys were very reluctant to pay their astronomical bills.   The remodeling bill came to $8 million, which the Helmsleys were loath to pay. They felt like they had been overcharged and taken advantage of.  Mind you, these people were worth over a billion, but they had a large frugal streak especially when it came at other people’s expense.  After all, a million saved is a million saved.  I suppose everything is relative.

A group of contractors had no choice but to sue the Helmsleys for non-payment; the Helmsleys eventually had no choice but to pay off most of the debt whether they wanted to or not.

Their other mistake was to pretend that their remodeling bills were “business-related”.  They had extravagant items installed such as a million-dollar marble dance floor, a swimming pool, a $210,000 mahogany card table, a $130,000 stereo system and $500,000 worth of jade art objects.  These were personal items, but they were billed to the Helmsleys' hotels as ‘business expenses’. 

Only one problem.  Some of the contractors that Mrs. Helmsley tried to stiff decided to play a dirty trick.  The contractors sent a stack of the falsified invoices to the New York Post to prove that the Helmsleys were trying to avoid tax liabilities.  

Think about the stupidity involved here.  First you pressure your contractors to fill out false invoices.  You want their loyalty to keep quiet, yes?  But instead you cause these contractors untold grief when they asked to be reimbursed for their work.  Hmm. 

The Post was only too happy to cooperate.  The resulting Post story led to a federal criminal investigation. In 1988, then United States Attorney Rudy Giuliani indicted the Helmsleys on several tax-related charges.  The indictment stated they had evaded more than $4 million in income taxes by fraudulently claiming these luxury items for their home as business expenses.

Leona Helmsley’s husband was judged too weak to stand trial, so she had to face the court’s wrath alone.  There are places when the Queen can scream “off with their heads” with impunity, but in court it is usually a bit wiser to seem contrite.  Not Leona.  Defiant and arrogant, Helmsley did herself no favors by running her mouth at every opportunity.  She thought she could talk to judges, reporters, jurors and lawyers the same way she did to the cowering maids at her hotel.  Not too bright.

The testimony against her did the rest of the damage.  A series of prosecution witnesses described a spiteful, extravagant, foul-mouthed woman who terrified her underlings.

The most famous line of all came from Elizabeth Baum, a former housekeeper at the Helmsley home.  Ms. Baum recounted a conversation with Leona Helmsley four weeks after being hired in September 1983:

Elizabeth Baum:  “I said to Mrs. Helmsley, ‘You must pay a lot of taxes.’" 

Mrs. Helmsley replied:  "We don't pay taxes.  Only the little people pay taxes."

Helmsley denied saying this, but not a single soul in New York seemed to believe her.  Her performance had been so arrogant that there was not a shred of sympathy in the court room.  Mrs. Helmsley’s lawyer begged the jurors not to hold her rotten personality against her, saying, “I don’t believe Mrs. Helmsley is charged in the indictment with being a b…h.” 

Helmsley was sentenced to 16 years in prison.  At that point, Helmsley switched to a new lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who was retained to appeal the judgment.   After numerous appeals, Dershowitz whittled the sentence down to 18 months in prison and $7 million in back taxes.

This was a strong dose of irony for the woman who once said, "Only the little people pay taxes."

It seems like even rich people occasionally have to follow rules.  Of course, that doesn't mean things turned out that badly for poor Leona.  After her brief stay in prison, Helmsley lived out her final 13 years in the lap of luxury.  Said to be worth over $2.2 billion, the dreaded Mrs. Helmsley still owned the lease to the Empire State Building and enormous real estate holdings. 

Upon her death, Helmsley left $12 million to her dog, the aptly named ‘Trouble’.  Trouble was a nasty little dog who loved to bite staff members.  No wonder Helmsley loved the animal so much.

The funny thing about Leona Helmsley is that she was definitely good looking in the Eighties.  But once she got into trouble, her looks seem to switch overnight to give her the appearance of a hideous hag.  One has to wonder if she felt as miserable inside as she looked on the outside. Despite her 2.2 billion, maybe it’s true that cheaters never win. 


Cheating in Sports

You mean there’s cheating in Sports?  Oh my gosh.  How often does that happen? 

How about all the time!

Cheating is rampant in sports.  Why?  Because it pays well.   Just ask Lance Armstrong, the poster boy for the benefits of cheating.  Armstrong was so morally bereft that he sued newspapers – and won – for having the nerve to suggest he used drugs. 

The critics were right all along but Armstrong could afford lawyers who were not only equally morally bereft, but also highly talented at keeping evidence from being introduced. 

I always shake my head at lawyers who defend people they know full well are guilty.  How do these sub-humans sleep at night?  You know who I am talking about.  How about people like those lawyers who fight for the tobacco companies?  But we will save that question for another day. 

The temptation to cheat in sports is overwhelming because often the difference between the best and the also-rans can be measured in seconds and even in split seconds. 

Lance didn't seem to have even the slightest guilty conscience about his constant lies.  


The Narrow Edge of Victory

Usain Bolt has won three Gold medals at the Olympics and three Gold medals and 2 Silver medals at the World Championships. He has been setting world records since he was a junior competitor and has broken his own world record in the 100m sprint twice.

At the 2012 London Olympics, the difference between the winner and the also-rans was actually wider than usual.  Usain Bolt of Jamaica is so dominant that the race was for second place.

Mind you, I am not saying Usain Bolt uses drugs. I am simply using his success to point out the value of success.  His biggest sponsorship deal is with Puma which pays about $9 million annually.  How much would he make if he finished second? 

Take note of the bunching in second, third, and fourth.  Had Tyson Gay found a way to slice 1/100th of a second off his time, he would have medaled at the 2012 London Olympics.

The “Narrow Edge of Victory” brings out the absolute worst in many human beings.

In the long distance ski races of the Winter Olympics such as the 10 kilometer cross country, the top 30 contenders can finish within 60 seconds of one another over 10 miles.   Given such a narrow margin, it must be maddening to think that something as difficult to detect as blood doping can take an athlete from complete obscurity to prominence, glory, and prize money.

Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) have a history of use as blood doping agents in endurance sports such as horseracing, boxing, cycling, rowing, distance running, race walking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, biathlon, and triathlon.  With such a narrow margin separating the top from the bottom, the temptation to use erythropoietin (EPO) is huge.

EPO is a genetically engineered version of a natural hormone made by the kidney.  EPO stimulates bone marrow to make red blood cells.  It started to emerge as a factor in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.

Jim Stray-Gunnersen, a U.S. physician who helped develop blood-doping testing programs in the 1990s, says effective blood-doping can take endurance athletes from 30th place all the way to the podium.

Canadian Pierre Harvey, a cross-country skiing star of the 1980s, tells a fascinating anecdote.  To this day, Harvey recalls how Russians who he could defeat soundly before and after the Olympics suddenly surged past him when it really counted at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988.

"When I see four Russians finish in the top six at the Olympics, it's just not normal.  In the next weeks following the 1988 Games, I won several World Cups, but in the Olympics, I was merely 14th." -- Pierre Harvey

At the time, Harvey suspected the athletes were using blood doping, where they transfused higher oxygen content blood into their bodies several weeks before a key competition.

Not all athletes cheat. 

One of the reasons we admire baseball player Derek Jeter so much is that he has a sterling reputation.  As he retires, his name was never besmirched by performance enhancing drugs.  Not so for his contemporaries Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Mark McGuire and so many more. 

Incidentally, a couple years ago I wrote a highly entertaining article on “Olympic Cheating”.   If this is a subject that interests you, I promise this article is a great read. 


Spain Wins the 2000 Paralympics Gold Medal for Basketball

You will not believe the lengths some people will go to win. 

My favorite example of the worst cheaters EVER involves a team of non-handicapped athletes who pretended to be handicapped so they could win at the Paralympics!  

You of course say ‘No Way’.   Wrong answer.  It really did happen. 

The Paralympics is a noble endeavor that allows handicapped people a chance to compete.  What a wonderful idea, one that is quite in keeping with the Olympic spirit.  

The Paralympics has grown to become a major international multi-sport event where athletes with a physical disability compete.  This includes athletes with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy.

In 2000, the Spanish intellectually-disabled basketball team captured gold at the Sydney Paralympics with a stellar performance on the court.  But the glory quickly faded when the Spanish Paralympic Committee later discovered that 10 of the 12 team members had no mental deficiency whatsover.  

It must have been strange for the athletes to listen to the Spanish coach.  “Now listen, boys, you need play smart and keep your head in the game, but if someone gets suspicious, don’t forget to act retarded.”

It is unbelievable the depths people will crawl to in order to win. 


Cheating at Scrabble

Sometimes cheating can be light-hearted.   Is it okay to cheat at board games like Monopoly?  Some people would say that’s the best part of the game!

And what about Scrabble?

Wendy looked down and stared at the board.  She had been holding the “Z” and the “X” for some time now.  This was her chance.  ‘ZIXIC’ on a triple-word score.  That would win tonight’s game of Scrabble for sure.  No way would Frank overcome a score like that.  

So Wendy calmly laid down her five squares.  The total was so large she had to use her calculator. 

“Hey, wait a minute!” said Frank. “Zixic.  That’s not a word!”

Wendy looked up and smiled at her beleaguered boyfriend.  Poor Frank.  He had never beaten her at Scrabble.  And he wasn’t going to win tonight either. 

“Of course it’s a word, Frank.  Anyone who has been to college knows that ‘zixic’ is a perfectly acceptable word.”

“Okay, smart girl, use it in a sentence.”

Wendy smiled.  “If you insist.” 

Wendy’s sentence: 

“If only Frank wasn't so ignorant, myopic, and zixic, he would realize how erroneous ill-informed his challenge is.”

“You just make this stuff up, don’t you?  I don’t believe you.  What does ‘zixic’ mean?”

“It means ‘acidic’ or ‘sarcastic’.”

“Um, my BS detector is going nuts, darling.  You don’t expect me to believe this, do you?”

Wendy laughed out loud.  She had never heard Frank swear before, not even a mild oath such as “B.S.”.  There was a chance Frank was taking Scrabble a little too seriously.  But then considering his losing streak, she could forgive his frustration. 

“Oh, come now, Frank, don’t use words like “BS”.  That is so ugly.  It isn’t like you to swear at Scrabble.”

“And give me one reason why I should not challenge ‘zixic’? 

“Now, Frank, everyone knows you have lost the last two times you have challenged me. You lost with ‘fangle’ and you lost with ‘gormless’.  Why is it so difficult for you to accept that I make an effort to learn as many strange words as possible?  As it turns out, ‘zixic’ is a perfectly legitimate word just like ‘venic’, ‘vatic’, ‘xeric’, ‘xenic’, ‘yonic’, and ‘zymic’.”

Frank’s jaw dropped.  “You have got to be kidding, Wendy.  I have never heard of any of those words in my life!”

Wendy giggled.  What Frank didn’t know was that she when he went to get a beer from the refrigerator, she had googled 5-letter words ending in “ic”.  

Unfortunately, her other letters wouldn’t allow her to spell a word correctly.  This forced her to make up a nonsense word and hope the other correct words were weird enough to intimidate her boyfriend.  Now it looked like her ploy would work.

“Oh, Frank, you know quixotic and mysterious I can be.   Now, are you going to challenge me or not?”

“No, Wendy, I don’t think I can stand any more humiliation tonight.  I will take your word for it.  You win again.”

“Smart man, Frank.  Want to play another game?”

“No, I think I’ll pass. I think there’s another beer in the fridge.”

Do people really cheat at Scrabble?   Probably.  I know I’ve certainly been tempted to make up a word a time or two.  Deep down, I think there are people out there who will cheat at anything.  It is in their nature. 


Eugene Varshavsky

One of my favorite stories of cheating involves Eugene Varshavsky.  Although no one is even sure that is his correct name, in certain circles ‘Eugene Varshavsky’ is extremely famous.  Whoever he is, Varshavsky is a man who likes to cheat. 

Varshavsky first came to fame in the 2006 World Open in Philadelphia where the total prize money amounted to $358,000,

Varshavsky was one of the lowest-ranked players in the main tournament, but he started off by beating two high-ranked masters in his first three games.

After that he beat FM John Bartholomew, rated 2452, with the black pieces, then lost to GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, 2643. 

Varshavsky rebounded to defeat GM Ilia Smirin, rated 2659, again with the black pieces, in a virtually flawless game. 

The match against Smirin was the game that really set the chess beehive abuzz.  This was a brilliant victory against a brutal opponent. Not only had Varshavsky beaten one of the top players in the world, he did it in fine technical style - as if he were the world-class grandmaster himself instead of a complete unknown! 

There was no proof that Eugene Varshavsky, better known as "The Man with the Hat", was using electronic devices.  However, the circumstantial evidence was overwhelming. 

Grandmaster Larry Christiansen had decided not play at the World Open, but he had come to watch.  He enjoyed being a spectator.  GM Christiansen could barely believe what he was seeing.  Grandmaster Ilia Smirin, the highest rated player in the United States, had just been beaten in Round 7 by a complete nobody!

Christiansen knew from experience that GM Ilia Smirin, the man who had gone down to defeat, was a powerful chess player.  Smirin had been beaten by a long series of very complex moves made by a complete unknown.  Christiansen had never heard of this “Varshavsky” character in his life nor had he ever seen him before.  

Something that really bothered Christiansen was Varshavsky’s cluelessness at “chess notation”. Chess notation is the act of writing down each chess move.  Anybody who has ever studied chess quickly learns how to dictate each move.  Chess notation allows players to replay previous games whenever they wish.

And yet strangely enough, despite his obvious strength as a chess player, Varshavsky appeared to have no grasp of chess notation. He struggled to record his moves (erasing and re-writing throughout), and he clearly had to use the "A-H" and "1-8" grid-markings on the chess board to identify squares.  This awkwardness was very unsettling.

Varshavsky’s dress raised huge suspicions.  Although this was the start of July, Varshavsky wore very heavy clothes and a huge drooping bucket hat that hung low, covering the man’s ears.   No one wears a hat at a chess tournament, and certainly not one as bizarre as this virtual helmet.  Christiansen found it very curious that Varshavsky wore a hat the entire time.   Although it had to be uncomfortable, Varshavsky never took the hat off. 

Christiansen strongly suspected a cheat.  On a whim, Christiansen ran the moves in the Smirin match through “Shredder”, the World Champion Computer Chess Program.  Christiansen was intrigued by the results.  He found that Varshavsky’s last 25 moves identically matched those played by the championship chess program.  What an interesting coincidence!

After Christiansen passed his “Shredder” tidbit on to the right people, Bill Goichberg, director of the World Open, asked to see Varshavsky before the next round.  To Goichberg’s surprise, Varshavsky immediately excused himself and hurried off to the bathroom.

Varshavsky spent about ten to twenty minutes in the toilet stall, then came out and proceeded calmly to the tournament director’s room.  Goichberg had waited in puzzlement outside the restroom stall until Varshavsky came out.  What was Varshavsky doing in there?

Now Varshavsky consented to be searched.   The search revealed nothing.  No electronic device was found. So Varshavsky was allowed to proceed in the tournament.

Strangely, after the search was complete, Varshavsky went back to the same toilet stall and spent another twenty minutes in there.  Nobody had thought to check the toilet stall after he had left the first time.  Had Varshavsky left something behind perhaps?

Later, a second attempt was made to search him.  Varshavsky immediately repeated the bathroom routine.  He bolted and quite possibly got rid of whatever he had hidden in his hat before he was searched.

Again, the second search revealed nothing.

Varshavsky came to the board for Round 8 wearing his usual hat.  Assistant tournament director Carol Jarecki told him that he had to take his hat off while playing the game. 

Varshavsky argued vehemently, but Jarecki stood her ground.  Eventually Varshavsky complied, and he lost easily to Grandmaster Najer.

Varshavsky showed up for the next match against GM Panchanathan wearing his hat again.

Again he was told to forget the hat.  Varshavsky was involved in several discussions with the tournament directors, but got nowhere.  Varshavsky played this game without the hat and again lost easily.

Round One: Half Point bye
Round Two: Defeated FM Farai Mandizha 2369  (With Hat)
Round Three: Drew WGM Nisha Mohota 2387 (With Hat)
Round Four: Defeated FM Robby Adamson 2394 (With Hat)
Round Five: Defeated FM John Bartholomew 2452 (W. Hat)
Round Six: Lost to GM Giorgi Kacheishvili 2643 (With Hat)
Round Seven: Defeated GM Ilya Smirin 2800 (With Hat)
Round Eight (Without Hat): Lost to GM Evgeny Najer 2697
Round Nine (Without Hat): Lost to GM Magesh C.
                                      Panchanathan 2569

These results speak volumes.  Playing against very powerful opponents with the hat, Varshavsky won four matches, drew one, and lost one.  Playing without the hat, Varshavsky lost quickly twice. 

Varshavsky never played in another major chess event, at least not under that name.

However, Eugene Varshavsky would resurface three years later.  Yes, the man with the hat would indeed rise to the forefront one more time, except this time he showed up wearing a hood. 

In 2009, Eugene Varshavsky entered the Philadelphia Inquirer National Sudoku Championship. 

Varshavsky did quite well.  In fact, Varshavsky made the Finals!

Believe it or not, this total unknown in the world of Sudoku surprised everyone by completing three difficult puzzles in just 14 minutes. 

Varshavsky was a major star.  These were the best of the best, yet he made the final three out of 646 contestants. 

At the time, no one knew about the chess tournament incident three years earlier.  Nevertheless, Varshavsky had raised new suspicions with his success.  People can be so ugly when a nobody suddenly begins to beat all the somebodies.  One thing his critics pointed out was that Varshavsky was notably wearing a hood over his head.  How catty!  Here the guy kicks supreme bootie and all people can do is criticize what the man wears.

Thanks to all the ‘fashion complaints’, Varshavsky was not allowed to have his hood up in the finals.  In addition he was forced to solve a puzzle on stage before a live audience.

In the finals, Varshavsky did not do very well.  For the majority of the time, Varshavsky just stood there staring blankly at the board.  He only solved two of the missing clues.  This was a rather pitiful showing considering the other two contestants found answers to all 81 squares. 

This is a picture of the 2009 Sudoku Finals held in Philadelphia.  Varshavsky is on the right.

This board is the Finals puzzle.  If you are a Sudoku player, you will spot an automatic "5" and an automatic "9" on the board.

Rick's Note:  Those two automatic answers - the 5 and the 9 - were the only two clues filled in by Varshavsky.  He left the rest of the puzzle completely blank. 

Let me add the Sudoku Finals puzzle was not that difficult!  I solved it myself and I am hardly an ace.  I believe any experienced Sudoku person could solve it without too much trouble given enough time. Indeed, several people commented the Finals puzzle was not that tough.  And yet Varshavsky only got two spots solved.

My point is that if I am clearly a better Sudoku player than this guy and I don't consider myself a championship player, then how is it possible for someone who is playing at a level no better than a "beginner" make it to the Finals?  

This explains why everyone in the building suspected Varshavsky had cheated his way to the Finals.

Given the ease of the Finals puzzle, people began to be suspicious. 

Nevertheless, despite his poor showing in the Finals, Varshavsky was awarded third place and won $3,000 for his efforts. 

Now the tongues began to wag.  The tournament officials were having doubts of their own.

So Varshavsky was called in for a re-testing. He was given the same puzzle that he blazed through earlier.  This time with people watching, Varshavsky completed only nine of the 81 digits in 15 minutes.

After failing the retest miserably, the officials of The Philadelphia Inquirer National Sudoku Championship stripped Varshavsky of his third-place position (and $3000).

Varshavsky has not been seen nor heard from since.  He gave the organizers a fake address, so no one has any way to track him down.  Nor does anyone care.   What a pathetic human being.



Boris Ivanov

Borislav Ivanov is a highly controversial Bulgarian chess Master.  During 2012 and 2013, Ivanov's results improved significantly, and he beat several grandmasters ranked far above him.   A combination of uncooperative behavior mixed with his rapid improvement led to cheating accusations against him. 

Ivanov's current ranking is FM... short for FIDE Master The World Chess Federation, FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), awards several performance-based titles to chess players.

GM: Grandmaster. IM: International Master.  FM: FIDE Master.  CM: Candidate Master.

Introduced in 1978, FM ranks below the title of International Master but ahead of Candidate Master. The most usual way for a player to qualify for the FIDE Master title is by achieving a rating of 2300 or more.

Boris Ivanov’s major breakthrough came at the strong December 2012 Zadar Open chess tournament in Croatia.  Ivanov finished in fourth place after defeating a number of higher-ranked players and increased his rating by 70 points, an enormous jump.  His tournament record against the grandmasters he faced was 3 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. 

At the time, it was alleged that he had been using outside help, but no evidence was uncoveredIvanov received an apology and an invitation to future tournaments from the organizers.

On 14 April 2013, Ivanov defeated GM Kiril Georgiev, the current Bulgarian champion, in a tournament held in Kyustendil, Bulgaria.  Kiril Georgiev alleged irregularities in the nature of Ivanov's tournament play, but no action was taken.  Ivanov dismissed Georgiev as a sore loser.

Chess commentator Alex Karaivanov had this to say:

The case of FM Borislav Ivanov, who mysteriously beat a number of highly ranked chess players at several European international tournaments, remains unsolved.  Was he cheating or is he a pure genius whom no one wants to accept? 

Ivanov’s play has repeatedly demonstrated an unprecedentedly high move correlation with that of the strongest chess engine, Houdini.

His sharp computer style is easy to recognize for all experienced masters and professional players, who recently signed petitions demanding an anti-cheating commission be formed to deal with the growing problem of computer cheating in chess tournaments.  However, nothing came of it.

Meanwhile, Borislav Ivanov continued to beat everyone who dared to sit at the same table with him. He convincingly won the top prizes at tournaments in Sofia (Bulgaria), Zadar (Croatia), and Villava (Spain) throughout 2013.  While his strong play continued to dominate local and international competitions, his victories came against a backdrop of bitter speculations and suspicions.  His success led his fellow grandmasters to seek a showdown.

Just such a thing happened in October 2013 at the Blagoevgrad Open in Bulgaria.

Once again, Ivanov got off to a hot start, and the top players in the tournament began to ask organizers to search him.  GM Maxim Dlugy had a theory as to how Ivanov was cheating. He believed that Ivanov was hiding something in his shoes, pointing out the large size of his sneakers and the manner in which Ivanov was walking.

In Round Seven, Dlugy and Ivanov were scheduled to play one another.   Dlugy first asked for a body check before their encounter in round seven.  After the metal detector found nothing, Dlugy then asked for the shoes to be checked.  That’s when Dlugy made a surprise move – he took off his own shoes and dared Ivanov to do the same. 

Here is what happened according to an interview with GM Max Dlugy.

“Without a word I take off my shoes, I take off my socks and throw them to the floor – just ba-doom, there, I’m done, bare feet, now show me your shoes, please.

What happened next was completely unexpected. The guy (Ivanov) just goes “I categorically will not take off my shoes.  My socks smell.”

At this point my friend says: “I guess that would be forfeit, right?”

Ivanov says: “if you have to forfeit me, forfeit me.  But I will not take off my shoes.”

The arbiter said to Ivanov: “You realize that you will not only lose this match, but I will also have to disqualify you from continuing to play in the tournament, and no one will play you ever again.  All you have to do is to take off your shoes.”

Ivanov shook his head no. 

The arbiter actually tried to convince him for another couple of minutes, but Borislav was categorical about it: “No way I’m taking off my shoes.  No way!”

So the director shrugs and says “Okay, I’m putting in a zero.”

After this incident, a theory was started about what might be happening here.  A modern Android or Apple smartphone easily fits into a shoe.  A person can use his toes to send signals to the motion detector in the phone.  Little wiggles will do it. Or the toe can be used to tap on the LED screen.  The response of the phone would be short bursts of vibration. An app could handle the interface to a chess engine running on the device. 

(Rick’s note:  Did this explanation make any sense to you?   It didn’t to me.)

Two months later, another ugly confrontation took place.  Ivanov was tied for the lead in a major tournament held in Spain, the December 2013 Navalmoral de la Mata Open. 

When Ivanov showed up for his Round Six match with GM Namig Guliyev of Azerbaijan, the man he was tied with, Guliyev decided to confront Ivanov in the same manner as Dlugy had two months earlier.   Guliyev asked to have Ivanov's shoes examined to see if he was hiding a sophisticated device.

Ivanov refused.  This time there was less fuss because the tournament officials quickly awarded the game to Guliyev.  In addition Ivanov was disqualified from participating in the final round.  In a sense, Ivanov’s reputation had fallen so low the directors simply had no patience for his behavior. 

As it stands, Boris Ivanov has never been caught red-handed, but in the world of chess, very few people believe the man is honest. 




1975: The Italian Toe Tapping Bridge Scandal

We have read about cheating in Chess and in Sudoku.  Another game people like to cheat at is Bridge.   This complicated card game has seen more than its share of scandals.  Over the years, there have been several dramatic cheating incidents at major tournaments. 

Bridge lends itself to cheating because it involves “communication” between partners.  A critical part of the game involves bidding.  If two players are on the same wave length, it almost seems like they are reading one another’s mind.  Indeed, if two psychics were to team up, I imagine they would be unbeatable.

Fortunately, most psychics are either not interested in bridge or not interested in cheating.  However, over the years some of the most talented bridge players in the world have been tempted to use signals to improve their bidding accuracy. 

One of the most famous scandals was known as the “Bermuda Incident”.  The annual Bermuda Bowl world championship saw Italy and the United States playing in the 1975 final held in Southampton, Bermuda. 

Note the screens.  This feature was added to tournaments to prevent cheating by using signals.  Thanks to the Italian team accused of cheating, leg barriers were added as well. 

American reporter Bruce Keidan uncovered one of the most infamous cheating scandals ever.

While watching one of the Italian pairs, Gianfranco Facchini and Sergio Zucchelli, Keidan noticed unusual foot actions between the two.  The reporter found the players tapping each other's feet under the table in an apparent attempt to relay information about their hands.

Keidan's discovery, which was confirmed by several witnesses, was eventually presented to the presiding authorities of the event, who "severely reprimanded" Facchini and Zucchelli for their activity.   Amazingly, these two were allowed to continue competing in the event, but with one rather amusing change.  The Bermuda Bowl authorities placed blocks underneath the tables to prevent any further foot contact.

American captain Alfred Sheinwold was angered by the decision and stated that his team would resign from the match.  Sheinwold changed his mind under duress.  Threats made to Sheinwold by the United States' governing body, the American Contract Bridge League, coerced Sheinwold and his team into finishing the event.

Incredibly, Italy went on to win the event, 215 – 189, thereby proving once and for all that cheaters do win.

By all accounts, Facchini and Zucchelli quickly faded from the international bridge circuit thereafter.


2013: The German Doctors


Did you know the 2013 world champion bridge players were stripped of their title after being convicted of cheating?

Michael Elinescu, 61, and Entscho Wladow, 71, have been stripped of their gold medals won in September 2013 at the world championships held on the paradise island of Bali.  

They are the unlikeliest of cheats.  Both men are distinguished medical doctors and brilliant bridge players.  In the world of bridge, they are known, in part reverentially, as “The German Doctors”.

Well, now the German doctors have lost their marvelous reputation.  They have been found guilty of cheating by exchanging coded signals through coughing.

Their coughing deception seemed to closely parallel the case of Charles Ingram who used a system of coughs to win the £1 million jackpot prize on the British game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?

Michael Elinescu and Entscho Wladow

More than 500 competitors took part in the world championships held at the Nusa Dua resort in Bali, which was televised around the world on the internet. The location was suitably glamorous for the Miss World finals to be held at the same venue a week later.

The German doctors were investigated following a complaint by their American opponents in the finals of the d’Orsi World Senior Bowl, the most important event in the bridge calendar.

As the bridge final unfolded, Eddie Wold, a US player from Houston, became suspicious of the Germans and their constant coughs.  He began noting down when they coughed and how that corresponded with the cards they had.

Wold passed his evidence to Max Bavin, the English chief referee, who authorized secret monitoring and video surveillance of the game as it progressed.

After a lengthy investigation that involved the computer analysis of a video recording of their victory in the final, the game’s governing body concluded that the two men used a system of coughs to indicate what cards they had.

In a 16-page report, the World Bridge Federation concluded that Elinescu and Wladow coughed if they had fewer than two cards in a certain suit - and that the number of times they coughed indicated in which suit they had a shortage of cards.  This was very valuable information. 

After studying the evidence, the WBF also found that the pair had a separate coded coughing system to indicate the “preferred lead” when the hands were being played.  This cough system gave the men an unfair advantage over their opponents.  In some circles, an “unfair advantage” is also known as “cheating”.

The WBF concluded the report by calling the behavior of the two doctors “reprehensible”.


The 1965 Buenos Aires Bridge Scandal

Perhaps the most famous bridge scandal of all took place at the 1965 Bermuda Bowl held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   This scandal involved the infamous finger-signaling technique.

British bridge experts Terence Reese and Boris Schapiro were accused by American players Jay Becker and Dorothy Hayden of using finger patterns to convey bidding information.  The two British players were seen holding their cards with different numbers of fingers in accordance with the number of hearts they held.  For example, three fingers meant three hearts.

When the allegations leaked out during the event, British captain Ralph Swimer forfeited all his team's matches and withdrew Great Britain from the competition. The degree of correlation between fingers and hearts was very high; however, it is debatable how much the Reese-Schapiro team benefited from the alleged exchange of information.

Those who sided with the British players argued the latter, suggesting that it was improbable the British pair was cheating if it never gained points on the deals in question.  In other words, if you can’t win by cheating, then you must not be cheating. 

The British Bridge League eventually found Reese and Schapiro innocent of cheating; however, the World Bridge Federation found them guilty and banned them from WBF events for three years.  

These conflicting decisions bring up an interesting point.  Throughout these various stories, people seem to bend over backwards to give the benefit of the doubt to the ones being accused.  The reason for this seems to be the fact that no one ever gets caught red-handed. 

Usually it is only a careful after-the-fact analysis of videotape where certainty begins to show.  In the case of the Buenos Aires event, there were photographs, but no video.  So the level of certainty was in doubt.  It all boiled down to circumstantial evidence.  Considering the damage to someone’s reputation, no one wishes to confront a world-class athlete or a game expert with allegations of cheating based on circumstantial evidence. 

Therefore it seems to take a lot of guts for someone to accuse a peer of cheating in the manner that Eddie Wold, the man who pointed out the strange coughing behavior of the German doctors. 

On the other hand, the ambiguity surrounding the Buenos Aires Bridge Scandal made for very interesting debate.  In an attempt to clear his name, British bridge expert Terence Reese wrote a long book in his defense.  

Then Bridge writer Alan Truscott turned around and wrote a book about the affair entitled The Great Bridge Scandal that seemed to leave little doubt about Terence Reese’s guilt. 

Here Reese shows 3 fingers on the backs of the cards and has three hearts. The British Captain, Ralph Swimer sits to the right of Reese watching carefully for signs of cheating.  He is taking notes

3 fingers on the backs of the cards

Great Britain versus Italy. Terence Reese (upper left) holds two fingers stretched, in V-formation. On this deal he held two hearts.

Rick's Note: The best explanation of the story on the Internet was written by Onno Eskes

A man named David Straight wrote a brilliant review of Truscott’s book. 

I would like to share Mr. Straight’s letter.

“I bought this book shortly after it first came out in hardback, and it was truly an eye-opening work. I had a student who was a tournament bridge player some years ago--he dismissed the idea out of hand that Reese and Schapiro, who were certainly one of the top bridge partnerships, would ever cheat. My student thought the charges were frivolous, the idea ridiculous.

So I loaned him my copy of the book. Truscott has been a careful person. The book details at great length several individual hands.  You will see photographs of Reese and Schapiro holding their cards in a variety of ways--fingers were used to indicate the number of hearts that they held. When you sometimes have one finger out, sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes split your fingers (think of Spock on Star Trek), etc, it can look awkward.  My student was convinced by the book, but was a sadder person.

The natural reaction is "Reese is a top player. He doesn't have to cheat". That's very true.

But it's also true that baseball players such as Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa didn't "have to" cheat: neither do Tour de France racers, nor did other similar figures. But steroids and corked bats (in Sosa's case) and other drugs were indeed used.

If you're in, say, the top 10 of your field, the possibility may arise to improve to the top 3, for example, by cheating.  The motivations may vary from the money involved to ego and not liking to lose.

Truscott's book relates how Reese had boasted to friends (and offered to bet on it) that he could cheat at bridge without anyone being able to detect his methods: this sounds like an ego trip, for there was certainly no need for a person of Reese's ability to cheat.

Truscott's book describes previous occasions of cheating in bridge, and it relates the disillusionment felt by people who watched Reese and Schapiro at the table exchanging signals.  Hands are shown where the bidding and play--such as the opening lead--make no sense at all unless you know much more about your partner's hand than you should.

A hearing was held in England--the chair of which knew relatively little about the game, and so would have been blissfully unaware of when bidding or play would have been unusual. Confessions were basically ignored, and Reese and Schapiro were acquitted.

But innocent?  Read the book.

Bobby Wolff has a fine new book out: "Lone Wolff" which describes cheating and what might politely be termed "ethical lapses". You'll find in this book numerous cases of where when cheating was discovered in a tournament the culprits were let off.

One of the most egregious cases was (as I recall) in the 1975 Bermuda Bowl where an Italian team of less than stellar bridge gifts but with a series of remarkable performances were caught exchanging information through foot-tapping under the table.  The team was reprimanded, but allowed to continue in the tournament.

Reese and Schapiro had vastly more natural talent than this Italian team. Schapiro told the British captain that Reese had pressured him into cheating, so we still have the bewildering question of just why Reese would do such a thing.

But we have also seen people like the fabulously wealthy Leona Helmsley and Martha Stewart dig themselves into deep holes over what was (for them) trifling sums.

So Truscott's book is a wonderful point to the idea of what you want to believe is not always what you need to believe.

Rick Archer
September 2014

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