Cam French

Under Pressure

Queen (and David Bowie) – UnderPressure

(click on the above for musical accompaniment)



From my point of view there are only 2 bones of contention:

1. The 45 year old Reese-Schapiro fiasco including the Foster Tribunals.

A. All of the particular discussions have documented evidence.

Next time, please be more specific. There is “documented evidence” of UFOs. Ask Fox Muldar. I guess being a teacher and evaluating a student’s effort bestows a bias upon me. The students can’t say “it is documented” or “well-known” or other like alibis. They need (as do we all) to butress their arguments with accredited sources. Nothing less is acceptable. Does Harvard accept “documented evidence” without seeing it? Of course not. And neither should we.

B. What Sami Kehela’s reasons for after gathering and presenting prosecution’s evidence, then choosing to testify to Reese’s proposed innocence at the Foster Tribunals will probably forever be a mystery and thus unsolved. Rather than debate why, let us accept his decision and go forward.

2. Canada’s role in International World Championship Bridge Competition contesting the Bermuda Bowl from the period of the middle l980’s (the time Canada, by beating two other small countries, now only one, was granted a cherished entry into the Bermuda Bowl) till at least the middle l990’s and even continuing up to the present (2010), but on a more sporadic basis, has been also documented, showing ineffective teams with predictable results of finishing at or near the bottom.

Bobby Wolff

My “bone” with #2 above is not that Canada fared poorly, but that somehow through misfortune or design(?) we did not always send our best. Sometimes ERM/ Sami or Mittleman/Graves  were not on the team because they had failed to qualify. I fail to see why they or anyone should be anointed because of their pedigree. And if our National champions did not perform on the world stage up to our, your or perhaps their own expectations, that is a disappointment. It is not a crime and it is certainly not as you infamously labelled it –  “shameful”.  As you know, ERM was a successful attorney, counting upon his profession to support his passion. Perhaps on occasion he chose not to abandon his client in mid-trial for a bridge championship. Precious few, especially years ago before the rampage of professionalism could afford to be full-time pro-players. They had other careers and bridge played second fiddle. And of course once professionalism blossomed players from around the globe (Zia/Pakistan, Rosenberg/Scotland, Alder/UK, Fallenius/Sweden, Hampson/Canada to name a few) emigrated to the “show” – and that is America. And that, as Martha says – “is a good thing”. No one is complaining, just shining a little light on the historical record.



Dear Bobby,

I apologize for printing that laudatory email you sent me.

You were right, it was sent to me privately and I would have done better not to publish it. My mistake.

…”..we both, being crusaders for bridge improvement…..”

I can see how you feel that way, although with Collateral Damage I considered myself an investigative reporter, telling a story after researching the archive of information.  The notion of some form of restorative justice was a hope quickly dashed upon the rocks by Bob Hamman. He told me early on, that wish was Fantasy Island. He was of course, right.

It seems somehow we both have gotten of-track. If this were a newspaper – we would be on the op-ed pages, you Charles Krauthammer, me Nicolas Kristof. Lately with the attacks on Sami and the Canadians many including me – took offence. It is not crusading. Like you, I yearn for positive reform. Like you, sometimes I don’t soft-pedal and allow some emotions to sear the text. Like you it evokes sentiment, not always positive. And that is OK, it comes with the territory when you write about sensitive issues.

I just finished re-reading Truscott and Reese and what a contrast in perspective! Knowing now what we did not know back then casts a new light on it all. You are right of course that Sami did testify for the defence at the Foster-Bourne Commission.. You state:

What Sami Kehela’s reasons for after gathering and presenting prosecution’s evidence, then choosing to testify to Reese’s proposed innocence at the Foster Tribunals will probably forever be a mystery and thus unsolved.

Sami hardly “gathered” let alone “presenting prosecution’s evidence”,  and you need to be more judicious (as does Judy) in your choice of words. Would it surprise you that your good friend Jaime Ortiz-Patino testified along the same lines as Kehela? Did he “support his mentor” or do a “180”? Or did he call it like he saw it?

Allow me to solve the mystery. It isn’t that tough.

According to Truscott, who I think most parties would agree is the foremost authority on the matter:

In Buenos Aires Kehela was informed of the code by team USA Captain Gerber, with Hayden, Becker and Truscott in tow and watched all of 10 hands without taking notes. At the time he felt the finger positions were of significance. After reviewing all the hand records, he failed to see a sufficient correlation between the cards and the signaling system. It is that simple. No mega-conspiracy here. No Oliver atop the grassy knoll.

Any unbiased observer might appreciate, and this was attested to by several notables at the time including Franklin, Flint , and WBF executive Jaime Ortiz-Patino and others that if they were cheating, which the fingers signals clearly suggest, the hand records fail to support that position.

More than a few felt that the hand records and abhorrent results should out-weigh any visual memories of apparent signalling.

A provocative example: USA76

Reese             Shapiro

KQ7                  984

AJ852               64

Q93                  J762

82                     Q543

1NT    (Dble)      P          (P)

2H      (Dble)       all pass

Result: 5 down -900 (old scoring)

This example would suggest no pre-agreement about the heart suit length. Of course Truscott raises other cases favorable to his side. And he was right that there was signalling. The trouble is and was, aligning the signals with the hands and results.

Truscott writes:

“Several photos show Reese and Schapiro varying the number of fingers in front of their cards. When a pair is cheating, it will usually be obvious from their bidding and play – the so-called technical evidence. But a clever pair will not do anything very unusual.

And the technical evidence in Buenos Aires is not clear-cut”. (Emphasis added.) Those are Truscott’s words. Do you hold him in the same contempt as you and Judy verbalized about Sami?

By all accounts, Reese and Shapiro played poorly, well below their usual standard. How can that be given their signals? Perhaps, as Reese declared in his apparent confession that they did not intend to use them. Granted – a big leap of faith is needed to buy that blarney. Citing just for you:

One thing the hand records point to is they certainly did not use them to maximum effect. Maybe, just maybe it is exactly like Reese claimed, they signaled and never intended to harvest the fruit of their poisonous acts. I submit sometimes they did (typically with some of Shapiro’s wild psyches) and sometimes they did not.  I do think it is crystal clear from the archive of evidence that being Truscott’s records, Reese’s declaration and the observations of Hayden, Becker and Truscott that there were signals exchanged. It is also clear, that the hand records fail to support the same. Truscott says so. I can’t imagine a more compelling witness. That was the essence of all defence witnesses, and in the end the commissioners (Foster-Bourne) found that:

“the direct evidence as to the exchange of finger signals, strong as it is, cannot be accepted because of the reasonable doubt ….{with regard to the hand records} ….we find Messrs Reese and Shapiro were not guilty of cheating at the event in question.”

I said it before and I will say it again. Judges and juries (just ask OJ) make mistakes. If you read into the above verdict you will find what you need. They were signaling, and they failed to take advantage of it sufficiently to prove their guilt. Maybe that was by design, and certainly they fooled a lot of people. The glove did not fit – so you must acquit.

I wonder if others who retain their poisoned gains have the respect for the game to come clean, even after death. When you think about that act from Reese – to have his confession and explanation published, it was quite remarkable. Interestingly, Truscott doesn’t buy it, and I can’t say I blame him. It is full of holes, and no one can verify Reese’s revisionist history.

We all chafe at the thought of cheaters. Worse yet – successful ones grate on us like sandpaper on soft pine for those who retain the fruits of their crimes. Bobby and I dare say ERM, Sami, Gerber, Mathe, Stoney, Edgar, Norman, Capp, Zeke and the list goes on – know this better than most. Truscott was right – there was clear cut cheating. Maybe that is a testament to Reese/Shapiro taking advantage of their system consistent with Reese’s explanation. Why the hand records fail to reflect that was part accident, a bigger part design. It was a shameful episode from which few if any heroes will emerge.

As for the Canadian free ride and “shameful” international record, I suggest we agree to disagree. You will never get me or many others to believe that national representatives, regardless of nation, did not do their best. I will agree that stronger teams might have emerged, but our qulaifiers are not appointed, they win that nomination by merit. Call us old-fashioned.

With your consent, I consider the matter closed.

The truth is we were all swindled and I am sure few feel that pain more acutely than Sami.


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