Cam French

The Big Leagues

        Tom Cochrane – Big Leagues 




It is woven into the fabric of our game.                                

I think Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel, Dr. James Sternberg, Steve Sion and Allan Cokin have chosen to ignore that fact on this occasion.

I heard from someone (maybe Bill Pollack, not sure) that Cokin was the only one wanting to toss this back. Maybe he was right.

I said this in CD VII

Alan Sontag in his engaging book The Bridge Bum, recounts how he waived a penalty (and suggested an alternative) against Forquet who had bid out of turn (at stake were 5 Italian Lancia sport cars) on the first board of the match! Instead all “agreed” to Sontag’s suggestion of a re-deal. This in turn won him Sportsman of the Year from the International Bridge Press Association. Sontag said in his book – “I did not want to win on a technicality…taking advantage of a technicality would have proved nothing, especially to myself. My three team mates {Rubin/Granovetter/Weichsel} agreed.”

So Sontag didn’t want to win on a technicality. I applaud that. This in turn wins him IBPA sportsman of the year? Good for him. Congratulations. He is willing to forsake a legal sanction and insert his own (albeit reasonable) solution. Note that the Laws pursuant to a bid out of turn do not provide a re-deal as an option. So this home-cooked solution, as noble as it may have been, is not based upon the Laws, but rather the sentiments of fairness and sportsmanship. Would Edgar have been apopletic? How does winning a title with team mates cheating at the other table reconcile with “I did not want to win on a technicality” to say nothing of his sense of fairness and sportsmanship? It doesn’t.

Is cheating at the other table “a technicality”? Or is it worse? If he wants to win fair and square (and he does), then stand up and prove it. Forqet and Omar Sharif deserve a “re-deal” but fellow citizens don’t deserve any justice for being cheated by Cokin and Sion.

Toss the Norfolk title back. After reading the whole story, perhaps one’s perspectives changes. I ask Dr. James Sternberg, Peter Weichsel, Alan Sontag and Alan Cokin to do the “Spike Lee” {the right thing} and forsake that tainted title. Actions speak louder than words. But let’s be honest – offering a re-deal after an opponent’s gaffe is magnanimous; retaining a title won with cheating team mates at the other table is …. pathetic.

I see no reason to change any of that.

What would you call it? Sportsman-like? Fair? Reasonable? Let’s call a spade a spade. If Sontag and Weichsel want to retain their stolen title – well just what does that say? It tells me that these icons of bridge are in effect apologists for cheaters. They won with cheaters. Their team mates were convicted. Their partners confessed to “basically cheating on every hand they ever played” (ask Bobby) but they imagine that they are untarnished? NO. Wake up, smell the coffee. They are tarnished.

They won unlawfully and to this day retain the fruits of their team mates’ cheating.

That should tell you all you need to know. Let’s face the music. They won with self-confessed and convicted cheaters. Enough already.

Of that there is no question. Don’t believe me – ask Bobby, Kit, Chip. No one wants to taint the armor of the charismatic Sontag or his (then) partner Weichsel. They seem to think they enjoy survivor’s immunity. I beg to differ. So do Capp, Jabbour, Feldman, Sacks, Hoffner and Hann, Paul Soloway, Grant Baze and many other experts who prefer not to be on the record.  It is not rocket science. You win with cheaters, you are part of the team. Like it or not. Check out the sportsmanship here. Note the coaches’ remarks.       

Now that is sportsmanship!

Why did they do it? “She deserved it”.

Zeke and Capp and their team “deserve it” too. Or do they “deserve” to be cheated. Which is it?

“I did not want to win on a technicality…taking advantage of a technicality would have proved nothing, especially to myself.

Care to step up to the plate boys? Hit the home run and we will carry you around the bases. I promise Zeke and Capp will do the heavy lifting.

Why not just do the right thing? That would be such sportsmanship so as to make those college girls blush.

Cheers from the horse-flogger (THF), ty to JKW for that moniker.

So are you sportsmen, or those who tail-gate on the backs of cheaters? Please let us know. Which is it? Right now, we all know. Only you can change that.

Na – convicted cheaters at the other table are ………well ……you fill in the blank. My blank says pathetic. What does yours say? Acceptable? Fine, dandy,  or heaven forbid – “a technicality”?

What’s the problem? Sternberg wants his money back? Zeke and company aren’t worth it? They don’t “deserve it”? They “deserve” to be cheated. OK.

This is the BIG LEAGUES. You owe us more than silence and petty vindictiveness. My late (bless her soul) mother-in-law said – “you sleep with dogs you are gonna to get fleas.” You slept with dogs and their fleas have migrated all over your team.

Time to step up (or not) and show the bridge world you are true members of the BIG LEAGUES. All you will receive is accolades, thanks, appreciation, the respect from many and a free ride around the bases to home plate. How bad can that be? Make history. Set the crooked record straight.

Sportsmanship at its finest. You to call.

Cheers from THF,




Cam FrenchJune 30th, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Dear Cameron,

Of course you are right.

One of the neglected points about cheaters is the unwarranted assumption of innocence in events that occurred before they were caught cheating. For example, some people might ask, “Why would Terence Reese, who was such a great player, have to cheat to win?” but I wonder, “Maybe he wasn’t such a great player after all, and the events he won prior to being caught cheating he won by cheating more than skill.”



The person who sent this email to me privately agreed for this segment to be published.

I will say this is a distinguished person, author, one member (of the 30-40) MSC panelists in The Bridge World Magazine and obviously prefers not to be named.

Such is the case with cheating. No one wants to go on the record and everyone hopes the clouds will blow over and the spotlight will land elsewhere.

I just wish some of the stuff I see in private I could put in the public domain.

That is not the case and I would not have enjoyed the private conversations and insight from so many experts if I did not respect their confidentiality.

Grant Baze was the poster child for this argument. He helped me, kept me on the right track, and provided guidance as to how the expert community saw this case.

Obviously precious few want to step up in a public forum and endorse the case for Zeke, Capp and company.

Pity, your voices carry weight and we need them.

Thx to “X” for allowing his comment to be posted.


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DarceyOctober 19th, 2015 at 6:17 am

Just a heads up that your JBC review linky sent me to this post.Great post btw, wish I could have done 5 days too but with new baby it’s been crazy.

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