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Serious Ethics

(updated 17 December 2014)

Introduction

Elsewhere in the BCL Information pages, members are instructed that they may never use the word “cheat”, adding: “We take all allegations of cheating very seriously. If ever you are unhappy with any actions at a table, please finish the round or event underway and leave politely, and then submit an Incident Report. We have specialists who will follow up your concerns and take any appropriate action. You must not ever use or imply the word "cheat" at the table or anywhere else in the club. To do so is a serious breach of our Code of Conduct and will be dealt with accordingly.”

On this page, we explain our procedures after a report is submitted.

But first, it is worth defining what we mean by “cheating”. Cheating in bridge is a pre-meditated act of illegally obtaining hand information of other players with the intent of not being detected.

This can be achieved either by one or more players stealing hard copies of hand records or hacking into computer copies of hand records, or by illegal communication between two partners such as finger signals at face to face bridge or by phone or internet messaging at online bridge.
Such cheating is very rare but has happened and can happen. It is for this reason that our experienced Serious Ethics Consultant is called upon to examine such possible cases.

There can be players that make decisions at the table that may be considered “unethical” – for example, using inferences from a partner’s hesitation. The Laws allow Tournament Directors to make bridge rulings against such players without having to establish the intent of the player. In reality, players are very rarely actively unethical but if they were to be so, they would find many bridge rulings against them and some appropriate advice given by the TD. These things are outside the scope of this page, but mentioned so that a distinction can be made between these things and the immensely more heinous crime of actual cheating as defined above.

Don’t even think of cheating!

We will catch you, and quite quickly too!

Don’t let anyone, particularly partner, send you information by private communication about a board that you are currently playing. If it happens, do not be drawn into it. Please report it, using our Incident Report system (see below). If you don’t want to report it, make sure you make it clear to the other person that they must not do that ever again and that if they do then you really will report it. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied.

Reporting your concerns – The procedure.

Step 1. Member submits an “Incident Report”

Please always use the BCL Incident Report system for any concerns.

To compose and submit an Incident Report, please go to the BCL Home Page and select the following link:
Information > Ethics > Submit a Report

Please then follow the instructions provided for composing and submitting the report.

The report should normally draw attention to some aspects of unusual behaviour. Such unusual behaviour will generally include one or more of the following:

• Highly unusual bidding or play
• Exceptional lead
• Inspired switch
• Extreme success rate in finessing or when playing for the drop
• Long delays before unusual plays when there appears to be no connection problems

It is perfectly normal to experience some of the above. However, concern will arise if such events occur over an extended period of boards and if there is an inconsistency involved.

Once a member has submitted an incident report, he or she must keep the matter private and confidential and must not solicit support from other members nor take any such action that may undermine another member’s credibility. Any member who does submit an incident report and makes the matter public knowledge will face an automatic seven day suspension if it is a first offence, and more serious repercussions if this action continues or is repeated. We have the procedure in place to investigate in a discreet manner and actions which may hamper this procedure will not be tolerated.

Step 2. We log the “Incident Report” and decide whether to proceed further

The incident report is logged into the system. The Serious Ethics Consultant reviews each report logged under the "Serious Ethics" category and assesses whether there is cause for concern.

Step 3. Member notified if no cause for concern

In the event that the Serious Ethics Consultant has concluded the incident to give no cause for concern, the report will be closed with a reply sent to the submitting member explaining why the investigation has not proceeded any further.

Step 4. Full investigation

When the initial review does raise cause for concern, the Serious Ethics Consultant will fully investigate the case, and may access all or any of the following information to assist such investigation:

• The detailed results of sessions that the member under investigation has played, session by session over the past few weeks or months (to include previous aliases)
• PPI analysis of the member under investigation
• Records of hands played by member under investigation over the past few weeks or months
• Anecdotal evidence of the player’s performance in face to face environments
• Review of play and results when partnering different partners
• Chat records
• SSDs and SSD Extras
• Technical details such as internet protocol addresses, logon times
• Check for multiple registrations or previous records

Naturally, our Serious Ethics Consultant does not know the system and style of every pair in the club. While SSD information will normally be sufficient, the Serious Ethics Consultant may ask a member to complete and return a basic Convention Card.
The Serious Ethics Consultant will take as long as necessary in reviewing the case, and may consult further with appropriate experts. During the investigation process, the status of the member under investigation may be changed to that of ‘guest’ if there is sufficient cause for concern.

Step 5. Final processing of Incident Report

On completion of the investigation, the Serious Ethics Consultant will add a judgement to the original report regarding whether the membership of the investigated player has been terminated or whether there is insufficient or no cause for concern. The originator of the Incident Report, having correctly followed BCL procedures, must accept that the matter is closed unless or until additional information is produced and continue to maintain the privacy of the entire issue.

Step 6. Breach of Serious Ethics Rules

Bridge Club Live has a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards those who cheat. On the advice of the Serious Ethics Consultant, any member who is deemed to have cheated will immediately have their membership terminated.
However, members who have been expelled under this procedure may be able to return BCL after a period of expulsion which is normally a minimum of 2 years. There is no implied right to return. An appropriate email should be sent for consideration to the Managing Director, containing a proper acknowledgement of the previous wrong-doing, a clear apology for it and an undertaking fully to uphold all the rules and guidelines of Bridge Club Live should the request for re-admission be accepted.
The Managing Director reserves the right, on a case by case basis, to institute a ‘Trial Period’ and/or a ‘Financial Bond’ to be part of the condition of any such return. In all cases, no previously used aliases may be adopted. This ensures anonymity for all parties involved.
Should any member be aware that they are under investigation, they must treat the situation with absolute discretion. Any attempt by the member to publicise the case or hamper the investigation in any way will have their membership immediately terminated. Any similar attempt by any third party will result in immediate termination of their membership.

Refunds

Where a member is or has been involved in any Serious Ethics issue and elects to close their membership account, or has their membership terminated as a result of an ethics issue, we do not refund membership fees.