The European Bridge League and American Contract Bridge League are joining forces to tackle critical challenges facing bridge today.
At meetings during the European championships underway in Budapest, Hungary, EBL President Yves Aubry and ACBL Chief Executive Robert Hartman got down to business on how the two powerhouse bridge conferences can pool resources and share information for greater impact and efficiency.
“Given the tumultuous events of the past year, the obvious starting point is partnering to combat cheating and taking a more aggressive role in identifying and prosecuting law breakers,” said Hartman.
Aubry agreed, saying, “While we are having success using video monitoring to uncover low-tech collusive signaling and cheating in the present, we need to look ahead and be prepared to detect cheating via electronic transfer of information.” He announced that the EBL, ACBL and United States Bridge Federation are cooperatively investing in a study on electronic surveillance. “We must stay at least one step ahead of those seeking to harm our game through illegal methods.”
Hartman added that the open exchange of investigatory findings will strengthen both organizations’ abilities to police the game and may speed up case preparation as well as maximize limited resources.
“Upon the recommendation of a high-level player task force, the ACBL Board recently approved the formation of an Anti-Cheating Commission,” Hartman said. He explained that the Commission is a panel of five experts who will confidentially investigate suspect ethical and disciplinary activity.
“I am pleased,” Hartman said, “that Eric Laurant, who sits on the EBL Executive Committee and who chaired EBL’s Investigation Committee for the first wave of cases last fall, has agreed to be one of our Commissioners. I’m grateful, too, to Boye Brogeland, who led the charge that transformed how administrators deal with cheating allegations in the age of social media. Boye also accepted my invitation to serve on the Commission.”
The EBL-ACBL partnership is well positioned to make a significant impact on the game at every level. As the administrator of WBF’s Zone 1, the EBL’s oversight extends to 46 national bridge organizations, whose membership totals more than 384,000. ACBL coordinates bridge activities among the 168,500 members of the USBF, the Canadian Bridge Federation and the Mexican Bridge Federation. Together, the two zonal conferences represent more than 80% of the players who belong to the WBF’s member NBOs.
“We admire what the EBL has done in a number of areas – including youth bridge/education, marketing and technology,” the ACBL officer said. “We look forward to learning what works in Europe and seeing how we might feasibly adapt those practices in North America.”
Aubry added, “There may be the possibility of teaming up in the creation of a new event featuring the top players in Europe versus the top players in the U.S. The opportunities are limitless.”