February 08, 2013
Horse 1438 - Drugs In Sport Crisis Deepens
Every so often I go off to play Contract Bridge at the local Bridge Club, mainly with old ladies who have been playing the game longer than I have been alive. Bridge is very well known for the conventions and tells which build up inside the game and the sometimes dirty tactics which play out over the course of a tournament.
So then, with the current crisis rocking Australian sport, what could it possibly have to old ladies and cards? To put it simply, match fixing is rife in Bridge; cheating is rife in Bridge; drugs are rife in Bridge.
Drugs - Old ladies especially, love to tell you how old they are. They also love to openly tell you how many drugs they are taking. Liver pills, blood pressure pills, pills for their heart, or to regulate some hormone or iron, the list goes on, on and ever on. Hearing old people go on about the number of drugs they do is kind of like standing outside a nightclub on a Saturday night, when young people will tell you about go-ey, ecky or wacky.
The real drug of choice by card players though is caffeine. Endless cups of tea and coffee flow through the internal plumbing of old people. Caffeine has been known for ages to improve alertness and was probably the single leading cause of the "enlightenment" in the early eighteenth century when people switched from drinking gin to coffee in the UK. Playing at cards at coffee have gone together now for more than 300 years.
Cheating - Contract Bridge at its highest levels is so subject to players cheating, that in international tournaments talking is outright banned and sometimes they use bidding cards, boxes and screens so that partners can't see each other. Even with silence and bidding cards, players still found ways of telling their partner what they had by even more subtle cues like the number of fingers placed on bidding cards etc.
We uncovered a cheating system where the ladies appeared to be telling rambling stories about their families but the names they were using, were covers and placeholders for distinct cards. "Phillip went down to see Julie at number 6 the other day" is an elaborate cover for "I have the King and Five Of Clubs with six clubs all up." They'd actually named each of the 52 cards in the pack and could tell no end of stories which on the face of it, were boring and went on with no purpose than gossip.
Match Fixing - Yes, match fixing happens in Contract Bridge all the time. At a local level, people will deliberately lose rubbers to let their friends advance and/or so they they'll meet a particular group in the next round of the tournament. Officially it doesn't happen but because we're talking about old people, no-one dare police it for fear of everyone being caught out.
Match Fixing, Cheating and the use of Drugs in sport, probably extends to every sport there is and has probably been around as long as there's been sport. The great former manager of Liverpool FC, Bill Shankly once said that "If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain advantage, then he should be." In context, that would have applied to football but if not even Contract Bridge is exempt from cheating, then what hope is there for s
Posted by Rollo at 11:05