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District Direction

By Ken Monzingo
National Board Representative

Whoosh! Was that “the book” flying past the accused?

Following pro Boye Brogeland of Norway’s explosive revelations of sophisticated cheating on the world bridge stage, ACBL management presented charges of this collusive unethical behavior to the ACBL Ethical Oversight Committee – charges that were heard at the Washington, D.C. Summer NABC. Two separate pairs of international superstar players were charged: Italy’s Fulvio Fantoni & Claudio Nunes (once regarded as the world’s top bridge duo), and Israel’s Lotan Fisher & Ron Schwartz. The hearings culminated in historic decisions of lifetime expulsions of all four of these bridge stars, plus removal of all their masterpoints and ACBL event titles earned. In addition, teammates who won when playing on teams with either of the convicted pairs for the past four years lose any of those ACBL event titles and points.
The Washington Hearings

In this unprecedented show of determination, eight members  of the league-appointed Ethical Oversight Committee, led by EOC chairs Peter Boyd of Darnestown, Maryland, and Jon Brissman of Indianapolis (formerly of D22), worked tirelessly through the late July week of legal hearings to reach results. In the near future these types of EOC legal hearings, (more are planned), will see increased activity as ACBL continues its determined new resolve to expose and prosecute cheating. The EOC has rarely been needed for the past 15 years, but now, with the uncoverings by Brogeland (and subsequent accusations) – combined with improvements in camera surveillance, forensic experts, better available statistics, etc. – truths of unethical behavior in top level bridge become more visible.
The EOC Committee

The Washington Ethical Oversight Committee was dedicated in their preparation and presentations of the two cases, and yet all EOC members – Boyd, Brissman, Cheri Bjerkan, Dennis Clerkin, Lesley Davis, Bruce Ferguson, Bob Glasson, Hendrik Sharples and Eddie Wold – are all strictly volunteers, traveling at their own expense and devoting their expert time pro bono. Both Jon Brissman and Lesley Davis are former District 22 Appellate Chairs.
Management: the Plaintiff

Prior to the hearings, ACBL management, led by CEO Robert Hartman and staff, spent months of preparation – hundreds of hours of legal-world discussions and planning with league counsel Peter Rank, plus attorneys Sam Whitten and Jeff Overby – to ensure all details of the charges were covered and understood ... often holding their critical meetings at headquarters in Horn Lake, Mississippi. Never have our league officials and our volunteers been so prepared, and the final reward was an uplifting double victory over cheating.
League Counsel: Peter Rank

After 14 years of service to ACBL as our League Counsel, Rank, of D22 Unit 533 Palm Springs, retired July 31. Prior to working for ACBL Peter had a long, successful career in law – working with Ronald Reagan among his high profile clients. Peter’s final activities with us were evident in the successful Washington guilty verdicts of the four accused world stars who connived to cheat at our game. It must be very gratifying for Peter to go out on such a great victory. 
A former McKenney Top 500 winner, Peter was at one time the youngest to make Life Master. He’s now back playing and winning. Just as important is his creative talent in producing musical shows. In 2009 he presented the very popular “My Fair (Little Old) Lady” nightly during the Fall North American Bridge Championships in San Diego. Now he has a new play you won’t want to miss: “There is Nothing like a Game,” playing Thanksgiving week at the upcoming 2017 Fall NABC – again at San Diego’s beautiful Manchester Grand Hotel.
The Exoert Witnesses

As Bob Hamman, one of the crucial witnesses at the Washington hearings, so aptly said: “We are all in this pond together.” “Now our pond has four fewer snakes in the water,” declared one league source.

Peace, my friends.