Inappropriate 'signalling'... how do I deal with it?

Oh dear! I've now had a couple of complaints about a pair who are alleged to be signalling to each other.

This is an experienced pair and will often come 'top' at the Club sessions. I played against them this week and can confirm there could be UI being passed... but it could also just be my reading something into nothing more than normal human behaviour - was blowing the nose just blowing the nose or something else? And are the complaints just from people who aren't as good as this pair?

How the heck do I deal with this?

I'll generally spend a lot of effort helping with club member issues on Laws and Ethics; taking counsel from other TDs and the EBU to get the 'correct' ruling (and I value this forum for that reason). But this is the first time I've had to face this sort of allegation.

Help please.


  • All I can suggest is to ask players who make a complaint to ask to record the hand, the method they allege UI was passed and see if there was any suspicious results of said passing - unusual switches, aggressive/ surprisingly cautious bidding. There is nothing wrong with recording hands and you need to do it to build up any evidence.

    Until you can 'crack the code' - if one exists of course - the pair are probably innocent - there is not much you can do. At a club you probably won't have the resources to video the pair nor, probably, a TD to surrepticiously watch what they do. i.e. see if unusual actions repeat themselves. There are lots of articles on and also Boye Brogeland has a website detailing how the recent 'cheaters' were caught - which gives you an idea of the problems involved.

  • Referring to my post under 'leaving contract visible' thread. This is a good reason not to allow 'angled bidding cards' in the bidding box to indicate the contract

  • I don’t understand this last post, johnlw. Angled bidding cards are used in my experience by very poor players who would not have the first idea of playing anything suspicious. You must get the idea of normal but illegal actions being suspicious out of your mind. Of course they could be used for cheating, as could making the last pass with a finger pointed at a pass card or some similar way, or adding a fourth pass at the end of an auction, or putting the bidding cards away after the last pass, or putting the contract into the bridgemate before leading, or ..... But to stop these everyday actions because one player in five hundred thousand will use them deliberately illegally is not going to help Bridge one iota.

  • See my other post for the really good reason for this late reply :) :)
    OK I do take your point - but the original post was suggesting that pairs do cheat and this would be just another opportunity if this procedure was the norm for everybody. I suppose it is more of a pet dislike which I was trying to give 'sensible reason' to - But I do find it impolite to give yourself a reminder which is not visible to the players. If you ask the contract everybody hears the answer!

  • It isn't always conscious or deliberate cheating. Sometimes in experienced and long standing partnerships the players are able to read their partner's (unconscious) mannerisms such as a frown, pursed lips etc. because of long association. The one frowning or pursing his lips is probably not even aware that he is doing it.

  • TagTag
    edited February 25

    An experienced partnership also tend to have very good "feel" between them, which less experienced partnerships just don't have. They also have various treatments which allow them to know when to stop bidding and when to be more pushy, all outside of anything illegal and all perfectly reasonable methods.

    If you really feel that they are cheating and wish to do something about it, you'll have to find some way to scrutinise what they do. You can even ask them such questions as "how did you find that play/slam/game?". They might bend over backwards to display their skills and then you can just rest easy that they really are that good.

    Do they also get good results with other players?

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