Banned from Bridge

Banned from Bridge

The news of the world’s top bridge player being issued a recent doping ban from the game shocked, surprised and slightly confused everyone at the same time – but that’s not the end of the story, and nor is Geir Helgemo the only top player that has ever been banned from the game.

ACBL: An Update on Helgemo

In the unlikely event that you haven’t heard the news yet, Geir Helgemo received a temporary ban from the game after testing positive for banned substances. It even reached the world far outside of bridge, giving professional sport a bit of a shake.

We’re glad to report that Robb Gordon from the ACBL issued a statement of support to Geir, posted here on BridgeWinners:

Therefore, since we do not consider this to be an “ethical violation” per our Code of Disciplinary Regulations (CDR 2.2.3), Mr. Helgemo is welcome to play in any and all ACBL sanctioned events for which he is eligible.

This is a massive show of support, a literal game-changer.

Coughing Up Trumps

Any bridge player worth their salt will know that it’s completely illegal according to the rules of the game to signal your partner, whether we’re talking about a nudge, a wink, a nudge and a wink or a cough – and coughing their way through the game is exactly what pair Entscho Wladlow and Michael Elinescu did in 2014.

The story made the Daily Mail. The pair had attributed the cheating cough to a simple bout of asthma during play, but of course this didn’t fly and they were issued an immediate ban.

The Verbal Bridge Bomb

This is another one of the more recent bans to come out of the game of bridge: In January 2019, player  Leiv Bornecrantz – aged 72 – was issued a two-year ban from bridge tournaments for profanity during a game. We’re not sure just what kind of bomb Leiv dropped to get the ban, but we can tell that he is adamant to pursue his ban from bridge further in court.

The Blue Team’s Foot Tapping Scandals

This happens to be one of the most infamous scandals of all time in the game, although there are many people out there who still might not have heard of it. Back in 1975, Gianfranco Facchini and Sergio Zucchelli from the Italian Blue Team were accused of using foot-tapping as an illegal signal during the game. Instead of an outright ban, it led to blocks that were placed under the tables to stop players from tapping their way through any games in future.

Give Him a Hand…Or Don’t!

 We found the story of Tony Haworth’s ban in a book called Bridge’s Strangest Hands by Andrew Ward. According to the story, Tony decided to bring his own pre-shuffled deck for the Welsh Foursomes tournament – and as Andrew points out in the book, what makes this one of the more unusual stories from the world of bridge bans is the fact that this is one of few cases where the cheater was acting alone. If you really want to tick off your bridge partner, this is a great start.

By Alex J. Coyne