When the Germans won the gold medal in the d’Orsi Senior Trophy in Bali, I was delighted for them and congratulated them heartily. They are all great guys and deserving champions, I thought.
But then, early this year, I learned that Michael Elinescu and Entscho Wladow had been accused of illegal signalling in the final against USA2 and that the case was to be heard at the Dallas NABC by the WBF Disciplinary Commission. There, the pair was found “guilty of reprehensible conduct” in violation of Law 73B: “Inappropriate Communication between Partners” by the WBF and has been sentenced to 10 years’ suspension from WBF events and would never be allowed to play together again in a WBF event. They have 20 days from the date of the hearing (March 22) to appeal the decision; an extract from that decision, published here on page 2, states that coughs were used to convey the information.
The WBF makes it clear that no other member of the German team or the German Bridge Federation was involved in the allegations. We applaud the WBF for acting swiftly and decisively in this matter, but the WBF now has a further problem. If the ruling is upheld upon appeal, the WBF faces an important decision about what to do with the gold and silver medals, which is not at all clear. Do they strip Germany of the gold medals and award the title to USA2?
Before you say sure, think about the French team that Germany defeated in the semifinal. If the WBF has evidence that the suspended pair acted illegally earlier in the tournament, the French could argue that they were denied a chance to contest the title in the final and would have, at worst, won a silver medal. Going further back, what about Indonesia, Germany’s losing quarterfinal opponent, and the USA1 team which finished in ninth place, in the round robin, half a VP out of qualifying?
When the IOC expels a competitor they simply move everyone else up a place. That would also be the simplest solution for the WBF, making USA2 the gold medallists, Poland the silver medallists and France the bronze medallists. But wouldn’t it be interesting to go back and exise Germany from the standings, negate Germany’s matches against all 21 other teams in the d’Orsi Trophy and redraw the qualification table? That would mean USA1 would make it to the knockout stage. So another solution to the medal dilemma would be to have USA1 play Indonesia in a sole quarterfinal match, the winner to play France in the semifinal, and the winner of that match to play USA2 for the title. That would make for great theatre, great publicity for the WBF and would be another fair way of determining the Championship.
The WBF could, for example, pay the expenses of the four teams concerned to, say, Las Vegas at the ACBL’s Summer NABC. Take six days (but avoiding conflict with the Spingold) to determine the gold and silver medallists – in this scheme of things, Poland would retain its bronze medal, USA2 could do no worse than silver, and France, Indonesia and USA1 would all have a chance to improve their position This scheme is not without difficulties, however. Eliminating Germany and remaking the qualification table might result in different quarterfinal matches than actually occurred. Also, in World Championship play, if both USA teams make it to the semifinals, they must play each other. In this special instance, however, the WBF might rescind this rule for once. Should USA1 defeat Indonesia, it would be unfair to deprive USA2 of the silver medal already won and make them play another semifinal match, having already won one against Poland. In this scheme, teams beaten by USA2 (Scotland and Poland), France (Netherlands) and Poland (Belgium) would not be part of the new competition.
Should the hearing decision stand, there is one thing the WBF must do, and that is to strip Germany of the gold medals. One thing they must not do is to vacate the title. This is but one reason (of a number) to make the bronze-medal match as long and as meaningful as the gold-medal match, to avoid ‘unintended consequences’ such as this.
(i.) Anyone can access the play records of all matches broadcast on BBO at http://www.bridgebase.com/vugraph_archives/vugraph_archives.php. Alternatively, the bidding and play records for many matches can be seen at the WBF website www.worldbridge.org.
(ii.) The WBF’s full published document detailing the hearing’s proceedings can be found in many places. One is: http://www.bridge.nl/documenten/Hearing21-22March2014.pdf