The Great British Bridge Scandal


AD20140402By Deborah Davis

It is 1965, at the World Bridge Championships in Buenos Aires, and the American team believe they have cracked a code. Could it be true that two British players are guilty of cheating?

Terence Reese - Nick Waring

Boris Schapiro - Stephen Critchlow

Dorothy Hayden - Laurel Lefkow

Ralph Swimer - Clive Hayward

Leonard Caplan - David Cann

Sir John Foster - Michael Bertenshaw

Simon Goldblatt - Jot Davies

Directed by Tracey Neale

The Story:

In 1965, at the World Bridge Championships in Buenos Aires, the American team led by Dorothy Hayden observed Britain's top players, Terence Reese and Boris Schapiro, using finger signals during bidding. Hayden cracked the code: the British pair were signalling the number of cards they held in their hearts suits. Ralph Swimer, Britain's non-playing Captain, was informed. He observed his team playing and confirmed Hayden's suspicions. They reported their findings to the World Bridge Federation. Reese and Schapiro were summoned to defend the accusations and chose to remain silent. The WBF found them guilty of cheating. Swimer conceded the championship on behalf of Great Britain. Reese and Schapiro returned to London, their international reputations destroyed.

But for the four participants, the drama had only just begun. The British Bridge Federation set up its own inquiry under Sir John Foster QC who imposed a criminal burden of proof; the prosecution was required to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Deborah Davis picks up the story as the case unfolds and the battle for the truth begins.

The Writer:

Deborah Davis, a qualified lawyer and freelance journalist, has written five plays for Radio 4 and a stage play, Court Pastoral, selected for the International Playwriting Festival. Her radio drama, Balance of Power, was selected for the Brit List in 2009 coming in joint 4th place. The script is now in film development.