The 1975 Bermuda Bowl, an annual world championship event in the world of contract bridge, witnessed one of the most infamous cheating scandals in the history of the game. The final match featured Italy and the United States, but it was during this event that American reporter Bruce Keidan uncovered a scandal that would rock the bridge community.
While observing the Italian pair of Gianfranco Facchini and Sergio Zucchelli, Bruce Keidan noticed unusual foot actions between the two players. It became apparent that they were tapping each other's feet under the table, seemingly in an attempt to relay information about their hands. Keidan's discovery was corroborated by several witnesses, leaving no doubt that something was amiss. The illicit foot-tapping was a blatant form of cheating, a violation of bridge's strict code of ethics.
Upon receiving this shocking information, the tournament's authorities were faced with a difficult decision. They decided to "severely reprimand" Facchini and Zucchelli for their cheating but allowed them to continue competing in the event. However, in a peculiar twist, they placed blocks underneath the tables to prevent any further foot contact. This move aimed to curtail any attempts at cheating.
Team USA's Reaction
The decision to let the Italians continue competing incited anger and frustration, particularly in the American camp. Alfred Sheinwold, the American team's captain, was visibly dismayed by the decision. In protest, Sheinwold declared that his team would resign from the bridge match. The situation reached a point where the American Contract Bridge League, the governing body of bridge in the United States, had to step in and persuade Sheinwold's team to complete the event. Their intervention was primarily motivated by the desire to avoid a public embarrassment that would come with the American team refusing to play.
Italy Emerges Victorious
Despite the controversy and tension surrounding the tournament, Italy ultimately emerged as the winners, defeating the United States by a score of 215 to 189 International Match Points. It is worth noting that Facchini and Zucchelli, who had been reprimanded for cheating, quickly faded from the international bridge circuit after the scandal.