The Fisher and Schwartz cheating scandal in tournament bridge was a major event that shook the world of competitive bridge in 2015. The scandal involved two top players, Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz, who were accused of colluding and cheating during the Spingold Knockout Teams quarterfinals. The incident caused a rift in the bridge community and led to widespread condemnation of the pair.
In those 2015 quarterfinals, the team led by Richie Schwartz lost to the team headed by Jimmy Cayne. Following the loss, a member of the Schwartz team - Boye Brogeland - investigated the hands and found many irregularities committed by two players in Cayne’s team. Their names? Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz, two young Israeli players who had enjoyed a meteoric rise to success beginning in the early 2000s. Brogeland publicly accused Fisher and Schwartz of cheating (which in itself is a serious act), and even created the website bridgecheaters.com
to denounce the pair.
It has been speculated that Fisher and Schwartz used a combination of coughing signals
and/or board placement signals to convey illegal information.
The accusations were escalated to the ACBL’s Ethical Oversight Committee, which made the following decision in July 2016:1
In the matter of disciplinary charges against Lotan Fisher, Player No. 1906658, and Ron Schwartz, Player No. 1906623, the Ethical Oversight Committee unanimously finds:
- Overwhelming evidence establishes that charged parties Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz engaged in collusive cheating and gave false information about prior disciplinary convictions when applying for ACBL membership.
- Pursuant to the ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations Appendix B, Part B, E15, Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz are EXPELLED, with loss of all membership rights and privileges in the ACBL. Also, pursuant to the Code of Disciplinary Regulations 3.2 and 4.1.8a, Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz hereby FORFEIT 100% of their total ACBL masterpoint holdings, with loss of all titles, status ranks and privileges.
- Also, pursuant to the ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations 4.1.8c, the partners and teammates of Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz are subject to mandatory forfeiture of all masterpoints, titles and status ranks earned during the preceding four years calculated from the 2015 Spingold final.
The scandal has been covered in a documentary entitled “Dirty Tricks
” (2021). With a contemporary soundtrack and some flair, the film attempts to dramatize tournament bridge in a manner rarely attempted.
Written and directed by Daniel Sivan, it is available on several streaming platforms.
ACBL. Daily Bulletin, Volume 61, Number 9.