Balicki-Zmudzinski – All hands from EBTC

Posted by in Bridge on Oct 5, 2015


I collected all the video material from EBTC 2014, where ulalicki-Zmudzinski were defending a hand.

There are 106 publicly available data on YouTube and associated hand records, but at first I have focused on the 48 hands, where Zmudzinski leads, as:

  • Balicki makes a lot of body gestures in general, meaning there is some data to analyze.
  • Balicki is in front of the camera, meaning the signals are visible.
  • Zmudzinski is further away from the camera and his signals are more difficult to see.

I have structured everything in Excel and started to look for patterns in their behavior. As I only focus on Balicki after the dummy comes down, I have established a ‘base-line’ that shows his normal behavior and analyze deviations from this.

What I have seen:

  1. Signaling primarily takes place with the right hand after dummy comes down and before a card is played, by can also happen later in hand, but then its usually in combination with a trigger (e.g. scratch) followed by a show of fingers.
  2. Hypothesis(1): They show interest in partners lead suit by using the right hand like this:
    1. Folded fist placed on the right side of the table in horizontal(!) position shows encouragement in lead suit.
    2. If the right hand is placed anywhere else (e.g. center of table) its more neutral.
    3. If the right hand is placed next to the chin (often) or away from the table, then its clearly discouragement to the suit lead by partner.
  3. Hypothesis(2): They show length in the suit partner leads blind (when relevant) – or the numbers of hearts in hand.
    1. Tapping the table with right hand (1 tap = 1 , folded fist + 1 tap = 6 cards), scratching folded fist to show five cards etc.
    2. Stretched fingers from right hand fist.
    3. Placing right hand flat on the table stretching out four or five fingers.
  4. Hypothesis(3): They use scratching signal for lavinthal shifts.

Please also notice the following:

  • Against some stronger pairs the signaling was kept to an absolute minimum. One can speculate of the reasons for this.
  • Each hand is different, meaning that different hands require different signaling.
  • The hands are presented in the natural order – and not with the ‘worst’ (read best) examples first.


Poland vs. Denmark (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Konow-Askgaard)

Here we have four hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34174, Boards: 23, 25, 27 and 31.

Board 23: Contract 2S
Bidding: P-P-1C-1S:2C-P-P-X:XX-P-P-2S:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 08.09.48

Zmudzinski leads king of club from A87:86:87:KQ9532
Balicki holds JT4:K753:KT2:AT4

1:18:02. After the dummy comes down. Balicki moves his right hand to the right of the table and makes a horizontal fist with right hand (encouragement in suit lead) and taps the table four times. He then takes the right hand back up to his cards and the signaling is over.

Horizontal first on right hand side of table = encouragement in suit lead
Taps on table (4) = number of hearts in hand

Does Zmud pulls his lead card back with his right hand and shows a flat hand with five fingers spread out followed by a stretched finger on his right hand to show six-cards in the lead suit (clubs)?

Board 25: Contract 4S
Bidding: P-1S-2D-3C:P-3NT-P-4S:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 08.16.57

Zmudzinski leads ace of diamonds from T4:A863:AKT86:53
Balicki holds J3:JT9542:92:T82

1.38.02: Again Balicki waits until dummy is down, touches his cards, take the right hand down on the table forms a fist (encouragement with doubleton) and taps the table once to show heart length (six).

We can’t see what goes on with his right hand and scratching before that happens, as Balicki is facing away from the camera.

Horizontal first on right hand side of table = encouragement in suit lead
Taps on table (1) = number of hearts in hand

Board 27: Contract 3S
Bidding: P-P-1NT-P:P-2C-X-2S:3C-P-P-3S:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 08.22.07

Zmudinski leads 9 of clubs from 532:72:KJ842:T95
Balicki holds Q6:QT4:A93:AKQ64

1.49.12: After touching his cards with his right hand, Balicki places a folded fist on the right side of the table holding AKQ64 in the lead suit. This is not a defense that requires Balicki to show his hand to partner.

Declarer – Mr. Konow – is staring intensely at the dummy, so Balicki waits until 1.49.37 to show the heart length. It looks like he shows three fingers with the right hand.

When declarer ruffs the third round of clubs, Balicki scratches his face. Face is high. Club being lead, he shows something in next higher suit being diamonds, where he holds A93.

Horizontal first on right hand side of table = encouragement in suit lead
Fingers on table (3) = number of hearts in hand

Board 31: Contract 4H
Bidding P-P-P-1C:P-1NT-P-2H:P-3C-P-4H:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 08.29.22

Zmudinski leads the 2 of spades from J432:QJ9:K853:83
Balicki holds QT75:43:T964:A54

2.18.58: Balicki sees partners lead and dummy´s cards and at first he places his right hand fist horizontal on the table, but as he sees dummy he removes his right hand from the table and takes it up to his cheek. After touching his cards with his right hand he taps his right hand three times and then twice with his left hand.

After the hand signaling ends – as usual – there is a lot of tapping and moving the right hand around to disguise the real signals.

He scratches his nose (high) to show interest in higher suit. Spade is lead, so he is signaling to clubs, where he holds A54.

Horizontal first on right hand side of table = encouragement in suit lead
Taps on table with right hand (3) = number of hearts in hand (2)

Poland vs. Israel (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Herbst-Herbst)

Here we have four hands, where Zmud leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34185, Boards: 17, 25, 26 and 27.

Board 17: 5S doubled
Bidding: P-P-1S-4H:4S-5H-P-P:5S-P-P-X:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 08.39.29

Zmudzinski holds void:AKQJ97:942:AJ73 and leads the ace of hearts
Balicki holds T9:T42:A87:T8652

This goes very fast, look closely…

At 10.09: Balicki touches the dummy´s cards very fast and the recorded quality is not top notch.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 08.48.50

He touches the singleton club (why correct a single card in the middle of dummy hand?)

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 08.49.03

He then shows five fingers out flat with his right hand.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 08.52.11

He then touches the singleton heart with his third finger

At 10.13: Balicki ducks down and scratches his face very clearly. Spade is trump and partner leads hearts.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.18.11

All the way down under the screen to scratch his face (instead of taking hand to face).

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.18.39

At 10.15: Balicki shows the right hand signal by stretching three fingers very clearly.

After just six seconds the signaling is over and the hand proceeds.

Is this Lavinthal to highest suit diamonds, where Balickis holds A87, or is he just giving count in partners lead suit?

Balicki holds five clubs (shows five fingers after touching clubs), three hearts (touched with third finger) and three spades (lead suit).

Board 25: 1NT
Bidding: P-1S-1NT-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.25.07

Zmud leads 4 of spades from 84:AQ543:Q753:32
Balicki holds AQJ95:T72:J4:KQT

Does he like the spade lead?

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.29.22

1.28.07: Places right hand on table with a fist (encourage spades)

How many hearts does he hold?

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.29.33

1.28.12: He quickly scratches the table with his right hand to show three hearts and then leads forward and scratches his head (high signal, spades lead, signal to clubs) and then at 1.28.16 the signaling is over and Balicki continue to establish his spade suits and gets in with a club.

An alternative reading of the signaling here: scratch on cheek shows three hearts and is not lavinthal.

Horizontal first on right hand side of table = encouragement in suit lead
Scratches cheek under the screen with right hand (3) = number of hearts in hand (3)

Board 26: 3NT
Bidding: 2D-2NT-P-3NT:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.33.53

Zmudzinski leads the 2 of hearts from T974:52:KT94:T73
Balicki holds 83:QT9763:Q75:AJ

This how Balicki looks, before he sees partners lead (neutral):

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.45.11

1.33.26: Balicki sees partners heart lead and immediately puts his right hand fist horizontally on the table (to encourage hearts) holding Q109763, even before seeing dummy´s card. This makes sense, as he has sufficient side-entries.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.45.54

Dummy makes sure his cards are placed nicely on the table.

1.33.32: Still Balickis touches dummys cards with first five fingers followed by his little finger to show six card hearts. Why is doing this? And who corrects dummy´s card with a stretched little finger?

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.53.23 Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 10.52.13

After this he taps three times with his fisted right hand – then pauses – then taps twice. Could it be a signal to show his strength in the minors, where he holds Q75 in diamonds (3) and AJ in clubs (2)? We don’t know.

Very suspicious touching of dummy´s cards.
Horizontal first on right hand side of table = encouragement in suit lead.

Board 27: 4S
Bidding: 1S-2H-3C-3H:3S-P-4H-X:4S-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.01.00

Zmudzinski leads the 10 of hearts from A:KJT432:T96:T94
Balicki holds T65:A985:K752:65

Partner leads (neutral position):

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.02.57

Then Balicki sees dummy:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.03.06

He immediately removes his right hand from the table to discourage partners lead suit (hearts).

He then grabs the ace of hearts and starts to think.

After signaling encourage/discourage to partners lead, the next task is to show length in hearts.

1.39.14: Balicki touches dummy´s cards with four fingers with his right hand (shows four hearts).

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.07.51

Right hand fist away from the table = discouragement in suit lead
Touches dummy with four fingers = has four hearts in hand

Poland vs. Turkey (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Atabay-Kaya)

Here we have four hands, where Zmud leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34209, Boards: 21, 22, 28 and 31.

Board 21: 4S
Bidding: P-1S-P-2NT:P-4S-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.28.46

Zmudzinski leads the 4 of hearts from J5:64:T764:AQ863
Balicki holds A86:KJ852:985:72.

This is how Balicki looks, before he sees the lead:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.33.01

The he sees the lead and dummy:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.34.34

Immediately his right hand come down as a fist on the table.

38.04: Instead of tapping it five times on the table to show his five hearts, he scratches a fist against the table back and forth.

He does no scratching signals and holds 985 and 72 in the minors.

Horizontal first on right hand side of table = encouragement in suit lead.
Scratches folded fist (means five) back on forth of table = holding KJ852 in hearts.
No scratching up, middle or down = no Lavinthal needed.

Board 22: 3S
Bidding: 1S-P-1NT-2D:3S-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.29.08

Zmudzinski leads the Jack of spades from JT8:J854:A87:A42
Balicki holds 65:A32:KJ9432:J8

12 seconds after the lead and dummy:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.42.58

No fist on table. He holds 65 in the trump suit, lead by partner. And clearly shows discouragement.

Next he needs to show heart length.

Watch this closely…

Balicki taps the table three times with a fisted hand to show three hearts.

43.08: He then scratches his belly and down. It looks like he is trying to do a quick Lavinthal-signal to include the next lower suit – hearts – where he has A32.

No horizontal first on right hand side of table = discouragement in suit lead.
Taps the table three times with folded right fist = holding three hearts.
Scratching down = Lavinthal relevant.

Board 28: 4S
Bidding: P-P-1S-P:2S-P-4S-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.29.28

Zmudzinski leads the ace of clubs from J4:43:Q8643:AKT5
Balicki holds 96:KJ976:95:QJ94

Base-position as dummy comes down:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.53.42

Then comes the discourage/encourage signal:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.53.53

1.26.10: Balicki first shows the length in the suit lead by showing four fingers flat on the table (holding QJ94 in clubs).

Then touches his card normally again:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.58.06

He then scratches (we can’t see exactly what goes on) and then comes the second signal (heart length) shown by five fingers flat on the table:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.58.16

Partner in case you forgot, how many clubs I had, let me show it to you again:

Four taps with right hand fist.

1.26.33: He takes his right hand back up to his cards and the signaling is over.

Right hand placed flat on the table = discouragement in suit lead and four clubs
Shows heart length and interest = shows five fingers flat on the table with right hand
Taps the table four times with folded right fist = holding four clubs.
tching = hard to see on this hand.

Board 31: 4S doubled
Bidding: 1D-P-1H-1S:3H-4D-X-4S:P-P-X-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 11.29.46

Zmudzinski leads jack of hearts from void:JT73:AQ653:AQ54
Balicki holds A873:9654:KT87:T

This hand starts with Balicki being unfocused and touching someting on the floor, when partner make the blind lead.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.12.07

He get his body back up to the table and keeps his right hand in the center of the table, as he sees dummy. From this base position, he can always move his hand to the right.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.18.31

1.50.02: Balicki tabs his right hand four times (first fist, then twice with thumb, and then fist again) to show four hearts.

No visible scratching from Balicki meaning no ‘lavinthal’. Is that because he has single club and diamond king and no preference?

This one of many hands, where its hard not to see the signals from Zmudzinski.

1.50.10: Touches shirt (down) and puts down five(5) fingers.

1.50.16: Scratches chin (up) and shows four(4) fingers touching the table.

He holds AQ653 in diamonds and AQ54 in clubs.

Right hand placed flat in the center of the table = neutral/discouragement in suit lead 
Taps the table four times with folded right fist = holding four hearts.
tching = Zmudzinski clearly signals

Poland vs. Romania (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Coldea-Marina)

Here we have three hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34219, Boards: 17, 26 and 30.

Board 17: 2SP
Bidding: 1C-P-1NT-P:P-2S-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.40.56

Zmudzinski leads 8 of hearts from Q5:986:K972:K954.
Balicki is holding KJ7:KJ2:QJ3:Q862

This is Balicki in base position, before he sees dummy:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 13.59.41

As soon as dummy is down, he moves his right hand fist on the table.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 13.59.50

As he places it in the center of the table, it looks more neutral. Looking at his actual holding with values in all four suits and just KJ2 in hearts (missing 10), this signal fits his hand.

At 10.31 he tabs with his three fingers on the right hand on top of the cards and taps his left hand. He holds KJ2 in the lead suit, hearts.

Its a very clear signal.

Horizontal first on center of table = neutral preference for suit lead.
Taps three times with three stretched fingers = holds three hearts.

Board 26: 4H
Bidding: 1H-P-2C-2S:3C-P-3H-P:4H-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.41.15

Zmudzinski leads 7 of spades from 874:64:J9652:982.
Balicki holds AKT92:72:AT74:J3

Declarer plays before Balicki could even make a signal here. And he doesn’t need to make a signal holding AKT92 in the suit lead.

Balicki takes the spade lead with the ace of spades (noticing J653) in dummy. Instead of continuing with spade king and another spade, he shifts to a passive heart. How does he know thats the right defense?

Look at Zmudzinski´s three folded finger on his right hand.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.09.32

He scratches the hand back and forth against the table to show, this is a signal.

Board 30: 4H
Bidding: 4H-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.41.30

Zmudzinski leads ace of spades from AKT965:K:32:7632
Balicki holds J84:AQJ9:JT98:J9.

Again base-position, before dummy is down:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.12.34

Dummy is down:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.12.54

97.15: Balicki places his right on the table and stretches three fingers and them move his right hand back up to his cards (discouraging). Signaling is over.

No scratches from neither person, no values outside trump suit.

Discourage lead with flat hand = Balicki holds J84 in suit lead
Show length with three fingers = Balicki holds J84 in suit lead
Scratching = no need to scratch here, as he holds nothing outside the trump suit.

Poland vs. Bulgaria (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Mihov-Stefanov)

Here we have three hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34253, Boards: 2, 5 and 8.

Board 2: 4S doubled
Bidding: 1S-2H-3C-X:3S-P-4S-X:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.44.26

Zmudzinski leads queen of clubs from 6:KQJ8642:KJ82:Q
Balicki holds KQ54:95:954:KJ76

Before dummy comes down:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.25.51

Then dummy comes down:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.26.54

First Balicki shows a fist on the table, he likes the suit lead, clubs.

Then look what happens…

23.42: After the dummy comes down Zmudzinski scratches his eyes to show singleton lead (happens on 5 out of 6 boards, I have seen, so still needs more data):

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.27.45

23.43: Immediately after Balicki stretches out four fingers from his right hand to show four cards in the lead suit, clubs:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.27.56

23.50: He then touches high cards again with the right hand and signaling is over.

After this he taps the table three times with his right hand, but its after the normal signaling has already stopped by then.

Encourage leads with showing fist = holds KJ76 and partner leads the queen.
Shows length in suit lead = stretches four fingers hold KJ76 in lead suit.

Board 5: 4H
Bidding: P-1H-P-2C:P-2H-P-4H:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.44.43

Zmudzinski leads club 8 from Q93:Q54:Q53:9862
Balicki holds JT5:3:KT872:KT73

Balicki before seeing anything:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.33.57

Dummy is down:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.35.16

And so is Balicki´s right fist, as he holds K1073 over dummy´s QJ4 of clubs.

40.30: It looks like Balicki starts to tap twice, but declarer has already led a card from dummy before the tapping begins, so he has to play a card and stop signaling.

Declarer takes 12 tricks after ducking a spade to Balicki.

Encourage suit lead = right fist on table holding K1073
Tapping/scratching = starts to do it twice, but is interrupted by declarer

Board 8: 3H
Bidding: P-P-1H-P:2H-X-3H-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.43.28

Zmudzinski leads 2 of spades from Q632:AQ6:QT7:743
Balicki holds AT4:3:AK542:T862

Before dummy and lead is visible:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.40.23

After dummy is visible:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 14.40.36

Again, right hand comes down on the table fast holding A104 in spades.

And again the Bulgarian declarer quickly leads a card from dummy, before any further hand signaling can be made.

1.02.32: When Zmudzinski gets in at trick 3 and starts to think about the defense, Balickis right hand arm disappears out of of the camera angle to left. We can’t see the signal, if any. However,  at trick 5, Zmudzinski returns a diamond from Q107 to Balickis AK542 suit.

Encourage suit lead = right fist on table holding A104.

Poland vs. Latvia (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Balasovs-Rubins)

Here we have five hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34281, Boards: 3, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Board 3: 4S doubled
Bidding: 2S-X-3S-P:P-4H-P-P:X-P-4S-P:P-X-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.46.33

Zmudzinski leads ace of spades from A:AQ9643:A96:AJ4
Balicki holds 7632:KJ7:JT4:983

Here the signaling is very clear.

This before dummy comes down:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 15.22.09

22:24: Even before Balicki sees the dummy´s cards, he scratches down (next lower suit, when spades are lead is hearts)

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 15.22.19

and stretches out three fingers on his right hand:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 15.22.27

22.35: He folds his hand and taps the table three times:

At trick 2, Zmudzinski takes ace of hearts and continue hearts.

Balicki of course holds KJ7 in hearts.

Trump ace is lead = suit preference to hearts holding KJ7 in hearts (scratching down)
Three fingers shown from fist og lavinthal-suit = three cards in hearts

Board 12: 3NT
Bidding: 2H-P-P-2NT:P-3NT-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.46.51

Zmudzinski leads queen of diamonds from 7:J9852:AQJ954:2.
Balicki holds JT532:K64:82:J96.

I assume Balicki-Zmudzinski plays Q vs. NT to show the ace as well here.

Balicki signals neutral by showing a vertical fist in the center of the table.

1.30.45: Balicki scratches his forehead with 3 fingers (high = next higher suit) signaling strength in hearts, where he holds K64. This shows his potential entry in case he can come in and lead diamonds through declarer.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 15.30.54

Declarer quickly takes 11 tricks.

Encourage/discourage = neutral hand in center of table (vertical).
Lavinthal = scratches face (next higher suit from diamonds) to show hearts
Heart length = uses three fingers and has three hearts (could be coincidence, but number fits)

Board 13: 3D
Bidding: P-P-1D-1S:2H-P-3C-P:3D-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.47.06

Zmudzinski leads ace of spades from AK962:83:AKT:T64.
Balicki holds T84:KJ954:J4:Q97.

This is before seeing the lead and dummy:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 15.43.10

This is after seeing the lead and dummy:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 15.44.08

1.36.30: Balicki takes his right hand away from the table. He doesn’t like spade lead.

1.36.36: Balicki places five fingers on the table to show heart length (KJ954) followed by a fist (strength):

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 20.47.15

1.36.42: Balicki shows three fingers stretches in his right hand to show length in partners suit, spades. Its difficult to see the stretches thumb from this angle, but its there on the video.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 20.49.15

1.36.44: Balicki leans down (so Zmudzinski can see the signal) and scratches his face with three fingers:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 15.45.30

Touching his face means the next higher suit, and when spade is lead, its club, where Balicki holds Q97.

And thats how, you show a 3-5-2-3 hand with strong hearts.

Trick 3, Zmudzinski of course leads hearts through dummys AQ1062.

Discourage partners lead = remove hand from table holding 1084
Show heart length = five fingers flat on table holding KJ954 in hearts.
Lavinthal scratch = scratches face (high), clubs being the next higher suit from spades, and using three fingers (my still be coincidence?) holding Q97 in clubs.

Board 14: 2NT

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.47.23

Zmudzinski leads 6 of spades from 8642:K62:Q98:T87.
Balicki holds KJ73:743:J7:AQ92.

Balicki before he sees the lead and dummy:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.07.25

Immediately after:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.07.12

Balicki moves his right hand away from the table and up to his face, when he sees the lead. This shows discouragement for the spade lead. He knows partners weak holding in space and is looking at KJ73. He much prefers a club through dummy´s KJ5, as he holds AQ92 behind.

1.42.19: Balicki shows four fingers flat on the table showing spade length:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.09.26

Next Balicki should show hearts:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.14.23

He stretches three fingers from his right hand fist in the picture above.

Then he also shows four fingers stretched on his right hand and put it over his left hand:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.14.47

to show that the four-suit is in clubs, he scratches down (against NT: low = lowest suit) for clubs, where he holds AQ92.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.18.04

and of course shows four fingers again to make it really simple for Zmudzinski.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.18.51

1.42.37: Why does Zmudzinski take back his lead card and only touches it with finger number 4?

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.19.40

Perfect defense to beat 2NT twice.

Discourage lead = take right hand away from table and up to face.
Show length in suit lead = four fingers on table holding KJ73 in spades.
Followed by heart length = stretches three fingers on his right hand.
Lavinthal-scratch = scratches down (for clubs) and shows four fingers holding AQ92 in clubs.

Board 15: 4S
Bidding: 1S-P-3C-P:4S-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 12.47.35

Zmudzinski leads queen of hearts from J72:QJ92:K9:AQT7.
Balicki holds 3:K8653:T843:842.

This is the first hand of all the defenses, I have analyzed, where Balickis takes his cards below the table in the beginning of the hand.

There is a lot of advanced signaling going on. Take a look at these pictures.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.33.32

Hands away from the table.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.34.44

Scratches forehead with five fingers.

There are three other suits outside spades and is high for hearts here or just a trigger that a signal is coming?

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.34.56

Shows five fingers flat on the table. Always the length of the opening suit (hearts).

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.35.39

Then folds three fingers and moves than hand back and forth on the table. Clubs?

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.36.18

Then ducks down and scratches his head again with four fingers.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.36.30

Then put four fingers flat on the table. Four diamonds?

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 21.37.16

Signaling is over. He leads a card, before dummy.

Of all the hands analyzed so far, this is the only one, where Balicki doesn’t hold anything outside the lead suit. It is also the first hand, where his cards go under the table.

We need more hands to prove it, but it could be that he takes the cards under the table as a signal to show: “Partner, I have nothing, but let me show you my distribution to help you out“.

It looks like he shows his distribution here in the usual order (suit lead, hearts and the diamonds (up) and preference for hearts.

Poland vs. France (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Bompis-Quantin)

Here we have five hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34291, Boards: 17, 20, 21, 23 and 32.

Board 17: 3C
Bidding: P-P-3C-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.47.29

Zmudzinski leads 3 of clubs from AQJ7:Q94:Q432:73.
Balicki holds K8642:752:T5:AT9.

At first Balicki is a little distracted. He brings his right fist up, to show interest in clubs, but quickly takes it up to his right chin to deny interest.

Balicki ducks the club lead, but takes the second round with the ace. He plays a small spade to Zmudzinski´s queen, but remember to scratch his head with five fingers.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 22.15.44

Board 20: 4S
Bidding: 2C-3D-X-3S:P-4S-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.49.14

Zmudzinski leads ace of diamonds from Q8:AT53:A4:KJ863.
Balicki holds AT:764:K98653:T7.

Balicki folds his right hand fist to encourage diamonds.

He moves the folded fist back and forth and then stretches one finger on his right hand to show 6 cards (5+1) in the suit lead.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 22.25.27

He then touches his cards again and signaling is over.

Encourage lead suit = Balicki folds right hand fist and places it on the table holding K98653 in diamonds.
Show length in lead suit = Balicki scratches a folded fist (shows five) and stretches his index finger on his right hand to show the sixth diamond.

Board 21: 1NT doubled
Bidding: 1C-P-1H-X:P-P-1NT-X:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.50.00

Zmudzinski leads ace of spades from AKJ5:void:KQT54:Q976.
Balicki holds T9:JT843:82:J842.

52.18: Balicki touches two of dummy´s suits with a flat hand with five fingers spread out. We can’t determine the suits being touched.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 22.52.00

Here are two close-ups of the touching:

First like this:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.59.52

Then only with the fourth finger:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 17.00.24

And then the other cards:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 17.01.54

He then scratches his face with four fingers.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 22.54.50

Face is high (club is the higher suit, when spade is being led).

After this he taps the table twice, scratches his legs and put four fingers on the table. These actions come before, he touches the other cards and play the hand, so we assume its some kind of signaling, which we have decoded yet.

We would need much better footage to determine, which suit he is touching and how many fingers etc.

Board 23: 5C
Bidding: 1C-1S-X-2S:3S-P-4H-P:5C-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 16.48.25

Zmudzinski leads ace of spades from AKJT65:KJ:J85:62.
Balicki holds Q98:973:K742:975.

Balicki doesn’t like the spade lead or doesn’t have the king, so he discourage spades first.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 23.06.52

Then he shows a fist with three stretched fingers.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 23.07.13

Thats how you show Qxx in spades.

Board 32: 4S
Bidding: P-1D-P-1S:P-2S-P-2NT:P-3S-P-4S:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 17.11.49

Zmudzinski leads jack of hearts from AT72:JT2:J8:A952
Balicki holds 5:Q764:T94:JT876.

Balicki doesn’t have strength in the heart suit, so he shows the following:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 23.16.48

Four flat fingers on the table. Discouraging and four the lead suits, here hearts.

He then continue to touch dummy´s cards with what looks like four fingers (difficult to see). We can’t see which suit he touches for sure, but it looks like the heart suit.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 17.11.04

When Zmudzinski gets in at trick 4 on the club ace, this happens (see video):

Balicki suddenly puts four fingers flat on the table:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 17.19.57

Then leans back:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 17.20.04

Then five stretched fingers on right hand.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 17.20.16

Without speculating too much thats how you show that four weak hearts followed by five weak clubs.

We would need better footage to determine the exact signals here, but its very obvious that they are there and consistent with his holding.

Poland vs. Germany (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Auken-Welland)

Here we have just two hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34300, Boards: 17 and 27.

Board 17: 5NT
Bidding: unknown

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 18.32.42

Zmudzinski leads 3 of diamonds from K96:J98:Q9543:T9.
Balicki holds T853:K62:7:J8765.

As soon as Balicki sees Zmudzinski´s lead, he takes his left hand (negative hand) forward and taps once.

Right hand is not on the table (showing discouragement) for the lead suit.

Later in hand he continues to make some right-hand tabs, we except these – as usual – to show nothing. As we can’t see the actual hand play taking place, we can’t analyze these further.

Board 27: 3NT
Bidding: 1C-P-2S-X:3NT-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 18.34.41

Zmudzinski leads 6 of spades from Q62:Q9864:3:J643
Balicki holds KT943:JT3:8:AKQ5.

Roy Welland played the cards fast, so Balicki had to make a quick signal to discourage spades.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 23.40.11

That makes sense, when he holds AKQ5 in clubs.

Poland vs. Norway (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Brogeland-Lindqvist)

Here we have six hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34311, Boards: 20, 25, 27, 29, 30 and 32.

Board 20: 3H
Bidding: 1C-P-1H-P:1NT-P-2H-P:3H-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 18.36.37

Zmudzinski leads diamond 8 from K74:Q9:987653:AJ.
Balicki holds AT5:J85:AJT4:Q98.

First, Balicki taps a fisted hand as he sees dummy. Then, he taps the table 3-4 times with his right hand fist.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-05 kl. 23.56.27

He then stretches three fingers to show length in hearts.

Board 25: 1NT
Bidding: P-1NT-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 18.37.02

Zmudzinski leads club 7 from J93:AK4:K62:9754.
Balicki holds K75:T86:954:KJ62.

Balicki encourages at first, be folding is his right hand, but then he opens it to discourage/show weakness:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 00.09.04

After this he scratches his face twice.

It is still unclear, if this show preference to spades (three suits possible versus no-trump and then they could be playing high = highest against no-trump. This will need to be analyzed further).

Board 27: 2S
Bidding: P-P-1H-X:2D-2H-P-2S:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 18.37.28

Zmudzinski leads jack of spades from JT9:AQ3:QT4:J965.
Balicki holds 53:KJT92:K96:Q83.

As soon as Balicki sees the lead and dummy, he removes his right hand from the table.

Next, he scratches all five fingers over his face to show heart length.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 00.27.55

Board 29: 3C
Bidding: P-P-1C-1H:X-P-1S-P:1NT-2C-2S-P:P-3C-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 18.37.52

Zmudzinski leads deuce of diamonds from KJ94:Q7:J532:KQ8.
Balicki holds 8653:KJ93:A964:T

As soon as Balicki sees the lead and dummy, he takes his right hand off the table to discourage diamonds.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 00.40.08

He then shows a fisted hand with four fingers (hearts, strong):

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 00.41.28

He then takes his right hand and scratches with four fingers on his left underarm (we don’t have enough similar situations to analyze this for now).

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 00.43.51

Board 30: 3NT
Bidding: 1NT-P-3H-P:3NT-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 18.38.08

Zmudzinski leads club 4 from Q84:QT73:9:K6543.
Balicki holds T52:J842:A32:A72.

Balicki puts right hand on table to show strength in clubs.

Then he returns a club to Zmudzinski and make this signal with his right hand.


It sure looks like three fingers, and if you watch the video in slow-motion, he even taps.

After this defense, the hand is over. Zmudzinski ducks clubs. Balicki gets in and return clubs.

Board 32: 3NT
Bidding: 1S-P-1NT-P:2D-P-2NT-P:3NT-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 18.42.21

Zmudzinski leads club 4 from 983:Q84:543:J654.
Balicki holds QT6:AT975:AT9:92.

Balicki doesn’t like the club lead and takes his right hand away from the table. He only puts it back down to show the heart signal (5) and discourage clubs:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 01.38.04

Balicki scratches his face several times. By now, you should know what that means against no-trump contracts.

Poland vs. Monaco (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Helgemo-Helness)

Here we have six hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34329, Boards: 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 14.

Board 2: 2H
Bidding: 1NT-P-2D-P:2H-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.10.23

Zmudzinski leads the deuce of diamonds from A8643:A987:2:Q96.
Balicki holds 75:32:QT9853:AJT.

18.46: When Helgemo is putting down dummy´s card, Balicki starts to tap with his right hand on the table. He taps twice, until interrupted by Helness, who looks at him and asks about the leading signals. Balicki answers and makes the last four taps showing six card in the suit lead (diamonds).

Once done with tapping he takes his right hand up to his cheek to discourage diamonds:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.18.20

Board 4: 2S
Bidding: P-P-1S-P:1NT-P-2S-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.10.44

Zmudzinski leads ace of hearts from J974:A8754:KT:AQ.
Balicki holds 83:62:AQ2:JT8765.

Balicki looks at his cards to see his length in the heart suit and then places his right hand fist horizontally on the table.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.20.36

This means he likes the heart lead. He holds a doubleton.

But, how does he tell Zmudzinski that?

He leans forward and scratches his chin with some fingers from the right hand (we can’t see from this camera angel):

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.26.10

and then places his first horizontally on the table with two fingers sticking out:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.26.35

You probably didn’t see it on the video, unless you play in slow-motion.

Board 6: 3NT
Bidding: P-P-1H-P:1S-2D-3H-P:3NT-P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.11.03

Zmudzinski leads queen of diamonds from 86:K92:QJT952:A7.
Balicki holds K943:J3:63:J6542.

Here the defense signaling is disturbed and interrupted by a photographer:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.35.16

As soon as the photographer is gone, Balicki takes his right hand up and looks through his cards and then quickly places it back on the table and show an unknown amount of fingers (length in suit lead).

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.37.52

He then quickly takes his hand up to his cheek to discourage diamonds.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.39.44

He later makes two taps with left hand.

Board 8: 4S doubled
Bidding: 1C-1D-1S-P:P-X-P-4H:P-P-4S-X:P-P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.11.30

Zmudzinski leads the jack of diamonds from T92:KT9532:J:T64.
Balicki holds K:AQ64:KQ9832:Q3.

First Balicki show length in the suit lead by tapping once in the table (this shows 1 or 6 and as he already bid diamonds naturally, its six here).

Board 12: 2S
Bidding: 1H-P-1S-P:2D-P-2S-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.11.54

Zmudzinski leads queen of hearts from 83:Q6:A974:AJ542.
Balicki holds AQ95:98732::Q987.

Balicki starts to tap the table, but Helness quickly calls from dummy, so the signaling is interrupted, but Balicki continues again and manage to tap the table five times with his right hand fist.

He then scratches his shirt and place 4-5 fingers on the table:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.56.37  Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.56.47

As Balicki leans forward and scratches his nose with an unknown amount of fingers from the right hand…

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 20.59.18

… Mr. Helness says at 1.28.25: “You should be very, very careful…”

No wonder the signaling is kept to a minimum in this match.

Board 14: 3NT
Bidding: 1NT-P-3NT-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.12.12

Zmudzinski leads 8 of spades from 983:K42:A72:K742.
Balicki holds T7:9865:JT43:963.

Balicki doesn’t like the spades lead and takes his right hand fist away from the table and up to his cheek.

Helness plays the hand very fast, before any signaling can be made.

Poland vs. Estonia (Balicki-Zmudzinski vs. Oja-Maripuu)

Here we have four hands, where Zmudzinski leads in the defense.

BBO-link: 34338, Boards: 17, 25, 28 and 31.

Board 17: 1NT
Bidding: unknown

Lead information and video missing.

We will skip this hand.

Board 25: 4S
Bidding: 1H-1S-P-2H:3C-4S-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.17.40

Zmudzinski leads five of clubs from 742:653:8543:T54.
Balicki holds Q:AQT42:AT:AJ873.

As soon as Balicki sees the club lead he quickly places his right hand fist to the very right and turn it from vertical to horizontal on table. Now he has encouraged clubs.

Next is to signal heart length.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 21.42.29

He does that by placing his right hand with five fingers on the table.

I will show you more hands, where we can predict Zmudzinski leads by looking at the number of folded fingers on his right hand, like in this close-up picture:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 21.44.19

If you don’t believe the signal, then notice how he scratches the hand back and forth for more than 10 seconds after the card is lead.

Board 28: 1NT
Bidding: P-P-1NT-P:P-P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.17.56

Zmudzinski leads nine of clubs from Q32:J73:QT:K9876.
Balicki holds A4:Q9654:9653:A4.

Balicki places his right hand fist flat on the table with five fingers stretched out to show his five card heart suit:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 21.56.34

Balicki likes the club lead (holding A4) and shows this by placing his right hand fist horizontally on the table on the right side.

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 21.52.43

What does Zmudzinski show here?

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 21.59.50

After leading his card, he touches it again, to tell partner a signal is coming.

Then he scratches his eyes (the same signal he uses for singleton leads):

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 22.00.08

And then he shows a folded right hand fist:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 22.00.29

Five, good clubs.

Balicki of course returns clubs here.

Board 31: 4S
Bidding: P-1C-P-2D:P-3C-P-3S:P-4S-P-P:P

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 19.18.16

Zmudzinski leads king of hearts from 9753:K9:T54:T964.
Balicki holds Q6:QT432:A932:82.

Balicki likes the heart lead and places his right hand folded horizontally to the right:

Skærmbillede 2015-10-06 kl. 22.05.46

He later does some scratching on his legs (down), but as I can’t see the cards played or the hand history, I can’t analyze the meaning of that signal.



That was ALL the hands, I could find from this tournament, where Zmudzinski is on lead. I have gone through every one of them in the order that I received them and tested the hypotheses on them. For me it is very clear that they do show interest in the suit partner leads, they show length, and they do show heart length. Unfortunately, they don’t show all these signals by using their cards, but instead they use their right hand. The scratching is also very well documented in the above hands.

For Zmudzinski, I will start to work on decoding and documenting, what his fingers mean, when he leads. Its not super easy due to the recorded quality. Then I will continue to look at Balicki´s leads and Zmudzinski´s (right hand) reaction to those.


Stay tuned. Many more hands coming…


  1. Oct 6, 2015

    Board 23 Zmudzinski signals 6 cards by tapping 5 fingers than thumb straight after Balicki taps table 4 times. Balicki than rocks back and starts to think.

  2. Oct 6, 2015

    To be clear, my observation is about the Denmark match (i.e. first board of your blog post) and Zmudzinski is indicating 6 cards in the lead suit (i.e. clubs). This signal happens before he pulls the lead card back at 1:18:08 of the video. IMO this video alone is almost enough to conclude there is cheating going on.

  3. Oct 9, 2015

    Here is what I observed, in data, and videos. First, some players are not regular in their lead direction. I looked at Welland (Germany) in the match against Poland, and his first 3 leads were horizontal, the next was vertical, and the last was angled. I suspect the crowd-sourcing will get stats on everyone. Sometimes I get the idea that when they “throw down” the lead it is more likely to be horizontal (your choice of this direction), because they are emphatic, and this is more likely with a strong holding? Maybe just a unconscious pattern some players have.

    Anyway, from your data, here are all the Balicki-Zmudzinski Ace-leads from AK in non-notrump contracts.

    34311/26 B 4SX AH AK3 angled
    34300/22 Z 3C AD AK5 angled
    34209/23 B 3H AS AK82 horizontal
    34300/28 B 4S AH AK75 horizontal
    34311/18 B 4S AD AKT8 horizontal
    34219/30 Z 4H AS AKT965 vertical
    34300/30 B 4S AH AKQ9642 vertical
    34174/25 Z 4S AD AKT86 vertical
    34185/17 Z 5SX AH AKQJ97 vertical
    34281/13 Z 3D AS AK962 vertical

    The pattern should be obvious, angled is 3 cards, horizontal is 4, vertical is more.
    But maybe just coincidence? It’s the first thing I thought of, look at ace leads. I tried to find other patterns, but nothing was overwhelming.


  1. Nye beviser imod Balicki-Zmudzinski | Blog for Robin Roy Krigslund Hansen - […] Se analysen her […]

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