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Cheating Welsh Bridge Player Banned

December 3, 1999

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) _ A Welsh international bridge player, Tony Howarth, has been banned from competition for 10 years for cheating, bridge officials said Friday.

Howarth was banned by the Welsh Bridge Union after its ethics committee investigated charges that he switched packs during a domestic competition, the Welsh Foursomes, in September.

The committee found that Howarth, who has played for Wales 11 times, was spotted substituting his own pack for the official pack four times. He then dealt without shuffling from his pack, which had been pre-stacked so he knew what the hands were.

``It is a very long ban, but these incidents are viewed with great sadness in the world of bridge,″ said British Bridge League secretary Anna Gudge. ``Happily, this is not something which is rife in the game _ it is something of a rarity.″

Gudge said Howarth, a steel company manager, admitted switching packs, but said his playing partner, Keith Pratt, had not known.

Howarth is barred from tournament bridge anywhere in the world, but can still play social bridge.

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