A group of four was caught in the act of attempting to hack an automatic Mahjong table used for high stakes games at a parlor in Hong Kong. One of the group was a cleaner at the parlor, another a regular customer. The owner was alerted to unusual overnight activity by his security system and called police.

The group was apprehended with a laptop computer, electronic components, tools, a remote control device, and two sets of Mahjong tiles embedded with microchips. Police believe the setup would have allowed the cheaters to control the table’s shuffle of tiles and give their players a significant advantage.

[via HKEJ and South China Morning Post]

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Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesEarlier in November, the National Rifle Association suggested to its members that they could make board games more interesting by using them for target practice. The organization even posted online a print-and-shoot alternative to Candy Land, “Target Land”. Hasbro complained and the NRA has since removed the article from its website.

The Magic: The Gathering collection of Cassius Marsh, linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, was stolen out of his car. He hasn’t gotten them back yet but Wizards of the Coast did send him some replacements.

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana ordered the Indiana Gaming Commission not to take action against a senior center for handing out prizes such as cookies and toilet paper to the winner of Euchre card games. Though the collection of an entry fee for the games would be considered gambling under Indiana law, the Commission said it never had any intent to do more than inform the senior center of what it was doing wrong.

nra-target-landA police detective in New York City was caught on camera wagering the freedom of his prisoner on a roll of dice. Referring to someone being held in the detective’s car a few feet away, a bystander said, “If you ace out right now, you gotta let him go,” after which the detective blows on the dice and throws them.

Proposed revisions to Poland’s gaming laws would define as gambling any electronic game (or game employing a mechanical device) that involves any amount of luck (even if luck is not the predominant factor) and has any prize (including non-financial awards, such as the right to proceed to the next game). It would seem that caught in this broad definition would be online Chess and MtG tournaments, even those without cash prizes.

A West Yorkshire domestic abuser jailed under new English coercive control laws was said to have, among other things, “intensively instructed” his victim in Chess, even threatening to kill her if she failed to capture a particular piece.

In Arkansas, a brother and sister pair are facing charges for conspiring to have a minor smuggle tobacco and prescription drugs in to a jail hidden in a Chess set.

Someone stole a Chess set brought back from Europe by a late World War II veteran. The man’s son said the Chess set was awarded to him by a German baron. Also taken were two swords that the father collected while stationed in the Pacific theater.

China Labor Watch, says it investigated several factories in China and found poor working conditions and violations of Chinese labor laws. According to the organization, the factories make products for Hasbro, Mattel, and Disney.

The European Court of Justice has found the shape of a Rubik’s Cube not eligible for trademark protection. The court determined that the Cube’s ability to rotate was essential to the protection sought but should instead be the subject of a patent.

Korean mobile game developer iPeoples is suing Korean mobile game developer Netmarble Games for patent infringement and unfair competition, claiming the latter company copied the design concepts of the board game, Blue Marble, for which the former has an exclusive license. The thing is, Blue Marble is just a knock-off of Monopoly.

Leder Games was taking payments for preorders of the reprint of Vast: The Crystal Caverns but PayPal froze their account.

Before the World Chess Championship, the reigning champion, Magnus Carlsen, called on Microsoft Norway to help defend his team from cyber infiltration. Apparently, he was concerned that Russian hackers might attempt to aid his challenger, Sergey Karjakin. Meanwhile someone is squatting on domains incorporating Sergey Karjakin’s name. He plans to sue.

The organization that ran the World Chess Championship in New York, Agon Ltd., was unsuccessful at getting a federal court to stop unlicensed competing websites from broadcasting live moves from the tournament. The websites argued that the information was freely available via social media. A Russian court also rejected a similar effort by Agon to restrict broadcasting of moves from the earlier Candidates Tournament (which determined the challenger for the World Championship). The Russian court ruling, which came after the Candidates Tournament finished, found that the moves were already in the public domain and did not constitute a trade secret.

After one of the games of the World Chess Championship, Magnus Carlsen ditched the required press conference. Based on his contract, that move may cost him 10 percent of his prize money.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected Ignatius Leong’s appeal of the World Chess Federation’s finding that he sold his vote in the organization’s presidential election. Not only was the 2 year ban instituted against him by FIDE upheld, he was also ordered to pay 5,000 Swiss francs in arbitration costs.

The National Chess Championship of India was kicked out of its venue, the Lucknow Public School, mid-tournament. Several leading contenders quit in protest.

Twenty year-old Chess Grandmaster Yuri Eliseev died after falling from his 12th floor apartment in Moscow. He was attempting parkour.

According to police, Joseph Hammond of San Antonio wouldn’t stand for his opponent walking away from a Dominoes game. He followed and shot at the man several times.

One person was killed and several others wounded in a drive-by shooting of a Dominoes game in the Bahamas. The alleged perpetrators have been arrested.

A woman playing dice on the street in Chicago was shot in the head but survived. Others weren’t so fortunate. Dice game shootings resulted in fatalities in Birmingham, Detroit, Chicago, and Oakland.

A man who was already on probation was apprehended by police in Pine Bluff, Arkansas smoking marijuana in a stolen car. He claimed to have purchased it an a dice game unaware that it was stolen.

Someone set up a fake Smyths Toys Facebook page, offering a sweepstakes for a $300 gift card and collecting email addresses.

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Game Blotter

Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesA Michigan man charged in a series of two murders and a kidnapping is reported by police to have been in a Magic: The Gathering tournament next door to where the first victim was working, just before she went missing.

Shogi computer programs are catching up with software for Chess and that means more cheating. The Japan Shogi Association has instituted a ban on bringing smartphones in to tournament venues and will restrict players from leaving the playing hall during matches. The group also banned 9th-dan-ranked Hiroyuki Miura through the end of the year for possible cheating. It was noted that he left his seat an unusual number of times during a recent tournament. He denies, though, the allegation and says he will consult a lawyer.

An insurgent group in eastern India, the KCP (Kangleipak Communist Party), has declared a ban on all forms of dice games and gambling and warned of serious consequences for any violations. The group is concerned that a dice game trend is negatively affecting the reputation of women.

In Ahmedabad, the Indian Poker Association has asked the Gujarat High Court to declare Poker a game of skill and therefore not subject to the state’s gambling restrictions.

The Florida Department of Business Services has ruled designated player card games (where someone sits at the table to represent the bank) illegal in the state. This is likely to complicate the ongoing case between Seminole tribes and the state over similar issues.

Recently declassified documents reveal that a Kurdish man killed while playing Backgammon in London back in 1994 was the victim of a plot orchestrated by the spy agency of Turkey.

Someone broke in over night to The Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick and stole Magic: The Gathering cards, including a Black Lotus and other rare Unlimited and Alpha cards.

The cash boxes of R&R Games and Ludi Creations were stolen from the exhibit hall during Spiel Essen.

Dan Yarrington filed a response to Zev Shlasinger and Paul Gerardi’s lawsuit over their failed Staten Island game store. Yarrington asserts [PDF] that Zap’d Games was only an investment vehicle with no role in management of the store, that the store’s lease was approved by Shlasinger, and that the store failed from the combined effects of hurricane Sandy and Gerardi’s failure to build shelves in time for the store’s planned opening. Pretrial conferences in the case are scheduled for later this month.

An assistant manager of a Hong Kong Mahjong parlor is facing criminal bribery charges for taking payments from his boss to help people cheat at games. He allegedly received HK$75,000 over a period of 4 months to mark tiles with fluorescent ink that’s only visible with special lenses.

The people who were told that their card game rules weren’t patentable (because they used a standard deck of cards) are appealing to the Supreme Court.

Upper Deck has applied to trademark the word “LOOT” with regard to trading cards, card games, and playing cards.

Hasbro was named the 2016 “Most Responsible Company in the Consumer Items Industry Sector” by Corporate Responsibility Magazine.

A man was stabbed during an argument over a game of Dominoes at a park in East Chicago, Indiana.

Dice game shootings in Birmingham, Alabama; Springfield, Illinois; Pontiac, Michigan; and Capitol Heights, Maryland.

At the recent DEFCON hackers conference, members of Google’s anti-fraud and abuse team presented the results of an investigation in to a smartphone-like device for cheating at card games such as Poker. The instrument, which they purchased from a Chinese seller for $1,300, can read through an entire deck of shuffled and stacked cards, telling its user exactly which suit and number will be drawn next. If the user selects options for the number of players and the game being played, the device will even accurately predict who has the winning hand.

The feat is accomplished with a marked deck of cards, infrared LEDs, and a black-and-white camera. The whole process is quite discreet. The cards are marked along the edges with IR ink invisible to the naked eye. The LEDs work through the device’s outer casing, such that their lights are hardly noticeable. And the camera is placed in order to read the card deck from a position laying down across the table.

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In fact, a sealed-in-shrink-wrap deck of cards of the purchaser’s choice of brands is included in the package.

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The device too is well disguised. It not only looks very much like a Samsung smartphone, it’s built on the Android operating system and will make calls and run standard apps.

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In terms of getting the scan results, users have the option to receive audio signals via miniature earpiece (included), coded signals via a vibrating receiver that can be strapped to an arm or leg (also included), or the device can make subtle changes to the time it displays on-screen.

And just in case a smartphone on the table might arouse suspicion, the package also comes with an alternate Bluetooth-connected camera hidden in a car key fob (customizable with different car maker logos).

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Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesBackgammon has become the latest battleground for Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The Cyprus Sports Organization is rushing to form a Backgammon federation, none too happy that a Turkish Cypriot Backgammon Association already filed with the European Backgammon Federation and could end up representing the island in a major tournament coming up in October in Denmark.

The next Women’s World Chess Championship is set to take place in Iran, where women are required by law to wear a hijab. This has many people upset. General media are certainly covering it as if many are upset. But how many of the contestants are bothered by the restriction is unclear. That is, other than the U.S. Women’s Champion, Nazi Paikidze, who’s threatening a boycott. No national Chess federations, though, have formally complained about the selection of venue, though individual officials from the U.K. and Denmark have voiced their personal disagreement.

Zev Shlasinger (founder of Z-Man Games, now with WizKids) and Paul Gerardi (also formerly of Z-Man Games) are suing Dan Yarrington (Myriad Games and Game Salute) in relationship to a game store that the trio set up in Staten Island, New York. According to the complaint [PDF], filed in federal court in New Hampshire, the three formed Zap’d Games to own the store and then contracted with Yarrington’s Myriad Games to operate it, with Gerardi as the manager. The complaint alleges deception and misdeeds by Yarrington, pretty much from the beginning. The filing claims that Yarrington mishandled Shalsinger’s $100,000 investment, failed to make his own promised investment, commingled Zap’d’s funds with those of other businesses, failed to provide appropriate inventory, and eventually, without authority, closed the store, took possession of all stock, and fired Gerardi. For his part, Yarrington denies the allegations.

Game designer Bruno Faidutti is under fire for misrepresenting native American cultures in his upcoming game, Waka Tanka. In his defense, Faidutti claims that the game represents a fantasy culture, not a real one. Except that it’s pretty obvious who it’s based on.

A Justice Department report found that Baltimore police disproportionately enforce anti-gambling laws against minorities. From 2010 to 2015, 99 percent of those charged with gaming or playing dice or cards were black.

The Malta Gaming Authority has decided that daily fantasy sports leagues are primarily games of skill and therefore should be regulated with a lighter hand than gambling. Coming to that decision, though, the MGA has also concluded that some games, such as certain card and board games, involve enough luck that the regulation of tournaments shouldn’t be entirely hands-off.

Nine people were arrested while playing Mahjong in Davao City, Philippines after someone texted police about possible gambling.

Students at Chinese University of Hong Kong were challenged by campus security guards for playing Mahjong on a public plaza after midnight. According to a student publication, no gambling was involved. The university’s vice-chancellor, however, responded, “If students play mahjong, write graffiti on buildings or have hotpot meals anywhere and at any time, they might one day even carry out disreputable acts.”

The government of Hong Kong is conducting raids on Mahjong parlors to put pressure on gangs after threats made to the life of the territory’s Chief Executive. The source of the increased conflict is a planned government housing development on real-estate controlled by the triads.

In Daping Village, China a 2 year-old boy drowned in a ditch just in front of his home. He was left on his own by his mother and grandmother, who were busy playing Mahjong.

Following a 2 year investigation, four companies, Viacom, JumpStart, Mattel, and Hasbro, have settled with the New York Attorney General’s office on charges that they illegally tracked the web browsing habits of children under the age of 13. The companies will pay a combined $835,000 in fines and have agreed to require compliance from their advertising vendors.

Former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld has been testifying at the trial of Daniel Doyle, accused of embezzling money from the Institute for International Sports, a youth service organization. Hassenfeld was a major supporter of the organization and ended up having to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans that he had cosigned for the institute. Among the incidents to which Hassenfeld has testified was a forged appeal for donations on unauthorized Hasbro letterhead.

Hasbro has joined the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, a group dedicated to improving “efficiency and social, ethical and environmental sustainability in the global supply chain.” As a member, Hasbro commits to auditing 25 percent of its high-risk facilities for human rights, conflict minerals, environmental sustainability, and other issues.

In Harlem, a woman was killed while playing Dominoes, shot in the head by a stray bullet. A teenager was killed and four men injured, the victims of a drive-by shooting while playing Dominoes in the Bahamas. A Mississippi man drove himself to the hospital after having been hit in the head with an ax handle during a fight over a game of Dominoes.

Dice game arguments led to shootings in Opelousas and Bridge City, Louisiana; Charleston, South Carolina; and Detroit. Police responding to another dice game incident in Detroit were fired upon by a man with an AK-47. A man in Little Rock, Arkansas was robbed at gunpoint while playing dice. Police in Buffalo raided a backyard dice game, arresting 12 people and charging them with promoting gambling and trespassing. While a dice game in Austin was being robbed by outsiders, one of the players shot and killed another of the players. Police did not say whether he was connected to the robbers but have arrested him on murder charges.

Murder charges have been filed in the case of a 2007 Manhattan dice game shooting involving gang members from the Crips and the Bloods.

In 1985, a Sarasota, Florida woman and her boyfriend were arguing over a game of Backgammon when the man stepped on her neck, leaving her paraplegic. Police were unable to apprehend him at the time, nor were state or federal law enforcement able to find the man for the next 30 years. Now, though, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has finally been able to close the case. After publicizing an age-progression image, they were led to records that positively identified him as having lived under a different name and deceased in 2003.

Remember Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of FIDE (World Chess Federation), who was the subject of sanctions by the U.S. government for alleged dealings with Syria, and had threatened to sue the United States for $50 billion in “moral and financial damages” resulting from the sanctions? Well, now Mr. Ilyumzhinov says that he has sent a letter to President Obama requesting U.S. Citizenship so that he might defend himself in a U.S. court. He also attempted to fly to New York to defend himself in person but was not allowed to board the plane.

At the Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, players were required to ask permission to visit the toilet, while a team of special anti-cheating arbiters recorded the number of visits. Nigel Short of the U.K. team refused an electronic search by an arbiter. He was returning from visiting the bathroom during the middle of a game when Jamie Kenmure of Australia approached him with a scanner. According to his own description, Short just pushed past him and continued on to the game, risking a forfeit penalty. In the end, Short was just given a detailed scan after the game but the conflict didn’t end there. Short took great offense at being interrupted in the middle of a game, particularly since he was facing time pressure. In an interview he said that Kenmure “isn’t fit to clean my boots” and suggested that the arbiter might have picked him out in retaliation for disparaging statements he had made earlier about the man.

Peter Long reports in The Malay Mail that the Malaysian Chess Federation collected fees and lodging expenses from its members in advance of the Commonwealth Chess Championship (held in Sri Lanka) but then never paid out to the tournament organizers. The Malaysian players were therefore forced to pay up again directly before they were allowed to leave the country.

With the Court of Arbitration for Sport agreeing that FIDE has jurisdiction in deciding a complaint by the European Chess Union against Silvio Danailov, President of the Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF), FIDE’s Ethics Commission found Mr. Danailov “guilty of violating clause 2.2.3 of the Code of Ethics in a serious degree—Officials who fail to perform their functions in an impartial and responsible manner.” Though it acknowledged that it could not remove Mr. Danailov from his position as BCF president, FIDE nevertheless has banned him from representing the national federation [PDF] in any FIDE functions or with any other federations or regional unions for 18 months. Two others in the case were banned for 6 months and 3 years.

In another case involving the Bulgarian Chess Federation, FIDE’s Ethics Commission overturned 3+ year bans [PDF] that the former group had set against three players for publicly calling out corruption in the national federation. The FIDE commission determined that the Bulgarian Chess Federation “failed to prosecute the alleged violations in compliance with fundamental principles of law.”

And one more… The European Chess Union (ECU) has decided (with FIDE endorsement) to expel the Bulgarian Chess Federation (BCF) for refusing to cooperate with an investigation in to two tournaments that the BCF had falsely claimed were sanctioned by the ECU. Money from those tournaments that was supposedly paid to the ECU was actually paid to an impostor organization, the “European Chess Union LLC” registered by unknown persons in Delaware, USA.

FIDE overspent its 2015 legal budget by six times, largely because of cases involving Silvio Danailov and the Bulgarian Chess Federation.

The Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge, in which tens-of-thousands of students participate, may have to shut down after being handed a tax bill for £300,000. The government says that the tournament should have been collecting VAT on entry fees.

A Chess teacher in Toronto faces charges for alleged sexual assault of a 10 year old girl. The incident is reported to have happened during an instructional session.

When police arrested a man protesting the construction of an oil pipeline in Iowa, the man produced a Monopoly Get Out of Jail Free card. Still the police wouldn’t let him go.

A collector of error baseball cards (who is also a correspondent covering the law of trading cards for The Cardboard Connection) is suing Topps because, he claims, the company failed to deliver the individual card he ordered from its website. Instead, the company substituted an error-free card, despite the point of its online service being to sell specific cards.

During the night, someone kicked in the door of Multiverse Comics and Games in Grinnell, Iowa and grabbed $300 in cash and $1,300 of Magic: The Gathering Cards.

Police in Pleasanton, California have made a collectible card game as a way to reach out to community youth.

A Georgia schoolteacher is facing disciplinary action for using a dice game to teach 5th grade students about slavery. The game had the student taking on the role of slaves in the 19th century American South and rolling dice to determine whether they were able to escape or were forced back to the plantation.

Andre Diamant, a Chess grandmaster and former member of the Webster University Chess team, pleaded guilty to third-degree misdemeanor assault and was fined $300 for paying his 6 year-old son to drink sake with him in celebration of a tournament victory.

According to the mother of a 4 year old boy with Down Syndrome, her son was refused entry to the Mattel Play! entertainment center in Liverpool because staff considered it “unsuitable for children like him”. Responding to her negative review on Facebook, facility management claimed that the staff mistakenly thought the boy was a baby in a stroller and when they realized their mistake, offered the mother a tour of the facility.

Someone tried to scam Brainstorm Toys out of product by impersonating another business and requesting delivery of goods on credit.

Cards Against Humanity is suing an internet retailer, Skkye Enterprises, for allegedly selling counterfeits games.

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Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesAfter a 51 year-old Welshpool, U.K. man was accused by his sister of stealing pieces from her Frustration board game, he followed her back to her home and pushed her against the wall. Then when confronted about the incident by his nephew, he punched him in the face. A local magistrate fined the man £635 and issued a restraining order.

Two people were arrested on drug smuggling charges in Northern Ireland after trying to pick up a children’s board game shipped via UPS from Canada that was stuffed with marijuana. Police say evidence leads them to suspect there were other such packages. They did not, however, name the game.

A group of four was photographed playing Mahjong around a table they set up in an MTR train in Hong Kong. However, by the time staff went to investigate, the game was gone.

Swiss Chess player, Yannick Pelletier, was initially refused a visa to attend the World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan because of earlier travel to Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenia. After signing a letter stating that the visit was a mistake and promising not to go back, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs relented and granted him that visa.

House-banked gambling on card games is illegal in California, except at tribal casinos. More than 70 non-tribal card rooms continue in business, though, operating under a 2007 letter from the former chief of the Bureau of Gambling Control, Robert Lytle, which declared that as long as the role of dealer was offered to to the whole table every second hand, the game would not be considered illegal even if all the players declined. (When everyone declines, as they usually do, the role of bank is given to a licensed and contracted dealer-of-last-resort. And in any case, the host card room makes money by charging a fee for each hand played.) Lytle left the Bureau, however, shortly after issuing that letter and went to work as a card room consultant. And just recently he settled a complaint that he illegally received information from inside the Bureau on an investigation involving one of his clients. So now, nearly 10 years later, the Bureau is rescinding his letter but has determined that it is OK for the card rooms to reopen the bank position only every 60 minutes, under the condition that if someone new doesn’t assume the role of dealer, the game takes a break for 2 minutes. Card room operators are concerned about what this break will do to their profitability. Tribal casino operators claim that one person acting as dealer for 60 minutes does not meet the statutory requirement that the position be “continuously and systematically rotated amongst each of the participants during the play of the game.”

Similar issues continue to be debated in Florida, where an administrative law judge found that a Jacksonville poker room’s contract with a specific player to act as bank effectively results in a house-banked game.

The former chairman of the Irish Chess Union (ICU) is suing the organization for defamation. At issue is an ICU blog post commenting on his job as an arbiter at a Chess tournament.

An Information Technology Agreement negotiated by members of the World Trade Organization eliminates tariffs on electronic products, including video games and games “operated by coins, banknotes, bank cards, token, or by any other means of payment.”

Steven Russell, CEO of Rite Publishing, was killed in an automobile accident.

In a concurrence on a case involving the regulation of mobile billboards, federal circuit court judge John Owens explained his problem with the controlling Supreme Court precedent by referencing a Monopoly board. He took issue with the fact that while a Los Angeles city ordinance prohibits mobile billboards, cars with equally ugly decals would not “go to jail” but would rather “treat my curb like the upper left corner of a Monopoly board” (a reference, I believe, to the Free Parking space).

New Jersey state Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli introduced legislation that would require school districts to offer varsity letters for all competitive extracurricular activities, such as participating on Chess teams, not just for sports.

Seven people were arrested on gun and drug charges after neighbors complained about a street dice game in Flint, Michigan. Patrolling detectives found “validated gang members” playing a street dice game in Richmond, California. They stopped, broke up the game, and ended up arresting one on gun, drug, and probation violation charges. Police arrested three for illegal gambling after breaking up a dice game in Monroe, Ohio.

Shooting broke out at a dice game in Dallas. Two people were wounded. Both are expected to recover. No arrests were made.

Two men in Washington, D.C. were shot (one of them died) when another two attempted to rob the formers’ street dice game at gunpoint. The assailants have both been arrested and are being charged with first-degree felony murder.

A former Director of Transportation for Toys “R” Us has pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.9 million from the company.

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Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesProfessional Magic player Fabrizio Anteri was suspended for 18 months for failing to properly shuffle his cards. In his defense, Anteri says he simply forgot.

The corner jail space of a Monopoly board recently painted on a Jersey City, New Jersey street was covered over with solid orange after complaints that the image promoted racial stereotypes. Expressing his disappointment to a local newspaper, the artist said that critics were projecting their own racial biases. The image, in fact, was a self-portrait (he is of Puerto Rican and Italian descent).

A visitor from mainland China was attacked and beaten by Hong Kong villagers who accused him of cheating at Mahjong games played in a local grocery store. Allegedly, the Mahjong tiles were marked with invisible ink, which the visiting player could see with special contact lenses. Police called to the scene found marked tiles but were unable to find any special glasses or lenses.

Neelash Saha, who won the National Chess Championship of India by half a point, has been banned by the All Indian Chess Federation (AICF) after one of his opponents in the tournament admitted to feigning illness to withdraw from a match and give Saha a full point for a win. The ban, though, has been stayed by a Madras High Court judge pending a further hearing.

One of the trains involved in a head-on collision in Texas was carrying product for WizKids. As a result, the company has had to cancel all pre-release events for Marvel HeroClix: The Superior Foes of Spider-Man.

A group of Cambodian husbands, angry that their wives were playing dice instead of doing housework, snitched on them to local police. When officers attempted to raid the game, however, the players were able to escape with their money, perhaps because one of those playing with them was the wife of a police chief.

The Chess courtyard of Woodruff Park in Atlanta was closed indefinitely after gangs moved in and started taking over the Chess games.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service rejected the $5.2 million refund request of Irish businessman John P. McManus. The money was withheld by his opponent from $17.4 million won in a Backgammon game. The IRS says McManus doesn’t qualify for a refund under a treaty with Ireland because he’s actually a resident of Switzerland.

Professional Poker player and osteopathic doctor, Jaclynn Moskow, has begun speaking out against sexist and anti-Semitic attitudes, as well as actual sexual harassment, in tournament Poker circles. She claims a prominent commentator thrust his face, without consent, in to her chest at an event connected with the recording of a Poker television show. She provided the NY Daily News with a recording of another commentator saying, “The thing about ‘Poker Night’ that makes it so great is that there are no Jews. Every other show on TV has Jews.”

Cyber Bunny was dropped from the new version of King of Tokyo because of “legal technicalities.”

Hasbro won Best Legal Department in the Consumer Goods & Retail category of the 2016 International General Counsel Awards.

Game of Life trademark pendingA Mr. Jonathan Scott applied to register a trademark for “Game of Life” apparel. I gather the logo is supposed to look something like a baseball diamond. Hasbro, though, thinks it’ll be confused with The Game of Life board game and has filed an opposition.

Hasbro filed its own trademark applications for “Hascon” and “Hasbrocon“, for the purpose of “organizing and conducting conventions, exhibitions, fan clubs and gatherings for entertainment purposes and in the fields of toys, animation, comic books, fantasy, gaming, popular culture, science fiction, television and film.”

Hasbro continues to hold the upper hand defending against a claim that it misappropriated the idea for My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop toys filled with glittery liquid. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision that the company had developed the same idea independently and that the trade secrets claimed by Elinor Shapiro were in fact in the public domain.

Primary election results in Oregon were decided by the roll of dice. Both Republican Dan Mason and Democrat Janeen Sollman each received 41 votes in the Independent Party primary for State Representative in District 30. State law requires that ties be decided by a game of chance. Mason’s roll of six beat Sollman’s three.

Four individuals were shot while playing street dice games in Brooklyn, Clairton (Pennsylvania), Baltimore, and Natchez (Mississippi). Two of four died from their wounds.

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Panama Papers and Chess Corruption

Kirsan_IlyumzhinovAn investigation in to the Panama Papers by the Guardian (UK) and Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany) has brought to light evidence supporting long-alleged charges of corruption in the World Chess Federation’s leadership. The organization, also known by its French acronym, FIDE, has been led since 1995 by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The man is a former president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia, famously claimed to have been kidnapped by aliens, and is currently a subject of sanctions by the United States for alleged support of the Syrian government.

According to the Guardian, the records of Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca reveal a financial connection between Ilyumzhinov and two firms that have had contracts with FIDE to run high-level tournaments, including the World Chess Championship, during his term. The first, Global Chess BV, was set up by Ilyumzhinov in 2006 and was granted global commercial rights to all FIDE events in 2007. Later that year, Ilyumzhinov sold Global Chess to Russian-Israeli businessman David Kaplan, who kept his position private by designating his son as director. Kaplan was then appointed by Ilyumzhinov to head a new FIDE office in Moscow and was given an executive position in charge of development.

In 2012, those FIDE commercial rights were given to (and remain with) another firm, Agon Limited. According to the Guardian, a memorandum from that year “suggested that Ilyumzhinov was to be a hidden beneficiary of Agon, owning a secret 51% stake.” For his part, Ilyumzhinov claims that document was never put in to action.

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Game of Thrones logoThe on-screen power struggles of Game of Thrones may be finding their way to the real-life world of the board game business. HBO appears ready to stake a claim on product names beginning with “Game of…”. Asserting likely “confusion, mistake, or deception”, HBO has filed its opposition to the registration of a trademark for a board game called “Game of Monarchs“. The game’s publisher, B&B Biz Corp, declined my request for comment but did file an answer with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, stating its belief that the “marks are dissimilar.” [OK, neither of those is much of an argument.]

The cable network, having requested an extension, looks set to do the same for the Game of Phones card game, and has already filed against the Game of Trolls video game registration submitted by DreamWorks Animation. A settlement over a “Game of Drones” saw that registration withdrawn in February, however, a new one by a different entity was submitted just last month.

Will “Game of Quotes” or “Game of Clones” be next?

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Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesBack in March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a Patent and Trademark Office decision that game rules that use a standard deck of cards are an abstract idea ineligible for patent. Now the owner of the rejected patent has asked the court to reconsider, claiming that the decision puts the whole casino industry at risk.

Game rules have also been found by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to be ineligible for copyright protection. That decision came in DaVinci Editrice vs. Ziko Games, a case in which both sides agreed that Ziko’s Three Kingdoms game is a straight-up copy of DaVinci’s Bang, with a change in theme. Nevertheless, the court found that:

Unlike a book or movie plot, the rules and procedures, including the winning conditions, that make up a card-game system of play do not themselves produce the artistic or literary content that is the hallmark of protectable expression.

The shape of a Rubik’s Cube can not be trademarked. So says an adviser to the Court of Justice of the European Union in a case that has a German company challenging the toy’s three-dimensional trademark registered since 1999.

On the Lower East Side of New York, a woman renting an apartment discovered that her landlord had been hosting Mahjong games in the front room while she slept in the back room.

A company that makes facial recognition software claims that it can identify from images likely terrorists, pedophiles, and the best Poker players. At a demonstration tournament, the company picked four players out of 50 amateurs by comparing photos to a database of professional Poker players. Two of the players that the company picked were among the three that made it to the tournament’s final round.

In downtown Athens, Georgia, a man was arrested for public intoxication after disturbing a group of people playing a board game on the patio of a local establishment.

binder of proof cards was stolen from Magic: The Gathering artist Winona Nelson at Grand Prix Charlotte.

Green Lake Games in Seattle was broken in to overnight. The store was ransacked and $15,000 of Magic: The Gathering cards stolen.

Alleged irregularities in election procedures for the Bangladesh Chess Federation had the National Sports Council obtaining an order from the Supreme Court to postpone the voting for 3 months.

A public school Chess coach in Chicago broke ranks and came in to lead practice on a day his union called for a strike. The team went on to win a national championship and has been invited to the White House. The union is considering whether to kick him out and garnish his wages from that day.

Bestbet Jacksonville and state regulators are going to hearing over the legality of “player-banked card games” in Florida. These are supposed to be games in which players wager only against each other rather than the house. However, in Bestbet’s card rooms the bank at each table is provided by employees of unlicensed, independent companies who pay the facility fees of $30,000-50,000 and then sometimes don’t stick around play in the game they’re financing.

Small stakes gambling on home and community center based card and Mahjong games is now legal in Maryland. The change was prompted by a police bust of a retiree Poker game in Annapolis, an event which lawmakers considered a waste of resources. Restrictions in the new law include prohibitions on advertising and internet-connected electronic devices, a $1,000 per week wager limit, and participants must have a preexisting social relationship.

Two Maryland teenagers, one of whom allegedly shot a man in the head during a dice game, were captured after fleeing to West Virginia.

Following a lawsuit by Magic: The Gathering judges against Wizards of the Coast, volunteers for Emerald City Comic Con have filed a similar class-action lawsuit, claiming back-pay and benefits.

CBS Broadcasting and Folkmanis have settled their lawsuit over Bert the Farting Hippo, a stuffed animal that’s made repeated appearances on the television show, NCIS. Folkmanis was making for CBS to sell a special version of a hippopotamus toy for which the company had earlier registered a copyright. That is until, Folkmanis claims, CBS started importing the toy directly from China, racking up an alleged $733,000 in profits.

 

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