Sunday, March 3, 2013

Can you win this robot tournament?

Continuing my series on robot play, I offer this little diversion.

Any time I can get in a normal contract at a robot tournament (i.e. Bridge Base Online, ACBL Robot tournament), I figure I have a good chance for a good score, especially now that the human plays his robot partner's declarations. Those of you who saw my last blog (The hitchhiker's guide to bridge – part 1) will know the kind of thing I mean where we are not in a normal contract.

The trouble is, it's rare when playing with the robots to put together twelve normal contracts. In this tournament, however, I managed to get to what I consider normal contracts on every hand and, with some careful though not brilliant declarer play I managed to come out on top.

I was fortunate that Leo LaSota wasn't playing in this tournament! He just topped 10,000 BBO points. Congratulations, Leo!

There are 26 humans in this event so that top on a board is 25.

Board 1: ♠AT AK98 Q764 ♣K87. You open 1NT and partner bids 2♣, Stayman. RHO doubles and you bid 2. Partner raises to 3. Your call? I should add, BTW, that in all but one of the 26 auctions, the bidding to this point is identical.

On board 2, you end up defending 3♠ for down one. The only odd thing about this is that your robot partner does some strange carding in the diamond suit which results in some human defenders going astray. Through no great brilliance on your part, you manage to snag 20 mps.

Board 3: ♠K72 KJ72 ♣AKJ64. You open 1♣ and partner bids 1. Opps are silent. Your call?

We'll skip over boards 4 and 5 which were reasonably normal major suit game contracts (going down in the second one when North decided that his 9-count with a singleton in my original major suit was worth an invitation), earning 16 and 10.5 mps respectively. And we'll skip the next one (6) too where we defended a normal 3♣ contract earning an 11.

Board 7: ♠A932 K95 AQT6 ♣KJ. You, like almost all of the humans, open 1NT and partner bids 2♠, described as "Minor Stayman 4+♣; 4+; 10+ total points." You dutifully bid 3 (many didn't) and the robot now bids 3NT. Your call?

Board 8:

Your call?

On board 9, you open 1♣ and your robot partner bids 1♠ with five spades to the ten, three hearts to the queen, four diamonds to the K and two small clubs. You struggle (remember the human has to play all hands now) to go down only one but succumb to a two trick set for 10.5 matchpoints. The play for down one which would score 21.5 is, to me at least, not only a double-dummy play but one that I would call triple-dummy. The play is likely to be found only by a computer playing double-dummy.

Board 10: ♠K982 T62 K6 ♣AQ32 (all vulnerable). East deals and opens 1. Your call?
[I originally showed the wrong hand here - my apologies]

Board 11:

Everyone is in the same contract and the lead is always the same. Clearly time to maximize your tricks. What's your general plan? Will you take the ♠ finesse at the risk of going down when they switch to a diamond?

Well, you've managed to lead the field for the last several boards so all you have to do now on the last one is to avoid an average minus or a bottom.

Board 12: ♠J943 A76 A8 ♣AQ97 (we are vulnerable). West deals and East opens 1 in third seat. Your call?

Answers to follow tomorrow.

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