Bridge playing computers have come a long way


By the time this column appears the Bermuda Sectional will be well under way — attendance is expected to be excellent and I will bring you full results next week.

Bridge-playing computers have, until the last couple of years, never been really ‘expert’ at the game but that has changed, and changed quickly.

They are now nothing less than brilliant, and this hand from the 21st World Computer Bridge Championships is a great example of where they have got to.

The World Championship was in fact won by a programme called Wbridge5, developed by Yves Costel, which beat Synrey Bridge in the final, but todays hand is from the semi-final when MicroBridge sitting East-West took on Bridge Baron sitting North South

Dealer West, Both Vul

?????????????????????????????????????????????K642

???????????????????????????????????????????? 86

???????? 86

???????? Q8632

????????? A107 ? QJ953

????????? 42 ? 109

?????????KJ732 ? Q104

????????? K75 ? J104

???????? 8

???????? AKQJ753

???????? A95

? A9

West opened the bidding with 1 Diamond, East responded 1 Spade and South closed the bidding with a bid of 4 Hearts.

Microbridge East got off to the only lead to possibly beat the contract, a trump.

Any other lead allows declarer to eventually ruff a diamond and lose only one spade, one diamond and one club.

Bridge Baron declarer won, drew a couple of trumps, giving up on trying to ruff a diamond, and led a spade.

West again did well to win the Ace and lead back a low diamond to partner’s queen and declarer’s Ace.

Declarer now ran a lot of trumps to come down to this with two trumps left to play:

?????????????????????????????????????????????K

????????????????????????????????????????????

???????? 8

???????? Q863

????????? ? Q

????????? ?

?????????KJ73 ? 104

????????? K7 ? J104

????????

???????? 53

???????? 95

? A9

Notice that if West discards two low diamonds on the last two trumps declarer exits with a diamond allowing West to win two tricks but leaving him end-played to lead away from the club King.

West, however, continued his brilliant defence by discarding one high and one low diamond, avoiding the endplay and the contract went one down.

Absolutely brilliant defence, but I notice that it wasn’t perfect- Do you see why?

If declarer had started with A109 of diamonds the discard of a high diamond by West would be fatal.

The answer? When in with the Spade Ace, West must exit with the King of diamonds — Now East keeps the queen and all is well.

Frighteningly good stuff from these computers!

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Published Oct 13, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 3, 2018 at 7:03 am)

Bridge playing computers have come a long way

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