This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Robot Battles Part III - Pig Out

This is the third of a series of posts on battling the BBO Robots.

This is a picture of a nice robot, a gift from our oldest daughter:












It cleans the house.

This is a picture of a bad robot:



It also sucks, but not as a cleaning action.

Your primary duty in the bidding is to prevent any robot from becoming declarer, and especially the very dangerous GIB N robot pictured above. To do this you want to bid lots, but there are two landmines to avoid:

1) If you make a takeout double, or make a Michaels cuebid, or unusual or sandwich notrump, you are making a bid that gets the robot to bid the suit first - danger Will Robinson danger! - instead use natural bids (btw a takeout double is not "natural" but conventional), even if the bids are far less than perfect.

2) If you open and the opponents interfere while bad robot above remains silent, then if you bid again, bad robot will assume you have an amazing hand for freely bidding. For example, say you open 1NT, the next hand bids 2S, it comes back to you and you bid 3C - the robot thinks you have 15 to 17 high card points still, but it assumes you have 20 or so of what it calls "total points" - lots of playing value. In these situations you are in a tough spot - either pass out 2S, defend with bad robot and get a bad score, or bid, have bad robot push you overboard and get a bad score perhaps. It's the perhaps that can work for you: if you do bid, and get overboard, the opponents can misdefend to turn straw into gold.

The number one tactic to becoming declarer is the same tactic that second rate pros use with their third strata partners:

bid notrump first
For me the rule was any hand that was a point away and/or a card away from a 15-17 notrump opened 1NT. That meant a 1-3-4-5 14 count opened 1NT (one point away, and if you moved the club to the spade you would open 1NT). It meant a 5-4-1-3 18 count opened 1NT.

However a world class expert told me that he did not have good results in robot tourneys opening 1NT with 14s, so you are going to have to find your own comfort zone for opening 1NT, especially since the the bad robot pictured above can aggressively invite over your 1NT opening. I also used the point away/card away rule for 1NT overcalls, and I used it for 2NT 20-21 opening bids.

Thus a 12 board robot tourney might see me open 1NT 8 times, overcall 1NT once, open 2NT twice, and on the last of the dirty dozen have to bid a suit.

However there is yet another landmine: bad robot will never believe you have a five card or longer major if you open 1NT. Once I opened 1NT with a seven card major (okay more than once), and then bid my major, rebid my major, and rebid bid it once more (we were now several levels too high): the robot still assumed I only had four cards in the suit.

The good news is that your robot opponents, defending your contract after you opened notrump with a five card or longer major, will assume you don't have one either. For this to work well, hide your major length until later in the hand and the robots will often misdefend, assuming length in your hand in other suits.

Before you allow GIB N to play a hand remember this rule:

The No Dummy Rule: I'm not paying money to watch a robot misplay a hand
Something else to watch for is the "penalty double" by GIB N. If at all possible pull penalty doubles as GIB N will either have the wrong cards for it, and/or will make a silly lead, and/or will misdefend. Especially be careful of the situation where the opponents are bidding wildly, as they will often be shapely enough to bring home their contract (or in robot speak, bring the contract back to its docking station).

If you strive to hog the bidding, the robot tourneys become extra fun because you get to play the vast majority of the hands. I just brought in (from bridgebase's myhands) the hands I played from Oct 5 to the end of the month, and I was declarer on over 72% of them. Now that's pigging out on declarer play.

Next up: nondisclosure


  • At 1:05 PM, Blogger Memphis MOJO said…

    I'm not paying money to watch a robot misplay a hand.


    in robot speak, bring the contract back to its docking station

    more haha

    This is great stuff, and your humor makes it only better. I've become addicted to these dumb things the last few days, so can relate to what you say.

  • At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Chris Hasney said…

    "It also sucks, but not as a cleaning action."
    My favorite line. But I also concur with Memphis. I hope Fred G. is reading and enjoying these as much as we are!


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