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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat?

Tonight we hand out the candy, and starting tomorrow I'll post my recommendations on how to play against the BBO Robots. It's been a fun month, albeit a lot of hands - currently BridgeBase myhands showed that during October I played 5460 boards, with a 57.39% average, for over 220 masterpoints. In other terms I was playing over 175 boards a day, and at about 2 minutes per board, that was close to six hours of bridge a day. If I win the $100 for BBO first place, my net profit will be, umm, well, let's make that a loss: that would be 455 tourneys, at $1 each, and thus the cost of the masterpoints will be $355. Giving out candy tonight will be a lot cheaper, and we have nice treats!

On my iphone the chess app that I have installed adjusts its skill level to how well I've done before. However at this time the BBO robots can't yet play an expert game, and thus they don't have the ability, like the chess app, to "play up", or learn our tricks in order not to be fooled more than once. Thus we will look at the some tricks that you can treat the robots to, over and over again.

Here's a joke I recently received, that combines the fallen leafs of autumn with robot technology:

A man enters a bar. The bar has a robot bartender. The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail and then asks him, "What's your IQ?"

The man replies "150" and the robot proceeds to make conversation about global warming factors, quantum physics and spirituality, biochemistry, environment interconnectedness, string theory, nanotechnology and sexual proclivities.

The customer is very impressed and thinks, "This is really cool." He decides to test the robot. He walks out of the bar, turns around and comes back in for another drink. Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him, "What's your IQ?"

The man responds, "about 100." Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time about football, super models, favorite fast foods and guns.

Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decides to give the robot one more test. He returns, the robot serves him and asks, "What's your IQ?"

The man replies, "Er, 50, I think."

And the robot says.... real slowly.

"So................You.. following.. the.. Leafs.. again... this... year?".....

Sorry to those few Toronto Maple Leafs fans out there, and best wishes against the Habs tonight!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Battlestar Valkyrie

For my birthday last month Karen got me the Battlestar Galactica DVD box sets (now that's a great gift for a techie hubbie). Thus you might think that the robots of this series have kept me busy since the last posting, but instead it's been the Bridgebase robots: I've been playing them in the ACBL speedball events now established and running every 15 minutes during most of the day. The format is easy: 12 speedball boards, each board against three robots - okay, one of the robots is your "partner", but you will soon believe this one is also working for the Cylons – in a tourney I just completed, I gave my "partner" a ruff, careful to provide suit preference in order to give another ruff, and of course, the "partner" now led his last trump to avoid any possibility of getting that ruff.

In the four weeks of playing, I've obtained over 200 masterpoints playing against these three robots, and for this month, I'm the leader in ACBL online masterpoints, and in 2nd place in BBO points, with the overall leader playing in non-ACBL events. It has been more fun than I would have imagined. I started playing the events to "recon" them, and find out what makes the robots tick. Instead it's a pure rush of intellectual stimulation. I play about one board every two minutes, and can play a tourney within a half hour and have a few minutes left over for tea and chores between each event.

At the end of the month I'll post on the secrets I've found to play against the three robots, and then continue the Bread n' Butter series about Meckwell.

Here's an early secret: if it goes 1NT(by you)-X-P-P-?, you pass and even though the double is for penalty, your first question is how many overtricks you will make.

And for more on BattleStar Valkyrie: