Goren In a Box
Matt Ginsberg, an Artificial Intelligence researcher
at the University of Oregon, has written a computer
program that plays bridge. Matt dubbed
his program "GIB" for "Goren In a Box." GIB often plays
the cards at a very high level, sometimes outplaying
experts. It leaves other bridge programs in the dust.
Its bidding is a little flakey, but it is improving.
For example, it preempts maniacally. On the hand below,
it preempted with a bad suit in second chair, causing
its partner (another GIB) to make a losing lead.
GIB was playing with GIB against Meckstroth and Rodwell
in a demonstration match on
didn't do well, but how many pairs would?
I'm not fond of the 3 opening, even at favorable
vulnerability. I can live with the short suit and with the
bad texture, but I very much don't like the outside Ace.
This time, in some sense, the preempt worked. North/South
missed the easier 3NT game (which they probably would have reached
had there been no preempt, but would they have reached it from
the right side? I very much doubt anyone would have
found the club lead to beat 3NT.) to get to the reasonable,
but doomed, 4 game.
GIB2, however, seduced by the preempt (it must know its own
style, no?) led an "obvious" A, and when trumps broke
and a club honor was onside, Meckstroth had ten tricks.
Without the preempt, West might have led a high spade.
That seems to give up the tenth trick, too, but the play
gets complicated. Declarer must win in hand and draw exactly
two rounds of trumps before continuing spades. When South
splits, declarer needs to return to his hand to lead spades
again, so he draws a third round of trumps and cashes two
spades with the aid of a finesse. He pitches a diamond
from hand, but now he's stuck in dummy. He has to lead a
diamond from dummy in this position:
West wins the A and must play a spade. This
allows East to discard a club, and declarer will run out of
trumps before being able to enjoy his club trick. If West
carelessly continues with a diamond, declarer will run out
of trumps, but East will run out of winners, and will end
up being forced to give dummy the last, and game-going, trick.
August 12, 1997