Wbridge5 crowned 2016 champion, narrowly defeating Micro Bridge

entries     results     history

ACBL logo                          WBF logo

World Computer-Bridge Championship

21st World Computer-Bridge Championship, August 19-24, 2017

at the WBF’s 2017 43rd World Bridge Teams Championships, Lyon, France

  20th Ourgame World Computer-Bridge Championship

The 20th Ourgame World Computer-Bridge Championship was held September 10-15, alongside the World Bridge Games in Wroclaw, Poland.

Eight robots competed for the title.  For full results go to results

International Computer Games Association Journal

The Bridge World,

French news articles on Wbridge5’s win:  Wbridge5 champion Newspaper column by Jean-Pierre Desmoulins

Day 6: Finals

Wbridge5 (France) defeated Micro Bridge (Japan) in the final KO for the 2016 bridge robot crown.

Wbridge5          61  16   26  59   162 
Micro Bridge     26  40   58  32   156

With two boards to go Micro Bridge was up 17 Imps.

Board 63
Dlr: S
Vul: N-S
.
.
North
♠ —
♥ AT62
♦ 9542
♣ KQ863
West
♠ J64
♥ Q8
♦ AT76
♣ AJ94
East
♠ KT9852
J53
♦ K3
♣ T2
South
♠ AQ73
♥ K974
♦ QJ8
♣ 75

At one table Micro Bridge went down one in 3♣-N, for -100.  At the other table,

West
Micro Bridge
.
Pass
3♠
North
Wbridge5
.
1
4
East
Micro Bridge
.
2 
All Pass
South
Wbridge5
1
3
.

Opening lead ♣10.  E-W cashed their 3 outside winners, ♣A, A, K.  While this was not the best order of winning the 3 outside winners, it appeared that there was still a trump loser for down one, and the end of any chance of Wbridge5 coming back.  However, appearances are deceiving as Wbridge5 perfectly executed the rarely seen Devil’s coup, or the disappearing trump trick, to make the contract: winning the club return; pitching the Q on the remaining high club; ruffing a club; ruffing a spade; ruffing a diamond; cashing the A, pitching a club; ruffing a spade; returning the 9 and overruffing East’s J with the K; and finessed West’s Q. +620 and 12 Imps.

On the last board, with Micro Bridge up by 5 Imps:

Board 64
Dlr: W
Vul: E-W
.
.
North
♠ QJT9763
♥ Q5
♦ Q4
♣ J5
West
♠ K
♥ K2
♦ A762
♣ K97642
East
♠ A852
JT87
♦ 985
♣ A8
South
♠ 4
♥ A9643
♦ KJT3
♣ QT3
West
Wbridge5
1♣
.
Micro Bridge
1♣
North
Micro Bridge
3♠
.
Wbridge5
3♠
East
Wbridge5
3NT
.
Micro Bridge
All Pass
South
Micro Bridge
All Pass
.
Wbridge5
.

At one table, Micro Bridge went down 2 in 3♠, for -100.  Against 3NT by Wbridge5, as the cards lie, a diamond opening lead or return when N-S first gets in is needed to defeat 3NT. The spade lead was won by the king and a club was ducked to South.  This is the best play for Wbridge5, setting up the club suit, assuming a 3-2 break, retaining an entry to cash the spade ace, and leaving the location of the ♣A in question.

South, in with the club ten, had one last chance to return a diamond, but returned a low heart, which would have been right if declarer had the diamond queen, and declarer misguesses the heart situation.  Declarer went up with the king and now had 9 tricks and the title.

Checking with Micro Bridge (yes, it is possible to ask the robots what they were ‘thinking.’ North’s 3♠ bid showed a 7-card suit and 5 or more playing tricks.  Micro Bridge interpreted the 3NT bid as showing a spade stopper and a minimum of 8 hcp.  North did not play spade ace at trick one, so South plays East for the ace.  Micro Bridge assumes QJ10xxxx as 5 playing tricks, but QJ9xxxx as 4.5 playing tricks. Simulations gave the ace of club to North to fulfill 5 playing tricks more often than QJ10xxxx.  Here is a typical generated hand .

North
♠ QJ97632
JT5
 8
♣ A5

A heart return at trick 3 will defeat the contract while a diamond lead will allow a make (The reader is left to work out the end position).

Jack (The Netherlands), the pre-tournament co-favorite, was absent, but will return next year.  Newcomer Xinrui (China) proved to be a strong contender, just missing the semifinal stage.

Congratulations to Wbridge5 for a very well played victory and to Micro Bridge for a good battle down to the wire.  Kudos to all the contestants for their dedication to advancing robot play and, for many, developing robot software  for teaching, play and entertainment..  Much thanks to the ACBL, WBF and this year’s sponsor, Ourgame, for all their support.  A big thank you to the Polish Bridge Union , notably Marek Malysa, for all their support, and for making us feel at home, to Hans van Staveren for his technical support, and to Ron Tacchi, Jean-Paul Meyer, Brent Manley and Mario Chavarria for their fine coverage of the robot championship.

Day 5: Semifinals

Both semifinal matches were extremely close, with Wbridge5 (France) defeating Shark Bridge (Denmark) by the margin of the carryover, and Micro Bridge (japan) defeating Bridge Baron (USA) by 6 Imps.

Wbridge5 (9.6)  35  33  27  36  140.6
Shark Bridge     22  63  19  27  131

Micro Bridge     26    4  55  59  144
Bridge Baron     41  57  16  24  138

One of the best declarer played deals of the robot championship occurred early in the semifinal match, and was more than the margin of victory in both matches.

Board 4
Dlr: W
Vul: None
.
.
North
♠ 532
♥ AQJ4
♦ Q3
♣ A653
West
♠ AQ6
♥ K8732
♦ T
♣ QJ84
East
♠ JT984
T5
♦ J74
♣ KT7
South
♠ K7
♥ 96
AK98652
♣ 92
West
Shark Bridge
1
2♠
Pass
Pass
North
Wbridge5
Pass
Dbl1
4NT
6
East
Shark Bridge
1♠
Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
Wbridge5
2
32
53
.

strength with 4+ clubs
2 spade stopper, looking for heart stopper for NT
3 1 ace

Opening lead ♣Q

With West long in hearts, without the club king, therefore the spade ace, a heart-spade squeeze without the count is the marked play. For success diamonds must be 2-2 or 3-1 with a stiff honor with West as declarer needs two entries to hand, one to take one heart finesse and one to run the diamonds. Diamond queen overtaken with the ace caters to both possibilities.  The play proceeds: club ace; diamond queen overtaken with the ace; heart finesse, diamond finesse (restricted choice); running diamonds and on the last diamond West had no safe discard.

. North
♠ 53
♥ AQ4
♦ 
♣ —
West
♠ AQ
♥ K87
♦ 
♣ —
East
♠ JT
T
♦ 
♣ KT
South
♠ K7
♥ 9
♦ 2
♣ 9

At the table West discarded the ♠Q, declarer led a spade to West’s stiff ace and West had to return a heart, +1370 and 15 Imps as Shark Bridge was in 3 for +150.

In the Micro Bridge versus Bridge Baron match, Bridge Baron was in 3 +130 and Wbridge5 was in 5 +620.  The opening lead against 5 was a low heart, finessed, and on the run of diamonds West was similarly squeezed.

Note that the play must be the same to make 5 or 6.  This deal is from the quarter-finals of the team championships (Open, Women’s, Senior, Mixed) . Of the 32 times this deal was played by ‘humans’ the contracts were: 3NT by South (16); 3NT by North, down (3); 3 (7); 3♠  by East (2);  5, down (2), making with an overtrick (1); and 6 (1) making.  The declareres that made 5 and 6 received the spade ace lead, so their play was not tested. The two other declarers in 5 received less friendly leads, and did not find the best play.

With two boards to play, and both matches almost even, the drop of a singleton king offside would decide both matches.

Board 63
Dlr: S
Vul: E-W
.
.
North
♠ JT43
♥ AQT98
♦ AKQ
♣ A
West
♠ AQ872
♥ 732
♦ J43
♣ K5
East
♠ 5
K5
♦ T8765
♣ T8632
South
♠ K96
♥ J64
♦ 92
♣ QJ974
West
Shark Bridge
.
Pass
3
All Pass
North
Wbridge5
.
2♣
3
.
East
Shark Bridge
.
2NT
Pass
.
South
Wbridge5
Pass
Pass
4
.

West plays ♠Q, ♠A, ♠7 for East to ruff, and East returned a club, West playing the King. With West a passed hand, East was marked for the heart king, and East was likely 1-2-5-5, so Wbridge5 got it right and dropped the stiff K. No blood as 4 was also made by Shark Bridge, but a needed play by Wbridge5 to win the match.Opening lead ♠5.

In the other semifinal match, at one table Bridge Baron reached 4 with no opposing bidding.  The ♠5 was led, and after the ♠Q, ♠A and ruff by East, a diamond was returned. Bridge Baron, not locating the ♣K, ruffed the 3rd diamond and took the heart finesse for down one and the difference in the match.  At the other table Micro Bridge was in safer 3NT, making 4.

This deal was also played in the team championships round of 16.  Of the 64 times the deal was played by humans, the contract was 4N 52 times.  3NT was played 7 times and made 9 or 10 tricks.  Of the 49 times the singleton spade was led against 4 declarer made the contract 20 times.  If declarer could find the ♣K with West, then East would be marked with the K.  One clue that a human declarer would have is the signal West gave when returning the 3rd spade.  It seems that West might signal for a club return knowing that a diamond return could be fatal if partner led away from an honor.  So deciding on stiff K with East against the K with West is an interesting study.

Day 4: End of Round Robin

Final Round Robin Standing:
Q Wbridge5 (France) 91.87
Q Micro Bridge (Japan) 90.07
Q Bridge Baron (USA) 89.21
Q Shark Bridge (Denmark) 80.12
Q-Plus Bridge (Germany) 78.76
Xinrui (China) 78.50
RoboBridge (The Netherlands) 50.58
Meadowlark Bridge (USA) 0.89

In the final round, with Bridge Baron taking 20 VPs against Meadowlark Bridge and Micro Bridge narrowly defeating Wbridge5, the top three qualifiers were guaranteed (Wbridge5, Micro Bridge and Bridge Baron). The Xinrui – Shark Bridge and Q-Plus Bridge – RoboBridge matches would determine the last qualifying position. Xinrui started the round 14.3 VPs ahead of Shark Bridge and 12.5 VPs ahead of Q-Plus Bridge. Q-Plus Bridge needed to win by at least 37 IMPs to have a chance, and was up by 37 IMPs with one board remaining, but RoboBridge made 3NT on the last board to win 5 IMPs and end Q-Plus Bridge’s chances of qualifying. In the other match, Shark Bridge did win by 55 IMPs, in large part due to board 10, and qualified fourth. Shark Bridge picked up 18 IMPs on board 10, a deal that was played well at both tables.

Board 10
Dlr: E
Vul: Both
.
.
North
♠ T876
♥ T743
♦ 84
♣ 932
West
♠ —
♥ KQ92
♦ KT73
♣ AQ854
East
♠ QJ
J865
♦ AJ92
♣ KJT
South
♠ AK95432
♥ A
♦ Q65
♣ 76
West
Xinrui
.
6
North
Shark Bridge
.
All Pass
East
Xinrui
1
.
South
Shark Bridge
4♠
. 

Opening lead ♠A

Declarer misguessed the Q, playing South for short diamonds, down 1 -100.

West
Shark Bridge
1
Dbl
4NT
6
All Pass
North
Xinrui
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
.
East
Shark Bridge
1
2
5♣1
Pass
.
South
Xinrui
1♠
4♠ 
Pass
Dbl
.

1 keycard

The lead of the ♠A, ruffed in dummy, was followed by the K. The Q was cashed revealing the trump break.  A trump coup is needed to make the contract, and requires North to hold at least three clubs and at least two diamonds.  Shark Bridge now cashed three rounds of clubs.  Declarer, playing South to have the diamond queen, cashed the diamond ace and a low diamond to the ten! Now running the clubs produced a trump coup.

+1660, and 18 Imps to Shark Bridge.

Note that two rounds of diamonds must be played before running the clubs as North will discard a diamond on the fourth club.

Day 4, 6th round: Qualifying day, with Wbridge5 and Micro Bridge sure to qualify for the semifinal KO. Four other bots will battle for the remaining 2 spots, with 4 (Bridge Baron, Xinrui, Q-Plus Bridge and Shark Bridge) within 4 VPs of each other going into round 6.

After the sixth round:
Wbridge5 (France) 83.14
Micro Bridge (Japan) 78.80
Xinrui (China) 76.46
Bridge Baron (USA) 69.21
Q-Plus Bridge (Germany)63.94
Shark Bridge (Denmark) 62.,16
RoboBridge (The Netherlands) 45.40
Meadowlark Bridge (USA) 0.89

With Bridge Baron expected to take 20 VPs against Meadowlark Bridge, it is guaranteed a place in the semifinal stage, finishing 3rd or 2nd.  Shark Bridge needs a 47 Imp victory against Xinrui to overtake Xinrui and a possible place in the top 4, and Q-Plus Bridge could also finish in the top four with a win of at least 37 Imps over RoboBridge.

Day 3:  Play started, as usual, with the Laws of Robot Bridge safely tucked away in my wallet, hidden behind some Zloty.  Then the unimaginable…an insufficient bid !!!! The software sent an error message and play stopped.  Not to worry, I know Law 6 covers it…”when Laws 1-5 do not specify a remedy, the Director provides one”.  Skip the board and assess a 3 Imps penalty.  A spectator was overheard saying, I guess they’re only human. More on this…maybe…as the guilty party is busy checking his 10,000 lines of code.

That would be an interesting ploy, to settle for a 3 Imp loss on a calculated expectation of losing more than 3 IMPs, as might occur if there is a known bidding misunderstanding (near impossible in perfectly programmed robot play, but who is to say that AI couldn’t give the robots a life of their own).

The day ended with 5 rounds in the bank, and two to go.

Micro Bridge (Japan) 75.15
Wbridge5  (France) 70.54
Q-Plus Bridge  (Germany) 56.54
Xinrui  (China) 56.46
Shark Bridge  (Denmark) 55.78
Bridge Baron  (USA) 52.86
RoboBridge  (The Netherlands) 31.78
Meadowlark Bridge  (USA) 0.89

Micro Bridge is leading after 5 rounds, with Wbridge5 close behind.  Both have 2 matches to play against contenders but the betting odds favor them both reaching the semifinal stage.  Following closely together in the standing are four contenders vying for the other two qualifying positions, Q-Plus Bridge, Xinrui, Shark Bridge and Bridge Baron. RoboBridge is mathematically out of the running and Meadowlark Bridge is in it for the practice.

Day 2:  Play today started at 17.00, the same as in the human competition.
See day 1 for the first 2 rounds.

The leader after three rounds is Micro Bridge (45.80 VPs) followed by pre-tournament favorite Wbridge5 (38.71), followed by Q-Plus Bridge (35.11), Bridge Baron (32.35), Xinrui (31.57), Shark Bridge (30.60), RoboBridge (24.67) and Meadowlark Bridge (0.89)

With 3 rounds completed some guesses are in order. Meadowlark Bridge’s robot has not improved from its last appearance 12 years ago, and the relative showing of the other robots shows the progress that has been made since then.  New entry Xinrui shows to be competitive, and too early to make any predictions on its final standing. RoboBridge has to do much better if it is to make the final four.

Day 1: The championship has started.  We are in room 33 in Centennial Hall.  The round robin will be played over 4 days, with 2 matches today (9/10) and 1 tomorrow (starting at 17.00), 2 on 9/12 and 2 on 9/13.  The 64-board KO semifinals will be on 9/14 and the 64-board final on 9/15.

All 8 robots made it to Wroclaw.  16 computers are networked so that the robots can pass information through a central table Manager, written by Gérard Joyez.

I’ll write every day with some news.

One of the strong favorites, and last year’s champion, Jack, developed by Hans Kuijf, is noticeably missing from this year’s competition.  Hans reports that he, and his colleagues will return next year.

Welcome back after many years away, to past champion Meadowlark Bridge developed by Rodney Ludwig.

Welcome to first time competitor, Xinru from China which promises to be a strong competitor.

32-board Round Robin
First round: IMPs (VPs)

Bridge Baron 67 (12.05)
Xinrui 57 (7.95)

Shark Bridge 81 (13.12)
Q-Plus Bridge 65 (6.88)

Wbridge5 266 (20)
Meadowlark Bridge 14 (0)

Micro Bridge 94 (17.87)
RoboBridge 40 (2.13)

Second round: IMPs (VPs)

Wbridge5 76 (12.95)
Xinrui 61 (7.05)

Shark Bridge 91 (13.94)
Bridge Baron 71 (6.06)

RoboBridge 81 (19.11)
Meadowlark Bridge 11 (0.89)

Micro Bridge 53 (11.47)
Q-Plus Bridge 46 (8.53)

Full results will be posted daily at https://allevybridge.com/allevy/computerbridge/2016scores.html

Some first day photos