A pro­gram, flaw­less de­fense

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - BY PHILLIP ALDER

Ernst Otto Fis­cher, a Ger­man who won a No­bel Prize in 1973 for pi­o­neer­ing work in organometal­lic chem­istry, said, “As ma­chines be­come more and more ef­fi­cient and per­fect, so it will be­come clear that im­per­fec­tion is the great­ness of man.”

For the rest of this week, you will read about deals played by two ma­chines, the Robots (com­puter pro­grams) on Bridge Base On­line (bridge­base.com) against hu­man op­po­nents.

First, what was the per­fect de­fense found by East-West against five hearts dou­bled?

The bid­ding was in­ter­est­ing. East had a re­ally pow­er­ful hand if part­ner had some fit. Af­ter its one-spade open­ing and South’s two-heart over­call, West dredged up a raise be­cause of the four trumps. (Non­vul­ner­a­ble, it might have bid a pre-emp­tive three spades, which prob­a­bly would have si­lenced North.) Now North nudged her part­ner with some heart sup­port, a sin­gle­ton and a po­ten­tial source of tricks. Then East might have re­bid four di­a­monds to show the sec­ond suit and ex­press some slam in­ter­est. When East bid four spades, though, South took an each-way bet. If four spades was fail­ing, maybe five hearts would make; if four spades was lay­down, prob­a­bly five hearts would be a cheap save.

Some­how, Robot West found a low-di­a­mond lead. East won with the ace and shifted to its sin­gle­ton club. De­clarer won on the board and led the heart jack, feign­ing a fi­nesse, but East did not fall for it. The Robot won with its ace and shifted to the spade two! West won with the jack and gave part­ner a club ruff for down two and the best re­sult pos­si­ble.

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