Christine Goulden's Annual                Computer Bridge Championship

About Christine Goulden 

Christine considers herself to be average at over the board, or online bridge site play like the Bridgez site in France, and usually scores 50% at these Butler type competition events. She prefers to play against or compare herself to bridge playing robots since 2012. Christine is now retired.    

Christine has always taken an interest in the World Computer Bridge Championships, and bought one of the later versions of GIB 6.20 by Matt Ginsberg 10 to 12 years ago. She mainly used American bidding systems, before getting hooked on other bridge programs, for a change of playing style or system.

She has run a tournament for the last three years to see how the robots are doing, usually timed for one month before the World Computer Bridge Championship official event is taking place. She has run a competition this year just before the championships in Wroclaw Poland which was cancelled. The details of her tournament this year are as follows:

Participating  Programs - In Seed Order 

- Microbridge 13.3 (by Tomio & Yumiko Uchida) - Current official World Champion
- Wbridge 5.12 (By Yves Costel) - Former World Champion a few times
- Jack 6.11  (by Hans Kuijf) 10 times World Champion
- Q-Plus Bridge 15.3 by (Hans Leber- ) the latest version. and regular Semi Finalist
- Bridge Baron 29 (by Stephen Smith)
- GIB 6.20 (by Matt Ginsberg)
- Bridge Captain 6.2 (by Bob Richardson & Bo Haglund) - Only appeared at the one World Championship.

Missing Programs

- Synrey Bridge, (a finalist for the last 3 years at the WCBC, There is no standalone version for Windows)
- Shark 1.7 (By John Norris) - Now online only, it can work at my championship as a download, but needs an annual subscription to use online PBN directories, so it's not included this year.
- Robobridge (by Job Scheffer) - It's the current version but has no access to import or export of own PBN files.
- TCS Bridgebot - Appeared at the WCBC the last two times. It's from India and is a private program and is not available as a free robot or to purchase.
- Meadowlark Bridge - Formerly GIB 6.20. It was written by Matt Ginsberg and Rod Ludwig. Rod Ludwig still brings Meadowlark to the World Championships.                                                                                                              - Blue Chip Bridge By the inventor of the Table Manager Ian Trackman and Mike Whittaker. Will be included next year.

Used Equipment

Two laptops of equal spec, 2.5 Ghz Quad Core, one with Windows 10 and one with Windows 11. There is a copy of each robot on both Laptops. This setup will change next year due to recent discoveries of how bridge robots use their memory for bidding and card play.

Setup               

The format is usually similar to the official World Computer Bridge Championships, but only 16 board are played in each round throughout, including the Semi Final, and Final. The robots would normally play  7 rounds of round robin format, with one robot taking a bye in each round. The four highest placed robots from the final table move on to the Semi Final. There was a problem discovered at this year's event after quite a few rounds had been completed, which made these rounds null and void, So this year the robots have only played from the Quarter Finals onwards with no round robin stage being played. The problem has been resolved for next year.
From the mix of commercial and freely available robots competing here, only 2 of the robots at this event (Q-Plus Bridge 15.3  (commercial version),and Wbridge 5.2, which is freely available) can be run with a Table Manager, that supports the Blue Chip Bridge Protocol.  so a Table Manager is not used at this event. One robot is loaded on the first laptop seated as North and South using the robots Autoplay. The opposing robot is loaded on the 2nd laptop, also on Autoplay, but seated East and West. All robots must be set with card peeking switched off. It's necessary to give information to one laptop what the other has done regarding bidding and play to get an Autoplay response between the robots, This is done by human intervention with the East West cards on the 1st laptop and human intervention for the North South cards on the 2nd laptop,which is very slow process.

Board Generation

I use GIB 6.20 to generate the first 8 boards because GIB saves in PBN 1.0 format which is the only format recognized by all the playing robots. Boards 9 to 16 are then rotated by Jack 6.11, but they are in fact boards 1 to 8 rotated. This is done so that the robots have played each board as both as North and South and East and West. The reason for doing this is the scoring, by rotating the boards this creates a one winner system. for knockout event instead of a winner for those who played the North South.cards and another winner for those who played the East West cards. This will change next year. I have discovered that using  the first 8 boards in the dealing, I just get the robots to change seats after board 8..

Robot Settings

Microbridge 13.3 has a setting for duplicate play known as Match Point play ("Trying to take the extra trick"), but in tests this is too aggressive and the Microbridge results are better with this setting switched to IMP play. Bidding System: American 2 over 1 Game Forcing.

Wbridge 5.12 like Microbridge, has a setting to switch between duplicate going for the extra trick or Team IMP to just make the contract. For Wbridge this setting is known as mode, where the mode is set to 0 or 1. The robot's author Yves Costel prefers the mode number to be set to 1, otherwise Wbridge could sometimes miss a marginal game call or a sacrifice bid in duplicate competition. Wbridge5 uses its own system at the official World Championship, but as I can't use a Table Manager, to get other robots to understand this bidding, I use Wbridge's SEF 2 over 1 system. Also known as Cinquieme Majeure.

Jack 6.11 has a special setting known as its Verona setting where the settings are set to World Championship. The system setting was used when Jack won the WCBC in Verona. The system is similar to an American 2 over 1 System., but will be changed next year to 2/1 Game Forcing. This because next year systems may change depending on the which robot is playing which robot.

Q-Plus Bridge 15.3 does not have a duplicate play adjustment like some of the other robots, best setting according to it's author is Team IMP. Q-Plus is 25% weaker if set to Match Point setting. The IMP setting makes Q-Plus very solid and hard to beat. Q-Plus can use an American style 2 over 1 system, but also uses SEF (Cinquieme Majiure) system against one of the participating robots, who can't use a 2/1 America system.

GIB 6.20 Can be set to duplicate or IMP play, but has the same problem as Wbridge where it could miss a game call or sacrifice bid if set to Team IMP. GIB uses a 2 over 1 Game Forcing System.

Bridge Baron 29  Bridge Baron default system setup is a very solid style, which I guess is Team IMP play, where it is set to just make the contract. It does however use pre-emptive bidding similar to the Culbertson system rules of 21 or 24 bidding at three or four level of bidding, and can still make sacrifices with this setting still on IMP play. It uses 2 over 1 Game Forcing System.

Bridge Captain 6.2 Is quite aggressive in bidding despite its setting for either Team IMP or Duplicate MP. The American 2 over 1. system is used. These settings have to be tested as I have learned from one of the robot authors, that Match Point setting may not be as good for a robot's reults as IMP play.

Due to no Table Manager at this event, the different system information passed between robots like at the World Championships is not possible. This is why each robot uses a bidding system that his opponent can understand.

Systems. All programs use an American 2 over 1 System except for Wbridge5 where SEF the French Standard system is used, also known as (Cinquieme Majeure), which is a 2 over 1 system. Some of the other robots can understand SEF although the point count evaluation is Western European in style and 2 points weaker than used in the U.S.A.

Time limit for bidding and play time is very difficult to set equaly as some robots  are quicker than others, but is about 60 seconds per play of a single card or there abouts. The bidding is genarly quicker.

Scoring. Historically the scoring for the tournament is in Victory Points (16 boards scale), and IMPs. during the rounds and the Semi Final and Final, compared to 32 boards during the round robin and 64 board Semi's and Final at the World Computer Bridge Championships. The scoring next year will be Team IMPs only,

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                                                                Score Sheet in Excel Format    

                                                Videos with the Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and Final.