The 13th World Computer-Bridge Championship, played in Washington during the Summer Nationals, reaffirmed that the two best programs are Wbridge5 from France and Jack from the Netherlands. They finished on top of the round-robin qualifying event, ahead of eight other entrants. (Of the United States entries, Bridge Baron finished sixth and Bridge Captain was eighth.)
In the 64-board semifinals, Wbridge5 defeated Shark Bridge from Denmark by 232 international match points to 105. Jack had a harder time against Micro Bridge from Japan. With two boards to be played, Jack trailed by 18 imps (despite having started with a 12-imp carryover from the round robin). On Board 63 the two Souths held these cards: ♠ A ♥ 10 8 4 ♦ A K 8 ♣ A K Q 8 5 2
You deal and open two clubs. When partner responds two diamonds, “waiting” (usually 0-7 points, but maybe stronger with no good suit to show), what would you rebid?
Jack shut its electronic eyes and jumped to three no-trump.
Micro Bridge rebid three clubs. Then, when partner continued with three spades, it strangely bid four clubs instead of three no-trump. North passed with this holding: ♠ K 9 8 5 4 ♥ 9 7 5 ♦ J 7 6 ♣ 10 4
Three no-trump made when hearts were 4-3 and clubs 3-2. Four clubs, though, was one too high, declarer losing three hearts and one diamond.
Plus 600 and plus 100 gave Jack 12 imps, leaving it down by 6.
The diagramed deal was Board 64 (rotated to make South the declarer). In the given auction Jack East opened one diamond with a good 11-point hand. (This would be the choice of many top players today. The hand has an ace and two kings, a good five-card suit, two tens, two nines and a reasonable rebid. Over one spade, East would have raised to two spades.) Now Jack was pushed into four spades. What would have happened to that contract?
Five hearts doubled went down three, losing two spades, two diamonds and one club. (A trump lead would not have helped because declarer would have won in hand and played its singleton club.)
Four spades would have been tough. It can be defeated for sure by a low-heart lead from North and a club shift by South. If, though, North begins with two rounds of hearts, then South switches to his singleton club, declarer can succeed by winning with the ace, drawing two rounds of trumps ending in hand and running the diamond nine. But would Jack have found that?
At the other table Micro Bridge East passed, and Jack South opened an aggressive four hearts, which was passed out. Down two, but plus 500 and minus 100 gave Jack 9 imps to win by 3.
The final will be covered in Saturday’s column.