One of the advantages of playing duplicate bridge with and against a computer program is that the program is always up for playing. Trouble sleeping? Time to waste? Need to work on bridge skills? The machine is always ready A computer doesn’t have a dress code. However you are dressed or undressed you can just scoot into a chair and fire up the machine.
Of course the program is also always ready to freeze long enough for me to forget the strategy, the trump count, the history of bidding and whatever else I had in mind forty-five minutes ago when I was last able to play a card.
Another good thing is that it is impossible to strangle a program. Program rarely, if ever, file charges with the police. And no matter how much I curse at it, the program does not get up and walk away.
I am convinced the program I have singles me out for practicing its best game. At the end of each game there is a list of scores. Why does the program bid me up and leave other players in makeable contracts? Why does the machine utilize iron defense when contesting with me and let other players off with marshmallow level squishiness at leading and trumping? Last time I played the program bid two hearts against the highest rated player and five diamonds against me. The machine made both bids but it got more points for making a game bid than from making a partial game bid. All I did in the biding was to pass. So what makes the highest ranked player better than me? How did he or she force the computer to underbid the hand?
The dang thing chooses the best opening bid more often than the famous German professional team recently accused of developing a system of coughs to signal what the opening lead should be. When the allegations were made public, the team denied everything citing allergies as an explanation. An examination of the records showed their allergies led to accuracy in opening leads not suggested by the bidding and not achieved by any other team. The team was so insulted they never played in another international tournament.
On screen there is a box around the bids that allows me to request more information about bids made while the program is pretending to be my partner. At first I thought that was supposed to be helpful. The bids had made, however, often had little or nothing to do with description of what the bids meant.
After a substantial number of games played I had some of the weirdness in bidding figured out. Then the program was “updated.” Subsequently, the number of unpredictable bids rose to a level even higher than the original tally. If I ever meet the programmer I’ll club him or her, steal any diamond jewelry, rip out his/her heart and bury him in the back yard using a spade.
But I can still play in my underwear.