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Best Hand AI or UI?

#21 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-July-24, 11:19

View Postbarmar, on 2012-July-24, 09:21, said:

I think calling best-hand bridge "not bridge" is a serious exaggeration. Rubber and duplicate bridge require significantly different strategies, but we don't say that one of them is "not bridge". I think best-hand robot bridge fits within the same continuum, it's just another variation.

There's just the little matter of the Laws, though.
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#22 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2012-July-24, 16:15

Best-hand robot bridge violates Law 8 of the laws of rubber bridge and Law 6 of both the laws of duplicate bridge and the Laws for Electronic Bridge. Further, the latter law book says

Quote

The primary objective of the WBFLC in considering laws for online bridge is and must be the protection of the integrity and unity of the game. Thus, the Laws of Online Bridge should ensure that a contest determines that the winner of an online bridge contest is truly the best in bridge, and not in some other related but distinct game.

It seems to me that best-hand robot bridge is "some related but distinct game". YMMV, I suppose.
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#23 User is offline   Leo LaSota 

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Posted 2012-July-24, 19:51

While "best hand" robot bridge tournaments do not focus on all aspects of a live bridge game, I can say from experience that they are a much greater measure of skill than many live bridge games. Me and my partner, John Adams, likely played stronger on the final day of the Wernher Open Pairs than any other pair. However, we only managed a 64% and 60% in the two final sessions largely because the opponents did alot of very good things against us. As an example, the opponents bid and made 4 slams against us (one grand) and the results of these hands were completely out of our control. We scored well below average on all 4 of these boards. I checked the results from just 2 of these boards from the evening session. Against the first place pair, the opponents did not bid either of the slam. This resulted in two great scores for the winners. The additional matchpoints that they earned on these two boards was more than the difference in our final scores. Additionally, the second place pair stated in the bulletin that they had alot of luck in the event.
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#24 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-July-25, 03:39

View Postblackshoe, on 2012-July-24, 16:15, said:

Best-hand robot bridge violates Law 8 of the laws of rubber bridge and Law 6 of both the laws of duplicate bridge and the Laws for Electronic Bridge. Further, the latter law book says
It seems to me that best-hand robot bridge is "some related but distinct game". YMMV, I suppose.

Despite violating those laws, it seems like best-hand bridge meets the "primary objective" the WBFLC describes. The intent of the best-hand design is to make the human play more hands. How is making him dummy more going to ensure that the winner is the best in bridge?

I think this is simply a case of technology getting ahead of the laws (as it often does in the real world, as well). The electronic bridge laws only take into account using the computer to mediate bidding and play, but like the regular laws it assumes that all the players are humans. I believe the primary purpose of the dealing law is to avoid bias between the players. Best-hand bridge does that, since it only biases against the robots, who aren't real players.

That's not entirely true, I'll admit. Law 6 also prohibits goulash, even though all the players have equal likelihood of getting freaks. I'm not really sure WHY this prohibition is necessary, though. As long as all the contestants are aware that the hands will be freaky, isn't it just as much a contest of bridge skill?

#25 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-July-25, 03:51

The last post (Edit: #23, barmar and I cross-posted) made me smile. Might I suggest that instead of a World Cup in 2014 we instead hold a FIFA Soccer tournament where instead of head-to-head matches the winner is the player/country that gets the best record against an array of computer opponents. That way, noone has to deal with opponents doing unexpectedly good things against them and the winner will be a much better indication of the real skill level of the contestants. FIFA could even update their official rankings. If it caught on the football stadiums can be converted to training centers run by FIFA, thus putting the money saved back into promoting the game.

We have had this argument before. It is really simple. A game is bridge if it meets the Laws of bridge. If the Lawmakers decide that Best Hand tournaments should be classified as bridge then they should change the Laws in the next update. Up to now I have not seen this suggested in the appropriate forum but perhaps it is being put forward somewhere else. It is irrelevant whether Best Hand tournaments are more or less "skillful" than rubber bridge, teams, or any other form of bridge; or poker, canasta or skat for that matter. Bridge is defined by its Laws. Currently, Best Hand is a bridge-like game but not in fact bridge. I completely accept that that could change in the future.
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#26 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-July-25, 23:22

View PostZelandakh, on 2012-July-25, 03:51, said:

Bridge is defined by its Laws.

Tell that to all the thousands of people playing "kitchen table bridge" who have probably never heard of the Laws.

Many games get by perfectly well with "house rules". The official rules of Monopoly never mentioned getting money for landing on Free Parking, but it was always part of the game as I learned it.

#27 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-July-25, 23:44

I've played hundreds (thousand?) of hours of robot bridge, and I also play plenty of f2f and online bridge with humans. I don't notice a huge difference in the games. Yes, I bid a little differently when playing best-hand bridge -- if partner opens and I have a minimum opening hand with support for partner, I just jump to game instead of bidding slowly, since I know it can't have extra values (although sometimes it has extra shape and we miss a slam). But there are human players playing limited opening systems who do the same exact thing -- 1-4 could either be a weak preempt or a minimum game force.

There are also inferences that can be taken when declaring.

Can you make any argument that this isn't bridge other than a slavish devotion to outdated laws? It's like people arguing that homosexuality is wrong and evolution isn't true because of things written in a religious book 2,000 years ago.

#28 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-July-26, 06:11

View Postbarmar, on 2012-July-25, 23:22, said:

Tell that to all the thousands of people playing "kitchen table bridge" who have probably never heard of the Laws.

Many games get by perfectly well with "house rules". The official rules of Monopoly never mentioned getting money for landing on Free Parking, but it was always part of the game as I learned it.

I doubt anyone has any issue with what Auntie Vera calls her house game. She could play Skat and call it Bridge for all I care. The same is true for Monopoly. Official events are played using the official rules where Free Parking is exactly that, a free place to park your token for a throw.

The part of your posts where I do object to is in comparing the idea that the definition of "bridge" is what the governing body of the game call it with the prejudiced view that homosexuality is wrong and the rejection of science through religion. There is nothing religious or prejudiced about the Laws of Bridge. Nonetheless, they do define what is, and is not, bridge. For example, say I invent a game which is identical to bridge except that NT scores 40 per trick. This game has the same skillset as bridge and is indeed even closer to normal bridge than Best Hand. I can even call it bridge when I play it at home. However, it is not bridge. Why is it not bridge? Because the Laws tell me what bridge is. The same is true for Ghoulash and any one of a million other possible variants. How many of these variants do you consider to be "bridge"?
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#29 User is offline   semeai 

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Posted 2012-July-26, 06:53

1. Why do we care if Best Hand Bridge is "Bridge" or not? The ACBL has decided to give out masterpoints for it. Seems like a good move for their business and for popularization of the game. If you want to argue against this, please do so directly; I'm not seeing how the semantics of the situation imply this to be undesirable.

2. The fact you have the best hand should certainly be treated as AI.

3. It's quite fun and highly related to many, if not all, bridge skills.

4. A par contest as a side event at a tournament would be fun, and this certainly won't fit any strict definition of bridge. So would a monitored Best Hand side event (more fun/worthwhile as the computer players get better of course). [This is in not in any way to suggest that declarer play against GiB is at all similar to a par contest.]
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#30 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-July-26, 09:08

View PostZelandakh, on 2012-July-26, 06:11, said:

Why is it not bridge? Because the Laws tell me what bridge is.

The problem is that the Laws are slow to catch up. They only revise them once a decade. So no matter what anyone thinks, we can't call this bridge for another 5 years or so?

Furthermore, changes like this are usually made in response to a need. If we didn't have best-hand games to begin with, the law committees wouldn't have any reason to consider allowing them in the next revision. It's a Catch-22: they're not allowed, so we don't try to run them, so they don't change the laws to allow them. A number of the changes in the 2007 Laws were done to authorize regulations that various RAs (ACBL in particular) had already enacted and were enforcing for years.

In general, Laws are always behind the times for these reasons. If you don't allow a little civil disobedience, there's no evolution of the laws. Sometimes you have to look to the spirit of the laws rather than strict adherence to the letter.

#31 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-July-26, 14:30

View Postbarmar, on 2012-July-26, 09:08, said:

It's a Catch-22: they're not allowed, so we don't try to run them, so they don't change the laws to allow them.


No one in this thread is suggesting that the best-hand game should not be allowed; the question is whether a RA should give out their masterpoints for it.
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#32 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-July-26, 15:14

I think giving out masterpoints is needed to force the laws commission to take up the issue. Otherwise, it will seem too inconsequential to bother addressing in the laws.

#33 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-July-27, 01:58

View Postbarmar, on 2012-July-26, 15:14, said:

I think giving out masterpoints is needed to force the laws commission to take up the issue. Otherwise, it will seem too inconsequential to bother addressing in the laws.

So let's also give out MP for Ghoulash tournaments and my variant where NT scores 40 per trick. Or how about forcing the RAs to take up the issue of having "No Holds Barred" bidding systems, where one can assign any meaning to any call providing there is proper disclosure? Why is this particular variant worthy of forcing on the Lawmakers but the other million variants not? At the end of the day this is perhaps an example of the ACBL doing what it wants and the WBF either accepts it or looks powerless. It is a shame that the process tends to work like this. Perhaps the English FA should take a leaf from the same playbook and simply introduce goal line technology in all Premier League games, then see what UEFA and FIFA decide to do about it.
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#34 User is offline   gordontd 

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Posted 2012-July-27, 02:37

View Postbarmar, on 2012-July-25, 23:44, said:

Can you make any argument that this isn't bridge other than a slavish devotion to outdated laws?

I certainly find it dull and narrow, and would prefer it if there were more robot games available that don't force us to have the best hand.
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#35 User is offline   gordontd 

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Posted 2012-July-27, 02:41

View Postbarmar, on 2012-July-25, 03:39, said:

it seems like best-hand bridge meets the "primary objective" the WBFLC describes. The intent of the best-hand design is to make the human play more hands. How is making him dummy more going to ensure that the winner is the best in bridge?

There's more to bridge than declarer play - like bidding & defence.
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#36 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-July-27, 06:44

View Postbarmar, on 2012-July-26, 15:14, said:

I think giving out masterpoints is needed to force the laws commission to take up the issue. Otherwise, it will seem too inconsequential to bother addressing in the laws.


Sort of. But if the WBFLC do take up the issue and decide that related variants such as best hand cannot be played under its aegis, what will the ACBL do? They will call the masterpoints for such games something else, and treat them the same as masterpoints (perhaps by offering some sort of "conversion". So perhaps this is a non-issue, since the ACBL will do what they want. I would be interested to know why the proposal to "cut off" the best hand games was rejected. It may earn revenue, but it might actually be counterproductive to the presumed goal of the ACBL -- to promote bridge in North America. Offering people an alternative that is more like a video game (which are much more popular these days than card and board games) may keep those people out of bridge.

Of course, the question "what is bridge" goes beyond the best hand issue. Is bridge defined by the mechanics of bidding and playing the cards, suitable for playing as solitaire? Or is the social interaction, with people actually meeting and talking and perhaps even doing unpredictable things an essential aspect?
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#37 User is offline   Leo LaSota 

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Posted 2012-July-29, 11:38

View PostVampyr, on 2012-July-26, 14:30, said:

No one in this thread is suggesting that the best-hand game should not be allowed; the question is whether a RA should give out their masterpoints for it.


There are many different forms of the game that allow for masterpoints. There are many arguments for and against other forms of the game that award masterpoints. As an example, Imp Pairs introduces more randomness than just about any other form of the game. If you are unlucky enough to play a board against a pair that lucks their way into a poor but making vulnerable slam, you are at a tremendous disadvantage. At least in matchpoint events, one board is worth no more weight than any other board. Should Imp Pairs events be allowed to award masterpoints? I believe that Imp Pairs and "Best Hand" robot tournaments should both continue to award masterpoints. While the events have varied amounts of luck involved (Luck plays a much larger factor in Imp Pairs), they also focus on specific skills to succeed at the game of bridge.
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#38 User is offline   gnasher 

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Posted 2012-July-29, 12:17

View PostVampyr, on 2012-July-26, 14:30, said:

No one in this thread is suggesting that the best-hand game should not be allowed; the question is whether a RA should give out their masterpoints for it.

And the answer is very easy: they're the ACBL's masterpoints and they can do whatever they like with them. The WBF doesn't regulate the issuing of masterpoints by its member organisations, and quite right too. If the ACBL considers that issuing masterpoints for robot games helps it to meet its objectives, I can't see why anyone outside the ACBL should care.
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#39 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-July-29, 22:26

View Postgnasher, on 2012-July-29, 12:17, said:

I can't see why anyone outside the ACBL should care.

I guess some people think that it degades the game as a whole, by encouraging these ersatz forms.

It kind of reminds me of the people who feel the need to "defend marriage" by preventing gays from getting married.

#40 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-July-30, 06:51

View Postbarmar, on 2012-July-29, 22:26, said:

It kind of reminds me of the people who feel the need to "defend marriage" by preventing gays from getting married.

Yet another improper and degrading insult, once again suggesting that pointing out the Best Hand does not meet the (current) definiton of Bridge is in some way similar to prejudice against gays. Honestly barmar, where do you get off on this crap? By my reckoning you owe me an apology for, effectively, calling me homophobic twice in a public forum without grounds. You are staff here and I expect better from you. I repeat again: there is nothing prejudiced about the Laws of Bridge.

As I said previously, why do we not give out MP for Ghoulash? Why not for a bridge variant where NT scores 40 per trick? How about a Best Hand variant where the Human simply plays the par contract without bidding or defence being involved? How about Skat? Where do you draw the line on what is bridge and what is something else? I will say again that the only sensible way of doing that is to look to the Laws. Since you never answered any of the questions I set in this area I assume that you do not have a better way either.

The point here is this. Everyone knows that bridge has a problem. Numbers are considerably down in many countries. The pool of young players who are willing to invest the time to gain an interest in bridge is already limited. There is a danger that offering a bridge-like game that is simpler and avoids some of the issues the game has (misunderstandings, grumpy opps, TD rulings, etc) or, as Vampyr put it, is "more like a video game", will channel some of that pool away from getting interested in the full game.

In addition to that, it has become clear from reading various threads here that the ACBL use these MPs for seeding purposes. Do you not think that seeding should be based on performance playing Bridge and not various bridge-related games? I have already seen complaints that MP inflation means the goalposts are constantly shifting for those at the bottom trying to work their way up. It is difficult to see how this can make life any easier for them. Unless they give up the normal tournaments to play Best Hand anyway, but that is surely not the aim here.

Once again barmar, I would appreciate it if you refrain from any such future personal attacks. I will consider anything further along these lines from you or the other Yellows here as being representative of the views of BBO. If the BBO management disagree with this then I suggest they provide training to their staff members on what is and is not appropriate to write whilst acting as a representative of the company. Please take note.
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