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Archie's Autoplay AI?

#1 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 10:44


Matchpoints. Lead K

Archie the Aardvark joined the North London Club a couple of weeks ago, and it did not take long for there to be an online incident involving the Secretary Bird. East should probably have bid 5S but thought he was all defence. He led the king of spades on which West played the seven and switched to the jack of diamonds. SB, North, ruffed, crossed to the ace of clubs and ran the queen of hearts even though Archie ducked smoothly, so the contract made.

"You did well to get that right, SB" said ChCh. "I would have played for trumps 1-1 especially as we did not go on to Five Spades and available spaces said otherwise. And AA played low smoothly."

"Then you would have been wrong" SB gloated. "I noticed earlier that AA had autoplay singleton set to ON, and while he did play low smoothly, not as smoothly as Robot West would have done. In fact there are no humans (or animals for that matter) who can play at such speed."

"I think we need the TD," replied ChCh.

"I don't see why," replied SB, "The fact that AA had autoplay singleton set to ON is AI, as it was information I possessed from an earlier board" He concluded. "Also the tempo of the opponent is clearly AI as well".

How do you rule?
I prefer to give the lawmakers credit for stating things for a reason - barmar
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#2 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 11:01

How I rule? I will not rule, but I should recommend to quit visiting that club
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#3 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 12:39

Autoplay singleton does not operate the way lamford thinks it does.

There is an inbuilt (randomised) lag when a defender has the autoplay function on. The lag also operates for an autoplay-on declarer when he plays from his own hand but NOT when he plays from dummy.

Edited to clarify:
a. If I am a defender and I have a singleton in the led suit, I need to click nothing. BBO will automatically play the singleton after a randomised lag (non-trivial lag, perhaps of 0.5-1.5 seconds).

b. If I am declarer, the same protocol applies.

c. When a singleton has to be played from dummy, the play is instantaneous (practically zero lag).

d. When any player plays to the 13th trick, the play is instantaneous (no lag).

This post has been edited by shyams: 2020-October-20, 12:44

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#4 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 13:06

View Postshyams, on 2020-October-20, 12:39, said:

Autoplay singleton does not operate the way lamford thinks it does.

There is an inbuilt (randomised) lag when a defender has the autoplay function on. The lag also operates for an autoplay-on declarer when he plays from his own hand but NOT when he plays from dummy.

Edited to clarify:
a. If I am a defender and I have a singleton in the led suit, I need to click nothing. BBO will automatically play the singleton after a randomised lag (non-trivial lag, perhaps of 0.5-1.5 seconds).

b. If I am declarer, the same protocol applies.

c. When a singleton has to be played from dummy, the play is instantaneous (practically zero lag).

d. When any player plays to the 13th trick, the play is instantaneous (no lag).


I take your word for all of this, thanks. Never tried autoplay nor saw the point of it.
I don't understand the logic behind the insta-play of c and d. It gives away the knowledge that autoplay is on, to what advantage?
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#5 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 18:07

View Postshyams, on 2020-October-20, 12:39, said:

Autoplay singleton does not operate the way lamford thinks it does.

There is an inbuilt (randomised) lag when a defender has the autoplay function on. The lag also operates for an autoplay-on declarer when he plays from his own hand but NOT when he plays from dummy.

Edited to clarify:
a. If I am a defender and I have a singleton in the led suit, I need to click nothing. BBO will automatically play the singleton after a randomised lag (non-trivial lag, perhaps of 0.5-1.5 seconds).

b. If I am declarer, the same protocol applies.

c. When a singleton has to be played from dummy, the play is instantaneous (practically zero lag).

d. When any player plays to the 13th trick, the play is instantaneous (no lag).

I spoke to barmar about this, and he indicates that autoplay also applies when someone has one of the suit remaining. I did not ask him about the lag but perhaps he can clarify that on here.
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#6 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2020-October-21, 03:59

Iíve no idea how it works, and Iím not really interested, but Autoplay on or off it looks like extraneous information to me. I would consider it not authorized by Law 16A1, so itís UI, not AI. But why bother? Online bridge, which certainly doesnít appeal to me, has only vaguely something to do with the game as described and regulated by the Laws of Duplicate Bridge. Itís probably a nice alternative to it for some, but use the rules as set by the organizers, who seem to have only partially read the Laws and implemented those parts of these that they thought useful. Donít try to apply the Laws, because these are not applicable.
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#7 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-October-21, 04:37

 sanst, on 2020-October-21, 03:59, said:

Iíve no idea how it works, and Iím not really interested, but Autoplay on or off it looks like extraneous information to me. I would consider it not authorized by Law 16A1, so itís UI, not AI. But why bother? Online bridge, which certainly doesnít appeal to me, has only vaguely something to do with the game as described and regulated by the Laws of Duplicate Bridge. Itís probably a nice alternative to it for some, but use the rules as set by the organizers, who seem to have only partially read the Laws and implemented those parts of these that they thought useful. Donít try to apply the Laws, because these are not applicable.


So true. The online play has ruined bridge because the software actively prohibits bids out of turn, leads out of turn, play of cards out of turn, major penalty cards, minor penalty cards, insufficient bids and such. It also stops cards from being mixed up between hands so that players can occasionally land up with either 14 cards or 12 and have to count at the start of each hand to be sure they have exactly 13

What's the fun in that? Ruined, I say, ruined!!!
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#8 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-October-21, 04:48

 lamford, on 2020-October-20, 18:07, said:

I spoke to barmar about this, and he indicates that autoplay also applies when someone has one of the suit remaining. I did not ask him about the lag but perhaps he can clarify that on here.


I have played with autoplay-on. I especially leave it on when playing Robot games because play at a bot-only table is instantaneous. I have occasionally forgotten to turn off the feature when playing at human-only table and I have seen this random lag. Which is why I am confident of what I wrote.

You are correct in that the autoplay feature can pass UI to everyone at the table. A few years ago, such inference was freely available and an observant declarer could accurately infer distributions from the speed of card play*. The coding has subsequently been amended to introduce this random lag (the amendment has been in place now for probably 2 years)

So unless a defender has a materially different cardplay tempo (i.e. always much slower vs. the programmed random lag) there is no inference normally available to a declarer merely from the autoplay feature.


* only if defenders chose to enable autoplay feature.
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#9 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2020-October-21, 14:56

 shyams, on 2020-October-21, 04:48, said:

I have played with autoplay-on. I especially leave it on when playing Robot games because play at a bot-only table is instantaneous. I have occasionally forgotten to turn off the feature when playing at human-only table and I have seen this random lag. Which is why I am confident of what I wrote.

You are correct in that the autoplay feature can pass UI to everyone at the table. A few years ago, such inference was freely available and an observant declarer could accurately infer distributions from the speed of card play*. The coding has subsequently been amended to introduce this random lag (the amendment has been in place now for probably 2 years)

So unless a defender has a materially different cardplay tempo (i.e. always much slower vs. the programmed random lag) there is no inference normally available to a declarer merely from the autoplay feature.

But I was not aware the autoplay had been "improved" since two years ago. It should not be there at all.


* only if defenders chose to enable autoplay feature.

I think that players will be particularly careful to avoid a "hitch" in the example in the OP, and will play low from Kx instantly. If they have a small singleton, the ethical player will also play it instantly. If there is a lag of any sort here, you will know
a) that West has autoplay singleton set
b) he has a small singleton
I have now tried in the casual room with a friend and I was able to tell very easily when he had autoplay on. 1.5 seconds is a huge amount of time to play from Kx. Barmar confirms the lag. I did not know about the change of a couple of years ago, so thanks.
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#10 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2020-October-21, 16:41

You know, when I played f2f I tried to set a consistent tempo of about 4 seconds to bids and 3 seconds to plays. This business on line screws up the effort to play in a consistent tempo unless that tempo is what, half a second? Whatever, at some point we're no longer playing bridge. :(
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#11 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2020-October-21, 20:22

Autoplay to,the last trick would be nice,
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#12 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-October-25, 13:50

How did SB know that AA had autoplay enabled? The settings of other players are not shown anywhere.

#13 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2020-October-25, 17:28

Clairvoyance.
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#14 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2020-October-25, 18:16

View Postbarmar, on 2020-October-25, 13:50, said:

How did SB know that AA had autoplay enabled? The settings of other players are not shown anywhere.

Not clairvoyance, as Blackshoe, suggests, but when SB is TD (once a month) he watches a table where the partner of the opening leader has a singleton in the suit led, as that player will often take ten seconds to plan the play of the hand, as he is entitled to do even with a singleton. When he has "autoplay" enabled the software will play the singleton for him in an average of about one second, so it is clear. Also while watching he can compare each player's tempo on the last card of the hand, and other tricks when they are playing their last card in a suit, for example. SB keeps a notebook with the average time all the club members play to follow with a singleton, or the last card in a suit, particularly at trick one.
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#15 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2020-October-26, 03:13

View Postlamford, on 2020-October-25, 18:16, said:

Not clairvoyance, as Blackshoe, suggests, but when SB is TD (once a month) he watches a table where the partner of the opening leader has a singleton in the suit led, as that player will often take ten seconds to plan the play of the hand, as he is entitled to do even with a singleton. When he has "autoplay" enabled the software will play the singleton for him in an average of about one second, so it is clear. Also while watching he can compare each player's tempo on the last card of the hand, and other tricks when they are playing their last card in a suit, for example. SB keeps a notebook with the average time all the club members play to follow with a singleton, or the last card in a suit, particularly at trick one.

Law 16A1 said:

A player may use information in the auction or play if:
(a) it derives from the legal calls and plays of the current board (including illegal calls and plays that are accepted) and is unaffected by unauthorized information from another source; or
(b) it is authorized information from a withdrawn action (see C); or
© it is information specified in any law or regulation to be authorized or, when not otherwise specified, arising from the legal procedures authorized in these laws and in regulations (but see B1 following); or
(d) it is information that the player possessed before he took his hand from the board (Law 7B) and the Laws do not preclude his use of this information.

Although he might claim that such information is legal under law 16A1d I would still consider his method of systematically collecting and using this information as an advanced form of cheating.
Particularly so as

Law 40B2d said:

Unless the Regulating Authority provides otherwise a player is not entitled to any aids to his memory, calculation or technique during the auction period and play.

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#16 User is offline   axman 

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Posted 2020-October-26, 05:24

View Postpran, on 2020-October-26, 03:13, said:

Although he might claim that such information is legal under law 16A1d I would still consider his method of systematically collecting and using this information as an advanced form of cheating.
Particularly so as


Having a notebook and not referring to it during a hand are different things.

Prior to my first duplicate it was my considered worry that long practiced partnerships (spouses for instance) had a grossly unfair familiarity (particularly with respect to reading their tells). I quickly put the notion away in regards to unfair familiarity because all familiarity is experience/knowledge, and, rewards so accrued are fair play.
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#17 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2020-October-26, 06:24

View Postaxman, on 2020-October-26, 05:24, said:

Having a notebook and not referring to it during a hand are different things.

Prior to my first duplicate it was my considered worry that long practiced partnerships (spouses for instance) had a grossly unfair familiarity (particularly with respect to reading their tells). I quickly put the notion away in regards to unfair familiarity because all familiarity is experience/knowledge, and, rewards so accrued are fair play.

My impression is that SB indeed uses his notebook during play since this is about playing online, not face to face ?.
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#18 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-October-26, 06:51

View Postlamford, on 2020-October-21, 14:56, said:

I have now tried in the casual room with a friend and I was able to tell very easily when he had autoplay on. 1.5 seconds is a huge amount of time to play from Kx. Barmar confirms the lag. I did not know about the change of a couple of years ago, so thanks.

Although I wrote a couple of posts about how the autoplay-on feature is not as obvious as you implied in the OP, I am in agreement with your point that it is possible to identify --- or at least make a reasoned guess about --- when someone's autoplay is on. After all, the bot operates in a very programmed manner which most humans will not be able to replicate.

View Postlamford, on 2020-October-25, 18:16, said:

When he has "autoplay" enabled the software will play the singleton for him in an average of about one second, so it is clear.

Agree with the principle that it is possible to identify autoplay. Lamford chose to write about how SB watched a player; I would have chosen a much easier scenario. Let's say I play two 8-board matches against AA. If I suspected during Set 1 that AA's autoplay is set to on, I am well entitled to use it on Board 1 of Set 2.


View Postpran, on 2020-October-26, 03:13, said:

Although he might claim that such information is legal under law 16A1d I would still consider his method of systematically collecting and using this information as an advanced form of cheating.

I vehemently disagree with this. Also, nothing of what you quoted under Law 16A is in contravention with the given scenario.

I hope you will agree that players are entitled to remember opponents' mannerisms / tendencies / habits and use them to our advantage (and at our own risk). If yes, how does that not contavene your own argument about 16A? Why is the autoplay feature not a mannerism (of sorts)?
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#19 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2020-October-26, 07:08

View Postpran, on 2020-October-26, 06:24, said:

My impression is that SB indeed uses his notebook during play since this is about playing online, not face to face ?.

No, he looks up information on the opponent up before each round. Just like looking at their CC. Of course the autoplay function should not be there, especially as it is just another way to "communicate". It would be fine in the casual room. The biggest problem is when you lead an ace at trick one. Dummy plays instantly, as 95% of declarers do when an ace is led, and partner takes the imposed one second, rather than the five or ten seconds he or she normally does to survey the whole hand. You now give partner a ruff. One could argue that the miscreant is the person using the autoplay function, not SB for using the information.
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#20 User is offline   pran 

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Posted 2020-October-26, 07:15

View Postshyams, on 2020-October-26, 06:51, said:

I hope you will agree that players are entitled to remember opponents' mannerisms / tendencies / habits and use them to our advantage (and at our own risk). If yes, how does that not contavene your own argument about 16A? Why is the autoplay feature not a mannerism (of sorts)?

Sure, but not by keeping records on players' habits and having these records available for consultation when you meet those players.

Remember that we are not talking about face to face bridge here.

(This is another reason why I despise and avoid online bridge.)
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