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Human becomes Declarer in free tournament

#1 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 03:40

Yesterday I rented a robot as partner in a normal free tournament and when the robot was declarer seats were switched so that I played instead of becoming dummy.
I realise that this has always been the case in some automated tournaments, but it's the first time it happened in a normal free tournament.
I can see that many players will appreciate this, but I prefer to be dummy and watch my partner play. The possibility to choose in Settings would be ideal.

Is this a choice of the director (in which case fair enough), or is it new BBO policy? Is a setting for the player possible or planned?
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#2 User is offline   diana_eva 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 07:07

View Postpescetom, on 2024-February-05, 03:40, said:

Yesterday I rented a robot as partner in a normal free tournament and when the robot was declarer seats were switched so that I played instead of becoming dummy.
I realise that this has always been the case in some automated tournaments, but it's the first time it happened in a normal free tournament.
I can see that many players will appreciate this, but I prefer to be dummy and watch my partner play. The possibility to choose in Settings would be ideal.

Is this a choice of the director (in which case fair enough), or is it new BBO policy? Is a setting for the player possible or planned?


It's a tournament setting, the TD decides whether the tourney will be human declare or not -- usually based on user feedback.

#3 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 14:02

View Postdiana_eva, on 2024-February-05, 07:07, said:

It's a tournament setting, the TD decides whether the tourney will be human declare or not -- usually based on user feedback.


Ok thanks. I just never saw it happen before.

When robots get better it will obviously be meaningless to expect equal strength from robot-robot, robot-human and human-human pairs... but in the meantime it seems arbitrary to allow human-GiB in the bidding but insist the human substitutes GiB as declarer in play.

I can imagine that some TDs might have feedback "they obtain advantage by letting the robot play": which is probably true for weaker players, but even then I suspect the bidding is bad enough to bring them at least back to their level.
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#4 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 15:03

I have an issue with "human switching seats" in a tournament with human-human pairs. If the human gets to declare opposite the "weak" robot, why don't I get to switch seats and declare opposite my 199er partner?

In a tournament that is all human-robot, or even "human and 3 robots", then there's no worry (but if it's human-robot vs human-robot, is there a benefit to being the human over the human vs the human over the robot? Cue "in the mixed pairs, the woman plays South and West only" vibes).

But you know, as long as it's in the tournament information, no problem. Over and above pescetom's "preference", I frequently will use dummy time as "refill water/coffee, feed the cats" time. If I don't know that I'm going to declare...
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#5 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 15:49

View Postmycroft, on 2024-February-05, 15:03, said:

I have an issue with "human switching seats" in a tournament with human-human pairs. If the human gets to declare opposite the "weak" robot, why don't I get to switch seats and declare opposite my 199er partner?

In a tournament that is all human-robot, or even "human and 3 robots", then there's no worry (but if it's human-robot vs human-robot, is there a benefit to being the human over the human vs the human over the robot? Cue "in the mixed pairs, the woman plays South and West only" vibes).

But you know, as long as it's in the tournament information, no problem. Over and above pescetom's "preference", I frequently will use dummy time as "refill water/coffee, feed the cats" time. If I don't know that I'm going to declare...


Heh, why can't I pick which of two human opponents plays as Declarer, come to that?

I often use it as time to catch up with the sport I am watching on the side, or to watch idly how partner plays it... seems to me what should happen.
I'm not used to the stress of playing as Declarer half the time.
But the TD can do as he pleases, agreed.

Is this choice visible in the Tournament Details and if so, with what flag?
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#6 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 17:09

Deja Vu

10 years ago the Vancouver Unit ran a very popular, successful, fun Mentor Mentee program.
We would fill the old Vancouver Bridge Centre , 30+ tables, 60 mentors willing to spend an afternoon with 60 newer players.

We made the mistake of making this an ACBL sanctioned game. Always looking to improve the experience for Mentees, I asked if we could give the Mentee the option of playing the hand when the Mentor was declarer. The Mentee would simply swap seats with the Mentor before the opening lead.

Of course I received a resounding NO! This was an ACBL sanctioned game awarding masterpoints bla, bla bla.

Oh, how times have changed.
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#7 User is online   johnu 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 18:49

View Postpescetom, on 2024-February-05, 03:40, said:

I can see that many players will appreciate this, but I prefer to be dummy and watch my partner play. The possibility to choose in Settings would be ideal.

In any kind of tournament environment, I hate to have robots declaring instead of the human. IMO, the objective of the tournament is to test the skill of the human player, not the robot.

When I first started playing ACBL robot games, there was no switching. There was nothing worse than bidding to a great contract and then seeing GIB butcher the play and go down. I still remember one hand in particular from years ago. I bid to a great minor suit small slam and all GIB had to do was take a finesse and claim, either making an overtrick or just making. But GIB cashed a stopper in a side suit and then finessed, so when the finesse lost, the opponents were able to cash a winner.
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#8 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 21:56

Having the computer play the hand in at an all human tournament breaks the basic law of bridge that prevents any player from recording which cards have been played.
The computer records, and has no chance of forgetting, which cards are played so at a table of 1R and 3H, it makes no sense to allow the computer to declare.
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#9 User is offline   steve2005 

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Posted 2024-February-05, 21:57

View Postjohnu, on 2024-February-05, 18:49, said:

I still remember one hand in particular from years ago. I bid to a great minor suit small slam and all GIB had to do was take a finesse and claim, either making an overtrick or just making. But GIB cashed a stopper in a side suit and then finessed, so when the finesse lost, the opponents were able to cash a winner.

Seen worse. My robot took a finesse in a slam and it worked. Then instead of repeating the finesse decides to play for the drop and goes down in an other cold slam!
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#10 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2024-February-06, 03:55

View Postpilowsky, on 2024-February-05, 21:56, said:

Having the computer play the hand in at an all human tournament breaks the basic law of bridge that prevents any player from recording which cards have been played.
The computer records, and has no chance of forgetting, which cards are played so at a table of 1R and 3H, it makes no sense to allow the computer to declare.

You can extend that argument to assert that it makes even less sense to allow it to defend, as it records both the cards played and the bidding in situations where it is no longer possible to ask about that.
You could also reason that it makes no sense to allow it to bid, as it cannot forget how to calculate the correct score for each possible contract, or formulate an implicit agreement based upon the behaviour of its partner.

It would be better that the laws address such matters bearing in mind that players may be robots with capabilities and characteristics quite different from humans.

But in the meantime, if you allow a robot in a pairs tournament it seems reasonable to treat it like all the other players, including the obligation to play a contract in the denomination it declared.
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#11 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2024-February-06, 07:17

View Postjohnu, on 2024-February-05, 18:49, said:

In any kind of tournament environment, I hate to have robots declaring instead of the human. IMO, the objective of the tournament is to test the skill of the human player, not the robot.

We're talking about a pairs tournament where most pairs are human-human, not some kind of challenge where the competition is between individual humans and the robot is just an enabling tool.
The normal situation in a pairs tournament is not "robots declaring instead of the human" but "robots and humans each doing their own declaring". The objective of the tournament is to test the skill of each pair, be it human-human or human-robot. It's not as if you can cut the robot out of the equation, even if you so desired: it does half of the bidding, half of the defending, it seems logical (and in any case relatively little difference) for it to do half the declarer play too, just like any partner.
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#12 User is offline   paulg 

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Posted 2024-February-06, 09:19

As a director I use this option in my free tournaments and also in the virtual club games I run. As most of the events I run are for intermediate players, it tends to make it fairer as the robots are far better declarers than most of the players.

You will see the option "+hd+" in the tournament settings, which stands for "host declares".

In my free tournaments, the use of robot partners is rare and generally only happens when a player's real partner has internet problems prior to the game.

In the virtual club games that I run, robots are not permitted except as emergency substitutes.

So I like this option but in the context of running what are basically private tournaments.
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#13 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2024-February-06, 12:41

View Postpaulg, on 2024-February-06, 09:19, said:

As a director I use this option in my free tournaments and also in the virtual club games I run. As most of the events I run are for intermediate players, it tends to make it fairer as the robots are far better declarers than most of the players.

You will see the option "+hd+" in the tournament settings, which stands for "host declares".

In my free tournaments, the use of robot partners is rare and generally only happens when a player's real partner has internet problems prior to the game.

In the virtual club games that I run, robots are not permitted except as emergency substitutes.

So I like this option but in the context of running what are basically private tournaments.

Thanks for the option info.

In the tournaments I play I would agree that the robots are better declarers than most of the players, but still not as good as the best. Add in that it bids worse than the average players and I'm not convinced there was a real problem to start with. But I expect many players will be pleased to be declarer more often.
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#14 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2024-February-06, 15:29

There's no upside to letting the robot declare.
The idea of bridge is that people have fun.
Who gains pleasure if the robot declares?
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#15 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2024-February-07, 10:20

View Postpilowsky, on 2024-February-06, 15:29, said:

There's no upside to letting the robot declare.
The idea of bridge is that people have fun.
Who gains pleasure if the robot declares?


Yes, fun bridge should be just that, fun, but why not give declarer the choice?
Perhaps new players would like to watch the bot play.
Or let the human declarer with unlimited use of the undo button.
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#16 User is online   smerriman 

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Posted 2024-February-07, 12:43

View Postjillybean, on 2024-February-07, 10:20, said:

Yes, fun bridge should be just that, fun, but why not give declarer the choice?
Perhaps new players would like to watch the bot play.

I'm totally baffled by this entire thread. As Diana mentioned in the first reply, there is a choice; the TD gets to decide, and they choose based on what people find the most enjoyable. If you want to see the bot play, choose a tournament where the bot plays.

If most people prefer the bot not playing, what's wrong with providing some tournaments where this applies? These are free tournaments, nothing serious..
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#17 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2024-February-07, 16:04

View Postsmerriman, on 2024-February-07, 12:43, said:

I'm totally baffled by this entire thread. As Diana mentioned in the first reply, there is a choice; the TD gets to decide, and they choose based on what people find the most enjoyable. If you want to see the bot play, choose a tournament where the bot plays.

If most people prefer the bot not playing, what's wrong with providing some tournaments where this applies? These are free tournaments, nothing serious..


The thread started because there was an unannounced change in a long standing tournament and I was curious if it was the TD or BBO that decided it.
Turns out the TD can do so, which was useful information to me and probably others here too.
I have no objection to TDs having this choice, at least in low level competition.
My own thought is that it makes more sense for each partner to play the hand he declared, as in the Laws of bridge, but I agree it makes little practical difference where most free tournaments are concerned.
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#18 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2024-February-07, 18:53

View Postpaulg, on 2024-February-06, 09:19, said:

You will see the option "+hd+" in the tournament settings, which stands for "host declares".

Actually "human declares". The host is whoever created the tourney, and it would be weird for them to jump in and declare. :)

#19 User is offline   paulg 

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Posted 2024-February-08, 01:54

View Postpaulg, on 2024-February-06, 09:19, said:

You will see the option "+hd+" in the tournament settings, which stands for "host declares".

View Postbarmar, on 2024-February-07, 18:53, said:

Actually "human declares". The host is whoever created the tourney, and it would be weird for them to jump in and declare. :)


This is what happens when you reply after playing 136 boards face to face over the weekend!


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#20 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2024-February-08, 03:22

View Postpaulg, on 2024-February-08, 01:54, said:

This is what happens when you reply after playing 136 boards face to face over the weekend!

And when you ask a question after directing much the same :)
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