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A Robot Compromise

I have followed the discussion regarding next week's NABC Online Individual with keen interest.  I even managed to fool those robots enough to win my entry, proving I am a little too familiar with my bionic friends.  

It goes without saying that this is an event that is both fair and that it measures skill.  At the same time, I think the bridge playing community would be better off if the skill measured in this competition was weighted more towards "traditional" bridge skills and weighted less towards the nuances of fooling robots.

As such I would suggest that this can be remedied by one small change.  Instead of giving the human player the best hand, instead simply guarantee the human player a minimum number of HCP.  10 should do the trick.  This small change should take away the value of a lot of the current shenanigans.  Opening 1NT on a 12 count will now be punished if/when partner has a better hand and puts us in a hopeless slam.  Partner is now less likely to take our joke and so we are forced to be more honest.  The opponents are now more likely to have a real hand which should also keep us honest.  Finally, we are now more likely to have to defend which solves another core criticism of this competition.

The competition next week will go forward and a robot manipulator will win.  There are almost 1800 people currently registered and yet a vanishing fraction of that have any chance.  Some will congratulate.  Many will criticize.  But we will all benefit from thinking deeply about how we can improve this event so that we can continue to promote and grow this game we all love.  

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