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Robots in EBU Simultaneous Pairs

Just played the EBU Winter Sims Monday.

There were 5 pairs of BBO robots, and they all scored over 60%. How do you think that mere humans feel about that? My club, Bicester, feel that BBO robots should not play in the SIMS.

If they do play, presumably to avoid a half table, their results should be exluded, like I assume they are for NGS.

We use RealBridge, so could not have Robots. If there is a half table, like we had, then so be it. That's life. At least at home you can sit and read the newspaper with a cup of coffee whilst you are sat out.

I do hope you will reconsider this for future SIMS.

You want clubs to support the EBU SIMS events. We will think twice before playing the next one in February.

What do other clubs think?


  • There are other discussions about robots on the forums (and most agree with you!). I just wanted to clarify a few things in your message above:

    • There is a whole separate forum about whether robots should be excluded from individual club session results. You can choose to rescore all boards against the robots as "not played" (but keep them anyway so that players aren't missing out on the boards themselves), you can consider them as "not eligible for masterpoints" (which will benefit your members if the robots tend to do well, and disadvantage them if they do poorly, but note you must be consistent for all your BBO sessions) or leave it as it is. Robot results are included for the NGS but this is of benefit to your members as the robots have a grade of around 57%, which pushes up your strength of field.
    • There is also an option of running a sit out on BBO as you suggest, although most manuals advise against it as it's so uncommonly used. If you do, make sure your tournament is "clocked." I would also suggest that you try this for a smaller session first to check it works, as new BBO updates aren't tested with sit outs. The original EBU manual said you can't use sit outs - this is wrong as far as the software goes but may be an agreement between the EBU and BBO which I'm sure they'll alert you to if there is.
    • There is certainly an argument to be made for removing robots from the results lists, but this is considered rather arbitrary for the amount of work involved (masterpoint awards would be similar and prizes/awards obviously discount robot players anyway). A "hide robots" option might be of interest though.
    • Finally, I'll repeat an earlier suggestion I made that pairs of EBU members should be able to put their name down on a central EBU "sit out desk" for regular club BBO (and RealBridge) games. I know one pair from Scotland who are almost always available as a standby player on BBO via their "find substitute" function but are just two players from a global list (some of which have no intention of sticking around or playing to the rules, which discourages people from using the substitute function). This means you can avoid a sit out and avoid the robots just by having a friendly human pair from another club :)
  • Thanks

    I understand most of these issues, although I have not used vEBU on BBO to run events, only RealBridge.
    If clubs want to use BBO Robots in whichever way they prefer, for regular pairs, then I am fine with that. But, given that, from what you say, it is possible to have a half table using vEBU on BBO, then BBO Robots are unnecessary and should be barred from EBU Sims events.

  • Well, our club uses BBO robots all the time - mainly to fill in for a 1/2 table so that there isn't a sit out, but also at least once a player has partnered a robot rather than miss the evening.

    I have witnessed too many stand-in partners drop out part-way through due to some disagreement or other in other sessions to want to use them in ours.

    Whilst a sit-out in RealBridge does not seem to be too painful - it is more like being at a club for 1/2 tables, as you can sit and chat with your partner. In BBO, however, I am sure that people would not want to have a 21 minute sit-out?

    Well, that's been my experience so far.

    As for the robots, sometimes they do well, sometimes they do not. Last night, for example, they came 9th out of 11 with 46.79%, the week before they came 3rd with 54.42%. The SOF is about 47-48%. They have won on occasion, but as people get used to them and their system, they are trending towards doing worse.

    I like playing against them, as my system fools them a lot - we have a weak NT and they expect strong. We have weak jump-shifts and they expect strong etc. I also have a lot of experience in playing against robots, so I understand their leads and their bidding system reasonably well. So, whilst their NGS is relatively high, I suspect that they will do better against strong NT and 5-card major systems, than against ACOL style systems. I see them often mis-defend and misplay as they have a bad count on the number of points in the humans' hands.

    On a personal level, I see the robots as a challenge, just like I want to beat my wife if we are competing (and she wants to beat me), we both want to beat the robots! If the bots do better than me, then fine, I don't mind. I don't mind that they 'steal' some of the masterpoints either - in part because I don't really care about masterpoints, but also because the masterpoints available may have been lower with few competitors and also it seems a reasonable cost for the benefit of not sitting out. So much so, I am now considering the option of including robots in our regular face-2-face sessions, should the need arise.

    Previously, very few in the club had any experience of online bridge and I felt it would be more pain than gain. Now that many have been playing online, the pain will be less and may be worth a try anyway.

    So, in short, I see no issue of including bots in the sims, but obviously ignore them in terms of any rewards.

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