04:37 31 July 2014 Las Vegas North American Bridge Championships by GS Jade Barrett CsbNews.org correspondent
William Hazlitt, self portrait
“We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it” – William Hazlitt
The purpose of practice is to obtain unconscious competence – the ability to know what you are doing without thinking about it. The true bridge athlete trains as hard as any other competitor in any sport, spending countless hours thinking about the game.
It typically surprises the uninitiated that a game that has only 52 cards taken 13 at a time is so absurdly complex, just the bidding alone has more possible auctions than the total number of feet to the nearest star. The fact that we attempt to master this greatest of games is proof that the human mind is more capable of handling the nearly infinite variations than any software in existence today.
The program that can successfully compete against the average player is far from being conceived, for humans are far better equipped – you might say hardwired – than any computer of any size. Oddly enough, some of the programming issues may be related to the inability of the same humans to fully express their decision trees through algorithms, so perhaps humankind requires more evolution before such software can exist.
While many of the programs on the market provide an enjoyable challenge, none of them compare favorably to the test of four strong humans.