Bots

Just wondering if Bots were used recently in any Recent EBU event, and if so, any feedback. Any clubs tried these yet or considering their use in the near future?
Bots(robots) can be used via the BBO platform to eliminate sit-outs at half tables.

Comments

  • I have used them. First in a couple of supervised play sessions and then in a couple of club sessions. In all the events I was a non-playing director. I had it set up so that I had to intervene to move on to the next board although I understand this can be automated but you would need to make sure that players did not see the next board in play at the end of the round. However the main reason a non-playing director is needed initially is if players are unfamiliar with the BBO interface. We who have used it for a while probably find it difficult to believe that others do not find it intuitive. Generally the first time anyone uses it they need their hand held and their unfamiliarity with the interface meant they did not do well that first time. They also needed help with the Bots bidding system which will be unfamiliar to many English club players. However even those in the supervised play were pretty much able to get along on their own from the second time they played.

    An explanation of how to make all this happen is probably too long for here but I could provide it in a suitable location or by email.

    Just to say that although I put the result with Bots on the club website when I submitted the UMS file I used the event re-scored with a sit out in place of the Bots. Gordon might like to comment on the masterpoint and NGS position of an event including Bots.

  • My view so far has been that players should decide before they start play whether or not they want their results to count, but I'm certainly open to hearing other views based on the experiences of those who actually run the events.

  • It might be quite fun to give the bots two EBU numbers (it has to be two, because the system doesn't like individuals playing twice in a session) and see where their NGS ends up.

    If we make the bots juniors then you won't get charged for it either.

  • @michael said:
    It might be quite fun to give the bots two EBU numbers (it has to be two, because the system doesn't like individuals playing twice in a session) and see where their NGS ends up.

    If we make the bots juniors then you won't get charged for it either.

    It's interesting to note that in a Bridgebase Forums contributors challenge event, bots were put into two of the three sections to balance the numbers. Both qualified for the next stage, with one of them coming 2nd out of 11 in the original group and the other coming 4th.

  • @Paul_Gibbons said:

    An explanation of how to make all this happen is probably too long for here but I could provide it in a suitable location or by email.

    Would appreciate an e-mail re set-up etc Paul, or a space on the EBU site for Paul to place details.

  • Have sent an email. If there is wider interest I could take some time to produce a document with screen-shots etc.

  • @Paul_Gibbons said:
    Have sent an email. If there is wider interest I could take some time to produce a document with screen-shots etc.

    I think there is wider interest and it would be great if you could find time to do this so we can put it up on the website. I know our Club Liaison Officer would be interested in this too.

  • I've just set up two EBU numbers for the BBO bots: 00900000 and 00900001. They were born today (happy birthday!) so it'll be 25 years before anyone has to pay their Universal Membership!

    This is for BBO bots only. If any other bots come along, we'll have to create some more records.

    @Paul_Gibbons - if you're writing a help document, can you include these numbers please?

  • It will be a week to ten days before a document emerges but I will include the numbers. When I have used bots in the club I have always assumed one was male and one was female is the same true of these numbers?

  • @Paul_Gibbons said:
    It will be a week to ten days before a document emerges but I will include the numbers. When I have used bots in the club I have always assumed one was male and one was female is the same true of these numbers?

    I don't think we have gender as a data field for our members.

  • Does it matter that these EBU numbers will have many different names?

  • @Triffid said:
    Does it matter that these EBU numbers will have many different names?

    Their first names are both "BBO" and their last names are "Bot A" and "Bot B". You can call them what you like, but you might want to use these so that the submission system doesn't complain.

  • Great work, Paul. I think this is well worth publishing to make the clubs aware of the possibility.
    Can it be used for a single missing player (essentially removing Host systems maintained by many clubs) as well as being used for a missing pair? Presumably you can have any of 1 up to 3 Bots in play at a table.

    I am also wondering on the regulations for BotA and BotB's primary county of allegiance..and whether they can be a bona fide club member and eligible for Garden Cities Qualifier?

  • In Cheltenham we trialled Bots at our Bridgathon event in October, and a write-up on this appeared in the EBU News in February 2019 (see page 50 ). Last weekend, I used a BOT to allow me (as a planned non playing TD) to fill in a half table and everyone was happy to play their three boards against myself and a bot. I played with "Alice Bot".

    The biggest issue of using bots without a director/helper is the propensity people have to click on the wrong place on the screen and their lack of knowledge of how then to get back to the playing screen. This happened umpteen times.

  • Just in case anyone missed it. The article about using bots to avoid a sit-out was published in the most recent edition of Club Management Focus on the EBU Website.

  • edited April 18

    They are, by default, surely Alice and Bob (and hence eligible to play in mixed events)

  • I understand that Bob identifies as a woman. I'm not sure about Alice. :-j

  • Hi

    I have used the Bots recently in Halifax, but some members are concerned that using them could have an adverse effect on their Masterpoints and NGS. I note earlier that Paul said "when I submitted the UMS file I used the event re-scored with a sit out in place of the Bots".

    So I have 2 questions: -

    1) Can we exclude the Bots from Masterpoints and NGS?

    2) If we can, which is the best way to do it?

    Thanks...Stephen

  • Hi Stephen,

    Gordon said above that his opinion was that:

    My view so far has been that players should decide before they start play whether or not they want their results [against the Bots] to count, but I'm certainly open to hearing other views based on the experiences of those who actually run the events.

    If none of the results achieved against the Bots are going to count then you can just set the movement up with the half table. Players can then choose to play the sit out boards against the Bots if they want to but it won't count towards anything.

    If some results against the Bots are going to count but not all then set up the movement including the Bots but for the pairs who have decided beforehand that they do not want their results against the Bots to count then put 50% for NS and EW in to the bridgemate for those boards.

    Jonathan

  • Stephen is referring to my first post at a time before the EBU had made clear its attitude to events played with bots and created its new bot 'members'. At the time it enabled club members to familiarise themselves with the bots.

    Obviously the bots only play if there is a half table. So in those early days I set up the event with the bots included and entered their scores into the Bridgemates and produced results including them. Producing a set of results without the bots, i.e. with a sit-out, is non-trivial. I did it by creating a new event with the pair missing then copying the .bws database from the event with the bots and renaming it as the one which would be used by my event with the missing pair and replied 'No' to the message I got when I tried to create the database in the new event. I then had to reply OK to all the error messages I got as the results came into EBUScore but that did give me a valid set of results as though there had been a sit-out.

    However, as Jonathan says, we now use the standard procedure where the pair coming to the table have three choices:
    They can take 50% and go across the road and do some shopping
    They can take 50% and play the bots for fun. (I always point out when they would have got 100% if the score had counted)
    They can have the scores against the bots count.

    In Swiss pairs you might want to do something similar but slightly different and more complicated as the EBU did when it used bots in the Jack-High Swiss pairs at the Easter Congress.

    People often have the idea that the bots will be much better players than humans. This is not the case as people who play against the bots on BBO know. Their software is 20 years old and by all accounts difficult to maintain and so they are far worse than the current generation of computer players but even these unlike in Chess and Go are far behind the best human players. Chess and Go are 'full information' games where both players know everything about the game including the other players possible moves which makes them susceptible to solving either by massive processing power (Chess) or AI learning (Go). A further complication in Bridge is the partnership aspect. The bot has to be able to communicate with its partner (allowing that on BBO this may be a human) which creates another set of problems which are difficult for computers to solve.

    In fact the average club players in England have another significant advantage over the bots as they know that the bots are playing Strong NT and 5-card majors but the bots think the humans are doing the same even though most of them will be playing Weak NT (which the bots virtually never double) and 4-card majors.

    My subjective estimate is that the 'Basic' bots are about a '7' on the NGS and the 'Advanced' about a '10' but I suspect that at the moment their rankings are higher (Jonathan may know) as I still find players spend more time worrying about using the laptop or tablet than about the Bridge and so not playing as well as they could. If Stephen's members can concentrate on playing Bridge their NGS is likely to benefit if the bots are currently graded too highly. As for masterpoints, having and extra pair playing more often than not means that more masterpoints are awarded and so no one loses out.

  • Hi Jonathan and Paul

    Thank you for your replies.

    Best wishes...Stephen

  • Paul estimates of the grades of the bots is close. At Easter, the Advanced bots grade was too high to play in the Jack High. Obviously these grades are not mature.

    More master points may be awarded but some are awarded to bots.

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