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Bridge 11/30
A computer that can play bridge
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In the real world, computers excel at games in which all the information is known, like chess and backgammon. But they are still weak at bridge — except for Chthonic (pronounced thah-nik), the fictional brainchild of Danny Kleinman and Nick Straguzzi.
    Many of their stories about this supercilious computer that talks and can play expert-level bridge have been published in The Bridge World magazine. A number of those and some new ones have been put into "The Principle of Restricted Talent" (Master Point Press).
    In this deal, Chthonic was sitting East, partnering his "boss," Dr. Frederick O. Orttman, who greatly overestimates his own talent.
    Underleading a long suit against a small slam when holding a side-suit void is a well-known ploy. You hope partner can win the trick and give you a ruff. But not when you have an ace. How can partner also have an ace? Orttman's thoughtless lead had telegraphed that the clubs were 5-0. How did East defend to persuade South to go down?
    By playing its heart two under dummy's eight at trick one!
    Declarer discarded his diamonds on the heart eight and ace, drew trumps ending on the board, and called for the club jack, but Chthonic covered with the queen, and South had to lose two club tricks for down one.
    If declarer throws a club at trick one, draws trumps ending in the dummy, plays a club to his 10, and continues with the diamond king, he must make the contract.
    The book is available from Baron Barclay Bridge Supplies. Call (800) 274-2221 to order.
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