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Computer Bridge: A Big Win for AI Planning

AI Magazine

A computer program that uses AI planning techniques is now the world champion computer program in the game of Contract Bridge. As reported in The New York Times and The Washington Post, this program -- a new version of Great Game Products' BRIDGE BARON program -- won the Baron Barclay World Bridge Computer Challenge, an international competition hosted in July 1997 by the American Contract Bridge League. It is well known that the game tree search techniques used in computer programs for games such as Chess and Checkers work differently from how humans think about such games. This article gives an overview of the planning techniques that we have incorporated into the BRIDGE BARON and discusses what the program's victory signifies for research on AI planning and game playing.


Success in Spades: Using AI Planning Techniques to Win the World Championship of Computer Bridge

AAAI Conferences

The latest world-championship competition for computer bridge programs was the Baron Barclay World Bridge Computer Challenge, hosted in July 1997 by the American Contract Bridge League. As reported in The New York Times and The Washington Post, the competition's winner was a new version of Great Game Products' Bridge Baron program. This version, Bridge Baron 8, has since gone on the market; and during the last three months of 1997 it was purchased by more than 1000 customers. The Bridge Baron's success also represents a significant success for research on AI planning systems, because Bridge Baron 8 uses Hierarchical Task-Network (HTN) planning techniques to plan its declarer play. This paper gives an overview of those techniques and how they are used.


The million pound bridge program

Classics

In Levy, D. and Beal, D. (Eds.), Heuristic Programming in Artificial Intelligence. Ellis Horwood.



Computer Bridge

AI Magazine

A computer program that uses AI planning techniques is now the world champion computer program in the game of Contract Bridge. As reported in The New York Times and The Washington Post, this program--a new version of Great Game Products' The classical approach used in AI programs for games of strategy is to do a game tree search using the well-known minimax formula (eq. 1) The minimax computation is basically a bruteforce search: If implemented as formulated here, it would examine every node in the game tree. In practical implementations of minimax game tree searching, a number of techniques are used to improve the efficiency of this computation: putting a bound on the depth of the search, using alpha-beta pruning, doing transposition-table lookup, and so on. However, even with enhancements such as these, minimax computations often involve examining huge numbers of nodes in the game tree. Because a Bridge hand is typically played in just a few minutes, there is not enough time for a game tree search to search enough of this tree to make good decisions.