Jonathan Weinstein (jlw77 on BBO) of St. Louis, Missouri, finished in third place in the very first BBO BIC. Scoring a tremendous 65.52%, he also managed to achieve what looks to be the highest individual score of 77.68% on his first finals board.
We caught up with Jonathan after the tournament to ask him a few questions. Here’s what he had to say.
Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do in ‘real life’, where do live, do you have kids?
I’m an economics professor at Washington University in St. Louis, specializing in game theory. I live in the St. Louis area with my wife and two sons, 8 and 5. I’m now 44.
How did you start playing bridge?
My grandmother was a lifelong bridge nut, so I knew the basics from a very early age, and I became a tournament player during college.
Walk us though your BBO BIC 2020 experience. Any boards you found interesting or challenging?
As far as memorable stories: I keep a fairly careful log of my bad boards, which I think is the best way to improve, but my “log of misery” doesn’t really give me good stories to share! After a few months, I don’t remember the good boards. The only good board I noted in my log was a lucky board on my only typo, when I accidentally opened 1H instead of 1S and stole the opponents’ heart fit.
When did you realise you might actually podium in the BBO BIC?
I figured throughout that I had a chance to place pretty high, because I’ve done well in the NABC robot games and this field was smaller.
“Normal” play, or gaming the robots? What was your strategy?
I mostly stay with the field when there is a clear field action, because I score pretty high playing normal contracts. When I think the field will be split anyway, I can be creative.
What do you usually like to do or play on BBO?
Family obligations (especially with kids at home during pandemic) make it hard for me to play live games, so the daylong robot games (where I can attend to a household emergency even in the middle of a hand) work well for me. I play some live team games as well.
What tips would you give to players who are new to playing with robots?
Robot advice: (1) Be aware that the robots lead short suits more than humans, both in suits and NT, (2) keep the bidding simple; your guess is better than your partner’s.
What improvements you would like to see for future BIC tournaments?
I would like to see every board count in the BIC final (similar to NABC robot championship), rather than best 4 of 6 sessions. (It wouldn’t have affected the winner of BIC 1, I just think it’s a better format.)
What other things do you enjoy doing besides bridge?
I enjoy chess and backgammon as well as bridge. Along with family and work, that keeps me pretty busy.
We also interviewed the BIC International Champion, Harry Zahariev – read Harry’s story here.
The 2nd Edition of the Bridge International Championship runs from March 29 through to April 4. Find out how to play here.