2022 NABC Robot winner's interview Guohui zhang 


Tell us a bit about yourself - your city, your family, your work?

I was born and raised in China and came to the U.S. for graduate school. I received my Ph.D in mathematics in 1990 and have been a math professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville for over 25 years. I have a wonderful wife, two grown children, and two lovely dogs.

Did you play in the NABC practices, and if so, did they help you prepare?

I played in both of the NABC practices, which really helped me to better understand the robots’ strategies and techniques.

Have you played the previous editions of the NABC Robot Individual? Why did you decide to join this time?

Yes, I like the game format and schedule and try to participate in this event whenever I can.

Was there a defining moment that changed your state of mind and influenced your performance further? Any boards you would find interesting and you would
like to share with us?

I found Board #2 on Day 3 to be particularly significant. I opened 1, holding xx/A6/ATx/ATxxxx. We were vulnerable. The bidding went 1-(1 )-X-(2); P-(P)-X-(P); 3-(3♠)-P-(P);X-(P)-4-(all pass). I thought my bidding was good until I saw my partner's hand: xx/KT9852/KJ/Jxx. Luckily, we successfully made 4 due to the opponent’s bad defense. This board really boosted my morale, and as a result, I played very well for the rest of the day


On the contrary, can you tell us about a hand where you made a mistake and learned a lesson?

On Day 2, I made bidding mistake on Board #4. My left-hand opponent opened 1 and I was holding AKQJT3/xxx/J9/xx. Both sides were vulnerable. The bidding went (1♣)-1-(1NT)-P; (2♣)-2D-(P)-2; (P)-P-(X)-all pass. I should have been more disciplined by bidding 2♠ instead of passing 1NT. Fortunately, after this board, I was still able to hold my ground and finish relatively well on Day 2.

What tips would you give to players to encourage them to play the next NABC Robot edition in a few months?

I would advise them to play all the NABC practice games if possible, learn the robots’ strategies and techniques, practice discipline when bidding, and try not to let emotions influence their playing.

Did you enjoy playing with robots? What can you say to people who are
hesitant about them?

I did, although I am not looking forward to the day when robots become advanced enough to beat even the best human bridge players on a regular basis. My advice to these players would be to start playing with robots before that day

What do you like to do besides playing bridge?

I enjoy spending time with my family and hiking with my dogs. I also like to play golf and the board game Go.

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