BBOers Festival Winner Interview - Robert Brady

Robert Brady

Robert Brady (bradybot on BBO) from USA, finished second in the Stars and Platinum Robot Individual, where he scored a thumping 71.76%. He also finished top in the Mini 3-Day Survivor, and placed well in some of the other BBOer November Festival games.

We caught up with Robert after the tournament to ask him a few questions. Here's what he had to say.

First, could you tell us a bit about yourself please? E.g. Where you live, your age, family, pets, job?

I'm a 35-year old graduate student at University of Maryland studying Computer Science. I don't own pets but I'm thinking of adopting a dog, they are the most lovable creatures!

How long have you been playing bridge?

I started playing in high school (around 2001) and played professionally from 2009-2016. Then I took some time away from the game and just started playing again in August of this year.

Do you have a regular bridge partner? Do you play together offline tournaments too?

Not right now. I have played a couple of ACBL tournaments with Aaron Jones, a pro player from Los Angeles, and I've been playing a bit online with Leo Lasota, the all-time masterpoint leader on BBO. I don't have much time to travel to play bridge in person these days since grad school is tough! Maybe that will change once I finish my program.

You did really well last month as you made the podium in Stars and Platinum, and had good results in the other festival games. What’s the secret of your success?

The stars/platinum event is declarer play only, and that's the part of the game I'm best at overall so it works toward my strengths. But there are a lot of very strong players who compete in this event and you have to get lucky. If half the boards you play are just trick 1 claims, you can't really reach the 60-70% score you need to win the event. My Day 2 performance in that event followed this line, I made a large mistake on one board and many of the other boards were completely flat so I ended with a 48% round. I'm just thankful that Day 1 and Day 3 of the event offered a rich set of hands where you really had to think through the play and read the positions of the cards well to achieve the top scores.

I also won the 3-Day Mini Robot Survivor. This event you have to bid the hands and while many players know it's possible to manipulate the robots if you do weird things like opening 1NT with offshape hands, I prefer to bid normally and treat it like any other bridge problem, as if I'm playing with a human partner on the other side of the table. In these events the field is weaker than the stars/platinum event so if you make good bids and take all your tricks you usually end up well above average. This time I got lucky that all the close decisions I had to make about bidding game or signing off, or which finesse to take, they all worked! Nothing special to share about how I won this event, I just tried to play good bridge.

Are there any memorable hands from the festival that you’d like to walk us through?

Here is a hand from the 3-Day Mini Robot Survivor: 

The auction on this one was quite normal, reaching 3NT after East overcalled in diamonds. After two rounds of diamonds, two rounds of hearts (unblocking dummy's honors), and a spade back to my hand, East dropped the spade J which made me worry the suit was not going to bring home the 5 tricks necessary to make 12 tricks in total. But from here, knowing East had the rest of the diamonds and West had the rest of the spades, when I ran my hearts both opponents were squeezed in clubs as well as their respective spade/diamond suits. First West had to keep all the spades and came down to a singleton club, then when I ran the spades in dummy, East had to keep the diamond jack and also had to come down to a singleton club. This non-simultaneous double squeeze was enough for 12 tricks and earned me 85.7% of the matchpoints on this board.

What’s your favorite game to play on BBO?

My favorite event is the Zenith Reward Tournament. I broadcast this event every day on my Twitch stream, and upload all my event videos to my YouTube channel. It's much more fun to play while also being educational to my viewers, teaching good techniques in bidding and defense as well as describing my thought process while declaring hands.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming an ACBL Gold Life Master

I started out playing bridge for fun at my high school bridge club. When I was 16 I attended my first national championships, representing my district in the NAP Flight C Pairs. It was a blast and I met so many diverse and interesting people at the tournament! I continued playing throughout high school and college and after completing my undergraduate degree I started playing professionally full time. The two most important things to me about bridge were always:

  1. Am I enjoying myself while I'm playing; and
  2. How can I help others to enjoy the game, or get more out of the game?

For many years I pursued both of these interests equally passionately, but eventually I decided to take a break for some time. It was never important to me that I perform well in events, even though I often did perform well as I was 2nd in 3 different national championships. It was always more important to enjoy the journey and not become overly invested in scores, or placing blame on someone for a bad result. I actually didn't know my official title was "ACBL Gold Life Master" until you wrote this, haha! Throughout the years I made a lot of new friends from playing bridge and I still keep in touch with some of them to this day. That's what's important to me about the game.

Do you have any general tips to share to new players?

Find a partner you like playing with who has similar goals. Everyone plays bridge for a different reason. Some like the social aspects and go regularly to their local clubs to gossip every week. Some are aspiring to compete in the next Bermuda Bowl and want to seriously analyze every detail of every board they play. I think the most valuable conversation you can have with a new partner will answer the question, "what do you want to get out of playing bridge together?" If you get along really well as friends, but have wildly different aspirations about your bridge careers, you won't enjoy playing together as partners.

Aside from playing bridge, what other things do you enjoy?

 I'm an avid hiker/rock climber in my free time, of which I have very little thanks to graduate school. Indoors, I like scary movies and a whole variety of other strategic card games such as Hanabi and Dominion.

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4 comments on “BBOers Festival Winner Interview - Robert Brady”

  1. So interesting and you provided some new insights. Never thought to ask a potential partner what his/her goals might be. We just thought that if our bidding approaches were compatible, we were good. And, much more in your interview. Thank you! - Jill

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