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Felienne Hermans-Using F# and genetic programming to play computer bridge

In September 2016, Felienne's bridge bot Desiderius (Desi, as she calls him affectionately) will compete in the World Championship of Computer Bridge. In this talk she will explain how she built Desi.

Bridge is a card game with two distinct phases: bidding and playing. For this talk, Felienne will focus mainly on the bidding part, as that is most challenging. In the bidding phase, both pairs of players bid to reach 'the contract': the number of tricks they want to make, and with which trump color. Given the limited bandwidth of communication (players can only communicate with bids) the challenge is to get at the best bid. She made a DSL in F# to describe the bidding rules that her bot will bid with, and she will talk about its design and the choices she made.

For bidding, there are a number of standard systems, but of course she wanted to go a bid further*. Reaching the optimal bid is very important: Failure to make the contract results in a penalty, but not reaching a possible contract does too. Therefore, she used genetic programming to combine different existing bidding strategies to reach the perfect scheme.

*pun intended