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Bested By Bridge

Bill Gates may be the world's richest man, a historic figure to rival Henry Ford, and a computer-industry colossus, but when it comes to bridge, he's just another amateur.

Gates, a bridge fanatic who frequently plays the game online, took part in last week's World Bridge Championship in Montreal but was knocked out well before the final round. In discussing his loss, a characteristically unbowed Gates claimed he probably could beat the world's best bridge software.

Is Gates' proclamation just braggadocio? Maybe not. "Bridge is a probabilistic game, and you can only make best guesses on how to proceed based on clues you get during the game," says Paul Linkweiler, managing editor of the American Contract Bridge League's Bridge Bulletin. Guessing "an-noys computers. Compared to the average player, most of them just stink."

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