Gates says humans best at bridge

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

MONTREAL -- Even the titan of the computer revolution says machines can't beat humans at the strategic game of bridge.

"In terms of the game of bridge itself, computers can't play at any reasonable level," Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said Monday during a break at the World Bridge Championships. "Even I can probably beat the best bridge software that exists today."

Gates was competing in his first world championships, where he failed to advance to the final round.

A self-described bridge addict, Gates said he plays about half his games online.

Computers provide incredible instruction and foster a sense of community among players, he said. But they don't match the ability of programs for other games like chess.

Contest draws 90 Elvis impersonators

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A new king was crowned in the "Images of the King" contest, which drew about 90 Elvis Presley impersonators.

Brandon Bennett, 19, of Ponchatoula, La., was named the winner following a set of four songs, including Presley's "Viva Las Vegas," delivered in a bespangled jumpsuit.

As the top Elvis tribute artist, Bennett won $1,000 and a $1,500 certificate toward the purchase of a flashy new jumpsuit.

Some 2,000 people attended the finals competition Saturday night. The contest, which is not affiliated with Graceland, coincided with the weeklong commemoration of Presley's death 25 years ago on Aug. 16, 1977.

Fans 'just nuts' for McGraw, Andrews

HAMPTON, Va. -- At 18, country singer Jessica Andrews is already a veteran of concert tours. But this summer's limited outing with Tim McGraw was a whole new experience, she says.

"The fans were just nuts," Andrews said. "It was the first time I'd been part of a tour that was 20,000 people and big arenas. It was a rush, night after night. I felt like a rock star up there."

She toured with McGraw's wife, Faith Hill, in 1999. She went out the following year with Trisha Yearwood and was a co-headliner last year with Billy Gilman, working venues from county fairs to showrooms.

This year, she's limiting her appearances -- including a recent performance at a race track here -- to weekends. When she's not touring, Andrews is working on her third album in Nashville, Tenn.

Andrews' second album, "Who I Am," went gold three weeks after its release. The title song was her first No. 1 country hit.

Keillor launching world's largest book club

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Humorist Garrison Keillor is helping launch what's being billed as the world's largest book club.

Keillor, host of public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion," attended the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Scotland for the inauguration of the BBC World Service's club. The service has selected "Lake Wobegon Days," Keillor's best-selling novel, as the first book for its reading group.

The Independent, a London newspaper, said the club will unite millions of readers around the world in monthly discussions.

The BBC World Service has 150 million listeners on six continents, and they are being encouraged to read the book and submit questions and comments, which will form part of a discussion to be broadcast on Sept. 25.

Keillor, 60, told The Independent that he's a fan of the BBC World Service, calling it "a pillar of civilization."

The Edinburgh International Book Festival, which opened Aug. 10, will continue through Aug. 26 in Charlotte Square Gardens.

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