[Computer-go] ManyFaces swindled of victory?

Don Dailey dailey.don at gmail.com
Sat Nov 13 05:18:19 PST 2010

On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 9:24 PM, terry mcintyre <terrymcintyre at yahoo.com>wrote:

> This is a curious game - a 3 stone game betwixt ManyFaces and a 2 kyu
> player.
> It looks to my eye as if MFGO was well ahead in the middle game, yet
> managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
> Black has many unsettled groups; usually a stronger player causes much
> grief in situations like this, but black managed to turn around and swallow
> up not one but several white groups.
> Most interesting. I think this confirms an earlier thread - when there are
> several semeai on the board, MCT-based strategies get into difficulties.

Are you sure of this?    I think it is human nature to try to make sense of
things and create general rules and principles to explain what we think we
may be observing.   It's also human nature to often be wrong about it.
The first time an idea is skillfully presented it tends to carry extra
(sometimes undeserved) weight because everyone else interprets what they see
in terms of that and it gets repeated over and over till it becomes the
de-facto sound bite that propagates itself.

Maybe it's completely true and there is no dispute or it's obvious -
unfortunately I'm not a go player so I'm in no position to add my 2 cents
but I would be very cautious about making  general statements about the
relative strengths and weaknesses of humans compared to computers.

I know from experience with chess for many decades that peoples perception
of the computers strengths and weaknesses were constantly misinterpreted,
 very often based on a just a game or two someone played.     People were
just trying to make sense of it, but they got it wrong a lot.    In one case
in the 80's my program played a master and lost tactically and believe it or
not the master felt the program was strong positionally but weak tactically
(because he beat it with a tactical shot) even though we now understand it's
completely the opposite.    The truth of the matter was that the computer
was simply a lot weaker than this particular player so it was inferior all
the way around.

If your supposition is true, then it's a good thing to know because perhaps
it can be addressed.    Or it might end up being one of those things that
diminishes in importance over time as computers get generally stronger and
stronger.    In chess, computers have always been weaker in true positional
understanding (even to this day) but we have added so many layers of
strength that this weakness is only a relative thing.   It's weaker than
other parts of it's game,  but not so weak that anyone can easily take
advantage of it.   Most computer games resemble Grandmaster games in the
quality of positional play.

> I think strong human players tend to have a better grasp of "this
> particular fight is settled, no need to study it further until a liberty is
> removed (in which case respond now!); let's focus on this other fight
> instead . . ."
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