[Computer-go] ManyFaces swindled of victory?

terry mcintyre terrymcintyre at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 13 06:08:51 PST 2010

Don, I'm enough of a go player to know that, in such a position, a 2d human 
would trounce the kyu player, if given the middle game position to start with - 
but I'd appreciate the views of a dan-level player.  MFGO in such positions 
often fails to take care of its groups - even though it is far stronger than I.

Dave Fotland himself has observed similar results; there are many game records 
to back up this contention. A while back, I posted about a player who has a very 
high winrate against MFGO - it looked like his account did nothing else but play 
computer programs. 

Strong humans organize and prioritize things differently than (current) strong 

If you can keep track of things at blitz speed, and set up complicated fights 
with large unsettled groups, and patiently encroach on a program's eyespace ( 
even DDK players know that a dragon, however large, still requires two eyes to 
live ), you can often give a program a good drubbing.
Earlier, we had a post regarding a shogi program which combines the votes of 
four other programs. 

Given that processor cores are now abundant, and that UCT programs have trouble 
using all that horsepower, I wonder if some cores should look at the board in an 
entirely different way and, every now and then, generate "Danger ,Will Robinson" 
signals which trump the usual winrate algorithms - or at least tweak them toward 
safety moves. 

Is there a way to combine such disparate information into a coherent picture of 
the board? 
Terry McIntyre <terrymcintyre at yahoo.com>

Unix/Linux Systems Administration
Taking time to do it right saves having to do it twice.

From: Don Dailey <dailey.don at gmail.com>
To: computer-go at dvandva.org
Sent: Sat, November 13, 2010 8:18:19 AM
Subject: Re: [Computer-go] ManyFaces swindled of victory?

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 . . ."
>Computer-go mailing list
>Computer-go at dvandva.org

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