[Computer-go] 50k-100k patterns

Don Dailey dailey.don at gmail.com
Sat Aug 11 09:36:27 PDT 2012

On Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 10:20 AM, Michael Alford <malf at aracnet.com> wrote:

> This has been a most interesting discussion, thanks to all that
> participated. As far as tricks, hard and deliberate practice, or focus
> goes, I would like to share an observation from Guo Juan: The only
> difference between an IGS 3k and a 3d is the 3d knows more tricks. To get
> beyond 3d you have to learn something about the game.

I don't know enough about go to comment on that,  but as I said early
"tricks" was an unfortunate choice of terminology and it's my wish we dont'
get hung up on semantics.      What I should have said which is far more
accurate is "insights" -  a single insight can be worth a lot.   So maybe
strong players beyond 3d they have no additional insights?   That does not
seems likely.

I know that strong chess players just know stuff that I don't know and they
know INSTANTLY - and it's a major shortcut that I do not posses.   You
could call it a "trick" but that cheapens it.    It's an insight they
learned long ago and is not a part of them.


> On 8/11/12 5:52 AM, Don Dailey wrote:
>> On Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 2:38 AM, Sam Stewart <sstewart at lclark.edu
>> <mailto:sstewart at lclark.edu>> wrote:
>>     Hello all,
>>     As a student and mathematician, I am particularly interested in the
>>     complex process of accumulating, understanding, and remembering
>>     difficult information. In regards to the most recent posting by Don,
>>     while I agree that there is initially some "low hanging fruit" in
>>     most areas, these options quickly disappear as we become better.
>>     Breaking the barrier between amateur and expert is particularly
>>     difficult and is rarely achievable through "quick tricks".
>> There is nothing here I disagree with.    The sophistication of the
>> "tricks" increases but probably calling them "shortcuts" and "tricks"
>> was not the right terminology.      Some of them seem like cheap tricks
>> but really they are just mental reorganizations and the recognition of
>> patterns which already have a solution or partial solution.     I know
>> in chess almost any position seems reasonable and suggests moves to my
>> mind - but when I first learned the game it was just a random
>> configuration without any clue of what move to play.
>> The *hard and deliberate* practice I simply called focus - I do not
>> believe it necessarily has to be unpleasant but it is hard work.
>> Sometimes you can enjoy hard work but without doubt you have to push
>> yourself against being lazy.
>>     Instead, we improve in proportion to the amount of /deliberate and
>>     strenuous /practice we invest. As Mark described, he knew the steps
>>     needed to improve drastically, but opted for the easier route. Why?
>>     Because deliberate practice is often grueling, repetitive, and
>>     exhausting; we prefer tasks which are within our purview.
>>     Having programmed since age ten, and then up into my college years,
>>     I can say from personal experience the largest jumps in ability
>>     occurred when I concentrated on my weakest areas. For example, while
>>     initially doing web programming, I decided to learn the iOS SDK. Of
>>     course, this required studying Objective-C (really just C and some
>>     compiler macros) which does not use automatic memory management.
>>     Needless to say, as a fifteen year old coming from Python, Java, and
>>     PHP, this was a hurdle. I spent hours finding obvious memory leaks
>>     before I could even display something onscreen. The process was
>>     laborious but I finally gained competence /over a three year
>>     period/. I emphasize this statement because there was no shortcut.
>>     Although the authors on this list hold no such misconceptions, I
>>     cannot count the number of times people have approached me asking
>>     how to write iPhone apps. I always answer, "you'll need lots of
>>     time, patience, and diligence….then start practicing".
>>     The mental jump from managed languages to manually managed languages
>>     shed light on the "low level" details of programming which I had
>>     missed previously. The /deliberate /practice in an area of weakness
>>     enabled me to "level up" in the end.
>>     On the other hand, I have also played jazz piano for about five
>>     years. Like Mark, I have taken the lazy route, even though I have
>>     played through hundreds of songs. As with most classically trained
>>     musicians, I found sight-reading and memorizing an explicit
>>     transcription of a standard far easier than practicing the numerous
>>     chords and modes required for free-form improvisation. Only now, am
>>     I painfully practicing the many chord voicings I glossed over years
>>     ago. In sight-reading the music, I allowed my skill to plateau by
>>     sticking to the "stuff I knew".
>>     Similarly, I am a better programmer than mathematician. While
>>     varying across individuals, I find programming intuitive, or as Mark
>>     said "Learning to program never felt like work". On the other hand,
>>     many concepts in mathematics require abstract and flexible thought.
>>     Hence, since I find math more challenging than CS, I purposely fill
>>     my schedule with math courses. Pushing myself in a weaker area will
>>     ultimately render me a better computer scientist.
>>     In summary, the /key /difference between amateurs and experts is
>>     /*hard and deliberate* /practice. In order to move from novice to
>>     professional, you must not only practice, but you must focus on
>>     honing your "pain points". While I wish there were other options
>>     available, my own experience has lead me to this conclusion.
>>     However, I'm not the only one who holds this opinion. I'd like to
>>     offer this paper I read a few years ago which speaks to this issue
>>     precisely. I've also pasted some relevant sections below:
>>     http://psycnet.apa.org/**journals/rev/100/3/363.pdf<http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/rev/100/3/363.pdf>
>>      Our review has also shown that the maximal level of performance
>>>     for individuals in a given domain is not attained automatically as
>>>     function of extended experience, but the level of performance can
>>>     be increased even by highly experienced individuals as a result of
>>>     deliberate efforts to improve.
>>>      There is a relatively widespread conception that if individuals
>>>     are innately talented, they can easily and rapidly achieve an
>>>     exceptional level of performance once they have acquired basic
>>>     skills and knowledge. Biographical material disproves this notion.
>>>     In their classic study of expertise in chess, Simon and
>>>     Chase (1973) observed that nobody had attained the level of an
>>>     international chess master (grandmaster) "with less than about
>>>     a decade's intense preparation with the game" (p. 402).
>>     This discussion has been quite entertaining and I look forward to
>>     any comments or further thoughts,
>>     Sam Stewart
>>     Lewis & Clark College
>>     On Friday, August 10, 2012 at 2:05 PM, Don Dailey wrote:
>>>     On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 4:38 PM, Mark Boon
>>>     <tesujisoftware at gmail.com <mailto:tesujisoftware at gmail.**com<tesujisoftware at gmail.com>>>
>>> wrote:
>>>>     On Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 8:15 AM, Don Dailey <dailey.don at gmail.com
>>>>     <mailto:dailey.don at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>>     > I'm not real big on natural talent either.  I know it exists but
>>>>     it is
>>>>     > somewhat over-rated.   The people who are really good at
>>>>     anything invariably
>>>>     > worked pretty hard to get there - and the natural talent aspect
>>>>     may simply
>>>>     > be internal drive - the ability to focus on what needs to be
>>>>     done.    So I
>>>>     > do believe that some people have more talent than others but
>>>>     maybe it's a
>>>>     > bit over-hyped.      Bobby Fischer is said to have been
>>>>     absolutely obsessed
>>>>     > with chess as a boy - an obsession you don't usually see in an
>>>>     old man or
>>>>     > woman.    Was he talented?   I'm sure he was,   but this insane
>>>>     obsession
>>>>     > was probably more important to his success than his natural
>>>> talent.
>>>>     Erik Puyt (Dutch 5-dan) once summed it up nicely: "when people say
>>>>     you've got talent, what they mean is you're (still) young".
>>>>     I do think talent exists. The same way some people are more
>>>>     intelligent than others. But starting young and working hard at it
>>>> is
>>>>     needed by everyone to become good at anything. Nobody gets it for
>>>>     free.
>>>>     >  And even just putting in a lot of time is not the same as
>>>>     working hard at it.
>>>>     I'm a bit of a lazy type. As a teenager I spent a lot of time
>>>>     studying
>>>>     Go. But I found that some types of study felt harder on my brain
>>>> than
>>>>     others. Replaying professional games, while certainly helpful, was a
>>>>     lot 'easier' than doing life-and-death problems, which I hated
>>>> doing.
>>>>     Later I heard some successful professional players claim that the
>>>>     only
>>>>     way of studying really worth anything was life-and-death. All the
>>>>     rest
>>>>     comes relatively easy through just playing. I would characterize
>>>>     replaying pro games as 'putting in time' while life-and-death was
>>>>     'working at it'.
>>>>     I started computer programming when I was 18-19 years old. I knew
>>>>     straight away this was my future as all the studying felt easy
>>>>     compared to studying Go, even though I was a little afraid I had
>>>>     started too late. But it turned out child prodigies in
>>>>     programming, or
>>>>     whizz-kids as they were called, only existed in movies at that
>>>>     day and
>>>>     age. Learning to program never felt like work.
>>>     Being lazy could be a good thing - it is in programming!     How
>>>     many times have I started to code something up,  realized how much
>>>     work it was going to be, then stopped myself and said, "there must
>>>     be an easier way!"     And lo and behold,  there usually is.
>>>     I think this works with everything.    In Chess my master friend
>>>     was big into organizing your thinking and making things easier -
>>>     usually with clever rules.     Very often just one tiny piece of
>>>     knowledge can save you years of figuring it out for yourself.
>>>      In one opening I played he said, "it's all about the black
>>>     squares - if you control them you win."     An aha moment for me
>>>     as I was busy computing variations and doing things the hard way.
>>>     So I believe than in many ways being "lazy" can be an asset - if
>>>     you are always trying to figure out an "easier way" to do it you
>>>     will do much better.
>>>     Have you ever heard of "square of the pawn?"     Or when being
>>>     checked by the knight in the endings when there is very little
>>>     time on the clock there are certain squares you can move the king
>>>     to which guarantee you cannot be checked for 2, 3 or 4 moves -
>>>     depending on where you move and these are trivial patterns.
>>>     Also, the say really intelligent people are internally taking
>>>     shortcuts,  they get way more accomplished with very little effort.
>>>     And I did a simple thing when I was improving in tournament chess.
>>>       I just happened to notice that 90% of my losses were due to
>>>     trivial blunders.   I went up something like 400 ELO  just
>>>     realizing that.   It was a lazy way to get 400 ELO without
>>>     studying hard or anything else,   I just made it my determination
>>>     and goal not to blunder and before every move I did a quick
>>>     superficial check, nothing fancy and yet  400 ELO!     Everyone
>>>     thought that I had been studying and learning and getting much
>>>     better.
>>>     This is actually a general principle of almost any endeavor: "stop
>>>     screwing up!"    If you play tennis you know that at the club
>>>     level you don't win games,   you lose them.     Get the ball back
>>>     with any consistency and you are suddenly a half way decent club
>>>     player - even if you don't do it with much style or grace.
>>>     So I don't think study has to be painful and hard - in fact true
>>>     "hard work" can be very pleasurable.   But it does have to be
>>>     productive and focused.
>>>     Don
>>>>     Mark
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