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 Post subject: What I learnt from the bots
Post #1 Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:00 pm 
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My main source for learning is Lizzie. I've been using her to analyze my own games and pro games. Another source is watching bots play each other. So far they seem pretty consistent in their choices, whether AlphaGo, Leela, Elf or other AI engines.

Here's what I have learnt and an overview of what you could call "bot joseki".

I apologize if a similar thread has been created before - I have missed it then.

Modern opening theory as suggested by the bots has the following features:

- taking sente is very important; temperature locally drops fast; it is urgent to play elsewhere
- therefore, contact plays and diagonal plays (either pressing or undermining), are all the rage, since they are more urgent to respond to, hence have more potential to keep sente
- comparatively, approaching from a distance or making an early base have become less common
- since making a base doesn't seem as urgent, pincer patterns are also rather uncommon
- if sente is the first value, next comes territory, which is valued much over influence. Bots don't like influence for its own sake.

This seems to make 4-4 and 3-4 the most popular moves in bot opening, for reasons we will next explore. 4-5 and 3-5 are rarely played. I will say a few words about 3-3

In the middle game, attacking needs to bring profit in terms of (potential territory). Just influence is not good enough. Attacking for the sake of it is simply wrong.

Overall, bots emphasize efficiency of stones. An inefficient configuration punishes itself. Attacking a clumsy group to force it into life can backfire because the opponent can choose to sacrifice it, as it was inefficient all along. Likewise, defending a clumsy group is adding stones to an inefficient configuration.

Towards the endgame, bots obviously calculate the score precisely and further reduce uncertainty by making the victory more certain, often at the expense of the score difference. Humans may prefer forcing the opponent into resignation by making big (but risky) kills, thereby reducing the risk of making a late blunder.



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 Post subject: Re: What I learnt from the bots
Post #2 Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:19 pm 
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Many thanks for this thread. :D

Your experience with bots is greater than mine, but I have a couple of different impressions.

First, I am not at all sure that bots value territory much more than outside influence. Admittedly, AlphaGo seems to me to value influence more than Leela. Who knows what the future holds? Certainly, the early 3-3 invasions of the 4-4 suggest that bots favor territory. OTOH, if they do, why do they play the 4-4 so often? They can surely see the early invasions coming.

Second, what I have seen of bots' endgames does not tell me that they are playing safe, although that's the theory. Versus humans, if the human has not resigned, the bots can play almost anything. I think that there is a lot of randomness in such endgames. And when bot faces bot in the endgame, their games are not only close (since neither has resigned) but the positions retain a lot of aji, usually in the form of possible kos, so that it is difficult to play safe.

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 Post subject: Re: What I learnt from the bots
Post #3 Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:40 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
Certainly, the early 3-3 invasions of the 4-4 suggest that bots favor territory. OTOH, if they do, why do they play the 4-4 so often? They can surely see the early invasions coming.



I don't think bots are invading because they are greedy for territory. Rather, they do it because they see a way to get out of the sequence cleanly. And I think that's why they don't mind playing 4-4 either - to cleanly get to the next phase.


My reasoning is based on something a pro said at the last U.S. Go Congress (Andy Liu I think, but I'm not positive). He said that the shoulder hit is a favorite tactic of bots because they simplify the game. And he specifically said that you can think of a 3-3 invasion as a shoulder hit from the inside, which helped me understand why bots do what all the old books told us not to do.


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Post #4 Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 3:38 am 
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My pebbles for the pool:

1. With one major exception, knotwilg's characterisation of the bots' style seemed to marry up with how a pro would talk about ideal play. I therefore inferred that his reference standard in the comparison was perhaps amateur play (or an amateur understanding of pro play).

2. The exception was the putative bot predilection for eschewing bases. It's not something I've noticed but as making a base tends to be gote, the notion would fit in with a predilection for holding on to sente as much as possible.

3. We talk of the 3-3 invasion. I wonder if that's a misnomer (and it's very, very rarely called that in Japanese). In human play I think we tend to assume an invasion will be gote (if it's not, we further assume the invade made a big mistake either before or after the invasion). What's special about the bot 3-3 play was that the invader expects to come out with sente. I'm suggesting therefore that it's not really an invasion and so to talk about it usefully we need to find another term (a spoiler tactic?).

4. The main effect of seeing AI play on me has been to look at pro games with fresh eyes. Far and away the most dominant change in perception has been that Edo games are much more AI-like than I think any of us would have expected, and to me probably much more so than modern pro games (except for Go Seigen). In particular, the number of probes and shoulder hits in the old games seems much higher. (As to why Go might be different, perhaps it is because when he was young his contemporaries in Japan were mainly learning by playing each other in what was then the modern style, but Go was forced to learn from books of old games.)

5. All pros stress efficiency of plays, so much so that they can even dispense with counting the territories and count the inefficiencies instead. But I believe they see efficiency in a different way from even the best amateurs. And I suspect bots see efficiency in a yet different way from pros. Quite what that might be I have no idea, but what I can say is that I think if you look at a finished bot game you cannot tell whether it was played by a bot. There are still clumps of stones, and lines of stones squeezed between enemy stones (i.e. on dame points). The efficient work done by these stones (if it exists) must have been done at a much earlier stage or must be offset by countable inefficiencies by the opponent. We perhaps need to find a new metric for efficiency to understand bot play.

6. I am struck by the continued misuse of influence vs thickness here. It's not enough to respond that we all know what is meant. I would retort: "No, we don't, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about bot influence like this." I have already done a review somewhere of Yokota Shigeaki's pre-AI book (2010) on how to appraise thickness. I was intrigued by it then. Now I am impressed by it. A reminder of a couple of his most salient but novel points: (1) even single stones can have thickness; (2) thickness has a major time element. Strange how those points seem to have been brought to the fore also by AI...


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 Post subject: Re: What I learnt from the bots
Post #5 Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:08 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
4. The main effect of seeing AI play on me has been to look at pro games with fresh eyes. Far and away the most dominant change in perception has been that Edo games are much more AI-like than I think any of us would have expected, and to me probably much more so than modern pro games (except for Go Seigen). In particular, the number of probes and shoulder hits in the old games seems much higher. (As to why Go might be different, perhaps it is because when he was young his contemporaries in Japan were mainly learning by playing each other in what was then the modern style, but Go was forced to learn from books of old games.)


To wit, Sinan Djepov's article "Top 50 Beautiful Professional Moves (1628 – 1849)".

https://explorebaduk.com/2019/01/17/top ... 1850-year/

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 Post subject: Re: What I learnt from the bots
Post #6 Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:01 am 
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Thanks John for the supportive and well thought comments.

John Fairbairn wrote:

1. With one major exception, knotwilg's characterisation of the bots' style seemed to marry up with how a pro would talk about ideal play. I therefore inferred that his reference standard in the comparison was perhaps amateur play (or an amateur understanding of pro play).



Probably, yes. By definition my analysis amounts to an amateur understanding of pro play (and bot play).


John Fairbairn wrote:
3. We talk of the 3-3 invasion. I wonder if that's a misnomer (and it's very, very rarely called that in Japanese). In human play I think we tend to assume an invasion will be gote (if it's not, we further assume the invade made a big mistake either before or after the invasion). What's special about the bot 3-3 play was that the invader expects to come out with sente. I'm suggesting therefore that it's not really an invasion and so to talk about it usefully we need to find another term (a spoiler tactic?).


I made a similar observation, that the 3-3 "invasion" is more of an inverse shoulder hit.

John Fairbairn wrote:
5. All pros stress efficiency of plays, so much so that they can even dispense with counting the territories and count the inefficiencies instead.


I found that to be the most striking similarity between pro and bot play (through the eyes of an amateur).

John Fairbairn wrote:
6. I am struck by the continued misuse of influence vs thickness here. It's not enough to respond that we all know what is meant. I would retort: "No, we don't, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about bot influence like this." I have already done a review somewhere of Yokota Shigeaki's pre-AI book (2010) on how to appraise thickness. I was intrigued by it then. Now I am impressed by it. A reminder of a couple of his most salient but novel points: (1) even single stones can have thickness; (2) thickness has a major time element. Strange how those points seem to have been brought to the fore also by AI...


This is perhaps the only place where I cannot concur, at least for now. The following may unintentionally irritate you but I've always felt that the scholarship about these concepts and responses to amateur attempts to grasp them have been similar to this immortal prank by Jim Florentine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaRtrffvgUg : "No that's not it".
I have actually given up on guessing what it may be and now hold clear mental concepts about influence and strength for myself, which may but likely don't match the mystified concepts by scholars and presumably professionals. They help me understand pro play and bot play, which is the point of concepts. It may be that "a single stone having thickness" and "thickness having a major time element" are useful ways for pros or scholars to think about the concept, but they confuse me more than anything.

Still, those quibbles aside, much appreciated and continue to appreciate your view at things and your response to my attempts to learn and convey.


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Post #7 Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:16 am 
Honinbo

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Knotwilg wrote:
Thanks John for the supportive and well thought comments.


I concur. :D

Knotwilg wrote:
John Fairbairn wrote:

1. With one major exception, knotwilg's characterisation of the bots' style seemed to marry up with how a pro would talk about ideal play. I therefore inferred that his reference standard in the comparison was perhaps amateur play (or an amateur understanding of pro play).



Probably, yes. By definition my analysis amounts to an amateur understanding of pro play (and bot play).


I am unaware of any new concepts spawned by the bots -- yet. But I do think that the bots are forcing pros to reconsider, perhaps even redefine, go concepts, most particularly in the realm of central influence, and also the concept of a base.

Knotwilg wrote:
John Fairbairn wrote:
3. We talk of the 3-3 invasion. I wonder if that's a misnomer (and it's very, very rarely called that in Japanese). In human play I think we tend to assume an invasion will be gote (if it's not, we further assume the invade made a big mistake either before or after the invasion). What's special about the bot 3-3 play was that the invader expects to come out with sente. I'm suggesting therefore that it's not really an invasion and so to talk about it usefully we need to find another term (a spoiler tactic?).


I made a similar observation, that the 3-3 "invasion" is more of an inverse shoulder hit.

John Fairbairn wrote:
5. All pros stress efficiency of plays, so much so that they can even dispense with counting the territories and count the inefficiencies instead.


I found that to be the most striking similarity between pro and bot play (through the eyes of an amateur).

John Fairbairn wrote:
6. I am struck by the continued misuse of influence vs thickness here. It's not enough to respond that we all know what is meant. I would retort: "No, we don't, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about bot influence like this." I have already done a review somewhere of Yokota Shigeaki's pre-AI book (2010) on how to appraise thickness. I was intrigued by it then. Now I am impressed by it. A reminder of a couple of his most salient but novel points: (1) even single stones can have thickness; (2) thickness has a major time element. Strange how those points seem to have been brought to the fore also by AI...


This is perhaps the only place where I cannot concur, at least for now. The following may unintentionally irritate you but I've always felt that the scholarship about these concepts and responses to amateur attempts to grasp them have been similar to this immortal prank by Jim Florentine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaRtrffvgUg : "No that's not it".
I have actually given up on guessing what it may be and now hold clear mental concepts about influence and strength for myself, which may but likely don't match the mystified concepts by scholars and presumably professionals. They help me understand pro play and bot play, which is the point of concepts. It may be that "a single stone having thickness" and "thickness having a major time element" are useful ways for pros or scholars to think about the concept, but they confuse me more than anything.


As far as I can tell, influence is a Western term introduced around 50 years ago by Zobrist. I do not equate it with atsumi or gaisei. It goes without saying that I do not agree with the treatment on Sensei's Library (See https://senseis.xmp.net/?Influence ). I use it to mean the effect of a stone or stones on other stones and empty points.

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 Post subject: Re: What I learnt from the bots
Post #8 Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:36 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
As far as I can tell, influence is a Western term introduced around 50 years ago by Zobrist. I do not equate it with atsumi or gaisei. It goes without saying that I do not agree with the treatment on Sensei's Library (See https://senseis.xmp.net/?Influence ). I use it to mean the effect of a stone or stones on other stones and empty points.


Defining "influence" as "the effect of a stone or stones on other stones and empty points" is too trivial for me. Of course a stone has influence on nearby stones and intersections: that's exactly the difference of it being there or not.

Reduced to its most basic treatment, I define influence and thickness as "some sort of wall" and "a wall that is well connected and alive". One derived meaningful insight is that a firmly connected chain forming a 90° angle with two legs that function at influential walls is thick, because it can make an eyespace-forming base in either direction. Another derived insight is that multiple centre facing walls across the board, can cooperate to form whole board thickness. I know there are other meanings of whole board, like the overall absence of threats, but that's more of a cumulative effect of local thickness. Anyway.

These are useful concepts for me to evaluate an exchange in the corner: White has territory, Black has influence.
You can say "well, but that's not what influence really means". Fine by me, but I almost stopped caring, because 1) I'd like to get a name for what I call influence and thickness, since these things help me evaluating a position 2) I'd like to know what influence and thickness mean, if "that's not it", but 3) neither have really happened over the course of the years, we mostly got variations on "no, that's not it" or vague hints as to what it could mean, between esoteric and almost meaningless, which often made me wonder if we were supposed to understand these concepts at all and draw some kind of benefit of them, or just accept that we're mere mortals and have no access to these mystical thoughts professionals have, because we're not born there, don't speak the language, don't have their year long education ... We're at best allowed to speak of it but not pretend to understand it, and even speaking of these mysteries is better left to the high priests who spent a lifetime studying the holy script.

I'll be a heathen then and continue cursing, until I see the light.


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Post #9 Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 3:04 pm 
Honinbo

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Knotwilg wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
As far as I can tell, influence is a Western term introduced around 50 years ago by Zobrist. I do not equate it with atsumi or gaisei. It goes without saying that I do not agree with the treatment on Sensei's Library (See https://senseis.xmp.net/?Influence ). I use it to mean the effect of a stone or stones on other stones and empty points.


Defining "influence" as "the effect of a stone or stones on other stones and empty points" is too trivial for me. Of course a stone has influence on nearby stones and intersections: that's exactly the difference of it being there or not.

Reduced to its most basic treatment, I define influence and thickness as "some sort of wall" and "a wall that is well connected and alive". One derived meaningful insight is that a firmly connected chain forming a 90° angle with two legs that function at influential walls is thick, because it can make an eyespace-forming base in either direction. Another derived insight is that multiple centre facing walls across the board, can cooperate to form whole board thickness. I know there are other meanings of whole board, like the overall absence of threats, but that's more of a cumulative effect of local thickness. Anyway.

These are useful concepts for me to evaluate an exchange in the corner: White has territory, Black has influence.


In informal parlance I use influence to mean outside influence or central influence. There are many corner fights that end with one side getting territory and the other side getting influence. Using the simpler term, influence, I don't have worry about the niceties of the term, thickness, which, as John Fairbairn repeatedly points out, Western amateurs do not understand. Furthermore, the simpler term allows me to discuss things such as these positions:

Here is a diagram from jlt's and Ian Butler's first jubango game (viewtopic.php?t=16386 ).

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bc Keima enclosure
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . 1 . . . |
$$ | . . 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 4 . . . . . , . . . . . 2 . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


:b5: is a standard enclosure, one which Go Seigen had no quarrel with in his writings about 21st century go.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bc Ogeima enclosure
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . 1 . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 4 . . . . . , . . . . . 2 . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


But bots these days prefer this enclosure to the keima enclosure. Using the simple idea of influence, can we not say that this enclosure emphasizes territory less and (outside) influence more?

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bc Two space high enclosure
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . 1 . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 4 . . . . . , . . . . . 2 . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


Bots also like this enclosure, which humans hardly played before the bot era, and which stresses influence even more, and central influence at that. OTOH, it is hardly thick, it is rather thin for an enclosure. :)

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Wcm8 Old joseki
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 5 7 . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . X . . . O 8 2 1 . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . 0 . X 3 . . |
$$ | . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


In the top right corner White gets territory, Black gets influence. But Leela suggests a different move for :b17:.

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Wcm8 Leela's play
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 5 7 . . |
$$ | . . . X . . . . . X . . . O 8 2 1 . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . X 3 . . |
$$ | . . X . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . , . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . O . . . . . , . . . . . O . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


Leela suggests this keima. Isn't :b17: in the game both more territory oriented and thick, while Leela's play is both influence oriented and somewhat thinner?

Finally, an example from Go Seigen's writings:

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bc Yonrensei counter
$$ ---------------------------------------
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 . . . . . |
$$ | . . . 2 . . . . . , . . . . . 1 . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 . . . . . |
$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
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$$ | . . . , . . . . . , . . . . . 5 . . . |
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$$ | . . . 4 . . . . . 7 . . . . . 3 . . . |
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$$ | . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . |
$$ ---------------------------------------[/go]


When :b7: makes yonrensei, Go Seigen suggests the one space jump, :w8:. Is :w8: not influence oriented, yet not thick? :)

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This post by Bill Spight was liked by 2 people: hyperpape, sorin
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 Post subject: Re: What I learnt from the bots
Post #10 Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:05 pm 
Lives with ko

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Knotwilg wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
As far as I can tell, influence is a Western term introduced around 50 years ago by Zobrist. I do not equate it with atsumi or gaisei. It goes without saying that I do not agree with the treatment on Sensei's Library (See https://senseis.xmp.net/?Influence ). I use it to mean the effect of a stone or stones on other stones and empty points.


Defining "influence" as "the effect of a stone or stones on other stones and empty points" is too trivial for me. Of course a stone has influence on nearby stones and intersections: that's exactly the difference of it being there or not.

Reduced to its most basic treatment, I define influence and thickness as "some sort of wall" and "a wall that is well connected and alive". One derived meaningful insight is that a firmly connected chain forming a 90° angle with two legs that function at influential walls is thick, because it can make an eyespace-forming base in either direction. Another derived insight is that multiple centre facing walls across the board, can cooperate to form whole board thickness. I know there are other meanings of whole board, like the overall absence of threats, but that's more of a cumulative effect of local thickness. Anyway.

These are useful concepts for me to evaluate an exchange in the corner: White has territory, Black has influence.
You can say "well, but that's not what influence really means". Fine by me, but I almost stopped caring, because 1) I'd like to get a name for what I call influence and thickness, since these things help me evaluating a position 2) I'd like to know what influence and thickness mean, if "that's not it", but 3) neither have really happened over the course of the years, we mostly got variations on "no, that's not it" or vague hints as to what it could mean, between esoteric and almost meaningless, which often made me wonder if we were supposed to understand these concepts at all and draw some kind of benefit of them, or just accept that we're mere mortals and have no access to these mystical thoughts professionals have, because we're not born there, don't speak the language, don't have their year long education ... We're at best allowed to speak of it but not pretend to understand it, and even speaking of these mysteries is better left to the high priests who spent a lifetime studying the holy script.

I'll be a heathen then and continue cursing, until I see the light.


A over-simplified explanation for why it is hard to agree on what is influence, what is thickness, how are they different in go is just that they don't really mean anything :-) Rather, it is just the human brain trying to deal with things that are too complex to read ahead and analyze in detail, and therefore we try to put many things in a few large buckets and pretend they are similar.

I agree with Knotwilg: stop caring about semantics is the practical thing to do, I did the same.

The practical thing to do, as I see it, with respect to what people call influence/thickness/strength: does a given position of my opponent have some clear weakness that can be exploited with a proven sequence of moves? Then approach and exploit it. Does it not have any such weakness? Then stay away from it, since getting close with hurt myself.

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