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 Post subject: Re: Recognition vs understanding
Post #41 Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:59 am 
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If you read the blog, it says his name is Isaac Chen

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A blog on Asian go books, go sightings, and interesting tidbits
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Post #42 Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:52 am 
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JF mentioned Go Seigen on Joseki. I believe it would be useful to remember that to Go Seigen the category weak players included 5 dan amateurs (and probably some fellow professionals as well). None of the people repeating the anti-joseki mantra in the western amateur scene are as strong as Go Seigen and it achieves a different result among amateur players.

Over-reliance on joseki (the few one learned) is in my experience (among kyu players) often a direct result of the continuous stream of discouragement to study joseki which a new player has to face (e.g. A Zen Way To Joseki and countless other SL-pages, a number of strong players who feel above playing proper moves, e.g. those opening on 2-2), so they end up simply relying on the few ones they learned. (People who always play a high approach to the 3-4 point, always play a single line after a certain pincer, always play the shoulder hit to the 3-3 point etc. etc.) It does no good when people with a large opening vocabulary actively discourage weaker players from acquiring a vocabulary, but repeatedly tell them they should just speak freely which is so much better than rote memorization. Confidence to speak freely grows with experience and vocabulary. I find this surprising in a post titled recognition vs. understanding, because the supposed addition to memorizing that turns joseki study into something useful is almost always "understanding". But why not consider joseki study as the exposition to many different patterns that might allow you to recognize them later?


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Post #43 Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:06 am 
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tapir wrote:
to Go Seigen the category weak players included 5 dan amateurs


What is the relevance of this? 1) Nowadays, Japanese 5d is ridiculously weak indeed. I do not know about the level of amateur ranks when he made that statement. 2) Playing strength and strength in creating go theoretical understanding are so different that one does not determine the other. 3) If he wanted to imply weak theoretical insight be amateurs, then he should provide his insight so that he might convince somebody that his go theoretical understanding was better than that of those amateurs he characterises as "weak".

IOW, if he referred to PLAYING strength only, then there is no relevance at all for strength in THEORETICAL UNDERSTANDING.

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It does no good when people with a large opening vocabulary actively discourage weaker players from acquiring a vocabulary, but repeatedly tell them they should just speak freely which is so much better than rote memorization.


Right, but which people do you mean?

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why not consider joseki study as the exposition to many different patterns that might allow you to recognize them later?


Because, e.g., the same pattern can be right or wrong in two different global positional contexts.

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Post #44 Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:34 am 
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Tapir wrote:
Over-reliance on joseki (the few one learned) is in my experience (among kyu players) often a direct result of the continuous stream of discouragement to study joseki which a new player has to face (e.g. A Zen Way To Joseki and countless other SL-pages, a number of strong players who feel above playing proper moves, e.g. those opening on 2-2), so they end up simply relying on the few ones they learned.
This is one of those points that makes me just stare and ask "why didn't I think of that?"

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 Post subject: Re: Recognition vs understanding
Post #45 Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:38 am 
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Issac Chen (on the left-side panel). I'm not sure if he's 7 dan, though - his info states that his goal is to reach 7 dan and that wish is also found in the part part "...也许能够给其他和我一样有志升到业余7段的同好一些帮助" (... can perhaps help others who also strive to reach amateur 7 dan).


Edit: Opps, didn't see that there was a third page where tchan provided the name already. Also, forgot to thank tchan for the link - it looks very interesting indeed. It's also worth noting that Mr. Chen is likely referring to Chinese 7 dan which is the highest normal amateur rank (generally considered to be professional strength), and from what little I've seen in his blog he'd definitely be a high dan on KGS.

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Post #46 Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:05 am 
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tapir wrote:
Over-reliance on joseki (the few one learned) is in my experience (among kyu players) often a direct result of the continuous stream of discouragement to study joseki which a new player has to face


Oh, the irony!

In attempting to follow that advice, they end up doing the opposite. :sad:

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Post #47 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:34 am 
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I believe that the discussion basically breaks down into those who believe that "general principles" represent:
1. A higher level of understanding that can allow us to make better decisions than are possible via detailed consideration of alternative sequences, or
2. Abstractions/generalizations that are created by ignoring the individual differences that make each position unique and therefore lose their ability to differentiate between better an worse lines of play.

I think that most writers who tackle the problem of writing a linear description (e.g. a book) of how to play Go (chess, shogi, bridge, or whatever) resort to #1 because otherwise the problem of describing what they are talking about becomes immediately intractable. As a result, students are overwhelmingly presented with the idea that #1 is possible, indeed inevitable.

I am firmly in the #2 camp. (for all you aged SF fans, remember A. E. Van Vogt and the "Null A" novels - Gilbert Gosseyn and "the map is not the territory"? :rambo: ) I believe that generalizations are inevitable when we attempt to communicate between each other (e.g. formulating verbal descriptions that link one position to another, or writing general text on ideas). However, I think that we sacrifice specific knowledge whenever we attempt to formalize generalizations. In other words, I firmly believe that in the end 2,000 games by Cho Chikun never give us less than 2,000 "ideas"/"principles" about how Go should be played. In my own personal experience this is reinforced by many discussions with Japanese pros (yes, yes, 90+% of the time we have both been in our cups, but as the saying goes, "In vino veritas" :blackeye: ). For them there is only calculation in the end. They will explain with this or that general principle, but when pressed, their opinion is based upon specific calculations. The general principles are an overlay rather than the foundation of what they say.

I think this is interesting specifically when we look at the chess literature (partly because it is more extensive in western languages than Go, but also because that was JF's original question). Does "My System" or "Chess Fundamentals" actually explain to us what differentiated winners from losers at the world championship level, ever? The answer is pretty clearly, "No"! The general principles laid down are too abstract to even explain the moves played by the authors, much less their success against their opponents. Far too many counter examples are to be found in the overall practice of the masters (see, for example, the second part of chapter 1 of John Watson's "The Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy" regarding "My Systems").

But is this a surprise to Go players? Why? Did not Lao Tsu admonish us in the first verse of the "Tao te Ching" that, "The Tao that can be told is not the true Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name."! How can we be so conceited to think that we know better? :scratch:

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Post #48 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:35 am 
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I have found the chess insights so fascinating that I have continued my explorations. It seems this whole business is exercising chess trainers and writers an awful lot. I've not found any evidence that it's exercising modern players yet. It did exercise Nimzowitsch, though, as someone mentioned above.

One contribution that caught my eye was in the preface to a book "Chess Secrets: The Giants of Strategy" where author Neil McDonald tackles the debate by devoting a large section of his intro to "Nimzowitsch's Writings". I took special note of that because it just so happens that I've always known a little bit about Nimzo. Ray Keene is a big fan of his, and I enjoyed hearing him tell me why once over lunch. He made a good case, though to my mind he was less impressed with the "system" than with Nimzo's ability to coin memorable phrases. McDonald says Ray was "spot on" about that and quotes him at length (e.g. Nimzo's phrases "increased speed of comprehension and clarity of thought") McDonald also strongly admires Nimzo's chess. But at the same time he accuses him of "too much unnecessary systematising in his books (I challenge you to find one player who knows the five special cases of the seventh rank)".

He later says, "it is possible to be both delighted and annoyed by Nimzowitsch at the same time. His books consist of brilliant gems of chess advice mixed with a wearisome over-systematising. Nimzowitsch's writing has humour and colour, and his boastfulness is touching, rather than irritating; but at times it is heavy going".

From what I can see, this seems to represent a common view of Nimzo today. I have also seen Kotov (favourably mentioned above) firmly put down by a modern writer, but I don't know enough him to comment further (although I see I have Kotov's book on my shelf so I must have read it at some point or other). I know even less about Reti, another of the chess players mentioned, but FWIW I have long tended to see in Nimzo and the hypermodern school in general the same sort of bluster and hype Yasunaga used in propounding New Fuseki. I'm not denigrating Yasu, but to a small degree I have the same sort of curate's egg view of him as McDonald has of Nimzo.

At any rate, the impression I'm getting is that Nimzo's contribition to chess was enormous, but not in the way he himself intended, and that nobody now seems to think a "system" works for chess. Eighty years on it is only his words that live on. I've always stressed the value of giving names to concepts in go, but my focus has generally been on creating a pathway to talk about a new concept. I'm now beginning to consider that good go words can have even more value if, as Ray claims, they induce speed of comprehension - which could be one way to promote speed of recognition, no?

The value of good words shone through a separate remark by McDonald, incidentally. He says the chess teacher Bob Wade came across a difficulty in a South African township where the local language lacked a word for "diagonal". Apart from making it hard to describe how the bishop moved, concepts such as "diagonal pressure" were off limits for him and his interpreter. No doubt there were local ways to convey the idea but he just didn't know them. That adds a little perspective to our problems with differences between English and the Oriental go vocabulary!


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Post #49 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:40 am 
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It might be good if we don't get too bogged down by the concept of principles, which quite frankly is a can of worms, and not forget to look at the word "recognition," which I believe could also use some examination (maybe even definition) in this discussion.

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Post #50 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:23 am 
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ez4u wrote:
2. Abstractions/generalizations that are created by ignoring the individual differences that make each position unique and therefore lose their ability to differentiate between better an worse lines of play.


Mighty generalisations do not need to ignore individual differences up to an ability to differentiate between better an worse lines of play! Therefore I do not share your constructed conflict between (1.) and (2.).

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becomes immediately intractable.


Rather it becomes detailed, and indeed most writers avoid that degree of detail.

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As a result, students are overwhelmingly presented with the idea that #1 is possible, indeed inevitable.


If at least they were... But unforturnately... in reality, still the by far vast majority of go books avoids all generalisation like hell.

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we sacrifice specific knowledge whenever we attempt to formalize generalizations.


To repeat, the ALWAYS TRUE absolute principles (as a form of formalised generalisations) do NOT sacrifice any specific knowledge. (Although they might summarise parts of it.)

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never give us less than 2,000 "ideas"/"principles" about how Go should be played.


Counting numbers has little relevance; instead, the impact of every single idea matters.

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many discussions with Japanese pros [...] when pressed, their opinion is based upon specific calculations.


Surprise! How do you manage to get those statements? In my many discussions with Japanese (or other) pros, their opinion turned out to be based mostly on 1) having no idea, 2) intuition or 3) reading / calculation. (Rarely ever reasoning because their analytical skills are, also according to themselves, small to essentially absent.)

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The general principles are an overlay rather than the foundation of what they say.


If they come up with any at all!

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The general principles laid down are too abstract to even explain the moves played by the authors, much less their success against their opponents.


This only shows that those authors fail to break down very general principles. - In my books, you can find counter-examples of breaking down very general principles to less general principles!

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Far too many counter examples are to be found in the overall practice of the masters


Too many for what?

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How can we be so conceited to think that we know better?


Because now (still too few) authors capable of teaching general principles well exist!

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Post #51 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:32 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
It seems this whole business is exercising chess trainers and writers an awful lot. I've not found any evidence that it's exercising modern players yet.


No big surprise for a rather highly tactical game like Chess! It is similar to still almost non-existing applicable general advice on life and death in Go (apart from the well known basics).

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- which could be one way to promote speed of recognition, no?


Recognition of a word? :)

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That adds a little perspective to our problems with differences between English and the Oriental go vocabulary!


Which problem?:) Forget about most Asian words and use easy to understand terms!

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Post #52 Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:34 am 
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daal wrote:
don't get too bogged down by the concept of principles


There are also other general means such as analysis, methods or procedures.

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Post #53 Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:25 am 
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RobertJasiek wrote:
daal wrote:
don't get too bogged down by the concept of principles


There are also other general means such as analysis, methods or procedures.


Yes, and also: recognition.

Simplified, the idea is that when faced with a board position, it may be more efficient to recall the outcome of a similar situation than to analyze it by whatever means - at least that is what this new wave of chess trainers appears to be postulating.

Regarding go, several questions about this approach pop to mind.

Can recognition be as effective in go as in chess?
What do professional go players actually do? (I'd like to see a few hooked up to a brain scanner).
Is there a way of comparing the two training strategies?
Are the same training methods as efficient for amateurs as for pros?

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Post #54 Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:59 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
McDonald also strongly admires Nimzo's chess. But at the same time he accuses him of "too much unnecessary systematising in his books (I challenge you to find one player who knows the five special cases of the seventh rank)".

He later says, "it is possible to be both delighted and annoyed by Nimzowitsch at the same time. His books consist of brilliant gems of chess advice mixed with a wearisome over-systematising. Nimzowitsch's writing has humour and colour, and his boastfulness is touching, rather than irritating; but at times it is heavy going".

From what I can see, this seems to represent a common view of Nimzo today.

I'm a Go beginner, but a decent Chess player (2100 rating). I've read Nimzo's books and love them dearly (read them in German if you can), but the above opinion is spot-on IMO. The criticism on Kotov's Think like a Grandmaster boils down to that he advocates an idealized methodical tree-like thought process that doesn't fit the way most people think and is therefore not the most efficient. John, you may like "Improve your Chess now" by Jonathan Tisdall, who spends some time on Kotov and puts forward a more realistic approach to in-game analysis/calculation.

The trend in Chess toward concretization was hugely supported by Chess computers. Time and again the engines found new possibilities (especially in defense), refutations etc that noone thought of before. This caused both an enormous widening of scope as to possibilities in the game (which is good), but also an Opening Armament Race that all Chess professionals need to succumb to in order to play at high level (which is a mixed blessing).

For you strong Go players: is it possible that - because Go programs aren't so strong yet - there could still be many undiscovered possibilities in Go, moves that noone would play right now, but that turn out to be correct after all, just like as happened in Chess?

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Post #55 Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:26 am 
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I have been continuing my perambulations in the chess world, and it really is enjoyable. One thing that caught my eye today was a story about an entrepreneur seeking venture capital by challenging a top business pro (a founder of Paypal) to a game of chess. The link is http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/entre ... chess-game.

But what I noticed most was the following quote from an interview the entrepreneur gave to a business magazine. Maybe unfairly, it struck me as nonsense and a perfect, if unintended, explanation of why the entrepreneur was in the position of having to seek help from a top pro.

Quote:
The strategy element is so important in business with forecasting and predicting outcomes in a structured way. You have to see the variation trees. (...) You might be in a bad chess position for hours in a tournament, and you have to train yourself to fight through the mental pain. Conversely, if you are winning in a game, you might have the tendency to become overconfident, and blow it. The game isn't over until its over is the bottom line. This mental precision that comes from chess preparation is extremely applicable for business deals. Until the deal is signed, the game isn't over.


My fairly extensive experience of top businessman (I met many while working as an economics correspondent) is that they are like top go pros. They have learnt their skills from childhood, selling marbles to other kiddies in the school playground. By the time they are old enough to go into real business, they can see opportunities and trends just by "recognising" them. People who yearn to go into business only in later life may devise a business plan with forecasts and predictions simply because they lack the skill set that "born" dealmakers have (or because their bank requires it before they'll make a loan), and they may even work to ths plan and make a decent living. But for the most part they are very unlikely to become big names in the business world.

The parallel with go is obvious to me, and that brings me to daal's list:

Quote:
Can recognition be as effective in go as in chess?
What do professional go players actually do? (I'd like to see a few hooked up to a brain scanner).
Is there a way of comparing the two training strategies?
Are the same training methods as efficient for amateurs as for pros?


I think the answer to the first one is easy, if you apply it to pros. Recognition (based on many hours of work) is the only way to become a top pro. I don't think there is a single counterexample, and even if there were it would be outweighed heavily by all the other instances. The answer to the second question I think has already been given in the famous chess paper by psychologist Adriaan de Groot. This favours the "recognition" model (indeed, I think it started this line of thought) and I don't think it's ever been gainsaid. The answer to the third question seems subsumed in the fourth one, which I think is the really interesting one here.

What I think happens with some chess trainers, and no doubt it happens in go and even in more important professions, is that they work really hard to become strong and some, being a certain type of person, do this in a methodical or systematic way. This helps them become strong and so the effect becomes self-reinforcing. Eventually they reach a certain point where they are satisfied and look back on their years of toil. They become convinced that it was their discovery of a system that made them strong. I'm of the school (like Hendriks, I gather) that believes this is delusional. What made these people strong was the huge amount of work they put in. They way they formulated their thoughts was personal to them and was just superficially significant. The same thing seems to happen with writers who write about systems designed to help you succeed in business. They claim to spot the fundamentals or the trends based on examination of previously successful companies. They too are probably deluded (or why aren't they running their own companies?).

I think this is what happened to Nimzowitsch, though he was exceptional in that he was able to ignore his System as necessary, and so he became a top player rather than a trainer. In fact, Garry Kasparov ranked him as 5th best in the world of his time - but did not put him in "My Great Predecessors", even though he included non-world champions such as Sammy Reshevsky. Here is an interesting link to "My System": http://www.grossclub.com/books/my-syste ... eview.html in that connection.

But at the end of this learning process a System exists on paper (at least I think it does in Nimzo's case: I've never actually seen a synoptic description of Nimzo's System - just a jumble of "proverbs"), or in the case of the chess trainers Hendriks describes, they have a large collection of sorted and graded examples. It's understandable to want to make some use of it. Already deluded into thinking their systems made them strong, the trainers start to believe their collections can make other people strong. Is that a delusion too?

I'm not sure. I lean heavily towards saying yes it is a delusion, or at best a case of wish fulfilment, since a trainer who has spent so many years becoming strong but not strong enough to be a playing pro probably wants to justify all that time spent and to stay in the chess business. On the other hand, it is easy to make a case that insights learned can help other players short circuit the process of becoming a strong player. I think it would be very hard to gainsay that at one level, simply because I believe most of us can recall how a proverb or other piece of advice magically opened up new vistas. But I say "at one level" because I think this only applies at amateur level. Systems or proverbs have virtually no relevance to those who are destined to try to become pro. They just have to work devilishly hard and the only sort of advice that works for them is at the macro level ("study the games of Shuei" - but only if given at the right time).

Even at amateur level, though, I think it's fair to query the use of systems. Looking at our London Chess Centre bookshop, I see thousands of books and videos on groaning shelves. A very high proportion of them are on openings and so are, almost by definition, highly systematic. But such huge numbers of books on the same topics convince me even more that what happens in the real world is that people buy a book looking for a quick fix, and when that doesn't work they try another book, or a video and - like the famous "fleas that bite 'em" - so on ad infinitum. As a go writer I shouldn't really be saying this, but the remedy is probably not another book but a cilice, or whatever you need to force you to work. It would be interesting tp known how many amateurs with a Fujisawa Hideyuki "Shissui no kokorozashi" fan also bought (and used) a thigh-pricking awl to go with it. Not many, I'll be bound.

On the other hand, those amateurs who do exclusively use the hard work/recognition model can become very strong - GoGoD's own T Mark Hall is the exemplar perhaps?

So are chess/go trainers/writers, whether consciously or under a delusion, taking unfair advantage of likewise deluded amateurs? I find this hard to answer. It could well be the wrong question. In my own case, at any rate, I would claim that I have nearly always focused on entertainment and the only contribution I might then claim towards a player's improvement in strength is possibly thus helping with the motivation to work hard. I am a metaphorical awl! But I think that even those who write about technical aspects such as opening preparation can reasonably claim the same. They may not use history or anecdotes or whatever, but a flash of technical insight - a proverb even - can be just as entertaining and motivating. Still, I can't shake the conviction that trying to do that in a systematic way is ultimately a blind alley, even if it helps presentationally with selling books. Following a system can get in the way of doing the necessary hard work, and unless you can afford a personal trainer, a generalised system may not be suitable for your particular needs, and so could even be harmful.

On the other hand, if such books and approaches help amateur chess/go-players do the equivalent of helping business "amateurs" earn a decent living doing something they enjoy, or to "live the dream", should they not be supported and encouraged? After all, at least 95% of the populations of the chess and go worlds are amateurs of the amo, amas, amat variety.

@ Konijntje: special thanks for the reference to Jon Tisdall. I worked daily with him for a long time on the MSO site but lost touch after that and hadn't realised he was putting out books. All the more reason for me to continue ny chess peregrinations!


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Post #56 Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:14 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
My fairly extensive experience of top businessman (I met many while working as an economics correspondent) is that they are like top go pros. They have learnt their skills from childhood, selling marbles to other kiddies in the school playground. By the time they are old enough to go into real business, they can see opportunities and trends just by "recognising" them. People who yearn to go into business only in later life may devise a business plan with forecasts and predictions simply because they lack the skill set that "born" dealmakers have (or because their bank requires it before they'll make a loan), and they may even work to ths plan and make a decent living. But for the most part they are very unlikely to become big names in the business world.


This an interesting pertinent comment John, and brings me to an observation of mine in a similar vein: I've done quite a bit of working worth PR/advertising/marketeering types, and aside from the research side of PR (opinion polling and the like), those that go out there to sell or to convince tend to have a personality type that belongs to a specific subset of personality types. Aggressive is probably too strong a word, but those who are assertive, charismatic, empathic, and good at inherently knowing what the person or company being sold to is likely to want all seem to be vital traits. I suspect there's a large nature vs nuture argument to be had here, but I wonder if there is a similar aspect to those capable of being top go or chess players. The intuitive instinct you see may indeed be (and I'm sure it is) a product of learning and experience, but there may be a very large impact simply on personality type. There may be an inclination to simply take the bull by the horns in an uncertain situation by feeling a flow that suits the attitude of the player. Of course there are huge variations in the styles of successful people, but those that don't seem to have that level of instinctive dynamism normally have apparent histories of insane levels of hard work (Lee Changho, Vladimir Kramnik etc), whereas those with "the gift" or whatever we call the natural inclination towards instinctive brilliance just "got there" (Cho Hun-hyeon, Garry Kasparov, Magnus Carlsen), even though it obviously requires plenty of effort too.

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Post #57 Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:47 pm 
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daal wrote:
also: recognition.


The "also" is the important point about "recognition". It is not the all or nothing tool replacing the other general tools well.

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Post #58 Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:33 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
My fairly extensive experience of top businessman (I met many while working as an economics correspondent) is that they are like top go pros. They have learnt their skills from childhood, selling marbles to other kiddies in the school playground. By the time they are old enough to go into real business, they can see opportunities and trends just by "recognising" them. People who yearn to go into business only in later life may devise a business plan with forecasts and predictions simply because they lack the skill set that "born" dealmakers have (or because their bank requires it before they'll make a loan), and they may even work to ths plan and make a decent living. But for the most part they are very unlikely to become big names in the business world.
While there's probably a good amount of truth to this, there's a pitfall as well. We may observe that most successful businessmen rely on recognition of trends and patterns for decision making, but it is extremely difficult to observe whether unsuccessful businessmen (who likely outnumber the successful ones) were also doing the same. In my own experience, there are also a lot of business types who constantly make the wrong decision because they try too hard to match a situation to an existing pattern (or case) that they know rather than thinking about the situation analytically. I tend to think that massive success (as opposed to just plain ol' success) tends to have a massive luck component.


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 Post subject: Re: Recognition vs understanding
Post #59 Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:36 am 
Dies with sente

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RobertJasiek wrote:

This kind of "correct move" guessing leads to 5 different professionals insisting on 5 different moves each as the only correct move... (As it occurred when they commented on a game of mine.)


Robert, it would be interesting if you could post the game position and the 5 different comments. If so, please make it a new topic. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Recognition vs understanding
Post #60 Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:30 am 
Gosei

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Konijntje wrote:
For you strong Go players: is it possible that - because Go programs aren't so strong yet - there could still be many undiscovered possibilities in Go, moves that noone would play right now, but that turn out to be correct after all, just like as happened in Chess?


Regardless of whether go playing programs are strong or not it seems clear to me that there are many moves that wouldn't be played now by pros, say, but that are actually quite playable (correct). We've seen this happen many times in the past 20 years with the rise of Chinese and Korean professionals. Moves that were denegrated by the Japanese pros and wouldn't be played by them turned out to be quite acceptable.


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