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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #101 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:28 am 
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Tami wrote:
Tami wrote:
On the other hand, I hold a more extreme position than knotwilg in that if there is a single move correct and several similar, and different pros choose different moves, then they don't have a style but are just wrong, even if the only way of knowing is employing Alpha-Zero 10.0 on a Quantum Supercomputer some year in the 2050's.


But if there is ever a choice of correct moves (i.e., moves that lead to victory or, if victory is not the proper outcome, then to a forced draw by triple ko or whatever), then is there not room for taste and style in making the choice?

Given that solving go is unimaginably way beyond the capacity of human beings, then surely it's more than a little harsh to dismiss our best efforts or even just our efforts as merely wrong because they fall short of the standards of a yet-to-be-invented AI? Don't we even get credit for trying or for the manner in which we try?


I agree. If we employ a strict definition of Style regarding only correct moves, then no one will have much Style and the concept will be impractical.

So Style must be used with with a reference point for correct moves. And I agree with Knotwilg in that the most practical bar for us humans is around 7 dan EGF or pro level. But even from a pro perspective, everyone has some sort of personality they apply to the game with their limited understanding, everyone has some sort of style, albeit an underdeveloped one. This underdeveloped style is what I call the Proto-Style, and I think this is what we should mean when we refer to style among 'kyu' players. I also think it's a bit harsh to say beginners have no style— surely they do, even before the first go game.

And I think that 'dan' players are usually on there way to refining their style into a True Style.

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Last edited by Elom on Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #102 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:40 am 
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Tami wrote:
I wanted to add - turning to chess again as the example - what should we make of, say, Mikhail Tal? Should we admire his creativity and ingenuity any less because even moderately strong players (not to mention AI) can find flaws in his moves post hoc? I suppose go's equivalent is Lee Sedol.

And, I don't think the chess scene has become boring. Top-class games are still great entertainment, and exciting new ideas are being found all the time. I'm not convinced the advent of strong chess engines has hurt the game at all. And players have recognisable styles in chess, too, and even now. Carlsen, Nakamura and Karjakin are all very different.


To add to that, I was a little confused as to why some were speaking of Alpha Zero as the end of chess. It's surely the complete opposite when you think of the influence of engine play upon humans. From my perspective, Alpha Zero obliterated the notion that the tactical, materialistic and draw-prone style of the alpha-beta engines was somehow the correct way to play chess with a masterclass in positional elegance.

Style is the humanisation of strategy.

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #103 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:17 am 
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Elom wrote:

So Style must be used with with a reference point for correct moves. And I agree with Knotwilg in that the most practical bar for us humans is around 7 dan EGF or pro level. But even from a pro perspective, everyone has some sort of personality they apply to the game with their limited understanding, everyone has some sort of style, albeit an underdeveloped one. This underdeveloped style is what I call the Proto-Style, and I think this is what we should mean when we refer to style among 'kyu' players. I also think it's a bit harsh to say beginners have no style— surely they do, even before the first go game.

And I think that 'dan' players are usually on there way to refining their style into a True Style.


Sorry if it seems like I'm trying too hard to get the last word...but I'd be a bit miffed if I were 6 dan EGF, and found myself being thrown in the "proto-style" pond. Do we have to have a bar?

Can't we just accept that even weak players can have styles, albeit relatively crude ones? And that strong players have more sophisticated styles? And that some people are stronger than others? That style doesn't have to be a function of strength, though finding one's style can be practically a good thing as it enables one to play comfortably?

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Post #104 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:48 am 
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gowan wrote:
Couldn't there be situations in a game, possibly frequently, where different moves can be called "best"? In such a situation a thick move and a territorial move both could be equally "best". Then your style would be determined by what you choose to play.


It could, but I think it's rarer than people like to admit.
Most of the time (especially after the opening) there is, in fact, a best move, I believe.
The choice between thick or territorial might be very small, though.

And then "style" might get in the way of your choice.

But OF COURSE the difference could be minimal. And since you're playing as a human being, the "inferior" choice might actually give you more confidence and allow you to carry on better than had you played the "correcter" move.

But then, as Tami suggests, you're playing the Art form of Go. And I do believe in Go as an Art.

But in Go as the 19x19 grid game, playing for the best possible outcome, style could have no saying.

Basically I think it's a difference in how you approach the game. I'd rather do it as an art form or a way of communicating myself. That's what's so great about Go. But then you have to accept that you won't make the most optimal choice every time. For an amateur, that's okay, because you'll never make the optimal choice anyway. For a strong pro, it's okay, too. Because even they don't make the optimal choice every time. But mathematically, it does matter. In mathematics, there is no style.
I hope I'm bringing my point across. :)

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Post #105 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:23 am 
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There is a style in mathematics. Greek mathematicians wrote theorems in a very different way than modern mathematicians. Even recent mathematicians may have very different styles: Arnold was famous for disliking the Bourbaki school.

In short: there are many paths that lead to knowledge. Similarly in Go, there may exist many ways to win a game.


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Post #106 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:07 am 
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Ian Butler wrote:
gowan wrote:
Couldn't there be situations in a game, possibly frequently, where different moves can be called "best"? In such a situation a thick move and a territorial move both could be equally "best". Then your style would be determined by what you choose to play.


It could, but I think it's rarer than people like to admit.
Most of the time (especially after the opening) there is, in fact, a best move, I believe.
The choice between thick or territorial might be very small, though.

And then "style" might get in the way of your choice.

But OF COURSE the difference could be minimal. And since you're playing as a human being, the "inferior" choice might actually give you more confidence and allow you to carry on better than had you played the "correcter" move.

But then, as Tami suggests, you're playing the Art form of Go. And I do believe in Go as an Art.

But in Go as the 19x19 grid game, playing for the best possible outcome, style could have no saying.

Basically I think it's a difference in how you approach the game. I'd rather do it as an art form or a way of communicating myself. That's what's so great about Go. But then you have to accept that you won't make the most optimal choice every time. For an amateur, that's okay, because you'll never make the optimal choice anyway. For a strong pro, it's okay, too. Because even they don't make the optimal choice every time. But mathematically, it does matter. In mathematics, there is no style.
I hope I'm bringing my point across. :)


Well, heaven forfend that go should ever be reduced to mere mathematics in our lifetimes.

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #107 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:21 am 
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Tami wrote:
Ian Butler wrote:
In mathematics, there is no style.
I hope I'm bringing my point across. :)


Well, heaven forfend that go should ever be reduced to mere mathematics in our lifetimes.


Math is poetry. :cool:

Written in mathlish, OC. ;)

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Post #108 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:02 pm 
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Bill Spight wrote:
Tami wrote:
Ian Butler wrote:
In mathematics, there is no style.
I hope I'm bringing my point across. :)


Well, heaven forfend that go should ever be reduced to mere mathematics in our lifetimes.


Math is poetry. :cool:

Written in mathlish, OC. ;)


Yeah...maybe I could have phrased myself a bit better. I mean, without mathematics, there is no beauty. (My own field, music, is in many ways mathematics made audible...though with many fudgings, such as Equal Temperament.)

I just cannot accept the view that go is only mathematics. There is something about the other side's view in this debate that disturbs me greatly, which is why I've argued my side so hotly.

Still, I can't recall an online discussion that I've enjoyed more, so many thanks to Knotwilg for starting it!

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Post #109 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:13 pm 
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Tami wrote:
Ian Butler wrote:
gowan wrote:
Couldn't there be situations in a game, possibly frequently, where different moves can be called "best"? In such a situation a thick move and a territorial move both could be equally "best". Then your style would be determined by what you choose to play.


It could, but I think it's rarer than people like to admit.
Most of the time (especially after the opening) there is, in fact, a best move, I believe.
The choice between thick or territorial might be very small, though.

And then "style" might get in the way of your choice.

But OF COURSE the difference could be minimal. And since you're playing as a human being, the "inferior" choice might actually give you more confidence and allow you to carry on better than had you played the "correcter" move.

But then, as Tami suggests, you're playing the Art form of Go. And I do believe in Go as an Art.

But in Go as the 19x19 grid game, playing for the best possible outcome, style could have no saying.

Basically I think it's a difference in how you approach the game. I'd rather do it as an art form or a way of communicating myself. That's what's so great about Go. But then you have to accept that you won't make the most optimal choice every time. For an amateur, that's okay, because you'll never make the optimal choice anyway. For a strong pro, it's okay, too. Because even they don't make the optimal choice every time. But mathematically, it does matter. In mathematics, there is no style.
I hope I'm bringing my point across. :)


Well, heaven forfend that go should ever be reduced to mere mathematics in our lifetimes.


Hear hear!

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Post #110 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:17 pm 
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jlt wrote:
There is a style in mathematics. Greek mathematicians wrote theorems in a very different way than modern mathematicians. Even recent mathematicians may have very different styles: Arnold was famous for disliking the Bourbaki school.

In short: there are many paths that lead to knowledge. Similarly in Go, there may exist many ways to win a game.


Sure.
But Go is a competitive game. It's like saying: the one wth the shortest theorem wins. Of course, we as humans much prefer the most beautiful theorem, and that's why Go is interesting. That is where style comes into play.
But again I do believe that you can't be ruled by style IF you want to play optimal Every single move. Since that isn't humanly possible anyway, it's a useless discussion point perhaps. :)

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Post #111 Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:46 am 
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I confess I have been bemused by this thread, both by the question posed in the title itself and especially by the passion it invoked in some. But I happened to read something today (about advertising) that seems to explain it. It's a generational thing.

Apparently (according to Dan Hitchens in the Spectator), when I was a young adult advertising slogans were "pragmatic" ("Go to work on an egg"), catchy ("Beans meanz Heinz") or flattering ("Because you're worth it"). And the Burger King slogan was prosaically "Have it your way".

But the advertising industry has shifted ground and is now focusing much more on emotional states and self-expression.

Burger King has therefore changed to an existential "Be your way", Bacardi has "Do what moves you", Toyota has "Go your own way", Ellesse has "My style is who I am", Nike had "Just do it" then moved on to "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."

Hitchens calls this "meaning-of-life advertising." He does not mention another noticeable trend that this seems to have encouraged: self-identification. It's always been with us, especially when people believe they are a genius. I've just been playing some music by James Scott Skinner who identified himself as a genius a century ago. Pleasant enough melodies but I don't think Mozart need worry. We saw it in chess with Nimzovich ("Why must I lose to this idiot?") but he wasn't even clever enough to understand irony. But nowadays we've got people claiming to be whatever and because self-expression is the new religion, we are not even supposed to criticise them. Untrammelled self-expression and untrammelled self-identification: that's a heady cocktail! I don't drink, but SE&SI on the rocks would be one possible explanation for my bemusement :)

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Post #112 Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:51 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
But nowadays we've got people claiming to be whatever and because self-expression is the new religion, we are not even supposed to criticise them.


I can't speak for others, but my claim in this thread wasn't to "be whatever" or to "self-express". Rather, my claim was that "style" can simply mean a "manner of doing something", as I'll quote for a third time now.

google define wrote:
style
stīl/Submit
noun
1.
a manner of doing something.
"different styles of management"
synonyms: manner, way, technique, method, methodology, approach, system, mode, form, modus operandi; More
2.
a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.
"the pillars are no exception to the general style"


And yes, I get that there are different ways of using the word. And maybe in latin it means something else (perhaps even having a different nuance if it's in Katakana :-p). But it seems that there are different interpretations of what we can call "style", and depending on what definition you choose, you'll have different ideas about whether amateurs can have style.

Can amateurs have a particular manner of playing? Certainly. Is this the same as style? Depends on how you define the word - based on google define's definition... yes.

---

So let's assume the definition that some people seem to be getting at: having "style" implies not only having particular tendencies, but also having some degree of skill. I don't think anybody would argue that the typical amateur is as skilled as a professional.

So I have to assume we're simply referring to different definitions of style.

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Post #113 Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:31 am 
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Things are not black & white of course, but I would indeed claim that a bigger portion of mankind 50 years ago would try to become good at something, even if that meant being almost indistinguishable from others at the activity/skill, whereas today a bigger portion wants to be themselves at something, even if that means staying mediocre. I think the paradox of being original and mediocre is what keeps triggering my sense of irony in this discussion.

Now I'm not judging those who defend the "amateurs can have style" position. As said, I grant anyone the right to believe they are indeed original in their way of playing go and they certainly do so with an intention. Tami has shown she can recognize who I am in games. I'll speak for myself in that I'd rather sacrifice personality for skill. Which leads to the paradox in my own position: if you need to sacrifice personality for skill, how come professionals DO have style? (I'll solve the paradox: I think improvement means converging to the norm first, then deviate again).


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Post #114 Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:39 am 
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I agree that unique and creative play by skilled individuals comes after having strong foundations in the norm.

For example, I have no doubt that Takemiya can play in a conventional fashion, and beat the amateurs here on L19.

Speaking of which, I recall at a US go congess that Takemiya was asked how he came to have his unique cosmic style. At the time, he replied that it just came about that way, and he didn't forcibly intend to have that style.

I think we amateurs should follow suit: try to play well. Unique characteristics may show up in our play, but this is not an objective.

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Post #115 Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:21 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
As said, I grant anyone the right to believe they are indeed original in their way of playing go and they certainly do so with an intention.


But that has nothing to do with style. Style is just a way to describe the way someone play outside of good/bad. If you say "this player like to play for influence", you're already giving him a style.

It doesn't mean "something unique and original, that someone do with full intention". Or at least, it's not how I use this word.

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Post #116 Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:30 am 
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Quote:
Knotwilg: I would indeed claim that a bigger portion of mankind 50 years ago would try to become good at something, even if that meant being almost indistinguishable from others at the activity/skill, whereas today a bigger portion wants to be themselves at something, even if that means staying mediocre.


Grounds for the claim?

While we feel something was better in the past, most of the time when we look at the numbers we will find a different story. This is related to how our brain works.

Quote:
... sacrifice personality for skill ...

My opponents normaly try to win. I have not met players yet, who insist on playing stylish moves, while loosing game after game.

Do I sense a strawman fallacy here?

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Post #117 Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:40 am 
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Gomoto wrote:
While we feel something was better in the past, most of the time when we look at the numbers we will find a different story.


Grounds for the claim?

Quote:
My opponents normaly try to win. I have not met players yet, who insist on playing stylish moves, while loosing game after game.

Do I sense a strawman fallacy here?


I said "I will gladly give up some personality if that improves my skill". How could that be a strawman?
I didn't say "People rather play original moves than trying to win". Tami claims having a personal style helps her winning. My claim is that skill beats personality, when it comes to winning. They are not mutually exclusive but I do think that focusing on personality (or style) detracts from developing skill.

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Post #118 Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:55 am 
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Grounds for the claim:

Knotwilg, do you know some german?

http://www.spiegel.de/thema/frueher_war_alles_schlechter/

A series of articles about some examples, were most people think the past was better, but in reality the situation has improved nowadays.

Backed up by numbers ;-)

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Post #119 Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:00 am 
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My claim is that skill beats personality, when it comes to winning.


Nobody claims personality beats skill, when it comes to winning that is the strawman ;-)

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Post #120 Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:32 am 
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The want to be part of a team seems similar to the want to be be unique. On that note, I'll try to keep the game temperature low...

John Fairbairn wrote:
..."meaning-of-life advertising"...


And the trend of thinking from 'find a stable and respectable job' to 'how to get rich' to 'how to find my purpose/ work I find meaningful' (sorry if I'm going off-topic here).

One thing to note is that the insurgence of AI could be helping to fuel this soul-searching. Now a robot can do what I do? The same may be happening to amateurs in go.

It seems that creativity advertising is a ripple in the same wave, and for that reason it may be best to promote go from that angle— can you get good enough to have a True Style? It might work in the same way 'become best go player' fantasies did or 'become a pro' did. I think it's a healthier alternative to them.

Knotwilg wrote:
...I think improvement means converging to the norm first, then deviate again...


So Style is intrinsically linked to the deepest human understanding of the game.
So when Go was first played most of us would probably have qualified as having a style. Now we can say we have sensibility, but not quite Style as admirably defined.

Kirby wrote:
I agree that unique and creative play by skilled individuals comes after having strong foundations in the norm.

For example, I have no doubt that Takemiya can play in a conventional fashion, and beat the amateurs here on L19.

Speaking of which, I recall at a US go congess that Takemiya was asked how he came to have his unique cosmic style. At the time, he replied that it just came about that way, and he didn't forcibly intend to have that style.

I think we amateurs should follow suit: try to play well. Unique characteristics may show up in our play, but this is not an objective.


This seems to confirm the above; everyone has a personality they approach the goal of scoring more points with. Increasing your understanding of the game enables you to do this better. For example, if one hadn't learnt (or figured out) that the 3-3 point focuses on territory and has little direction of play, that person may play something else they think is territorial even if it's not. The player will develop a Proto-Style (their play is based on a false understanding) or if better than that a Semi-Style (Like True Style but not quite there yet), and also a sensibility (their games will be unique), but upon new knowledge will play at the 3-3 points (maybe showing a preference for sure things and being on one's own). But similar might be said by AI for professionals and their understanding of the game. What we define as 'correct' is really 'pro opinion on what is correct' which has now become 'AI opinion on what is correct' (may Lee Changho do well!).

I think there's also phenomena such as players that seem gentle but are aggressive and bold in play and business decisions (more detail on this may be off-topic :) ). This aspect leans towards the personality and go topic created a while back.

To end this bizarre post, we could say that Style is Skill. The theory goes; attempts at being original for the sake of being original are pretentious ploys not related to the idea of Style at all. Style is playing with a certain strategy, which requires a greater understanding of the parts of the game related to it. Just as Mass and Energy are really the same in Einsteins equations, not even different forms of each other but different interpretations of the same phenomenon (or sides of the same coin if you will), Style and Skill are really the same thing.

Maybe some get better best by developing a coherent strategy again and again, and developing the specific skills required to carry it out better. A strategy, not a show, much in line with their soul.

Others may do better learning all they can and experimenting with different strategies, letting style arise from the scrapheap.

Everyone uses a combination of both; the amount of each technique best for each person is dependent upon each person themselves. So I guess it makes sense to start of studying many different pros and then choosing one to study more...

Maybe your Style is within you just waiting to be expressed, needing enough go Skill to be.

Maybe that is what the Divine Move is really about, because Ultimate Style can only be achieved by a perfect player.

Maybe my writing is often ridiculously philosophical musings on the simplest of matters in long rude walls of text with little reason or rhyme. I can try to refine it so that it is somewhat digestible, but remnants of my Proto-Style will most likely always remain :lol: .

Now I'm reminded of a method suggested for finding one's purpose, an perhaps go style too: find a compromise between something effective or solving a problem (leaves impact), you like, and can do well. Well it was something along those lines anyway. And don't be impatient about the impact bit.

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