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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #81 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:49 pm 
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This page on Sensei's Library has brief descriptions of a the style of a number of well known pros: https://senseis.xmp.net/?ProfessionalPlayersGoStyles Looking at how pros describe style of their own and other pros might help is deciding whether amateurs can have a style.


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Post #82 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:59 pm 
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gowan wrote:
This page on Sensei's Library has brief descriptions of a the style of a number of well known pros: https://senseis.xmp.net/?ProfessionalPlayersGoStyles Looking at how pros describe style of their own and other pros might help is deciding whether amateurs can have a style.


Most of the descriptions on that page seem too generic: who does not "fight tenaciously when behind"? :-)

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Post #83 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:35 pm 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Moving this discussion from Rikuge's study journal, Rikuge said he wanted to discover his style (later refined that to finding out what his strengths and weakness are, which I find a very laudible objective). I said, somewhat cheeky, that all of us have amateurish style. Ian Butler jumped in to say:

Quote:
While you are probably right, and I've heard this said before, I don't quite agree with this. I feel even amateur/low/... players can have their own style of playing. Some naturally play for influence, some are very fight-oriented, some are actually very flexibel and will play to match their opponent. Some make the game more complex and profit from that, while others play simple but solidly... Obviously it's not good to pin down on a certain style as an amateur (or ever), you should always experiment, try out new things, look at the situation and handle it as required. But I feel style can be applied on other levels than the professionals' as well. I feel it's unfair to take style away from us just because we're not professional :D

Compare it to this: I am definitely not a professional guitar player, far from it. Yet in my amateur ways, I have a certain style of playing. A friend of mine is another guitar player, with a whole other style. Even though we're both amateurs, you can see (or rather, hear) the difference well enough.

I believe that also goes for Go. Perhaps I am mistaken completely. Or perhaps I have a different definition of the word "style".

Or maybe style at a low level is only a way to tell what weaknesses are in our play... (my style is solid -> don't play fast enough. my style is peaceful -> you can't fight well enough. I am a territorial player -> you don't know how to use influence)


On the analogy with music, I think it's flawed and I don't like analogies as a rhetoric device (well, they are good rethoric devices but rarely good arguments).

While professional go may be an art, and oriental culture has viewed Go as an art, I find Go to be a skill. At our level, the deficiencies in our skill outweigh any difference in style. When I'm reviewing games, I cannot figure out what someone's style is. Often their play is incoherent. When I review my games, I see the mistakes, not the style. I may have certain intentions or preferences, for example I prefer playing White because I think komi favors White in a game full of mistakes. I prefer 4-4 because I like to keep things simple in the opening. I would like to emulate Otake's thick play, making a difference in the endgame. That's as close as I get to "style". However, I'm sure Otake wouldn't recognize the least bit of his style in my games.

It's not entirely impossible. The infamous "Captain" on KGS had some sort of style, even if he was only 3-4 dan.

Yearning/pretending to have a "style" is a sign of putting the e before go. My guitar style is bad, my go style is bad, my table tennis style, though attacking oriented, is still quite bad ... The only activity in which I can probably claim to have a style, is my professional one.

That's my strong opinion. How about yours?


Very interesting. I used to hold the same position, still do, mostly. But I also thought about it over the years and now I think it might be more complex than I thought initially. My initial though was "Amateurs are too weak to have style. Weak pros, too."

Now I realize, this is a matter of perspective.

I am thinking about poker. When looking at a strong player, we can probably figure out his "style". We can look at different kinds of hands, and what the player usually does when holding these hands. We can discover a pattern. But this relies on one simple assumption - the player and I, we agree on which hands are "similar", or of the same type. For example - we both agree witch hand is weak and which is strong, and in what situation. Then we can match the usual behavior to the particular kind of hand and we can call it a "style".

Of course, the above is a gross oversimplification, but for the sake of this particular argument, it should be enough of an illustration.

Same in Go. We can tell about a player that "in this kind of position, he usually plays like that" - and this is his/her style.

Now, what if we evaluate positions (or poker hands) differently?

I am a pitifully weak poker player, but every now and then I find myself playing newbies, and my mind boggles. They fold strong hands, and they go all-in with weak ones. Then they do the opposite. How can this be any kind of "style"?? Its just crazy, inconsistent! Its like playing in crazy-town, can't predict anything, can't count on anything, each response is confusing. It is actually quite hard to play against that in poker - although in Go it is easier.

Then I catch myself thinking - for the newbie, their play is consistent, I just have to figure out why they evaluate hands differently than I do. Which hands do THEY think are weak, and which are strong, and the pattern will usually emerge.

Same with Go. I will usually play in a certain way in a specific kind of position. This is my "style". Problem is - a pro will look at all these specific positions and will put them in completely different categories, and my "style" will be no style at all, just chaos and confusion and stupidity. But to myself, or to a player close to my own level who evaluates positions similarly - my "style" will be real, and he will often be able to predict me, and disrupt me. Just like I can do to other players I know.

But to a pro, I am just an amateur, much too weak to have "style", making moves all over the place, without any rhyme or reason.

So - this way, I think "style" is a matter of perspective. You can see "style" of players above you (sometimes) and around you (usually), but not always of those lower than you. For top pros, obviously, most everybody is lower than them, so all they might see in our games are chaos, and no "style' at all. But this is only because our underlying organization is so different. From our perspective, our "styles" are crystal clear to ourselves.

What just occurred to me is that by observing pros games, maybe we should pay less attention to "style" (i.e. he played like this is that kind of position) - but more to why do the pros group and evaluate certain positions similarly and others not so. Might be nothing, but maybe we can learn something if we ask the question: Which positions look "similar" to a pro? I don't think I have ever heard this questions asked, let alone answered. Just thinking out lout here.

PS>
Or maybe "style" is something completely different and all I am saying is garbage. ;)
Back to OP - Not sure the music comparison is appropriate here. But maybe it is. I KNOW I was never a good enough guitar player to have style. I just did the few things I knew how again and again, since this is all I knew. But is that "style"? I am not good enough to comment on this, just going by my gut feeling that guitar and Go is different wrt this topic.

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #84 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:11 am 
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Bantari wrote:
I am a pitifully weak poker player, but every now and then I find myself playing newbies, and my mind boggles. They fold strong hands, and they go all-in with weak ones. Then they do the opposite. How can this be any kind of "style"?? Its just crazy, inconsistent! Its like playing in crazy-town, can't predict anything, can't count on anything, each response is confusing. It is actually quite hard to play against that in poker - although in Go it is easier.

Then I catch myself thinking - for the newbie, their play is consistent, I just have to figure out why they evaluate hands differently than I do. Which hands do THEY think are weak, and which are strong, and the pattern will usually emerge.

Same with Go. I will usually play in a certain way in a specific kind of position. This is my "style". Problem is - a pro will look at all these specific positions and will put them in completely different categories, and my "style" will be no style at all, just chaos and confusion and stupidity. But to myself, or to a player close to my own level who evaluates positions similarly - my "style" will be real, and he will often be able to predict me, and disrupt me. Just like I can do to other players I know.

But to a pro, I am just an amateur, much too weak to have "style", making moves all over the place, without any rhyme or reason.


The problem with this, in my view, is that you're guilty of a very laudable mistake: being too hard on yourself. I think the OP tends in that direction as well when evaluating his own play.

Yes, beginners can certainly be chaotic and without style. But surely it's not unreasonable to expect people to develop personal traits, preferences, strengths even (which would satisfy the stricter definitions of "style") as they progress in skill? The thing is, you're not a beginner in go. For sure, you're not a pro either, but that doesn't mean that your play is utterly terrible (i.e., without rhyme or reason).

I think my musical analogy was pretty good, if I might say so. Take Handel and the West Gallery Music. From Handel's POV, WGM would probably have been horrible; but I am sure he would have recognised the imitations of his style within it. Perhaps if he were feeling generous and a WG musician paid him well enough, he might even have taught them how to keep the style, but leave out the mistakes.

And so with go. I used to take lessons with Alexandr Dinerchtein. He encouraged me to keep to what he called my "active style"; and tried to help me remove my faults.

Yes, we are indeed weak compared to the pros. But we also have passages of playing quite decently. In those passages, we can have style. I have always espoused the creed of practising fundamentals, etc. I don't believe a self-flagellatory approach to learning go is very wise. Let's have more joie de vivre!

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Post #85 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:14 am 
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sorin wrote:
gowan wrote:
This page on Sensei's Library has brief descriptions of a the style of a number of well known pros: https://senseis.xmp.net/?ProfessionalPlayersGoStyles Looking at how pros describe style of their own and other pros might help is deciding whether amateurs can have a style.


Most of the descriptions on that page seem too generic: who does not "fight tenaciously when behind"? :-)


We don't know the same people. :lol:

I used to know a fellow, a dan player who, in my view, did not have the usual technical ability of a dan player. However, he won a lot of games because he simply refused to lose them. His ferocious tenacity overcame his flaws. :)

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Post #86 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:19 am 
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Evolution of the Player (Pokemon Go edition)

Kyu: Proto-Style
Blind. Doesn't have the vision to form a coherent strategy, but feels about anyhow in the hope to find patterns. Dis iss a stail af raiting rait?
Pro perspective— doesn't know most of the consequences of most moves, so cannot employ a coherent strategy to reuse.

Dan: Semi-Style
One-eyed. Sees and employs basic grammar and syntax.
Pro perspective— Knows some of the consequences of some moves, so can employ a half-baked strategy repeatedly.

Pro/7d+: Style
Binocular. Sees and employs advanced grammar and syntax, and has extensive dormant and active vocabularies.
Pro perspective—
Actually knows what moves mean, so can employ a true strategy consistently across many games.

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Last edited by Elom on Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post #87 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:14 pm 
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Even though I'm quoted in the OP as saying even lowly kyu players can have a style, I must change my vote :lol:
I now start to see the other arguments as true. And the main difference between the two "sides" is probably the definition of the word 'style'.

For me, the solution is probably this:

- If you play Go as a true game, meaning you play to win, play to find the best moves. You can have no style. You are solving the game and try to find the best move in every game, every position. I'm not even sure a pro can afford to have a style if he wants to handle Go as this.
- However, if you adopt a style (and you can do at basically any level, I believe), you no longer play the game to your fullest potential. Instead you play as to try to win the game ACCORDING to that style.

And I start to think even professionals might fall into that trap often. In fact, you hear it a lot, that some Go legends had a certain style, but as time went by, they played less according to their own style, and played more... to find the best move? I guess.

Of course, the absolute top might get away with "having a style" because they are simply the strongest. The best move possible might not be played, but because their opponent is weaker anyway, any decent move might do for them.
I can play for influence against a 25 kyu when I want and win, even if the optimal move would be to invade a 3-3, or do whatever. But when I play someone my own level and I start to make influence when it's not good in that game, I'll lose.

So my opinion is now changed to: even pros with a style might be wrong and can be handicapped by their style if they identify with it and always play using their style.
Go as a game to win has only one style: find the best possible move.
But you can always adopt a style if you want. But then you're just playing another game ;-)

My 2 cents!


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Post #88 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:31 pm 
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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.


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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #89 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:36 pm 
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@Ian Butler: You are assuming there is only one best move, or that only one style (AlphaZero style ?) is better than all other styles. This is not obvious.

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Post #90 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:55 pm 
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Ian Butler wrote:
Even though I'm quoted in the OP as saying even lowly kyu players can have a style, I must change my vote :lol:
I now start to see the other arguments as true. And the main difference between the two "sides" is probably the definition of the word 'style'.

For me, the solution is probably this:

- If you play Go as a true game, meaning you play to win, play to find the best moves. You can have no style. You are solving the game and try to find the best move in every game, every position. I'm not even sure a pro can afford to have a style if he wants to handle Go as this.
- However, if you adopt a style (and you can do at basically any level, I believe), you no longer play the game to your fullest potential. Instead you play as to try to win the game ACCORDING to that style.


But here, you're assuming that a style is something conscious, something you must aim for, and not just a description of the particularities of your play.

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Post #91 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:32 pm 
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I dont get it why some people feel the need to assign near god like status to pro players.

I am totally fine that they deserve a lot of respect. They devote their whole lifes to our wonderful game. But they put their pants on one leg at a time as everybody else. Pros make terrible moves from time to time and even play awful josekis for years without noticing.

I stand by my point: It is very elitist to propose only pros can have style! But I get it, I cant convert all the snobs :twisted:

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Post #92 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:40 pm 
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Hi Gomoto,
Quote:
...the need to assign... status to pro players.
It has some interesting historical perspectives.
The statuses of pros in China, Korea, and Japan were quite different ( personal anecdotes ). As of 2011, well before AG.

People more knowledgeable about the history may be able to go back a few hundred years or more to describe the paths.


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Post #93 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:15 pm 
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Gomoto wrote:
I dont get it why some people feel the need to assign near god like status to pro players.

I am totally fine that they deserve a lot of respect. They devote their whole lifes to our wonderful game. But they put their pants on one leg at a time as everybody else. Pros make terrible moves from time to time and even play awful josekis for years without noticing.

I stand by my point: It is very elitist to propose only pros can have style! But I get it, I cant convert all the snobs :twisted:


Agree. I'll add that AlphaGo and the computer go AIs aren't gods, either ;-)

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Post #94 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:01 pm 
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@Kirby: No, I agree, they are manna ;-)

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Post #95 Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:33 pm 
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Hi Gomoto, :)
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Post #96 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:28 am 
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Ian Butler wrote:
Even though I'm quoted in the OP as saying even lowly kyu players can have a style, I must change my vote :lol:
I now start to see the other arguments as true. And the main difference between the two "sides" is probably the definition of the word 'style'.

For me, the solution is probably this:

- If you play Go as a true game, meaning you play to win, play to find the best moves. You can have no style. You are solving the game and try to find the best move in every game, every position. I'm not even sure a pro can afford to have a style if he wants to handle Go as this.
- However, if you adopt a style (and you can do at basically any level, I believe), you no longer play the game to your fullest potential. Instead you play as to try to win the game ACCORDING to that style.

And I start to think even professionals might fall into that trap often. In fact, you hear it a lot, that some Go legends had a certain style, but as time went by, they played less according to their own style, and played more... to find the best move? I guess.


But, first up, as has already been pointed out, there could me more than one "best move" in any given situation.

How are we to know if go does not have trillions of solutions?

And even if there is only one solution to the game, does that mean that there is other worthwhile way to play it? It's not as if solving the game would render it unplayable for humans, as it would only take one tiny deviation at any point along the path to get into the unknown (from our POV).

It depends on how you see go and other such games. If, like me, you believe they can be a form of art, then style counts. Others might see them purely as mathematical science. Perhaps what really matters to them is results and not whether or not the results are aesthetically pleasing, so long as they are correct.

I'll use a chess analogy: quite often, a situation can arise in which you can finish the game in multiple different ways. From the scientific point of view, the quickest method would be the optimal; but what if one chooses a method that is not quite as quick, but just as certain, because it contains something that appeals to your artistic taste. Would that not be an expression of style? Karpov might have wrapped up a game by reducing it to an easy endgame; Kasparov might have chosen a flashy sacrifice; but the destination - forced checkmate - would be the same.

Therefore, assuming that go will never be solved and that even AI will be shown to have its limits, can we not accept that go has many paths, and that the way you travel through them can be a matter of style?

And even if one's play is sub-optimal from somebody or something else's point of view, how much does it really change things? Can we no longer admire the "Cosmic Style" of Takemiya just because AI might punch holes in some of his moves? Can we no longer respect the fighting spirit and riskiness of Lee Sedol's style because AI might deem some of his moves mistakes, even though they might shake the game enough to overcome his human opponent? Do we have to consign chess's "Evergreen Game" to the wastepaper bin for similar reasons?

No! I declare that go is sport and art and science, and that's there's room for many types of player and their views within it.

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Post #97 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:44 am 
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I find myself agreeing passionately with both sides of the debate.

Maybe 'Style' applies to someone who is aware of what they are doing. And I think kyu players are. But the game kyus play is completely different to the game pros play. The only similarities are the rules and the equipment— actually, not even the equipment!

On one hand, I feel I have an even more extreme opinion than Tami. I feel she implied that beginners don't have a style, but I believe 100% that beginners have a style, that all beginners have a style, that everyone on earth has a style just waiting to be discovered and you can identify that person's style on their first go game— at least, their Proto-Style.

See, I believe that your Proto-Style is moreso your personality more than anything else, your style-before-your-style, your unrefined raw approach to go with your basic understanding of the game. If it oddly mirrors a dan-level or even pro-level attitude or style, Bill Spight might comment on one of your games. It has the potential to evolve into such.

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 are two moves that both win then you could say choosing a the move you like or are more likely to win with is the shadow of your Style.

But then that also applies to kyus, technically! But we don't really know what we're doing, so no. But then pros don't always know what they're doing all the time! But then they do enough of the time to have a style.

See how strange this concept is just in and of itself!

On my toes, I want to jump up and go, 'no worries'. The fact that were having this debate just shows how go is. I mean you can't exactly have a tic-tac-toe style.

Or can you... (Still 7d here and counting)

I do think Bill Spight surely received some type of Bridge manna at birth. Actually that's not too different from my story idea ahhh...

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Post #98 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:48 am 
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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?

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Post #99 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:11 am 
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Tami wrote:
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 think such credit will only be given by those who value the abstract and the human parts of the game at least as high as the competitive parts. Go is a solvable game, I'd even wager for it getting solved within, oh, I don't know, a century; this realization already defeats the purpose of searching for the hand of god for many people, since whoever employs stronger hardware will win the race to find it in any given position.

It's kinda funny, really - to my limited knowledge there is no philosophical experience to which we can turn to that would aid us in enjoying discoveries in the face of a provably always correct oracle. For some people right now, 'learning' the game with the help of AI is a thrilling experience, and rightfully so - there's a solidly high probability that, even without a proper interface to convey some of the more abstract ideas about the game, the openly available bots are already the best teachers a human player could ask for. It's an opportunity nobody before us ever had and some want to take the most out of it. The problem with it is that, well - if bots actually garner enough trust in them, then the top will get extremely boring to follow or pursue, leading to the similar situation that occurred in chess and was recently described here by John.

I can say from experience that it may not seem like that big of a deal when being the best doesn't mean very much, but then the community loses the vast spectrum of players who keep playing for the thrill of it. Arguably not good news when it's still trying to get people interested in the game. What you're left with is the art part of it - but in this day and age it's hard to sell understanding yourself better. As for me, I stray away from spreading the hype about the bots as I enjoy the social aspects at least as much as the competitive ones. Having a program dictate what's good and what's bad for me doesn't sound all that fun; sure, in rankings this sort of attitude puts me behind those who don't bother with such flawed premonitions, but really, the adventure to the absolute top is great and all, but reaching it is out of my reach already.

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #100 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:24 am 
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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.

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