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 Post subject: Life and death dispute under Japanese 1989 rules
Post #1 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:17 am 
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While disputes about the status of a group are rare, they do occur. To be clear, I am talking about the tournament situation when each player insists on a different status of a particular group after two consecutive passes and they call the referee. The J1989 rules define "alive" and "dead" since playing out a situation can change the result of a game. And because there is no clause for settling these disputes, it seems clear that the referee should determine the status of disputed groups.

But many insist that life and death should depend on the skill of involved players. I have seen or heard accounts of referees either resuming the game, but making players give a prisoner for each pass, or letting the players play the situation out on a separate board with the "defender" moving second and without the pass to recapture a particular ko rule. Needless to say, both approaches can lead to wrong results.

Do you agree with my interpretation? Have you seen any other way these situations have been resolved by the referee?

P.S. please do not suggest using another rulset, assume that J1989 has to be used.

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Post #2 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:56 am 
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Post #3 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:16 am 
Judan

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tiger314 wrote:
While disputes about the status of a group are rare, they do occur. To be clear, I am talking about the tournament situation when each player insists on a different status of a particular group after two consecutive passes and they call the referee. The J1989 rules define "alive" and "dead" since playing out a situation can change the result of a game. And because there is no clause for settling these disputes, it seems clear that the referee should determine the status of disputed groups.


You have been misled. Are you aware of any cases where this has happened? The Japanese rules certainly say how to settle life and death disputes at the end of play. They say nothing about a referee.

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But many insist that life and death should depend on the skill of involved players.


So what?

Quote:
I have seen or heard accounts of referees either resuming the game, but making players give a prisoner for each pass, or letting the players play the situation out on a separate board with the "defender" moving second and without the pass to recapture a particular ko rule. Needless to say, both approaches can lead to wrong results.

Do you agree with my interpretation? Have you seen any other way these situations have been resolved by the referee?


Once upon a time, before either the current Japanese rules or AGA rules were written, I was asked to help draw up a guide for AGA tournament directors. I submitted a write-up that included how the director should handle life and death disputes, but my suggestions were not incorporated. It sounds like people who hold tournaments in the West that use the Japanese 1989 rules should spell out correct procedures for handling such disputes for their tournament directors or referees.

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P.S. please do not suggest using another rulset, assume that J1989 has to be used.


Or even better, they could use other territory rules, such as Lasker-Maas or Spight rules. :cool: Look, if the tournament organizers do not understand the Japanese 1989 rules, they should not use them, should they?

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Post #4 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:02 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
The Japanese rules certainly say how to settle life and death disputes at the end of play. They say nothing about a referee.

I second this. And there will be always a unique result.

However, you have to be aware that some of the "examples" which are given in the explanatory section of the J89 rules are inconsistent with the core rules text itself (these are explained e.g. on Robert's pages).

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Post #5 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:03 am 
Judan

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Cassandra wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
The Japanese rules certainly say how to settle life and death disputes at the end of play. They say nothing about a referee.

I second this. And there will be always a unique result.

However, you have to be aware that some of the "examples" which are given in the explanatory section of the J89 rules are inconsistent with the core rules text itself (these are explained e.g. on Robert's pages).


I prefer to say that the rules are unclear. :roll:

They were also written by professionals for use under the auspices of a professional organization, the Nihon Kiin. It seems obvious that the problematic procedures that tiger314 complains about did not occur in tournaments authorized by the Nihon Kiin. (If so, he should write to the Kiin.) It would be appropriate for the sponsors of tournaments that are not under the umbrella of the Kiin to write their own tournament rules, along with a handbook for their directors.

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Post #6 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:18 pm 
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I should have probably stated, that I am refering to a typical local European MacMahon tournament, no professionals anywhere near the place. Some European countries still hold J1989 as their official rules of play. While I would like AGA to be adopted, it is hard to push such a change through.

Bill Spight wrote:
You have been misled. Are you aware of any cases where this has happened? The Japanese rules certainly say how to settle life and death disputes at the end of play. They say nothing about a referee.

They say that stones that are "alive" are those that cannot be captured or (...). There is no well described procedure (we just know we cannot recapture a ko without passing). The commentary implies (probably) a hypothetical exploration of all variations (aka confirmation), but I am talking about the situation where players have not reached agreement (otherwise the referee would not interfere at all). The rules seem to think that an agreement is always reached.

One point I have missed is that the referee might go through the confirmation together with the players, which is likely to result in an agreement. I think that should be the first step in a dispute resolution (perhaps after rule clarification, because very few players have read the rules).

What if the one who is wrong (alive is defined, so one player must be wrong) refuses to agree? Either the game is unscoreable, or the referee has to do something. Either decide status by himself/herself (of course, he/she may ask the players to demonstrate how they would kill/defend) or forfeit the game (yes, there is a violation of the "spirit of good sense...", but the case seems to be quite thin).

Is there another way to settle this?

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It sounds like people who hold tournaments in the West that use the Japanese 1989 rules should spell out correct procedures for handling such disputes for their tournament directors or referees.

Yeah, probably the best answer to my question.

P.S. What do you think the referee should do if both players agree he/she should determine which groups are alive?

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Post #7 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:34 pm 
Judan

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From what you say it seems apparent that there are tournament directors or referees who do not understand the Japanese 1989 rules. :( That should not happen. It is not up to me to say exactly what should happen. That said, I have training and experience as a bridge director that may be helpful. (To become a director I took a course from some of the top directors in the world.) Disputes between players are not uncommon at bridge. ;)

In bridge the basic approach is that the players can take care of themselves. I think that is appropriate for go tournaments, as well. For instance, if the director sees two players agree that a seki is dead, it is not necessary to intervene. (The Japanese rules suggest this attitude. Article 10.4: "After both players have confirmed the result, the result cannot be changed under any circumstances.") However, once the director is called when the players disagree, the director makes the final decision. (In bridge the director's decision may be appealed, but in a go tournament where the next round will happen in a matter of minutes and the game result affects the pairing, that may not be practical. OC, an appeal for rating purposes might still be possible.) That means that the director should be familiar with the rules, including the official life and death examples and preferably with other published examples as well.

At bridge the director should make rulings from the book. That means that there should be a book. IMHO, that would be a good idea for go tournaments, as well. In most cases the director can show the players that their situation is like an example in the book, and make the appropriate ruling.

There is no need for the director to be autocratic, even though he or she has the last say. The first thing to do is to hear each player's opinion. If the director can facilitate agreement between the players, so much the better. :) (Edit: But the director should not allow a mistaken agreement. Once called, the director is responsible for the result. Edit #2: I am rethinking the question of facilitating an agreement between the players. See my next note.) As a practical matter it may be that neither the players nor the director is a good enough player to read the situation out, nor can the three of them do so working together. In that case the director can probably call upon a stronger player or players for help. In most tournaments that should be possible. A director who is not a strong player can make arrangements beforehand, enlisting the aid of a few strong players that he or she can call upon if need be.

BTW, from questions I have seen online, there is a possibility that players may disagree about the life or death of a group because they ended play too early. Under the Japanese 1989 rules, that might lead to a situation where Rule 13 applies and both players lose. As a director I would choose to ignore that rule, as it might well cause one or both players to quit go or, at least, quit tournament play.

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Last edited by Bill Spight on Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Life and death dispute under Japanese 1989 rules
Post #8 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:55 pm 
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Some thoughts about the Japanese 1989 rules and director's procedure for resolving life and death disputes.

J89 rules wrote:
Article 10. . . . Stones which are alive but possess dame are said to be in "seki." . . .


Although the rules allow the dame to be filled informally, the director should not make a life and death ruling before they are filled (according to the players' beliefs). There are a few reasons for that. First, filling the dame may change the status of a group or groups. Someone may omit a protective play. The director should not rule that a group that needs a protective play is alive, only to be called later and have to rule that it is now dead. Second, as indicated, whether a group is in seki or not depends upon whether it has dame. If a player believes that their group is alive with territory, they should fill its dame, while their opponent, who believes that it is dead, does not. If the director prematurely rules that the group is dead, then the player with the dead group may save some points that he otherwise would have lost. The director's ruling should not affect the proper score. Note that if the players leave dame next to the group and the group is alive, the director should rule that it is alive in seki, whether it is independently alive or not, and say that the ruling is because the group has dame, and that means that the opponent's group (or groups) is also in seki. The director should then inform the players that either of them may request reopening play, with their opponent playing first. The director should also caution the players that further play might change the status of a group or groups.

Note: While the general approach should be that the players can take care of themselves, they are not required to be rules lawyers. Once the director is called, he or she should make sure that the players understand their legal options at all times and the possible consequences of their actions.

There is a chance of information leakage when resolving life and death disputes. Requiring the dame to be filled before making a ruling should help in that regard, because all protective plays should have been made. But if there are dame and the defender is claiming life in seki, there is a possibility that the attacker will reopen play. In that case either player may gain from knowing the opponent's plan of play, and the director, if possible, should make the decision without consulting the players. That is why the director should be fairly strong or have the assistance of one or more strong players.

Anyway, those are some of my preliminary thoughts. What the best procedure is is not easy to say. (IMO, amateurs should not play by the Japanese 1989 rules, but c'est la vie.) Tournament organizers should make these decisions and print a handbook beforehand.

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Post #9 Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:19 pm 
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tiger314 wrote:
I should have probably stated, that I am refering to a typical local European MacMahon tournament, no professionals anywhere near the place. Some European countries still hold J1989 as their official rules of play. While I would like AGA to be adopted, it is hard to push such a change through.


In my experience, the EGF does not respect its own rules. Therefore, I don't see any idea for particular ruleset being adopted 'federation-wide' gaining much support, exactly because very few care strongly about the rules. I think I am right in saying that some European (EGF) Championship events have never been held as the official rules describe that they should be.

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Post #10 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:00 am 
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But the EGF has abandoned the Japanese 1989 Rules. If Japanese style rules are used, these are Verbal European-Japanese Rules.

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Post #11 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:05 am 
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While the general approach should be that the players can take care of themselves, they are not required to be rules lawyers.


Much more important, I think, is that the players are not required to be interested in mathematics. Rules study as usually discussed here is a branch of maths.

Problems do occur in practice, but not only are they very, very rare, most of them are due as much to the players as to the rules. For example, in a game in an amateur tournament in Japan (I forget the precise details), a strong player objected to being drawn against a weak player in Round 1 of a Swiss and having to play even. Perhaps he was worried about his eventual SOS. To show his annoyance and to turn it into a handicap game, he answered his opponent's first move with a pass. The opponent had the presence of mind to pass in reply. Not even AlphaGo could decide on the status of life and death from there. The Nihon Ki-in decided the strong player lost. Common sense 1 Rules 0.

All that is really required, rather than a handbook of minutiae, is a meta-rule - which may simply be an announcement before a tournament - that go for amateurs is just a game. In the event of any disputes the director will do his best but is only human and so any decision by him may be imperfect but will be final. If you don't like that meta-rule, go away and organise your own tournaments.

In practice that is effectively how things proceed anyway, with the exception that the rules obsessives don't go away and organise their own tournaments. They prefer to stay and disrupt events for the majority.

It's a little different for pros, of course, but when disputes or irregularities have occurred: (a) even both players and the referee have at times all got it wrong together and (b) the dispute has been settled anyway, however imperfectly, and (c) so far at least, the sky hasn't fallen in.


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Post #12 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:44 am 
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RobertJasiek wrote:
But the EGF has abandoned the Japanese 1989 Rules. If Japanese style rules are used, these are Verbal European-Japanese Rules.

Individual countries have their own rulesets. Some use the AGA rules, some have adopted the EGF approach of not really defining rules and some use the J1989.

Bill Spight wrote:
In bridge the basic approach is that the players can take care of themselves.

Most go referees would probably agree with that approach. I think the open question is whether after being called the referee should interfere if the players agree on a wrong conclusion, since the players might be assuming an interference will come should they say/do something incorrectly.

John Fairbairn wrote:
Much more important, I think, is that the players are not required to be interested in mathematics. Rules study as usually discussed here is a branch of maths.

On the other hand, it seems sad that not even the top players for whom prize money is a non negligible part of income seem to proprly know the rules of the game they play.

Quote:
The opponent had the presence of mind to pass in reply. Not even AlphaGo could decide on the status of life and death from there. The Nihon Ki-in decided the strong player lost. Common sense 1 Rules 0.

Well, the rules as I understand them would have ruled the same way, the only stone on the board was alive so its owner won by about 360 points (give or take the komi)

Quote:
All that is really required, rather than a handbook of minutiae, is a meta-rule - which may simply be an announcement before a tournament - that go for amateurs is just a game.

Well, even the professional rules include the following:
Code:
These rules must be applied in a spirit of good sense and mutual trust between the players.


Quote:
In practice that is effectively how things proceed anyway, with the exception that the rules obsessives don't go away and organise their own tournaments. They prefer to stay and disrupt events for the majority.

Even outside the rule obsesive comunity, there is demand for fairness and consistency, which is hard to achive without written rules which are consistentky interpreted by the referees. If you look at a local sport league, played by local amateurs (basketball, volleyball...), you will still see demand for a fair and consistant referee who enforces the rules of the game.

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 Post subject: Re: Life and death dispute under Japanese 1989 rules
Post #13 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:24 am 
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tiger314 wrote:
Even outside the rule obsesive comunity, there is demand for fairness and consistency, which is hard to achive without written rules which are consistentky interpreted by the referees. If you look at a local sport league, played by local amateurs (basketball, volleyball...), you will still see demand for a fair and consistant referee who enforces the rules of the game.


Go has managed for millennia to go without formal written rules, and people managed to enjoy their games quite fine. And, as you say, many countries have not formalized their rules and they also manage just fine. If anything, in my experience, people who know the formal rules well are more likely to have disputes and disrupt tournaments than those who do not.

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Post #14 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:42 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
From what you say it seems apparent that there are tournament directors or referees who do not understand the Japanese 1989 rules. :( That should not happen.


That is not surprising. Consider the following diagram :

Click Here To Show Diagram Code
[go]$$Bc 2 Pass, 3 Pass. Is there a point of territory in a ?
$$ | . . O X . . . . .
$$ | . . O X . . . . .
$$ | . . O X . . . . .
$$ | . . O X . . . . .
$$ | . O 1 a X . . . .
$$ | . . O X . . . . .
$$ | . . O X . . . . .
$$ | . . O X . . . . .
$$ | . . O X . . . . .[/go]


There are no ko threat left anywhere. Black takes the ko with 1. White passes. Black passes.

Is the intersection "a" a point of territory ? We all know that it is not. But if we strictly follow the text of the rule (at least its available english translation), it is !

Nowhere is it stated that the prohibition of recapturing in a ko is lifted when the game stops. Therefore White can't capture the stone, even if she play first. Since all black stones are alive, "a" is an eyespace, and since there are no dame left, this eyespace is a territory.

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Post #15 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:52 am 
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Pio2001 wrote:
Nowhere is it stated that the prohibition of recapturing in a ko is lifted when the game stops. Therefore White can't capture the stone, even if she play first. Since all black stones are alive, "a" is an eyespace, and since there are no dame left, this eyespace is a territory.

Please see Article 7 and Commentary on Article 7, Life and death, Clause 2.

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Post #16 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:16 am 
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Vesa wrote:
Please see Article 7 and Commentary on Article 7, Life and death, Clause 2.


Article 7, Yes, and ?

Commentary on article 7 clause 2 is about snapback. There is no snapback here :scratch:

HermanHiddema wrote:
Go has managed for millennia to go without formal written rules, and people managed to enjoy their games quite fine. And, as you say, many countries have not formalized their rules and they also manage just fine. If anything, in my experience, people who know the formal rules well are more likely to have disputes and disrupt tournaments than those who do not.


The higher the stakes, the more necessary are formal rules. After the "rule crisis" of 1928, the Japanese realized that it was not possible to go on without a clear formal rule.
Two times again in the 20th century, there was a dispute about rules during a top match. This is not serious ! I mean, they are supposed to be the best players in the world, and they don't even know the rules of the game they're playing ?? There is something seriously wrong here.

Besides, a complete and clear set of rules is necessary for softwares. A software can't play go without human assistance if the rules are not completely defined.
It is quite interesting that AlphaGo plays under chinese rule only.

Last, it is easier for beginners if the rules of play are written somewhere. A friend of mine learned go some time ago. He got the best book for beginners in french (Le Langage des Pierres, by Motoki Noguchi), but complained that "the rules of play were not written anywhere in the book" !

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Post #17 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:24 am 
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Article 7, Yes, and ?

Commentary on article 7 clause 2 is about snapback. There is no snapback here :scratch:


You are at a different place, go to the next page and read the text around diagram 9.

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Post #18 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:44 am 
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Pio2001 wrote:
It is quite interesting that AlphaGo plays under chinese rule only.

This is not true.

All the 60 recorded Master games have 6.5 komi, typical for Japanese / Korean rules.

AlphaGo's games with LeeSedol had 7.5 komi, typical for Chinese rules.

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Post #19 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:12 am 
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The higher the stakes, the more necessary are formal rules. After the "rule crisis" of 1928, the Japanese realized that it was not possible to go on without a clear formal rule.


Yet somehow or other they managed to play on for 21 years till 1949 before codifying some rules! It wasn't a crisis. It was seen as an interesting incident which stimulated discussion by amateurs about rules, while participant Segoe, who disliked Shusai, probably kept the pot boiling as a way of niggling Shusai (his opponent was Shusai's son-in-law). A much bigger issue at the time was the length of games in the Oteai which was seen as having a detrimental effect on players' health - and (unlike the minor rules quibble) was acted on immediately.

Quote:
Two times again in the 20th century, there was a dispute about rules during a top match. This is not serious ! I mean, they are supposed to be the best players in the world, and they don't even know the rules of the game they're playing ?? There is something seriously wrong here.


More than two actually (with Segoe or his pupils involved in several of them). But this is common in sport. Just a fortnight ago we had England players nonplussed in the England-Italy rugby game when Italy exploited an interpretation of the offside rule. It's also a major element in many pro baseball games. And again, in all these cases, the sky never seems to fall in.

Quote:
Besides, a complete and clear set of rules is necessary for softwares. A software can't play go without human assistance if the rules are not completely defined.


It's probably desirable but hardly essential given the very low incidence of problems. KGS manages to score games fine. Beginners may have the odd glitch, but do we expect grown-ups to put trainer wheels on their bikes just because kids need them?

Quote:
Last, it is easier for beginners if the rules of play are written somewhere. A friend of mine learned go some time ago. He got the best book for beginners in french (Le Langage des Pierres, by Motoki Noguchi), but complained that "the rules of play were not written anywhere in the book" !


Only for a certain kind of beginner. Most get by without, and I dare say many would be confused or put off by being given formal rules. After all, how many people read the instruction booklets when they buy a new gadget? Apple have even made a business out of hiding the instructions.

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Post #20 Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:20 am 
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tiger314 wrote:
You are at a different place, go to the next page and read the text around diagram 9.


In diagram 9, both groups are dead because no ko was taken the move before. In my diagram, Black took the ko just before the game stopped. The rules tell nothing about such a case.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise, what prevents us to apply article 6 ?

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