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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #61 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:36 am 
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Indeed we can talk about different driving styles. Have you ever driven on the Autobahn?


Yes, I have, and I've even been driven by a German on an Autobahn, which I think deserves a medal for gallantry.

But we are driving round in circles now. We've established only that everybody uses 'style' in their own way (or as some would say, wrongly :), in their own style).

Actually, there is a more serious linguistic point hidden there. English speakers have two words for very many things. They tend to use the Anglo-Saxon derived word (way) for ordinary, down-to-earth (amateur) things. They tend to reserve the French/Latin derived word (style) for more refined (pro) things. Indeed, 'style' first came into English (via Latin stilus) in Middle English when it was poshly used to refer to a literary composition. The children's scribbles on the slates in the schoolroom were not what Chaucer et al. had in mind.


Last edited by John Fairbairn on Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #62 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:43 am 
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Go playing style can be defined and measured: see http://gostyle.j2m.cz/webapp.html

(don't take too seriously the estimated rank or the learning recommendations).

It doesn't mean it's easy to identify a player just by looking at 8 games, since two players can have a similar style, and a player can be forced on a particular game to play in a way he doesn't like.

It doesn't mean than an amateur should try to stick to a particular style either.

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Post #63 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:10 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Quote:
Indeed we can talk about different driving styles. Have you ever driven on the Autobahn?


Yes, I have, and I've even been driven by a German on an Autobahn, which I think deserves a medal for gallantry.

But we are driving round in circles now. We've established only that everybody uses 'style' in their own way (or as some would say, wrongly :), in their own style).

Actually, there is a more serious linguistic point hidden there. English speakers have two words for very many things. They tend to use the Anglo-Saxon derived word (way) for ordinary, down-to-earth (amateur) things. They tend to reserve the French/Latin derived word (style) for more refined (pro) things. Indeed, 'style' first came into English (via Latin stilus) in Middle English when it was poshly used to refer to a literary composition. The children's scribbles on the slates in the schoolroom were not what Chaucer et al. had in mind.


Bad style is still style. I thought pasting a dictionary definition would help, but I guess not.

I'll try again.

Quote:
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 epistemology of a word is interesting, but usage of language changes over time, so it can't be used to definitively express how a word is commonly used today.

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Post #64 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:28 am 
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The epistemology of a word is interesting,
Don't you mean etymology ? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #65 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:39 am 
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I understand John's point. But I think nowadays most people don't observe such niceties when they use the word "style". Language changes all the time.

For sure, I get that the go style of a pro is much more refined than that of any amateur. And it's plain to see that any amateur's imitation of a pro's style is going to be shallow and clumsy for a significant part of the time.

However, my view is that the word style is too broad to reserve only for pros. I'll give one example from music. In the mid 18th-century, the English musical scene was dominated by "Gorgeous" George Frideric Handel. His music often involves fugal choruses (that is, a method of composing in which vocal parts imitate one another in a certain pattern). His music also has many highly characteristic melodic patterns, figurations and harmonic moves. Along with J.S. Bach, he is widely acknowledged as the best composer of his time. Just in case you have been living under a rock, here is a taste of Mr Handel kicking butt. Even if music is not really your thing, you need to hear it, because the ability to hear Handel's music is one of the very best reasons to continue living:



A little later on, there appeared on the English musical scene small bands of church musicians who played in the galleries typically situated in the west ends of a church. They were typically amateurs who often had to play on homemade instruments. They also wrote music for themselves. This body of music is now known as "West Gallery Music". The influence of Handel is obvious: West Gallery is full of fugues, strongly rhythmic declaration and Handelian harmonic moves. But I suspect Mr Handel would have been horrified by it! West Gallery music is also full of mistakes - consecutive fifths and octaves, crudely constructed four-square phrases, poor part-writing and many other things that Handel avoided effortlessly. Yet, even though is is plainly amateurish, West Gallery Music is quite charming in its way, and now has a considerable base of dedicated modern practitioners (not me, though). It is humble and thoroughly amateur music, but it has a real value and identity - and style!

Here is some West Gallery music. It isn't Handel, but to say it has no style is just too harsh:


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Post #66 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:50 am 
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Yet, even though is is plainly amateurish, West Gallery Music is quite charming in its way, and now has a considerable base of dedicated modern practitioners (not me, though). It is humble and thoroughly amateur music, but it has a real value and identity - and style!


Though people with style might call it Georgian psalmody :) - and I believe people who sing it do so in a quire and not a choir. There's affectation for you!

But the reason for replying is that, though you probably already know this, just in case, we have another great West Gallery music buff in Britain in the guise of Francis Roads.

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Post #67 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:56 am 
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That's why I used WGM as an example - I think I even read over Francis's doctoral thesis many years ago. (To other readers, Francis is a British 5d in go.)

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #68 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:02 am 
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I was tempted to quit while ahead on a score of 2/3 attempts...but I have now tried the other four. As I said above, I put my money where my mouth is, and if I'm wrong, then I'm wrong.


You did better: 3/4. Congratulations for your courage to pick up the sword and cut convincingly with 5/7.

I may be convinced I have a style which you can recognize from my opponents'

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #69 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:17 am 
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At first, I was baffled as to how Knotwilg could possibly think that amateurs couldn't have style. Given the talk about style as a word with positive connotation, I think the reason for debate must be that some people see the word "style" to imply some sort of skill, whereas others (myself included) do not.

I posted the definition of style from google define twice, so I think my view of the word is consistent with that definition.

That being said, I can see usages of the word where style implies something positive ("He's dancing with style" might imply a positive feeling, though, "I don't like his dancing style" may not).

Even if the word "style" conveys a positive connotation to some folks, it's just a relative argument in that case. A DDK might admire an SDK's "good style", whereas a Dan player might find it sloppy.

To say that pros have style but amateurs do not is also arbitrary - the line between pro and amateur is usually some sort of tournament, so it's not a defining characteristic of "style".

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Post #70 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:19 am 
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EdLee wrote:
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The epistemology of a word is interesting,
Don't you mean etymology ? :)


Yeah, gotta love auto correct.

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #71 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:53 am 
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Tami once mentioned the inadequacy of spoken language to express game concepts. It is said that a word's meaning is the average of every time you've heard or seen it used, with different weightings given to each use according to the credibility we give to each user. This seems to lead to a loose definition. There may be many a word we think we are familiar with but not actually until definition discussions show familiarity does not equal precision.

One may know 'Honte' in Japanese and 'Thick' in English from the average of the many times you've heard it in life, but to understand their application to go you must acquire an average feeling from positions considered honte or thick.

Sorry for the hide tags

I wrote this yesterday in a half-successful attempt at organising some thoughts on style (there may be some inconsistencies with posts from today):

From my point of view, most of us have a loose definition of 'style' along the lines of 'the way in which one does things'— the average of all the times we've heard the word used, perhaps. In any case, it seems that this discussion is less about finding the definition of style as applied to go and more about creating a new go sense for the word.

I'll try speculating about some other words, but I stress I only speculate as I have no knowledge of linguistics so a cellar of salt is advised. Triangulate go style with linguistic geo-location. I underline to emphasise.

Method: The steps one |takes/tends to take| to attempt to achieve a goal.

Strategy: The way one goes about attempting to achieve a (closed) goal.

Sensibility/Voice: The 'recognisability' (sorry) in the way one goes about attempting to achieve a goal

I think in the context of go, having sensibility means it is easy to tell you played a certain game. Going back to Knotwilg's example:
Knotwilg wrote:
It seems like most of you agree to disagree with me. I remain unconvinced. I don't think I would be able to recognize any of the people I usually play against if I'd play them online with an unknown nickname, even if they gave me a selection of 10 players. I would probably recognize them by strength, but not by style. Players of same strength, I'd have a hard time guessing who's who.

I reckon I'd have a much higher chance of recognizing a game by Takemiya, Go Seigen, Cho Chikun, Fujisawa Shuko, Lee ChangHo or Shusaku, when given the choice. Sure, the era in which they played, plays a role...


I think that if one gathered the games of ten different mid dan players, you could at least split them into to groups according to some parameter, be they vague as 'offensiveness versus defensiveness' or clearer as in 'favours 3-4's over star points'. The greater the sensibility, the more you could differentiate between players.

One thing I note is that I wonder if sensibility is as dependent upon the strength of the person viewing the games as the players themselves. So a pro might do better or worse at identifying a 4 dan from her or his games than a 2 dan might.

At the the very least, we could use sensibility as a means to verify style as defined by the two other contenders I put up for the title of the definition of go style— or maybe one of their derivatives instead...

In method we have steps and in strategy we have way. This difference is not much related to the point I'll try to make.

In method we have tends to take. This is not in strategy. You can say 'I have a method' to refer to all the games you play, as a method can be a single process used repeatedly, but not I have a strategy— strategy often refers to a single plan for a single event. So you have to make the continual nature of your statement clear by saying something such as 'I have a strategy I use'.

Strategy usually refers to a closed goal, but can refer to an open on. It's more normal to say one has a method for painting the sky than a strategy for painting the sky. If go was just art the final goal might be sensibility in one's play, but it is really to score more points than the opponent.

Perhaps the most important note here is that in both definitions I put the word attempt(ing). This is because you can say that someone has a bad method or a bad strategy or a bad plan (even a bad plan is better than no plan!).

I'll make two adjustements to the definition strategy in trying to define style as applied to go.

First will be to borrow the 'tends to take' from method. If you have a strategy that you tend to use again and again, then you have a reccurent strategy or 'strategy theme':

Strategy theme: Strategy: The way one tends to take in going about attempting to achieve a (closed) goal.

The second adjustment is the heart of this discussion:

Successful Strategy: Strategy: The way one goes about actually to achieving a (closed) goal.

Successful Strategy theme: Strategy: The way one tends to take in going about actually to achieve a (closed) goal.

Knotwilg believes Successful Strategy theme is how Style in go should be defined, whereas Tami supposes that no, Strategy Theme is good enough. In Tami's definition, you can have a 'bad style' (Strategy Theme). In Knotwilg's definition, you cannot have a 'bad style' because a 'bad style' (bad Successful Strategy Theme) is a logical impossibility, not a Style at all.

Knotwilg's definition means only effective moves that actually contribute to winning can count towards style. One thing to note about it is that, like sensibility perhaps, Style is dependent upon who is looking at the game record. To a pro, amateurs may make so few good moves that they barely have enough to to constitute any sort of significant style at all. But the strongest AI may say the same of many lower-level pros.

I do think Style, in either definition, can change and flow over time. I think I used to have a greater sensibility than normal for a 10 kyu, because I would play unusual openings to cover for my weak set pattern and opening knowledge, and I would move about the board in a disorganised fashion from tenuki to tenuki, a haphazard busy rabbit 'style', perhaps. Now, not so much.

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #72 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:15 am 
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Kirby wrote:
some people see the word "style" to imply some sort of skill (...)

To say that pros have style but amateurs do not is also arbitrary - the line between pro and amateur is usually some sort of tournament, so it's not a defining characteristic of "style".


Indeed, I think skill is a necessary condition to be able to speak of style. Otherwise, crashing and running out of gas would be a driving style, which I don't think they are or we reduce the word "style" to a very generic description of "a way of doing things without necessarily knowing what you're doing".

I drew the line considerably above my own level, while Tami may have proven through experiment that I do have a recognizable way of playing go. If we don't devoid "style" of its commonly understood meaning, I'd think we all put the bar somewhere above absolute beginner level.

My debating style is "strong willed, but capable of yielding in the end, given enough satisfying debate, interesting angles and a willingness to be proven wrong on both sides".


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Post #73 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:36 am 
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I'm totally up for an extension to Knotwilg's experiment. Maybe I was just a bit lucky; although I think one giveaway was that I thought I recognised some of Knotwilg's moves from having met them before in Attack and Defence! (A fine book.)

Could I have some volunteers please? I want you to send me two games plus a self-description of your style. I will then make a new thread containing games plus the style descriptions.

Then, other members of this forum can play over the games and see if they can correctly identify who played which games, based on their "self-portraits". I believe Alexander Dinerchtein may have made a quiz once called "Guess the Pro". This one is "Guess the Ama"!

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #74 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:15 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Indeed, I think skill is a necessary condition to be able to speak of style. Otherwise, crashing and running out of gas would be a driving style, which I don't think they are or we reduce the word "style" to a very generic description of "a way of doing things without necessarily knowing what you're doing".

But amateurs have go skills.

That's like saying that if you're not a pro music player giving concerts, then you have no skill with your instrument.

Obviously, amateurs music players are more sloppy, makes more mistakes, etc. But they still have skill.

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Post #75 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:01 am 
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Knotwilg wrote:
Kirby wrote:
some people see the word "style" to imply some sort of skill (...)

To say that pros have style but amateurs do not is also arbitrary - the line between pro and amateur is usually some sort of tournament, so it's not a defining characteristic of "style".


Indeed, I think skill is a necessary condition to be able to speak of style. Otherwise, crashing and running out of gas would be a driving style, which I don't think they are or we reduce the word "style" to a very generic description of "a way of doing things without necessarily knowing what you're doing".

I drew the line considerably above my own level, while Tami may have proven through experiment that I do have a recognizable way of playing go. If we don't devoid "style" of its commonly understood meaning, I'd think we all put the bar somewhere above absolute beginner level.

My debating style is "strong willed, but capable of yielding in the end, given enough satisfying debate, interesting angles and a willingness to be proven wrong on both sides".


Personally, I'd say that "crashing and running out of gas" is, indeed, a driving style. This interpretation is consistent with the definition of style that I posted earlier. After all, it is a "manner of doing things".

That being said, it's clear that we are referring to different concepts of style, and it is less interesting to argue about how the definition of style should be interpreted (I still don't see the skill requirement in the definition of style, but this is not that interesting to me).

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 Post subject: Re: Can amateurs have their own style?
Post #76 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:05 am 
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Tryss wrote:
Knotwilg wrote:
Indeed, I think skill is a necessary condition to be able to speak of style. Otherwise, crashing and running out of gas would be a driving style, which I don't think they are or we reduce the word "style" to a very generic description of "a way of doing things without necessarily knowing what you're doing".

But amateurs have go skills.

That's like saying that if you're not a pro music player giving concerts, then you have no skill with your instrument.

Obviously, amateurs music players are more sloppy, makes more mistakes, etc. But they still have skill.


Do you understand "necessary condition"? And did you read my second line? I didn't say amateurs have no skill at all. I said that someone with no skill cannot have a style. Which means there is some skill required. Then I go on to say how much. I put the bar between ama and pro, which again doesn't mean ama has no skill, but ama doesn't have sufficient skill to have style. Now in the meantime, I have gotten softer in my opinion. But you turn around the logical arrow.

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Post #77 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:13 am 
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For what it's worth, I am pretty sure that I don't have a style. Sometimes I try to play for influence, sometimes for territory. Sometimes I like to try out moves I've seen somewhere. If anything I do might be recognizable as a style, it would undoubtedly be due to my bad habits. See that inexplicable tenuki? See that extra stone to secure a safe group? That's my style. Bumbling, inconsistent or peculiar might be apt.

It makes sense that one really shouldn't call that a style though. Kirby's definition notwithstanding, style also has connotations of grace and class. Even if my play were recognizable, it would be better to speak of its characteristics than its style. As for pros, we might expect a few more positive adjectives: fearless, creative, deliberate for example. I imagine some amateurs might be able to pull this off on occasion, but can they do it consistently enough for it to be called their style? My feeling is that they probably have to have been playing for quite a while in order for that to be the case.

From Tami's description of what she's been doing, playing boldly for influence, scorning territory in order to get a good attack, I think we could call this a style, but I'm not sure whether it is her style yet. Perhaps it's just a hat that looks good on her. If she keeps wearing it, then it might really be her style.

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Post #78 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:35 am 
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I guess people have their own feelings about words, so we can't use the dictionary as a source of meaning :-p

"bad style" has tons of google search results, so I suspect I'm not the only one that thinks "bad style" can be a thing :-)

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Post #79 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:29 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
we are driving round in circles now.


OK, I'll bite. {sigh}

I support Tami's position. There are good styles and adopting a good style that is a personal fit can help one to play better. :)

I agree with Knotwilg that trying to find your personal style is not a worthy goal.

Style can be an achievement. A style isn't.

IMO, not all pros have style. Some amateurs do.

For a long time here I avoided commenting on DDK games because I did not understand them. How could I make comments that they would understand? But then I saw some DDKs whose play made sense to me. They had a style, maybe even style. If you are a DDK and I have commented on your games, consider that a compliment to your playing style.

Having a good style is predictive of skill or of potential. To pat myself on the back, shortly before I went to my first national bridge tournament in the US, the best player in the local bridge club told me he liked my style. ;) At the nationals I played with pickup partners in the second tier, or regionally rated events. They were huge events, with over 1,000 pairs or teams competing. I tied for 4th and 5th in the mixed pairs and tied for 4th to 9th in the Swiss teams (a two day event). Not a bad debut. :)

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Post #80 Posted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:56 am 
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daal wrote:
That's my style. Bumbling, inconsistent or peculiar might be apt.


Amazing! The Bumbling Style. I want to make it mine :cool: :lol:
Sounds real nice. Because, let's face it, we're never going to be good enough to have any real style or class, so why not take pride in the Bumbling Style? :clap:

Bill Spight wrote:
If you are a DDK and I have commented on your games, consider that a compliment to your playing style.


I very much do! You have commented on multiple of my DDK games, so I'm very happy to hear that :tmbup:
And I have also learned a lot from those comments ;)

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