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 Post subject: Future of pro go?
Post #1 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:44 am 
Oza

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I regularly look briefly at the latest chess news at coffee time.

I notice today that we are 10 days into September and the top ten players haven't had a single game yet in September, whether classical, rapid or blitz. In fact only two of the top 20 have had a game. For most of the players that drought extends back into August.

I do wonder whether AI will desertify go in the same way.

Even allowing room for debate as to whether computers have had a detrimental effect on chess (my own view is that it's been a boon for amateurs but has made sponsorship harder for pros and they now have to rely a lot on rich amateurs who love the game), there are big differences between the two games. For one thing, chess was never as well served financially as go - more gravy in total perhaps but much more thinly spread. For another chess has a hard time overcoming the boredom of draws, and draws among the top players seem, if anything, to be even more frequent now.

I'd like to think that the best and biggest difference is that go enjoys strong nationalist rivalry. Chess has never really had this. Fischer vs the Soviet Union was more of a one-man crusade and the US public latched on to it afterwards - they didn't help him at the start. But is it a two-edged sword in go? Japan's faltering progress in international events probably tests the loyalty of their domestic fans, and does it all boil down to which government has the biggest purse? That's obviously China, but at least they are sharing their funds with the Koreans. The number of top Koreans playing regularly in China now, while Korean domestic tournaments stutter along, suggests to me that China is actually keeping Korean go alive.

Without that nationalist rivalry, what does go offer sponsors?


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 Post subject: Re: Future of pro go?
Post #2 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:23 am 
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I don't think that this draught, as you called it, is unusual as such. The top players usually play in top events only, which are not that frequent.

Nowadays the ELO rating rules supreme and almost nobody wants to risk a dent in their rating by participating in a tournament of a lower category. Wildcards for the World Cup and Candidates tournaments are based on the position in the world ranking, and the decision of elite tournament organizers as to whom to invite are also influenced by the ranking in no small way. Taking an ELO hit by losing to a sub-elite GM in a tournament played for the fun of it can cost them top dollar.

Here in Germany, there is a real league competition for club teams, played on distinct match weekends. That is, not like in e.g. Russia where they meet for a week and play a whole league during that time. Some of the teams have real top guns on their roster. However, they usually don't play when their team is up against mediocre opposition.

So, to cut a long story short, I don't think the phenomenon you noticed is due to the available strong AI. It's more a result of the overwhelming attention that is payed nowadays to the world ranking.

With regard to Go, I should believe that the professional systems encourage the pros to play more often and they don't risk so much money by taking on players who are on the up and not yet their peer? Does that make sense?


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 Post subject: Re: Future of pro go?
Post #3 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:34 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I notice today that we are 10 days into September and the top ten players haven't had a single game yet in September, whether classical, rapid or blitz. In fact only two of the top 20 have had a game. For most of the players that drought extends back into August.

Even ignoring the fact that they just had some major tournaments in August, I don't think that impression is entirely correct. For example, there's an online chess.com rapid & blitz event, with a Giri-Mamedyarov match just the other day.

Do you have reason to believe the chess world used to have tournaments involving the top 10 more frequently?

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 Post subject: Re: Future of pro go?
Post #4 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:15 am 
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Has there been a change in the normal tournament calendar for elite chess? I'd have actually thought that it was quite normal for them to have a month off at some point in the year.

As to the question
John Fairbairn wrote:
Without that nationalist rivalry, what does go offer sponsors?

A means of achieving world peace might well be on the toungues of some, but I would imagine that you could cynically say that it offers quite little. I mean you have the delightful media buzz that makes your name echo in the brains of go players, but what are they good for apart from playing go all day? I suppose though that this is the case only in Europe, and that in the cradle of go you get something rather more positive from the endeavor.

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 Post subject: Re: Future of pro go?
Post #5 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:21 am 
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I used to care, and this was part of the reason I hated, e.g. AlphaGo.

Now, I still want to have pros (they are fun to follow and respect), but even if they all stopped playing go, it'd be OK I guess.

As long as I still have opponents...

If all of my opponents stopped playing, that'd suck. Sometimes it's hard to get a game on KGS, so that's a concern too, I suppose.

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 Post subject: Re: Future of pro go?
Post #6 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:39 pm 
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Since this may be of interest to some folks - it turns out a lot of top 20 chess players and one retiree named Garry or something have started playing a chess960 tournament just this evening. Being broadcast on Twitch.

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Post #7 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:55 pm 
Honinbo
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Quote:
retiree named Garry or something
Tongue in cheek ? Kasparov.

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 Post subject: Re: Future of pro go?
Post #8 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:06 pm 
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Go960:

choose random number R (from reasonable range)

place R stones for white and R stones for black on (reasonable) random board positions


Back to the past!

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 Post subject: Re: Future of pro go?
Post #9 Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:01 pm 
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Gomoto wrote:
Go960:

choose random number R (from reasonable range)

place R stones for white and R stones for black on (reasonable) random board positions
Doesn't have to be random. I think the idea is not outlandish - we're still at the beginning of the AI era, but if there's a long-term problem that opening play becomes stagnant (always 4-4 followed by a small handful of invasion josekis), you could collect data about opening positions from older human games and come up with a set of positions after, say, eight moves, that have been played at least a certain number of times. Then have tournaments where the starting position is chosen on the day. I think this is something that might be seen in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Future of pro go?
Post #10 Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:05 am 
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While the bots seems to prefer certain openings I think there is still enough variation to keep it interesting. Maybe the pros will "grow out of it" at some point, but in amateur games taking a result that is theoretically 1% worse but that the opponent has not studied as much probably correlates to an increased win% overall.

Also if I recall correctly Fischer complained about chess openings before computers started beating humans at chess.

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