Chess

IdleRich

IdleRich
Anyone play chess? I used to play a fair bit when I was a kid but haven't played for years (apart from the odd game every now and again) but when I was in Paris last week I started getting into it again. My friend has a market stall and I kept him company and passed the time between customers by playing game after game of chess - he hasn't really played much before so I won fairly easily but it was still fun. Then some random guy came and challenged me and we had quite a good tussle. Although I have to admit that there is some kind of law of diminishing returns in my enjoyment of the game and I think that when I play it too much and get beyond a certain proficiency I begin to get tired of the same old openings and get too worried about losing to play properly. It's a strange game in that way.
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
Yeah, know far too much about it, played when I was a kid - appeals to something inbetween scientific and artistic in my mind.

I used to enjoy having a few games on yahoo now and then when I was bored, but they seem to have changed it all around now so that it's much more dificult to log into a room with a chance of getting a quick game. Any other internet sites anyone knows?
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Um, my friend was using one yesterday, I'll find out what it was. Think some of my other friends used to play one that made a pun on the way that pawn is a homonym for porn.
edit: apparently that should be a homophone
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I like chess but the only person I ever really play it with is Abooda and he's unlikely to come back to the UK any time soon. I suppose I should just buy a cheap 2nd hand set from somewhere and see if anyone fancies a game now and then. I'd be well up for a game with you some time, Rich, though I have to say I am pretty bad.

I'm reading all about the inherent problems with AI in particular with regard to chess in Goedel, Escher, Bach at the moment. It's interesting because when it was written (late '70s) the best computer programs on the best computers could reliably beat competent human players but were no match for the world-class players. Then it was this seismic event when Deep Blue beat Kasparov in the '90s. And now a chess program that costs a few quid and runs on an ordinary home PC or laptop can beat the world champion. I think this says a lot more about the increase in power of computers than it does about great leaps forward in AI, though.

I begin to get tired of the same old openings...

Tell me about it - bane of my sex life. :( Until I met your mum, anyway.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"I like chess but the only person I ever really play it with is Abooda and he's unlikely to come back to the UK any time soon. I suppose I should just buy a cheap 2nd hand set from somewhere and see if anyone fancies a game now and then. I'd be well up for a game with you some time, Rich, though I have to say I am pretty bad."
I'm up for it yeah. But you could play Abooda online though couldn't you? Unless he cheats like that thing with Olaf.

"I'm reading all about the inherent problems with AI in particular with regard to chess in Goedel, Escher, Bach at the moment. It's interesting because when it was written (late '70s) the best computer programs on the best computers could reliably beat competent human players but were no match for the world-class players. Then it was this seismic event when Deep Blue beat Kasparov in the '90s. And now a chess program that costs a few quid and runs on an ordinary home PC or laptop can beat the world champion. I think this says a lot more about the increase in power of computers than it does about great leaps forward in AI, though."
Yeah, my (half-remembered) understanding is that the reason a top level player (Kasparov say) could beat a chess computer that could compute thousands of moves is that the player only looks at two or three moves through a kind of instinct/experience whereas the computer has to consider them all.
So, Kasparov looks at maybe three moves, each of those will leave the computer, say, three moves that are potentially worthwhile and so on so for him to see four moves (in total) into the future he really only needs to deal with 3x3x3x3 = 81 moves. They never figured out a way for the computer to make the immediate dismissal of all the rubbish moves so it has to consider 20 odd moves per time so to look four moves into the future it has to evaluate 20x20x20x20 = 160,000 moves.
I don't think that they ever solved the problem of how to make a computer think like Kasparov at the start, they made one that could evaluate billions of moves, so yeah, just number crunching.
I understand Go and Bridge are the two games that they can't get a computer to do well at at all (or at least, that was the case last time I read about these things). Any idea why that is?
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"I once made the mistake of playing chess against a woman in her mid 30's with an NPD when I was 12. I beat her so she played me nonstop until she beat me, goading me the whole time, making snide comments and generally trying to put me off. Was pretty horrible."
What's an NPD?
Reminds me of when Short and Kasparov played and Short flew in Kasparov's ex-girlfriend to be in the crowd in the hope that it would put him off. He just got massacred though.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
Yeah, I used to play but pretty much gave up at uni because I didn't have time to be any good and it's not much fun being rubbish.

I've played a few times more recently. I've found a clock is a good investment, because a) it means that you don't have to worry about a game dragging on for hours, if you want to bash it out in five minutes you can, b) you stop getting annoyed about the other player spending ages when it's a quick friendly game and c) it gives you an easy way of levelling the odds between unevenly matched players.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Well, I think that's what I enjoyed in Paris, it was a lazy, fairly sunny day on a market stall, smoking cigarettes and drinking the odd espresso while playing chess and occasionally selling something. If he took ages I could go for a walk or whatever - maybe that's the way that chess is best enjoyed.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I understand Go and Bridge are the two games that they can't get a computer to do well at at all (or at least, that was the case last time I read about these things). Any idea why that is?

Combinatorics, probably. In the case of Go, anyway (I have no idea how Bridge works). Although there's only one kind of playing piece in Go compared to six in chess, each player gets 180 of them, potentially all of which can be used, on a board with 361 (=19 x 19) positions, compared to just 64 squares on a chessboard. After just a couple of turns, the number of possible games becomes astronomical, much faster even than chess. Also consider that in chess the number of possible distinct board states initially increases but will after a while decrease as the game progresses and pieces are taken, while in Go the players continually add pieces to the board, so the informatic content of the game state can only increase. Edit: actually, it'd probably peak when each player has played 2/3 of their pieces.

That's funny about Short and Kasparaov's ex, what a sneaky (although ultimately unsuccessful) bastard, haha.

Did I tell you about the time I played after eating those red toadstools I picked in Epping forest, and the only noticeable effect was to - seemingly - make me temporarily amazing at chess? Well, I dunno about 'amazing' but I think I probably played the two best games of my life. Could have been complete coincidence, of course.
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
"Combinatorics, probably. In the case of Go, anyway (I have no idea how Bridge works). Although there's only one kind of playing piece in Go compared to six in chess, each player gets 180 of them, potentially all of which can be used, on a board with 361 (=19 x 19) positions, compared to just 64 squares on a chessboard. After just a couple of turns, the number of possible games becomes astronomical, much faster even than chess. Also consider that the number of distinct board states decreases as a game of chess progresses, as pieces are taken, while in Go the players add pieces to the board."
I don't really know how to play Go but I understood that it was more than combinatorics that made it difficult. Also, that's not quite true of chess is it? At first the number of moves increases eg on your first move you can move the pawns to one of sixteen places plus there are four knight moves which gives you a total of twenty. But on your next move you may be able to make all except one of those moves plus a further six or seven with your bishop and queen.
I should read more about Go though - how many pieces start on the board and how many do you add each time? That obviously affects how many moves there are at each stage. Also, don't you change the colours if you surround their pieces a bit like in Othello?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Yeah, sorry, I edited it.

Well with Go you also have to consider the inherent Oriental inscrutability of it...

I've only played it once but stones stay in position once played. Points are scored by surrounding your opponent's stones to 'capture' them. Another big difference with chess is that at the end of the game each player has a numerical score (which can be calculated according to different conventions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_%28game%29#Scoring_rules ) and the player with the highest score wins. Whereas in chess the outcome is not quantified in the same way.

I've got a Go set if you fancy, uh, giving it a go.
 
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don_quixote

Trent End
i would love to play more chess but it's finding a partner that's the problem.

ai opponents don't really cut the mustard. they take their goes so quickly you don't have the delight of time considering what they may do.
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
I think the reason that Go is so hard to do with a computer is that it has a great deal of long term strategic thinking and comparatively less short term tactical planning. Most good chess moves either have i) a positional impact that can be roughly evaluated immediately (gaining material, putting a rook on an open file, getting the king out of the centre, creating a strong pawn structure) or ii) a tactical impact that will become apparent in the next half dozen or so moves (ie it'll enable moves that have type i impact). Computers are generally very good at identifying ii) which makes up for them only being so-so at evaluating i).

In contrast, as I understand it playing Go effectively requires much more subtle positional understanding - "if I put that stone there rather than one place to the right, will I be slightly overreaching myself so I can't properly secure the territory later on" - or possibly it has less tactical complications, so it's harder to make up for a slight lack of positional sophistication by using ferociously effective tactical calculation.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
In contrast, as I understand it playing Go effectively requires much more subtle positional understanding - "if I put that stone there rather than one place to the right, will I be slightly overreaching myself so I can't properly secure the territory later on" - or possibly it has less tactical complications, so it's harder to make up for a slight lack of positional sophistication by using ferociously effective tactical calculation.

This sounds reasonable. Although it's also related to the much greater effective playing area in Go - nearly six times as many places for pieces to be placed - combined with the fact that most chess pieces can move across the board in one move, whereas Go stones only affect the points adjacent to them. So the difference between placing a stone on one point rather than an adjacent point could be pretty subtle, as you say, whereas in chess having a certain piece on this square, or that square next to it, can mean the difference between life or death.
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
There was a Go thread on Dissenssus a while back - ended up playing a few games online vs Sufi andd a couple of other guys from here. Headfuck of a game...I like it, but prefer chess by quite a distance, less headaches, more beautiufl combinations. Go defintiely more complicated though.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"I think the reason that Go is so hard to do with a computer is that it has a great deal of long term strategic thinking and comparatively less short term tactical planning. Most good chess moves either have i) a positional impact that can be roughly evaluated immediately (gaining material, putting a rook on an open file, getting the king out of the centre, creating a strong pawn structure) or ii) a tactical impact that will become apparent in the next half dozen or so moves (ie it'll enable moves that have type i impact). Computers are generally very good at identifying ii) which makes up for them only being so-so at evaluating i)."
I think that's roughly what I was trying to say above isn't it? We're in agreement I mean.
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
The number of moves worth considering is so much higher in Go- in chess there're usually dozens of moves that can be eliminated almost instantaneously by a human player, but which will still eb stuied by a computer going methodically through everything (obvisouly computer design has improved greatly in recent years, so presumably there are shortcuts through this now). In Go it's so much more unclear, making the computer's ability to methodically do hundreds of claculations a second, way more valuable.

Which is essentially (ok, pretty exactly, having re-read it) what is said above about the weight of strategy in Go, albeit in a slightly different way.

All I really know is that Go makes my head hurt, and I'm not sure being a better player would make my head hurt any less.

Also, as said above, to me Go has no equivalent to the beauty and variety of the combinational play in chess. After a few games i lose interest, and that's not so with chess. Best chess book I ever had was one by John Nunn where he broke down 24 (as I recall) of his best games...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secrets-Gra...r_1_16?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309364922&sr=1-16 ah yes, this one. Perfect combination of tactics (he is/was an extremely tactical player, making for very lively games) and strategic insight, and a lot of real beauty to be seen in his play. great advert for chess, in the final analysis.
 
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