American Go E-Journal

Your Move/Readers Write: Gary Kasparov on AlphaGo

Tuesday August 29, 2017

By Michael Bacon

Enjoyed the coverage of the Go Congress immensely! Could not help but poke a few of my chess friends in the eye while contrasting all the coverage it received with all the coverage the recent US Open did not receive on the organ of US chess, the USCF webpage. I’ve also been transfixed by Michael Redmond’s videos. The man is a national treasure!

Former World Human Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, who will always be remembered as the human who lost to a ‘machine,’ in his apologia for having lost to the computer chess ‘engine’ called ‘Deep Blue’ — not for having turned Kasparov a deep shade of blue, and a whiter shade of pale, I might add — writes about go in ‘Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins‘:2017.08.27_Deep Thinking-Kasparov
“The nineteen-by-nineteen Go board with its 361 black and white stones is too big of a matrix to crack by brute force, too subtle to be decided by the tactical blunders that define human losses to computers at chess. In that 1990 article on Go as a new target for AI, a team of Go programmers said they were roughly twenty years behind chess. This turned out to be remarkably accurate. In 2016, nineteen years after my loss to Deep Blue, the Google-backed AI project DeepMind and its Go-playing offshoot AlphaGo defeated the world’s top Go player, Lee Sedol. More importantly, and also as predicted, the methods used to create AlphaGo were more interesting as an AI project than anything had produced the top chess machines. It uses machine learning and nural networks to teach itself how to play better, as well as other sophisticated techniques beyond the usual alpha-beta search. Deep Blue was the end; AlphaGo is the beginning.” (pgs. 74-75)

Please note the author capitalizes “Go,” but not “chess.” I find that curious as I have always capitalized “Chess.” (note: the EJ does not capitalize go, consistent with AP style) In addition, Lee Sedol, as all go players know, was not the “…world’s top Go player,” when he lost to the computer program known as AlphaGo.

2017.08.27_kasparov-bookWe move along to page 104 where one finds this:2017.08.27_Kasparov-playing
“The machine-learning approach might have eventually worked with chess, and some attempts have been made. Google’s AlphaGo uses these techniques extensively with a database of around thirty million moves. As predicted, rules and brute force alone weren’t enough to beat the top Go players. But by 1989, Deep Thought had made it quite clear that such experimental techniques weren’t necessary to be good enough at chess to challenge the world’s best players.”

Finally, on page 121, Kasparov, or his co-author Mig Greengard, writes this paragraph:
“More success was had with another method for allowing machines to extend their thinking into the hypothetical outside of the direct search tree. Monte Carlo tree search simulates entire games played out from positions in the search and records them as wins, draws, or losses. It stores the results and uses them to decide which positions to play out next, over and over. Playing out millions of “games within the game” like this was not particularly effective or necessary for chess, but it turned out to be essential in Go and other games where accurate evaluation is very difficult for machines. The Monte Carlo method doesn’t require evaluation knowledge or hand-crafted rules; it just keeps track of the numbers and moves toward the better ones.”

While reading I continually thought of former World Human Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker’s famous quote, “If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.”

Not chess; go!

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Record number of game records posted from 2017 Congress tourneys

Monday August 28, 2017

More than 80 game records from the 2017 U.S. Masters tournament earlier this month have now been posted on the Masters crosstab, 2017.08.27_congress-arnold-analysis-IMG_8713including an extra bonus treat with the games by Sorin Gherman, who got them all commented by pros, including Yamashiro Hiroshi 9p, Tsuruta Kazushi 4p, Li Yuankun 1p, Myungwan Kim 9p and Matthew Hu 2p (his opponent in round 8 on board 9).

Meanwhile, 126 game records from the 2017 U.S. Open have been posted on the crosstab. Thanks to everyone who submitted records, with special thanks to those who sent in all their games: Keith L. Arnold, Soren Jaffe, Edward Lee, Dave Whipp, and those sent in almost all of their games: Ashish Varma, Eric Wainwright, Andrew Zhang, Eugene Zhang, Steve Zhang. Extra special thanks to Dennis Wheeler for uploading the game records.

Note: if you missed the deadline for submitting game records, you can still send them to us at journal@usgo.org and we’ll do our best to get them added. Be sure to complete the game information with both player’s names and the game result.

photo: Yilun Yang 7P (left) analyzes one of Keith Arnold’s (right, in cap) U.S. Open games; photo by Chris Garlock

 

Categories: U.S. Go Congress
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Your Move/Readers Write: On AlphaGo, an air of defeat, and a haiku

Monday August 28, 2017

“At the recent US Go Congress I sensed an air of defeat among some of the players with respect to AlphaGo,” writes John O’Conner. “They gave 2017.08.27_alphago-lee-sedolme the impression that they consider the study of go to be somewhat of a dead end process because they believe that no one will ever be able to compete with AlphaGo. Well I think just the opposite, and here’s why. It is human nature to observe, study, and discover. We see this in astronomy, geometry, electronics, and really in any scientific area. It’s how we learn to live our lives. I believe that as we observe and study AlphaGo, we will discover new concepts that will lead to the defeat of AlphaGo. Of course those new concepts will be programmed into ‘BetaGo’, and the cycle will continue. So I think that this is perhaps the most exciting time to be playing and studying go, with the goal of being the first to surpass AlphaGo. I’ve re-stated it in the haiku below.”

AlphaGo is king
Wood, fire, earth, metal, water
So who will be next

photo: Lee Sedol playing AlphaGo in 2016

“Invisible” available online; Yuan Zhou’s “AlphaGo vs. Ke Jie 9P”; Go World/AGJ issues available; Dino Pair Go

Sunday August 27, 2017

“Invisible” available online: “Invisible: The Games of AlphaGo” is now available online. ‘It’s a fascinating account,” says John Power, author of “Invincible: The Games of Shūsaku.” “I strongly recommend Invisible to any go player interested in the present and the future 2017.08.27_alphago-vs-ke-jieof go.”

Yuan Zhou’s “AlphaGo vs. Ke Jie 9P”: Also just out is Yuan Zhou’s “AlphaGo vs. Ke Jie 9P” from Slate & Shell and available through Amazon. Despite losing all three games,2017.08.27_pair-go-dinos Ke Jie did better than any one else had, and Yuan Zhou gives a thorough and insightful analysis of the match and reflects on the significance of AlphaGo for the go community.

Go World/AGJ issues available: You recently published a letter about the donation of go books to libraries (which I have already done) but I have heard nothing about libraries housing go magazines,” writes Joel Sanet. “I have a complete set of Go Worlds and the print version of the American Go Journal (there might be one issue missing) that I am willing to donate for the cost of reimbursement of  shipping which I estimate to be in the range of $40 each. Any library that is interested can contact me at yosdan30@comcast.net. BTW I have not see the NY Times crossword puzzle reported by Roy Schmidt but I suspect the answer to the clue “Travel edition of a classic board game?” is “on the go go.”

photo: a particularly intimidating couple at the Pair Go Tournament at the recent U.S. Go Congress; photo by Eric Wainwright 

Your Move/Readers Write: Naked go classes; Who wrote ’42 Life story? Next AlphaGo series?

Sunday August 27, 2017

Naked go classes: “The August 12th issue of The Economist relates the decline of Japan’s public baths,” writes Phil Waldron. “From a high of 2700 there are now fewer than 600, and those that remain are struggling to reinvent themselves. Some are turning into spas to cater to upscale clientele or foreigners while others are putting on performances and concerts. The Economist mentions one particularly creative establishment, however, which has gone a different route. In an attempt to appeal to the younger crowd, it now offers naked go classes!”

Who wrote ’42 Life story? “Does anyone know who wrote the May 18, 1942 go article in Life magazine?” wonders Jonathan Chetwynd. “Most articles have a writer, but not this one…”
Email journal@usgo.org 

Next AlphaGo series? “When will the next set of Alphago videos be put on YouTube?” asks George Shutack.
Production has just begun; we’ll keep you posted.

Go Classified: Go books; Board, bowls & stones for sale

Sunday August 27, 2017

Go books for sale: Selling most of my go book collection comprising about 40 books. Email hughbzhang@gmail.com for the full list if interested.

Board, bowls & stones for sale: Go board, 5.5cm of solid, very fine-grained wood and quite handsome. 12 pounds, 16.5” X 18” X 2.2; two bowls (perhaps mulberry?), 5.5” wide, 3.1” high; stones, 1.87” wide, double convex glass. All in excellent condition in the original box. $75. Pick up in person in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact K. Dove at k.dove@mac.com

Categories: Go Classified
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Moments from the MLily Cup: Days three and four

Saturday August 26, 2017

fullsizeoutput_c0dHua Xueming 7P’s Go philosophy is familiar
“No matter who I play with, if I’m playing a game of Go I am enjoying myself,” Hua Xueming 7P said through a translator during the Ruilong Primary School visit. “Even just last night I played four games, until midnight!” In the discussion room during the top eight round, she played a four-stone game with Jeff Shaevel (photo top right). Competition Officer Liu Jing 8P expressed similar feelings at the event, emphasizing that when he sees children playing and enjoying Go it makes him happy, because it reminds him of when he played as a child and how much he enjoyed it.

fullsizeoutput_c10Players began the top eight round with choosing for color
All in unison, following announcements of Wang Runan 8P, President of the Chinese Weiqi Association, players took stones from their bowls to choose for color, arranged the bowls appropriately, and started their clocks to begin the top eight round games. Park Jungwhan 9P and Chen Zijian 4P chose black and white respectively (photo top left).

Nie Weiping 9P joins the discussion room
In the discussion room during the top 16 matches, Hua Xueming played a go game with tournament sponsor Ni Zhanggen while everyone watched the tournament games projected on a fullsizeoutput_c1ascreen at the front of the room. During the top eight matches Hua Xueming 7P, Nie Weiping 9P, and Yu Bing 9P focused on a lively review of the tournament games in progress (photo bottom right).

fullsizeoutput_c16Semi-finalists chosen and paired
Competition Officer Liu Jing 8P introduced each of the four semi-finalists and prepared the box from which each player would choose their position and opponent for the best-of-three semi-final round (photo bottom left).
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report/photos by Karoline Li, EJ Tournaments Bureau Chief

MLily Cup: Final four players chosen and paired

Saturday August 26, 2017

fullsizeoutput_c0cPark Jungwhan 9P, Park Yonghun 9P, Li Xuanhao 6P, and Xie Ke 3P were victorious in their top eight games on Saturday afternoon 8/26. After all the games were finished, the players drew lots to choose their matches for the next round, which will be best of three matches; games will take place on November 17th, 19th, and 20th.

Pairings for the top four best of three matches (photo, left to right):
Li Xuanhao 6P vs Park Yonghun 9P
Xie Ke 3P vs Park Jungwhan 9P
-report/photo by Karoline Li, EJ Tournaments Bureau Chief

Adventures in Tongling City and a very short birthday

Saturday August 26, 2017

IMG_0792by Karoline LiIMG_0799

Down the street from our hotel Jeff Shaevel and I found the One Two Book Cafe, where we hoped to find good coffee to complement our otherwise local – and entirely delicious – culinary adventures here in Tongling. The cafe is also a bookstore and local hangout for young people to come and play games, on top of being a lovely coffeehouse. Jeff and I found ourselves there a couple of mornings when our schedule allowed, and were delighted – but not surprised – to find a Go set at one of the tables, on which he promptly trounced me two games in a row. However, our time there was not only a celebration of Go and good coffee; a room at the back of the cafe is festooned with balloons and stuffed animals and is specially designated as the Happy Birthday room. We looked no further for how to properly acknowledge Jeff’s recently under-celebrated birthday, which had begun only a few minutes prior to the boarding of our flight on Monday August 21 and as a result lasted only a few hours and was over by the time we landed.
-report/photos by Li, EJ Tournaments Coordinator

MLily Cup top eight matches begin

Saturday August 26, 2017

IMG_0975The final top eight players of the MLily Cup begun their games the morning of August 26th in Tongling at 12:30 on the dot. A clock issue that interrupted the game between Fan Yunruo 6P and Park Yonghun 9P in the first few minutes was quickly rectified by the competition officer and the game progressed smoothly.
-photo: Park Jungwhan 9P begins his top eight match against Chen Zijian 4P
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report/photo by Karoline Li, EJ Tournaments Bureau Chief