Weiqi (Go) Versus Chess

“Using a universally relevant metaphor, Zbigniew Brzezinski,

former National Security Adviser to US president Jimmy Carter,

wrote in The Grand Chessboard,

published in 1997 (http://www.takeoverworld.info/Grand_Chessboard.pdf): “Eurasia is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.” China’s New Silk Road strategy certainly integrates the importance of Eurasia but it also neutralizes the US pivot to Asia by enveloping it in a move which is broader both in space and in time: an approach inspired by the intelligence of Weiqi has outwitted the calculation of a chess player.”
“The chronicle by Japanese writer Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) of an intense intellectual duel, translated in English as The Master of Go,

contributed to the popularity of the game in the West, but Weiqi is a product of the Chinese civilization and spread over time in the educated circles of Northeast Asia. Kawabata, who viewed the Master as one of his favorite creations, knew that for China the game of “abundant spiritual powers encompassed the principles of nature and the universe of human life,” and that the Chinese had named it “the diversion of the immortals.”
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html)

Several years ago I contrasted the number of players in the US Chess Open with the number of players in the US Go Congress, posting the findings on the United States Chess Federation forum, and was excoriated for so doing, except for one person, Michael Mulford, who put the nattering nabobs of negativism to shame by congratulating me for “good work.” Basically, the numbers showed Chess losing players while Go had gained enough to have caught up with, and surpassed, Chess. It has continued to the point that if one thinks of it as a graph, with Chess in the top left hand corner; and Go in the bottom left hand corner, an “X” would appear.

I have spent some time recently cogitating about why this has come to pass. Certainly world Chess (FIDE) being administered as a criminal enterprise for at least a quarter of a century has not helped the cause of the Royal game. It has not helped that members of the USCF policy board have stated things like it being better to work within a corrupt system than to leave the corrupt system. See my post, Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest, of November 29, 2017 (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=alan+priest)

Now that the bank account of FIDE, the world governing body of Chess, has been closed I do not foresee anything but further decline for the game of Chess. IM Malcolm Pein,

Mr. Everything tin British Chess, commented for Chessdom, “The statement from the FIDE Treasurer was alarming to say the least, but not totally unexpected. As the statement said, we had been warned. All legal means should be used to remove Ilyumzhinov

from office as soon as possible. Taking away his executive authority has not been good enough for the bank and FIDE will experience difficulty finding another institution to handle it’s accounts and this threatens the viability of the organisation. ((http://www.chessdom.com/trouble-for-chess-as-swiss-bank-account-closed/))

Although both Weiqi (Go in America) and Chess are board games there are major differences between the two. The following encapsulates the drastic difference between the two games:

R. Saxon, Member of a GO club in Tokyo (3k). USCF B rated at chess
Updated Mar 14 2017

From my experience, GO players are far friendlier and more polite than Chess players, who are prone to both trash talk and to gloating after a win. This is especially true for club players and younger players. Chess players may engage in gamesmanship to psych out their opponent. I’ve known quite a few superb Chess players that were real nut cases. More than just a few, actually.

That has not been my experience with GO players. GO players are almost always successful and well-adjusted outside of GO. GO players are willing to say with sincerity that they enjoyed a game that they just lost. I don’t recall a Chess player ever being so gracious.

The nature of the game is a good indicator of the personality of the players that like them. Chess is an attacking game in which you try to control the center. It’s very direct and may be over quickly if a player makes a mistake. The idea of a “Checkmate” is like a home run or a touchdown. It’s a sudden and dramatic moment that appeals to a particular type of person.

Chess appeals to people who like to attack and who savor the win over the process.

GO, on the hand, is a slower game which starts at the corners and edges and only gradually moves to the center. It’s extremely complicated, but in a subtle way. GO strategy is indirect. It’s a game of influence and efficiency more than a game of capture. The best players are those that know how to sacrifice pieces for territory elsewhere or to take the initiative. Making tradeoffs are key. There’s usually no “checkmate” type moment or fast victory.

GO is a game of patience and position. It appeals to very bright people who don’t expect to win quickly but who are willing to earn success one small step at a time. GO players enjoy the process as much as the win.
(https://www.quora.com/What-do-chess-players-think-of-Go-and-Go-players)

There are many Chess players involved with Go. Natasha Regan,

a Woman Chess International Master who has represented the English women’s team at both Chess and Go, says: “When I learnt Go I was fascinated. It has a similar mix of strategy and tactics that you find in Chess and, with just a few simple rules, Go uncovers a whole new world of possibilities and creativity. Chess players may also find that they can use their Chess experience to improve in Go very quickly. I highly recommend learning this ancient but ever new game!” (https://www.britgo.org/learners/chessgo.html)

Consider, for example, this by Mike Klein: “Many cultures have nationally popular strategy games, but rarely do top chess players “cross the streams” and take other games seriously. That is not the case with GMs Tiger Hillarp Persson and Alexander Morozevich,

who long ago claimed the top title in chess, and who both now take go somewhat seriously.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/chess-go-chess-go-morozevich-beats-tiger-in-dizzying-match-2272) Check out Tiger’s website and you will see annotated Go games along with Chess games (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). Chess Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich

plays in Go tournaments,

and holds Go classes.

(https://chess24.com/en/read/news/morozevich-on-go-computers-and-cheating)

AlphaGo has done for the game of Go in America what Bobby Fischer did for the game of Chess when he defeated the World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972.

The number of people playing Go has increased dramatically in the past few years. After the world-wide release of a new movie about Go, The Surrounding Game,

the number of people playing Go will increase exponentially. In a very short period of time the game of Go will be unrivaled, leaving all other board games in its wake.

Sometime around 1980 a place named Gammons opened in the Peachtree Piedmont shopping center located in the section of Atlanta called Buckhead, the “high-end” district of Atlanta. In was a restaurant/bar, which contained tables with inlaid Backgammon boards.

I quit my job at a bookstore and began punching the proverbial time clock at Gammons, which closed at four am. The Backgammon craze burned brightly for a short period of time, as do most fads, such as putt-putt. Few remember the time when putt-putt was so popular it was on television, and the professional putters earned as much, if not more, that professional golfers.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/magazine/putting-for-the-fences.html)

Although quite popular for centuries, Chess lost its luster after the human World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, was defeated by a computer program known as Deep Blue,

a product of the IBM corporation. The defeat by AlphaGo, a computer program from Google’s Deep Mind project, of first Lee Sedol,

one of the all-time great Go players, and then Ke Jie,

currently the top human Go player in the world, has, unlike Chess, been a tremendous boon for the ancient game of Go, which is riding a crest of popularity, while interest in Chess has waned.

I have wondered about the situation in the world considering the rise of China and the decline of the USA.

For example, consider these headlines:

China’s Rise, America’s Fall by Tyler Durden (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-25/chinas-rise-americas-fall)

China’s rise didn’t have to mean America’s fall. Then came Trump. By Zachary Karabell(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/15/chinas-rise-didnt-have-to-mean-americas-fall-then-came-trump/?utm_term=.59f66290ffff)

Is China’s Rise America’s Fall? by Glenn Luk (https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/01/03/is-chinas-rise-americas-fall/#41bd7a0d1e5f)

Also to be considered is the stark difference between the two games. It could be that the people of the planet are moving away from the brutal, war like, mindset of a war like game such as Chess and toward a more cerebral game such as Go.

“While in chess or in Chinese chess (xiangqi)


http://georgiachessnews.com/2018/01/09/why-you-need-to-learn-xiangqi-for-playing-better-chess/

the pieces with a certain preordained constraint of movement are on the board when the game begins, the grid is empty at the opening of the Weiqi game. During a chess game, one subtracts pieces; in Weiqi, one adds stones to the surface of the board. In the Classic of Weiqi, the author remarks that “since ancient times, one has never seen two identical Weiqi games.”

“In Written in a Dream, the polymath and statesman Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072), a magister ludi, captures the depth and mystery of Weiqi: “The Weiqi game comes to an end, one is unaware that in the meantime the world has changed.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html

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AlphaGo and the Hand of God

I watched the eagerly anticipated documentary movie AlphaGo

on Netflix (https://www.netflix.com/title/80190844) last night. The IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6700846/) gives it a rating of only 8.1. I would give it a 9.9, but then I have never jumped through the hoops required to rate a movie on the website. This reminds me of David Spinks, who lived and worked at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center,

as he did jump through the hoops and relished arguing about how to rate a movie. Upon learning I would rate it so highly David would, no doubt, exclaim, “What? Have you lost your mind? Nobody rates any movie higher than a 9.5!”

I spent an inordinate amount of time watching each and every game during March of 2016 while greatly enjoying the commentary of 9 dan Michael Redmond,

an American who is the highest ranking Western player ever, and Chris Garlock, the editor of the American Go Journal.

If I had to use only one word to describe the movie it would be “poignant.” Many people with no interest in the game of Go, or any game for that matter, would have little, if any, interest in watching a movie, especially a documentary, about a mere game, possibly considering it dry and uninteresting. They would be sorely mistaken. Games are played by human beings and we humans are emotional creatures. Only a psychopath could watch this movie without having feelings evoked. When something is gained something is also lost. The computer program known as AlphaGo gained a victory for artificial intelligence when man lost yet another battle with a machine.

Lee Sedol,

a 9-dan, the highest rank, professional Go player, who has won 18 World Titles, and is considered to be one of the all-time great Go players, lost the match to AlphaGo, 1-4, but won our hearts. Lee Sedol said, “I want my style of Go to be something different, something new, my own thing, something that no one has thought of before.” Unfortunately it was the silicon monster that showed something new, something that no one had thought of before. It is now known all the world over as “Move 37!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNrXgpSEEIE)

“In Game Two, the Google machine made a move that no human ever would. And it was beautiful,” writes Cade Metz in Wired.

The move reminded me of the great Go Seigen,

considered to be one of the strongest players of all time, if not the greatest, because it was played on the inside, near the middle of the board, a type of move he made famous.


Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo Move 37 reactions and analysis

In the movie one hears, “Move 37 begat move 78.” From the aforementioned Wired article: “But in Game Four, the human made a move that no machine would ever expect. And it was beautiful too. Indeed, it was just as beautiful as the move from the Google machine—no less and no more. It showed that although machines are now capable of moments of genius, humans have hardly lost the ability to generate their own transcendent moments.” (https://www.wired.com/2016/03/two-moves-alphago-lee-sedol-redefined-future/)

Move 78 has become known as the Hand of God move.


Lee Sedol Hand of God Move 78 Reaction and Analysis

Lee Sedol won the fourth game, striking a glorious blow for humans. Unfortunately he lost the final game in a close, hard fought battle. It may have been the last game a human will ever win against any program as the next incarnation of AlphaGo beat the current world No. 1 ranking player Ke Jie,

3-0 in the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, China, played on 23, 25, and 27 May 2017.

Before the match it was commonly accepted that it would be at least a decade before any program was able to challenge the best human players. Beating Kasparov at Chess was considered child’s play to beating a human at Go. “The Game of Go is the holy grail of artificial intelligence. Everything we’ve ever tried in AI, it just falls over when you try the game of Go.” – Dave Silver Lead Researcher for AlphaGo

While watching the movie the thought crossed my mind that what I was watching was a watershed moment in the history of mankind, analogous to Neal Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“We think of DeepMind as kind of an Apollo program effort for AI. Our mission is to fundamentally understand intelligence and recreate it artificially.” – Demis Hassabis Co-Founder & CEO, DeepMind

A comment from a member of the AlphaGo team has stuck with me: “We do not understand enough about Go to understand what AlphaGo is doing.” I cannot help but wonder if, in the future when programs are exponentially more powerful, humans will allow the programs to make decisions for them while not understanding why those decisions have been made…

This is a great movie. The Chess player IM Boris Kogan said, “The measure of a man is how he comes back after a defeat.” In the two months after Lee Sedol lost to the computer program known as AlphaGo he won every match he played against human opponents.

We have truly entered a Brave New World.

Garry Kasparov’s Shallow Thinking

“As I said, true champions are mentally exceptional. They can stick to their goals even in the most trying of conditions. It is easy to find ways to lose. The hard thing is to keep your mind fixed on winning, even when the pressure is at its most intense.”

The above is the culminating paragraph of the first chapter from, Knowing the Score: What Sports Can Teach Us About Philosophy (And What Philosophy Can Teach Us About Sports), by David Papineau.

World human Chess Champion Garry Kasparov

infamously lost the match played against the computer program known as Deep Blue and two decades later has written a book, his mea culpa, hopefully the last, explaining how, and why, he lost the match. From what he and his co-author Mig Greengard wrote it is evident how difficult it was for Kasparov to keep his mind fixed on winning because he found a way to lose.

Garry let us in on his thinking

when he hedged his bet from the first match, where the $500,000 purse was to be split 4-1. The purse for the second match “…would more than double, to $1,100,000, with $700,000 going to the winner.” Would Bobby Fischer have hedged his bet, or would he have gone ALL IN!?

“I underestimated that with so much on the line, IBM wasn’t only building a chess machine to beat me at the board, but a machine to beat me, period”

“Our contacts with IBM in the run-up to the match revealed one last flaw in my estimation of my chances. Gone was the friendly and open attitude that had been on display around the Philadelphia match run by ACM. With IBM in charge from top to bottom, this chumminess had been replaced by a policy of obstruction and even hostility.”

“In August, Deep Blue project manager C.J. Tan had told the New York Times quite bluntly that “we’re not conducting a scientific experiment anymore. This time we’re just going to play chess.”

This translates to, “We are here to win.”

This disabused Kasparov of the notion that he was some sort of collaborator in a joint intellectual and scientific effort. Now Garry was a gladiator in an arena where it was every man, and machine, for itself. It is written, “This gets back to the biggest reason I agreed to a prize fund that was less than everyone thought I could demand (especially my agent): I believed IBM’s promises of future collaboration. During my visit to their offices in 1996. I met with a senior vice president who assured me that IBM would step in as a sponsor to revive the Grand Prix circuit of the Professional Chess Asscociation.”

This brings to mind a quote: “My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it till now.” — (Comment made 10 April 1962 in reaction to news that U.S. Steel was raising prices by $6 per ton, right after the unions negotiated a modest new contract under pressure from JFK to keep inflation down.)
John F. Kennedy, 35th president of US 1961-1963 (1917 – 1963), “A Thousand Days,” by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. [1965]

Kasparov had nothing in writing, only a wink and a promise. Garry was in for a rude awakening.

The first game was an epic struggle won by Kasparov. At one point GM Maurice Ashley famously said, “The board is in flames!” In place of the game notation the games are described with words so people with little or no knowledge of Chess are able to understand without having a board and pieces in front of them. It is written, “As Prussian field marshal Helmuth von Moltke said, no battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy. My plan for a quiet fact-finding mission in game one had been blown to hell by the aggressive machine. I was pinning my hopes on my superior evaluation ability.”

Kasparov resigned to the humans operating the machine to end the second game. A lengthy paragraph details the scene when Kasparov was informed THE NEXT DAY that he had resigned in a drawn position. Garry writes: “To psychoanalyze just this once, with twenty years to cycle through the stages (of grief), this was also me saying to myself, “My god, how could “I” miss something so simple?” When you are the World Champion, the world number one, any defeat can be viewed as self-inflicted. This is not exactly fair to my opponents, many of whom could count their victories over me as the pinnacle of their careers, but after such an incredible revelation I wasn’t in the mood to be fair to anyone.”

If Kasparov is being truthful then it is obvious he “let go of the rope.” He simply gave up. He lost his belief in his “superior evaluation ability.” He came to believe the program was omnipotent. He saw only opening books and endgame table bases. Which begs the question: Why were opening books and endgame table bases allowed? Garry could not use them. Why should the machine be allowed to use them? Garry was the HUMAN World Champ; he could have played against a program that would have had to “think” on its own, just as the human. It was his title wanted by IBM. He could have dictated terms. He laments not having enough time between games to rest, something the machine did not need. Garry agreed to the format.

The Go program, AlphaGo, uses no table bases whatsoever, and because of that it has caused a revolution in the opening stage of Go. Someone could have written in the program all the known openings of the greatest Go players from the past 2500 years, but did not. The authors write, “…AlphaGo defeated the world’s top Go player, Lee Sedol.” He was not the world’s top Go player at the time he played the match, but he had previously been the top player. AlphaGo later beat the top human Go player, Ke Jie, then “retired.”

Just as he wrote about the inevitability of losing his World Championship title after his lost match to Vladimir Kramnik, Garry’s hand-picked opponent, he viewed it as inevitable machines would eventually supersede humans at the game of Chess.

About the final game they write: “When asked about remarks by Illescas that I was afraid of Deep Blue, I was again candid. “I’m not afraid to admit I am afraid! And I’m not afraid to say why I’m afraid. It definitely goes beyond any known program in the world.” At the end, Ashley asked me if I was going to try and win the final game with the black pieces and I replied, “I’ll try to make the best moves.” Bobby Fischer famously said, “I don’t believe in psychology, I believe in good moves.”

“The match was tied , 2.5-2.5. Should I play it safe and aim for a draw or should I risk everything and play for a win with black? With no rest day, I knew I would have no energy for another long fight of the sort that resulted from my anti-computer lines. My play was already shaky. I knew my nervous system very well from two decades of competition, and it would not withstand the strain of another four or five hours of tension against the machine. But I had to try something, didn’t I?”

Kasparov then went to the board and played an awful move allowing a Knight sacrifice because he thought the program would not play the Knight move. He did this even after saying, “It definitely goes beyond any known program in the world.” The Knight move is such a ripper that most class D players would make it. If you do not believe me then play 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 Ngf6 6.Bd3 e6 7.N1f3 h6

and watch their eyes blaze before playing 8.Nxe6 Qe7 9.0-0 fxe6 10.Bg6+ Kd8 11.Bf4 b5 12.a4 Bb7 13.Re1 Nd5 14.Bg3 Kc8 15.axb5 cxb5 16.Qd3 Bc6 17.Bf5 exf5 18.Rxe7 Bxe7 19.c4 1–0

Garry Kasparov has been called the best Chess player of all time by many. He lost to a computer program in under twenty moves. The game was over long before he resigned. It is called a “miniature,” among Chess players, and that is not good. Garry lost like a beginner. How can he be considered the “greatest of all time?” There was only one Greatest of All Time, and that was Muhammad Ali.

Did IBM cheat? “I have been asked, “Did Deep Blue cheat?” more times than I could possibly count, and my honest answer has always been, “I don’t know.” After twenty years of soul-searching, revelations, and analysis, my answer is now “no.” As for IBM, the lengths they went to to win were a betrayal of fair competition, but the real victim of this betrayal was science.”

I am having much trouble understanding what is written because Kasparov goes to great pains to prove IBM cheated when he quotes a 2009 New In Chess interview with GM Miguel Illescas, who was on the IBM “team,” along with many other Grandmasters too numerous to mention. “Every morning we had meetings with all the team, the engineers, communication people, everybody. A professional approach such as I never saw in my life. All details were taken into account. I will tell you something which was very secret. Well, it’s more of an anecdote, because it’s not that important. One day I said, Kasparov speaks to Dokhoian after the games. I would like to know what they say. Can we change the security guard, and replace him by someone that speaks Russian? The next day they changed the guy, so I knew what they spoke about after the game.”

If that is not cheating, what is cheating? It is written, “I make the point because after Enron, people stopped telling me that “a big American corporation like IBM would never do anything unethical.” Especially after they found out how much IBM’s stock price went up after the match.”

There it is, just Show Me the Money! In a capitalist monetary system everything devolves to Where is the Money? Or, Who has the Money? Or, How Can I Get the Money?” Kasparov mentions the IBM program known as “Watson,” which “won” a tournament of champions on the TV show “Jeopardy.” The person, or thing, that gets to answer the most questions wins, and “Watson” was, shall we say, REALLY quick on the trigger. Former Chess player Big Al Hamilton’s philosophy of life was, “Everything is rigged.”

After allowing the devastating Knight sacrifice in the final game one legendary Chess player erupted with, “Garry took a DIVE! Playing this way is his signal to us that the fix was in!” I replied, “Wonder if IBM was holding Garry’s wife and children hostage?” After several moments of cogitation, the legendary one, at least in his own mind, replied, “Where were Kasparov’s wife and children during the match?” If anyone questions this I suggest they read, The Fix Is In: The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR, by Brian Tuohy.

Now that computer programs play a level or two better than the best human players what Kasparov accomplished in his Chess career is meaningless. To history he will only be known as the human who lost a match to a machine. Kasparov knows this and it eats at him. For example, it is written, “Looking back, I was the last world champion to win a match against a computer. Why don’t those This Day in History calendars have a page for that?”