Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

I enjoyed this one

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I am playing White, “Claire” on SparkChess is Black:

  1. e4 d5
  2. e5 f6
  3. f4 fxe5
  4. fxe5 Nc6
  5. d4 Rb8
  6. h3 Bd7
  7. Nf3 b6
  8. Bb5 Nxe5
  9. Bxd7+ Nxd7
  10. Ne5 Nxe5
  11. dxe5 Rb7
  12. e6 Qd6
  13. Qh5+ g6
  14. Qe2 Qg3+
  15. Kd1 a5
  16. Rf1 Ra7
  17. Rxf8+ Kxf8
  18. Qf1+ Ke8
  19. Qf7+ Kd8
  20. Qf8#


Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2017 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Chess

n the Age of Google DeepMind, Do the Young Go Prodigies of Asia Have a Future?

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Dawn Chan in the New Yorker:

Choong-am Dojang is far from a typical Korean school. Its best pupils will never study history or math, nor will they receive traditional high-school diplomas. The academy, which operates above a bowling alley on a narrow street in northwestern Seoul, teaches only one subject: the game of Go, known in Korean as baduk and in Chinese as wei qi. Each day, Choong-am’s students arrive at nine in the morning, find places at desks in a fluorescent-lit room, and play, study, memorize, and review games—with breaks for cafeteria meals or an occasional soccer match—until nine at night.
Choong-am, which is the product of a merger between four top Go academies, is currently the biggest of a handful of _dojang_s in South Korea. Many of the students enrolled in these schools have been training since they were four or five, perhaps playing informally at first but later growing obsessed with the game’s beauty and the competitiveness and camaraderie that surround it. (Indeed, the word “dojang” more commonly refers to a martial-arts academy.) Lee Hajin, the secretary-general of the International Go Federation, told me that she left home when she was nine. With only her clothes and a stuffed-toy poodle backpack that her parents gave her for Christmas, she moved across the country, into the home of a Go master and his wife.
The aim of all serious Go pupils is ultimately to be designated a professional. This makes them eligible to compete in Asia’s pro tournaments, which are broadcast on TV and sponsored by companies such as Samsung, LG, and the instant-noodle maker Nongshim. At the highest-level tournaments, first-place winners can win as much as three hundred thousand dollars. But the competition is fierce. It is estimated that, of South Korea’s three hundred and twenty pros, only around fifty are able to earn a living on tournament winnings. Sometimes, after losing an especially important match, players joke about drowning themselves in the Han River. Lee Hajin recalls having such bad insomnia before important games that her teacher’s wife would bring her a shot of whiskey, diluted in a cup of water, to help her fall asleep.
Go itself is simple in design but complex in its possible outcomes: two players, one using white stones and the other black, take turns placing their pieces on a square board, capturing territory and boxing each other out. If a child dedicating her life to such a game seems unfathomable elsewhere in the world, it makes more sense in East Asia, where Go has a twenty-five-hundred-year cultural history. Through the centuries, princes, generals, monks, and farmers have played the game, not only to win but to build character and develop mental acumen. “It’s also psychology, philosophy—it’s art,” Fan Hui, the reigning European Go champion, told me. In Tang-dynasty China, the game was considered one of the four arts that a cultivated gentleman ought to master, along with calligraphy, painting, and playing the lute. So many East Asian leaders have studied it that political scientists are wont to identify traces of Go strategy in the continent’s real-world conflicts. Henry Kissinger, for instance, argued that during the Taiwan Strait crisis of the nineteen-fifties, “both sides were playing by wei qi rules.” Today, Seoul’s Myongji University even offers degrees in Go studies. According to Daniela Trinks, a professor in the department, one in four Koreans knows how to play the game.
But recent events could pose a threat to Go’s cultural supremacy. Earlier this week, one of the world’s top players, Lee Sedol, lost two high-profile matches—the first of a planned five—to AlphaGo, an artificial-intelligence program created by Google DeepMind. The same program beat Fan Hui, 5–0, back in October. Until then, Go had been considered the only popular two-player board game that humans would continue to dominate for the foreseeable future, its array of outcomes still too dizzyingly vast for even increasingly smart machines to pick out the best moves. That, of course, has now changed. Even if Lee miraculously comes back to win his remaining three games, the first of which takes place on Saturday, in Seoul, AlphaGo promises to grow even more formidable. (“If there’s a limit to improvement, we haven’t hit it yet,” Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s founder and C.E.O., told me.) What’s notable, too, is how quickly AlphaGo improves compared with humans. The program lost two quick, unofficial matches with Fan Hui that were scheduled between longer, official ones, which the computer won. Five months later, it is capable of defeating Lee, who is ranked far higher than Fan. According to Ben Lockhart, one of the best amateur Go players born outside East Asia, Fan “could have trained his whole life and would never have gotten close to where Lee Sedol is.”
Lockhart, as it happens, is the lone American pupil currently enrolled at Choong-am. He is an anomaly at the dojang, not just because he is a foreigner but also because he has memories of a life without intensive Go. When he was in high school, in Brooklyn, playing the game but also “smoking a lot of weed and listening to Noam Chomsky in Prospect Park,” his peers in Seoul were already deep into their training regimens. Now, however, Lockhart is more disciplined. Last Friday, he began his morning by trying to make progress through a book of six hundred Go problems. These exercise books are a common component of Go pedagogy, as are actual matches and occasional lectures by professionals. Students sometimes memorize parts of games, or even whole games, from the canon. They also practice specific skills, such as “reading,” or peering into the future at branching paths of possibility—an activity that’s not dissimilar to the so-called tree-search components of AlphaGo and many other game-playing A.I.s.
In the long course of their training, students may play upwards of ten thousand games, developing intuitions about which moves tend to work out well and which don’t. AlphaGo, analogously, improves by playing itself, with the added advantage that it can flit through games quickly, while humans take time to think and place stones on a board. (In January, the DeepMind team published a paper in Nature noting that one of AlphaGo’s neural networks had played more than a million games in a single day.) But there is one particularly interesting difference between a dojang’s pedagogical program and AlphaGo’s: human students receive active guidance from teachers, who can draw attention to specific mistakes or suggest generalized patterns to seek out or avoid. According to DeepMind’s most recent account, although AlphaGo’s learning is shaped by observations of expert human games, it doesn’t receive targeted advice from any outsiders.
Although some Go players are eager to see whether computers will unlock undiscovered moves and strategies, others seem despondent. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 August 2017 at 3:26 pm

“Chess is like looking out over a vast open ocean; checkers is like looking into a bottomless well.”

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The quotation is by Marion Tinsley, the greatest checker player who ever lived, who is the subject of Alexis Madrigal’s article in the Atlantic. From the article, this anecdote:

. . . When Tinsley came to Edmonton in 1991 to play the friendly matches against Chinook, Schaeffer was also blown away that the world champion would agree to play this computer for fun.

The two men sat in his office and began the matches, Schaeffer moving for Chinook and entering changes in the game into the system. The first nine games were all draws. In the tenth game, Chinook was cruising along, searching 16 to 17 moves deep into the future. And it made a move where it thought it had a small advantage. “Tinsley immediately said, ‘You’re gonna regret that.’” Schaeffer said. “And at the time, I was thinking, what the heck does he know, what could possibly go wrong?” But, in fact, from that point forward, Tinsley began to pull ahead.

“In his notes to the game, he later wrote that he had seen all the way to the end of the game and he knew he was going to win,” Schaeffer said.

The computer scientist became fixated on that moment. After the match, he ran simulations to examine what had gone wrong. And he discovered that, in fact, from that move to the end of the game, if both sides played perfectly, he would lose every time. But what he discovered next blew his mind. To see that, a computer or a human would have to look 64 moves ahead.

“I was absolutely stunned,” Schaeffer told me. “How do you compete with somebody whose understanding of the game is so deep that he immediately knows through experience or knowledge or doing some amazing search that he was gonna win that position?” . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2017 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Games, Technology

Totally amazing come from behind to win: Ronnie O’Sullivan and a comment on competition

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The sound is useful in this video.

I just saw on Facebook a brief video by Elisabet Sahtouris about a basketball game she watched many years ago in China, just after the Cultural Revolution. She went with a Chinese friend, and Chinese basketball is coached and played exactly as in the U.S.: same rules, same goal.

Her friend cheered the first basket, so she knew which was his team. But then he cheered when the opposing team made a basket. And so it went through the game: he cheered for each basket, regardless of the team. So she had to ask him which was his team.

He didn’t understand, so she explained that he cheered for both sides, so she didn’t know which was his. He said that he wasn’t cheering for the sides but for the excellence, and he cheered that regardless of which team achieved it. The reason, he explained, that they put two teams in competition was so they could drive each other to excellence, and “we cheer the excellence.”

She pointed out that this could be done in any school: the coach and the players do as they always do, but the audience is told to cheer for excellence. She suggested that what we call the “winning” team take the “losing” team to dinner to thank them for driving them to excellence.

It’s a cooperative competition, with the emphasis on the unity of the effort and the competition merely as a tool to stimulate excellence in all. Keep the competition in the context of oneness and community.

It occurs to me that this is how announcers view the game: they point out the excellent plays (and the mishaps) on both sides.

I’m going to look for more of her talks. There are quite a few on YouTube.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2017 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Games, Video

The Greatest King Walk in History of Chess: Short vs Timman 1991

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Written by LeisureGuy

5 May 2017 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Chess, Video

Wow! A complete course in chess tactics, theory AND practice (problems included)

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Really a comprehensive job. This Open Culture post points out this amazing free resource. The Open Culture post also has links to free ebook downloads of the book.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 April 2017 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Books, Chess

The (fascinating) story of the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas

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I like the behind the scenes detail of this blow-by-blow of the relocation of the NFL Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas. The lives led by those named in the story are unimaginable to me.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 April 2017 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Business, Games, Government

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