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Thibault de Vassal    (2007-01-21)
Go and chess, IGN Goama newsletter

From IGN Goama newsletter by Alexander Dinerchtein - http://www.gogame.info

Go and Chess ­ Two Games, Shared Experiences

Chess and go show are similar in many ways, yet it's always strange to see how the masters of each game try to "invent the wheel", instead of benefiting from the knowledge of their colleagues.

Let's consider sharing experiences!

These ideas can be useful even for strong Asian Go professionals:

1. Currently, only a few pros use Go databases and programs for studying. It is easy to find commentaries, written by 9-dan masters, which state that a move is new and has never been played before. Yet if one checks such moves in Go databases, one can sometimes find up to 100 examples from professional games. How can they cheat the readers who study these commentaries?

Once in Korea, I showed the Bigo Assistant program (similar to GoGod, MoyoGo and SmartGo) to Lee Sedol's brother Lee Sanghun, 5-dan, who is the director of a large children's Go school. He was surprised and said that the program looked very useful, and he added that he had never met this kind of program before. He even suggested deleting all amateur games and games played on Go servers, because of their low quality. I promised to order the programs and to install them on the school's computers if he liked this idea, but he did not follow up. Lee Sanghun, 5-dan was not able to break the traditions of his forefathers …

2. Even such top chess players as Kasparov, Kramnik and Topalov enlist the support of trainers during important tournaments and matches. During the Communist era, almost every Russian grandmaster worked on behalf of world championship candidates. Our government forced them to help, to show them new moves and ideas. Those who refused to help were punished severely: for example, sometimes a player would be prohibited from playing in tournaments abroad and would be refused foreign visas.

We do not see this in Go. Everyone thinks only about his or her own self. Do you know who is currently assisting Lee Changho? I don't know, either!

3. I would like to say a few words about playing technique. Chess players often used to write the move on paper first and then make it on the board. This helps to avoid impulsive moves and to prevent blunders. Go masters record the game afterwards, and so one can often find terrible mistakes, such as overlooking ataris and recapturing ko without playing a ko threat first. As an example you may see Black's move number 271 from this game: http://www.go4go.net/v2/modules/collection/sgfview.php?id=10828 I am sure that if a player looked at their move at least twice ­ before they write it on paper and after ­ they would not make such mistakes.

4. Even top Go tournaments are usually run by the knock-out system so we often see sensational results. Mightn’t it be reasonable to think about increasing the number of games in each round? If rounds were best-of-three (in case of time constraints, it would be possible to use blitz time controls for the third game), it would help to minimize sensations.

How about organising a definitive World Go Championship? Chess players have contested one for more than 100 years, and competitions for this World Championship have revealed the very best players of each generation. In Go it's harder to tell which player is true champion. In 2006, for instance, one international tournament was won by Lee Changho and another one by Lee Sedol, while Cho U won the largest amount of prize money. Whom can we call the World Champion? Who can say which tournament is the most important : LG, Samsung, Fujitsu, Chunlan or another? We don't even have a unified rating system …

If we determined a single World Go Champion, he might earn the same degree of popularity as Garry Kasparov achieved in chess, and this could have a very positive influence on Go popularity around the world!

Lionel Vidal    (2007-01-21 17:49:41)
Go and Chess

About your point number 3... A chess world champion could very well note its moves before playing and yet be mated in one move :-)
In Go pro-matches, the moves are usually recorded during play by another (younger :-) pro, who has also to deal with time keeping: it makes sense not to disturb gods at play by basic housekeepings :-). I remember an article on the WEB counting the numbers of obvious blunders in go pro-games, and it was *very* low compared to chess.

Concerning your point 2, it is not quite true AFAIK: most top pros run a school of younger pros or wanabe pros who play and analyse numerous games on the Master supervision (He does rarely play with students and then it is a great honour!). So a master does not not really analyse alone, but discuss many ideas with others.

Concerning your point 4, I think that increasing the number of games would change the playing calendar too much and a pro cannot play many more games by year without consequences on his results... even at my very low level, I find a go game *much* more tiring than a chess one (here I mean a face to face game, not correspondence or server go... something I still don't manage to get used to :-)
BTW, I also find that recovering from a loss in go is much more difficult (again I mean face to face Go) than in chess: maybe because of a higher involment, maybe it is just me. What do others players think?
Another point is that a pro is paid by the federation (a fixed amount depending on its rank, not linked with his gains in tournaments that are much more important), and have to give some services to the community: lessons, conferences, teaching games... and so on... and this is more true for the lowest ranked pros!

Thibault de Vassal    (2007-01-28 14:01:35)
IGN Goama

Lionel, your answer has been published in 41st IGN Goama newsletter... :)

Another answer :

"Also we got a letter from Benjamin Schooley:

Dear Alex, I have been having these very same thoughts. I think after awhile I started to accept the way things were done in the East and tried to see the positive side of it. Maybe three world champions are better than one. And really isn't it better that people don't have endless helpers and seconds, then it almost becomes a matter of who has the most help and the most money to hire that help and not the most skill on an individual basis. But I do get the sense there is more of a community in Go. Go players are more apt to share their ideas and puzzles with each other and not prepare secret variations in some unscrupulous plot. I would be more curious if the Korean paper at least acknowledges your thoughts, I highly doubt they will try to change anything though.

Still I do lament the absence of a broader tournament format. Not all are knockout but they all tend to have the knockout "flavor." I think some players who are really talented get overlooked (Hane Naoki) because their playing style doesn't mesh as well with a knockout tournament. On the other hand people who have novel playing styles like Cho U and Takao Shinji do pretty well in the KO format. They benefit from a smaller sample size, harder to get a read on their strengths and weaknesses."





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