Poker chess amp chance


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Thibault de Vassal    (2006-11-21)
Poker, chess & chance

As many of you, I regularly read Chessbase news and I was quite surprised to read this article "A chess master's poker tour" by Almira Skripchenko about World Poker Championship, french celebrities and so on... (a way to popularize chess ? or is it only Almira ? :))

I used to play stud poker and I was just looking informations about the part of chance in games. I only found this article written in french (sorry) :

If you know something about that or an article on the internet, I'm quite interested in.

Here is a personal estimation - at first sight - of the part of chance (opposed to a perfect play) in some games :

Chess, Go (& all determined games) : 0 %

Scrabble, Trivial pursuit : 20 %
Poker : 30 %
Monopoly : 70 %

Roulette, Loto (& all chancy games) : 100 %

Dinesh De Silva    (2006-11-22 13:08:37)

Henceforth there's a good chance of Almira S. and Alexandra K. being dubbed "Pokerhontas" and "Pokermon" respectively in the chess world. Haha!

Lionel Vidal    (2006-11-22 13:51:55)

Just to point out that scrabble, when played in duplicate, is 0% chance (but I vastly prefer the game as a duell, despite some luck, easily almost cancelled by a 10 games match, because of the various blocking and counting strategies involved :-)).
Same thing for bridge BTW.

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-11-22 13:56:01)

"when played in duplicate" ??

What do you mean ?

Lionel Vidal    (2006-11-22 14:17:20)

Duplicate scrabble is a form a competitive scrabble where each player (more than 500 in some big tournaments!) has his own set and play the same letters, chosen at random by a referee. The goal is to score the maximum at each move. The referee, in case of multiple max scores, chooses the possibility that opens the grid more, then all players play that move and the play goes. The very best players end usually with very few points under the theorical top score!
Note that a computer always gets the top score (obviously!) in that form a competition, and so cannot loose. But in a duell, because of the strategic aspects, the best humans may still beat silicon monsters :-)

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-12-06 10:53:56)

Why not a scrabble (thinking about that) where all letters are out and ordered before the start of the game ? .. No chancy factor at all, like chess the game is determined. It could be a very deep tactical & memory game, knowing letters of your opponent in advance, depending on your own words... Many interesting combinations, don't you think ?

Don Groves    (2006-12-07 09:01:45)

Thibault, I like this idea! It would be a very complex game and require not only good offensive ability (knowing lots of words) but also defensive ability to stymie the other person. There would still be the luck of the draw however, unless some method were devised to divide the letters evenly in the beginning, as in chess. Like Backgammon, however, it would be a game where skill could overcome luck at times.

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-12-07 17:37:16)

What about a "komi" ? :)

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-12-07 17:49:15)

A problem is I doubt I have right to implement Scrabble or such a variant of a trademarked game :/

Don Groves    (2006-12-08 03:00:18)

Yes, trademark is a problem ;) I have played a game long ago with a 5x5 grid where each player took turns naming a letter and each had to put that letter somewhere inside her grid. Scoring was one point for each letter that was part of a three-letter word or longer both in the vertical and horizontal directions. This game could be expanded to a much larger board with a few premium squares and with more points for longer words. This may possibly be close to your idea about Scrabble+. You have my permission to implement this and we split the enormous proceeds evenly. OK?

Lionel Vidal    (2006-12-09 14:34:04)

I am not sure this scrabble+ would be a better game than the current face to face competitive version. (the rules imply a game of skill; but also of risk management because of the clock and the correctness you may loose, but willingly give up, in a form of bluff very like poker).

The point is, why would one change a game where players can beat computers if one has enough skill (because computers are still bad at valuating the level of openess of a scrabble position), for a game where a searchable tree is (in theory) enough to play the very best moves?
The game then becomes IMO quite void of fun in correspondence play, because the player skill adds nothing to the computer evaluation. Note the difference in chess, where most correspondence players are convinced they do add and choose something worth improving the play. (although I have just give up the idea to buy an engine... gnuchess is enough for me as a sparring partner, and correspondence analysis, I let it to my shaky brain... for shaky analysis :-), but more fun!... And thank you Thibault, you convinced me to play correspondence chess again :-))

The deepness of the game is another wonder: in the current game I have to ponder many possibilities, an probalistic equipartition (sorry for the bad translation) (and good players always keep the count of the remaining letters)... it seems much more complex, though less analytical, than just wandering along a calculation tree?!

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-12-09 19:17:43)

Lionel, are you sure about GNUchess ? .. seems quite weak to me, did you have a try with Fruit, Rybka 1.0 or Toga ?

About Scrabble, what do you think of my idea (several posts above) to eliminate chance completely ? I'm thinking about a new board (and name for the game) with these rules - letters 'out of bag' and ordered already - may look like a chess-scrabble ?!

Lionel Vidal    (2006-12-09 21:24:05)

Your idea for scrabble is interesting but the luck seems still there (not that luck is a problem per se IMO): even if the letters are shown, their very order is luck dependend ; and the only thing that really changes is that you can forsee the letters of your opponent and play accordingly... and so the game is actually more simple (!) IMO, more calculating prone and less strategic because you remove some possibilities, all as likely, in your move tree.
To be more concrete, suppose you can play a scrabble for, say, 75 points, and open the grid for the opponent, or play a nice glue-word for, say 40 points, but let the grid closed enough. In your proposed game, I just have to look at my opponent possibilities, as I know his letters... I calculate one, two or more moves ahead and say, ok, I can open the grid and still win by 10 points. In the normal game, I have to estimate, if the openess of the grid is worth the 35 points difference and that means calculating the rough propabilities to score points on the letters I open, considering what my opponent already played, if he seems waiting for some specific letters, or maybe he is bluffing, but then by experience I know that the double 'e' I let is not very valuable, considering that only four expensive letters remain...and so on: the game seems much more strategic and interesting for me.
Of course, I can loose because my letters are really bad... but that is quite uncommon on a whole game for good players, and almost meaningless on a match with, say, five set or more. (remember that the goal is not to make words, but to score points, or to prevent your opponent doing so on the grid, something a good player can almost always do whatever his letters).

For the chess engine, I did try some, and frankly my level in blitz play is so terrible that gnuchess is enough for me for a quick match:-). Now I tried Fruit and Hiarcs on some of my correspondence games and even on my modest scale, I was not very happy with the result: they did suggest others moves than mine, but that were moves I would never have played (maybe (surely?) I am wrong, but I am not sure)... so what would be the point to waste computer time? Even if they may suggest a good move I missed, I would still feel uneasy to play something 'outside' my own mind... old fashion maybe, but that is how I have fun in chess :-) I still like the waiting of the reply, while wondering if I made an oversight! (that being said, I used and will still use the tablebases reading engine when needed: very useful at some points :-)
But then maybe my biais against engines made me use them badly :-) Never mind, I am not going to apologize for that to a silicon piece of junk :-) And if the beast feels somehow insulted and asks for a real time match, let's just play Go!

Thibault de Vassal    (2006-12-10 15:43:50)

Interesting point of view.

Chance in Scrabble probably gives it all his interest as it does for poker or even football. Question of suspense, probabilities... That's why chess or Go are not as popular as these games, and that's why I play chess & Go :)