Coin Flips

Posté par northlecale le 27 décembre 2017

Chess scandals are normally sidelined into the mundane digital media of the twitlogscape, but the last few weeks have seen one hit the broadsheets. What happened exactly? FIDE, that well known bastion of impropriety and honour, awarded a World Championship event to Saudi Arabia which eventually rejected any participation from Israel and grudgingly admitted Qatar and Iran. This is totally against the statuates of FIDE which all its nations are also supposed to be abiding by. Protests are naturally thin on the ground, despite the scandal the flipside is the hefty coinage. Money talks, and here it probably said something about there not being a problem for this and that, but it forgot to mention Israel. So the end result is pretty terrible. How can you have a World Championship when you actively exclude countries which are entitled to compete in that championship? Is the perpetual religious strife of the Middle East really an excuse to allow this to happen? Okay, Chess isn’t exactly a theatre for morality, but the idea that some members can be forgotten about whenever it is (in)convenient is a bit much. What about Go? Well in Go you have the routine exclusion of North Korea on a pretty regular basis for its ongoing diplomatic situation. Visas are refused. I suppose the ongoing state of near war and lack of diplomatic contact is somewhat similar. Does it mean that the IGF is any better than FIDE? Well I think for 2 reasons that it probably does. Firstly, there is usually little choice as to where events are actually going to be hosted – Japan / China / South Korea are always going to be the primary source of sponsor money. Furthermore, from my memory, the IGF issues an apology each time this happens. Indeed, I was actually quite taken aback that the Japanese chair expressed some displeasure about his government’s decision. I wonder what FIDE will say? In any case, it only illustrates once again the complete folly of man, particularly when poisoned by quasi religious beliefs.

Anyway, going back to coins. The highlight of the year for me was probably the DeepMind feat of learning from zero. Go, Chess and Shogi were totally taken apart with no prior knowledge, except the various techniques which they effectively suggest in the neural network layers – ladders is an example I believe. I am particularly interested in the progress of the Leela version of AlphaZero – http://zero.sjeng.org/ – which is running away at the minute. I believe the initial mode at the minute is trial run, but regardless, today it is roughly dan level, despite what looks like immense lapses of reason when you observe it playing on KGS. It’s kind of mind blowing just how successful this project can be, even it does take a whole shit load of processing power and distributed resources to train it to that level. (Other reproductions exist – Viking and Pachi are also having Zero versions) I think it’s going to make an interesting new opponent/analyst to add to my current choices of https://github.com/ymgaq/AQ and Leela 11.

All of which brings me back to that classic but lazy little excuse for making a blog post, the New Year’s Resolutions! What is my plan for 2018? Well, play less and study more is one thing. I have been falling too often into my bad habit of playing to pass the time – which is now getting more and more uncomfortable, since it’s in a darkened room waiting for a child to go to sleep, and with a child protection taped over my keyboard. So, 10 second blitz has to say goodbye, slightly longer time limits for me. Analysis of games is an absolute must, but how to actually put that into practice I am not sure. The ICC-2018 is my little tournament challenge for 2018, try to play something vaguely interesting enough that my brain has to depart to pastures new. Real life tournaments – well that depends on babysitting, but I’m hopeful for at least some kind of visit to Dublin and the Confucius Cup. Go Tourism, rather than Go Playing is more my thing right now. Translation projects seem out of the question right now, nothing else useful in Romanian or French seems to be lying around to try. Maybe some other kind of writing might be in order? Anyway, 2018 here I come.

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