Auction Komi

  Difficulty: Advanced   Keywords: Opening

Instead of prescribing a fixed komi, a tournament may instead use a system of bidding to determine the komi for each game. There are a number of ways in which this can be done. In all cases, bids are restricted to whole or semi-integral numbers, although whole numbers may be forbidden if jigos would be a problem.

In one system (used in the Japan Strongest Amateur tournament), one player is given the right to choose the komi, and the other then chooses whether to play Black or White. This is an example of You Cut I Choose.

In another system (used in the annual Furze Platt tournament in England), the players bid against each other in a standard auction, the player who bids the most points taking Black and giving that number of komi.

Auction komi systems have been criticised on the grounds that if they became widespread some players would end up playing Black almost all the time, while others would be White in nearly every game. At present, however, auction komi systems just provide a little extra variety and there seems little danger of them becoming widespread. They are also useful for unusual boards or starting positions, where a fair komi is totally unknown.


Charles For example we know that Rui Naiwei would willingly pay eight komi for Black. She is a scary lady on the Go board.

Jasonred Is her win percentage playing Black with normal komi much higher than normal, reflecting the extra points? Actually, how come 8 komi, shouldn't there also be a half point to avoid draws?

DougRidgway The usual criticism is that komi bidding introduces a new phase of the game (the auction) and requires a new skill (bidding) which is unrelated to standard go skills. Optimal play during the auction depends sensitively on the opponent and the rules of the auction.

Ellbur: Bidding should not involve any new skill. When you bid, ask yourself, "Would I rather play white or black with this komi?"

If you answer black, bid a point higher. If you answer white, then play white.

DougRidgway You also need to ask yourself what you think your opponent will bid. If you believe that's irrelevant, consider a thought experiment: would there be circumstances under which you would ever change your bid, given a free peek at your opponent's bid?

Ellbur: Your oppenent will not even make their bid untill they hear yours, so, at the time you make your bid, your oppenents bid does not yet exist.

A similar situation during the game; would you change your move if you knew your opponents next move? Again, your opponent responds based on the move you choose to make.

Andy Pierce: It does matter. It is well established that in negotiating price, the person who names the first figure generally comes out the loser. I am starting to appreciate the Edo-era system of no komi at all where you are just expected to win when playing black if you are playing someone of truly equivalent strength. Chess has this and doesn't seem to suffer.

Ellbur: Negotiating prices is not at all the same as bidding for komi. Price negotiations must occur when no price is obvious, and niether party has a clear idea of what they want.

I offer another example: Bidding in Bridge. Definite rules have been established for this bidding, allowing the best result for all. Strategy in Bridge bidding only results from a lack of clear information about the state of the game, i.e. chance.

In Go, the initial state of the game is known to all: empty board.

Andy Pierce: That's the initial state of the board, not the initial state of the game. For example, suppose I am an expert at san ren sei and play 3 stones stronger as black than as white. Does this affect your komi auction if you have this information?

Ellbur: It will effect the auction much less than it will effect the play. Human players play imperfectly, which leads to a form of luck, and a psycological aspect to the game.

As the entire strategy of bidding is to decide, for each komi, if you would prefer black or white, any other information involved will have no effect on that strategy.

DougRidgway Perhaps we could all accept that best play during the auction remains controversial?

Srn347? Adding negotiation skill to go skills would make the game more interesting. And who would take 8 komi as black anyway(other than champions who play with 5 stones and 5.5 komi handycap to the other player)?

Wouldn't the fact that the best play remains controversial suggest that the system works? If we could all accept the best play, that's what we'd always do, and the bidding would be useless... that's what *should* happen. If a "best play" isn't there, the aim of auctioning komi has been met; neither player has a forseeable advantage. --Baz

Perfect play would make bidding unnecessary if humans could figure it out. Then again, figuring out the perfect play would ruin any game since there wouldn't be any strategy (or tactics) in it. Good thing that doesn't apply to rock paper scissors.

[www_neutreeko_net]: Shouldn't the komi be the average of the two bids rather than the highest bid? That way, both players get a good deal (provided there is a significant difference).

fool (2023-03-03): To make it equal for both and eliminate "your oppenent will not even make their bid until they hear yours" you could have a simultaneous bid. First player writes a bid secretly, or whispers to referee, or whatever. Second player says a bid out loud. Then first player's bid is revealed. Nigiri breaks ties.

(comment moved from PieRule) RayTomes: In the late 1980s at the NZGS conference I tried unsuccessfully to get the komi in the New Zealand rules increased. So the next year I proposed komi auction where one player would say "I give you 6 points so I can be black" and the other says "7" until one accepts the others offer. I think this is a fair way where each player can always feel happy. This was rejected by the conference on the grounds that an auction required additional skills than go! (LOL) I explained that if you think 6 is fair you bid 6 and accept any higher offer, It requires no skills. I could not get a seconder for my motion! A possible alternative is that if both agree on the same value then nigiri can be done.

Auction Komi last edited by fool on April 4, 2023 - 05:28
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