Go With Advantage And Compensation


I got an idea about an interesting funny game: Go with advantage and compensation. Not only it can be fun, but such game can be a way how to define precisely a vague question: "How many point would you pay for a chance to win every ko?". After I wrote this page, I noticed that something partly similar is also in the page You Cut I Choose.

The rules are simple: One player will get an advantage, for example that he need not obey the Ko rule. After players agree who is white an how big compensation (komi) he gets for it, one player (for example black) will says how big compensation is reasonable in his opinion and then white chooses, which of the players will get this advantage; of course, the other player will get the compensation (given number of points). I think this approach is fair for both players (though black is in a more difficult situation). The game then continues as a normal go (except for the advantage that one player has).

It would be very interesting for me if a stronger player (stronger than my poor 19 kyu) wrote here how big compensation he would suggest for:

  • The possibility to win every ko (in other words, he is allowed not to obey the Ko rule, it is almost the same).
  • 9 handicap placed in the standard way.
  • 9 handicap stones which black can place how he likes (Free Handicap)

I think that hearing the answer from strong players would be helpful because it gives some idea how much there things mean. But there are many other bizzare possibilities which probably do not have this helpful effect but can still be fun to play. Feel free to add more ones:

  • 9 black handicap stones placed according to the White's decision.
  • The same with the condition that the distance between two such stones must be at least 2, that means for example 10-10 and 10-13. And that they must not be put to the 1st and 2nd line.
  • Player A must pass once every 20 turns, he chooses when. (Or once every 5 turns.)
  • Player A must pass once every 20 turns, but player B chooses when.
  • Player A must pass once every 20 turns, it is predefined when exactly.
  • One player may place 3 handicap stones that may never be captured (a move is illegal if it would capture them).
  • Player B gets a single marked stone, such that Player A may not play on any inside liberty of a group containing the marked stone. That is, the group containing the marked stone needs only one eye to live.

Each of these variants may become boring after 5 plays with this advantage, but there are hundreds of possible advantages.

The mentioned attitude puts one player into a harder situation - the one who has to choose the size of the compensation. A solution would be that both players say their estimate (each of them must write it before he hears what the other said). The average of these numbers will be used and the players will be assigned so that each of them will play in a better (or equal) situation than they sugested.

Example: Two equally strong players want to play this game. Albert says: 'What is a reasonable compensation for a 9 handicap? Write it.' Betty:'I have written 90'. Albert: 'I hav written 95'. So the compensation will be around 92 points, and obviously, Albert must receive the advantage of 9handicap and Betty will get the compensation. Each of them now plays with better condition then which they suggested as reasonable.

Created by Reflame.

Alex: Well, the only passing rule that would make for an interesting game is the one where the player gets to choose when he passes. If the opponent gets to choose, or if he has to do it at a specific point, he will never be able to keep a group alive without making several reinforcing plays... compensation would have to be at least 150 points, probably more. If he gets to choose when to pass, well... that makes it a bit more strategic, since he'll actually have to pass more often than every 20 moves, but he doesn't want to do it too often.

Why does he have to pass more often than what's dictated? Because if he waits 19 moves and is going to be forced to pass the 20th, the opponent will know when he has to pass and can play his largest threat. So the real question is: given that this is move n since my last pass, does my opponent have (20 - n) threats that are larger than this one? If so, then this is the point at which I should pass. Well, it isn't quite that simple, because if the next largest threat is only slightly larger than the current move, it may be worth it to wait and play that one, as waiting an extra move here and there may result in fewer passes before the end of the game, even if each pass costs slightly more. Plus, I'll have to give him something at some point, so if it's move 8 and he has 12 large threats, I may as well keep playing and if he wants to blow all 12 of his threats to get me to ignore the last one, well, so be it... at least then I'll be able to happily play 18 moves without passing the next time around.

Anyway, it would still require a huge, huge komi. For handicap stones, various people assign various values to a single handicap stone, but it's usually on the order of 10 points per stone. Some say 13, because that's 2x komi (that is, if you switch the first move from white to black, you take 6.5 away from one person and give 6.5 to the other, so the first move is worth 13, thus the other stones are also worth 13).

Mef: I've heard of something similar to the pass variation for handicap games. One player, instead of getting handicap stones, would get to force their opponent to pass a certain number of times (nonconsecutive I think, but I'm not exactly sure) during the game. I had heard it approximated as worth 3 handicap stones per forced pass, and from my experience, that's pretty close. Either way it was a pretty fun go variant.

Reflame: I think that this game can be interesting even when the reasonable compensation is extremly big, as you write. And it is no problem to change it to "pass once every 100 turns".

The main thing I wanted to know was:

  • how important is ko (how much you would pay for being an absolute ko-master)
  • how big is the difference between normal and free handicap.

Could you tell how much you would suggest in these cases? Idealy if you tell one number as in a real game.

Slarty: I will guess, based on the proverb "a weak group is worth twenty points," somewhere in the 20-40 range for the ko-master superpower. Could be much more. I know not ko.

I think the difference between normal and free handicap is mostly psychological. Hoshis are reasonable moves... although building a moyo over the entire board is maybe not an ideal strategy (better take corner territory), that kind of mistakes is small. For two, three etc. handicap stones my guess at the difference: 3, 2, 0, 2, 4, 5, 5, 5. The trouble is that the black player will forget they "played" the handicap stones, focusing on local exchanges. Even shodan players will forget to play the followup move to their handicap stone, waiting until white approaches. Not using a stone properly will cost oh, say 3 points each time.

I sometimes wonder about point compensation too.

Go With Advantage And Compensation last edited by bugcat on July 26, 2021 - 15:48
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