Forum for Chinese Counting

Dead stones [#2161]

Back to forum     Back to page

New reply

RobertJasiek: Dead stones (2010-01-21 19:55) [#7081]

I lack time to fight against the continued edit battle about inserting references to dead stones. Let me point out the major problems though: 1) Some rulesets do not allow removals due to verbal agreements at all. 2) Some rulesets do not even use "dead" at all. 3) "dead" is not a term with always the same meaning but can mean different things in different contexts of different rulesets like either "dead as defined in the ruleset" or "stones that may be removed due to both players' agreement".

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-21 20:09) [#7082]

Dead is a very well understood general concept.

If, at the end of a game, I point at some stones and ask a player, are these stones dead? Then in 99.99% of cases, any player of reasonable strength will be able to give me a simple yes or no answer.

There are millions upon millions of go players on this world who have no trouble at all with playing the game, removing dead stones and then counting, despite the fact that they are not aware that "dead" might, in a rules theory context, have different meanings depending on the rule set in use. Despite the fact that they do not know about things like "agreement phase", "game pause", "encore", etc, they are perfectly able to finish a game.

A good general definition of dead is: "Dead stones are those stones that any reasonable player knows are dead."

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-21 20:41) [#7083]

Among the rulesets that do allow removals due to the players' verbal agreement, some use a different meaning for "dead" in the context of removals by verbal agreement. E.g., the Simplified Ing Rules avoid usage of "dead" and instead use "an agreement about all regions that shall be removed". I.e., the players might agree somehow. It does not matter whether they agree on exactly the set of stones that in some sense would be called the dead stones. The agreement should make the players happy - not a theoretical consideration about whether stones are dead. E.g., beginners might as well agree in a way that advanced players might perceive as strange. The beginners may be happy nevertheless and advanced players should not interfere to possibly make them unhappy. Just because beginners are not of "reasonable strength" yet does not mean that they might not make some agreement. The Simplified Ing Rules are applicable also by players below "reasonable strength"! Re: Dead stones (2010-01-24 00:18) [#7104]

"... that any reasonable player knows are dead."

xedover: Aww, Herman. That's not a good definition of dead stones. Especially for beginners. You can't define a term by using that term in the definition.

When I'm teaching beginners, I tend to use the term un/capturable for live/dead stones.

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-24 18:46) [#7110]

I know, it is very bad do reuse a term in the definition of that term. But that definition is the de facto definition that all players play by.

At the end of the game, nobody goes: "I think this group is dead, do you agree? Yes? Then I'll remove them. I think this group is also dead, do you agree? Yes? Then I'll remove them. I think this stone is also dead, do you agree? Yes? Then I'll remove it". At the end of the game, both players just remove the dead stones, the agreement is implicit. Exceptions to this are extremely rare.

Now there are situations where a more careful definition is required. One is when you're teaching beginners, another is when you're discussion rule sets. This page is aimed at neither audience. The concept of dead is explained on the page dead, which is where you would expect it.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 08:46) [#7112]

When doing removals by agreement under Area Scoring, I like to use this: "Do you agree that these and those stones [pointing to them] shall be removed?" Note that I do not refer to "dead" or "group"!

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 10:22) [#7113]

You don't realize how insulting that is, do you?

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 15:30) [#7118]

Eh? My opponents tend to understand perfectly well what is going on and give clear replies like "Yes!". Sometimes my opponents make the suggestions which stones to remove and I reply by stating agreements. I do not recall a single instance where an insult might have been perceived.

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 15:37) [#7119]

In 15 years of playing, I have never once had to ask my opponents whether they agreed with the status of stones, nor have they ever protested my removal of dead stones without confirmation. Unless you get some incredibly rare rules beast on the board, the status is obvious.

To ask your opponents "Do you agree that these and those stones [pointing to them] shall be removed?" is to say to them: "You are probably to stupid to realize which stones are dead and which are alive, I'll have to explicitly confirm it for every group".

The fact that your opponents are able to answer "Yes" is a testament to their politeness, and not a confirmation that your behavior is not insulting.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 15:58) [#7121]

You perceive it a matter politeness - I consider it a matter of clear rules application. It is also a defensive application, which avoids disputes that otherwise might arise from ambiguous life and death terms in the rules. - What disturbs (but not insults) me is rough informal game end handling, e.g., when somebody hides large parts of the board by his hands while removing stones, moves or lays stones while removing others or moves his hands only while I am moving mine. Such chaotic and simultaneous actions can lead to disputes, and that has happened.

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 16:11) [#7122]

You perceive it a matter politeness - I consider it a matter of clear rules application.

And it is in fact both. It is an example of being impolite through clear rules application. You will find plenty of similar examples under Bad Habits.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 18:37) [#7127]

Since you want to make it a matter of politeness, clear rules application is more polite than unclear rules application because it lets the opponent better understand how the game is proceeding procedurally. - I do not agree to everything on the Bad Habits page.

isd: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 19:09) [#7129]

Nobody does it do they, yet AGA rules recommend doing this. At the US Congress I failed to see anyone following that advice.

Unkx80: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 18:23) [#7126]

Actually, I may not find such a clarification question insulting. Perhaps our cultures are different.

But then, I don't ask such a question anyway. I find it superfluous.

And you remind me of Yahoo!...

xela: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-23 01:15) [#7098]

Robert, perhaps you might like to make a page with the title "Chinese counting: formal description" or similar. Then a comment could be added to the beginning of the current page: This page gives an informal and approximate description of Chinese counting. For a more detailed descripion, see (link). This would allow correct and complete information to appear on SL in a place where it is easily found, while minimising the resulting controversy.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-23 10:44) [#7099]

This Wiki should be correct on all its pages, not just those with "formal" or "general" in its title.

xela: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-23 11:27) [#7100]

I agree. I also want the information on this site to be correct. However, I believe that your conception of correctness is unnecessarily strict.

I think it's important that this site be useful to the majority of go players. Remember that Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica was more correct than any mathematics book previously published, yet few mathematicians since have found it to be useful.

The page as it currently stands (version 45) is clear enough that noone with a reasonable amount of common sense is likely to make a serious error. Furthermore, it is written in clear and simple language accessible to a general audience.

The second guidline at Wiki Etiquette is Write in a way that is easy to understand. I do not wish to discourage contributions to SL that are technical in nature--in fact, I think that the various pages on rules, ko theory, CGT, et cetera are amongst the most valuable parts of the library--but such things should reside on their own pages and be clearly marked as being different in nature from "general use" pages (for want of a better phrase). Based on observing this site for many years, I believe that there is a broad consensus on this matter.

Unkx80: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-24 07:54) [#7101]

Robert, you have to understand what kind of audience the article is for. Your ko paper needs to be precise, so I pestered you on your English in that paper. However, articles like this should be intuitive to the reader. Saying things like "remove that stones that both player agree should be removed" merely adds one layer of indirection and is not intuitive. In this real world, there is a lot of uncertainty and vagueness, and we live with them anyway.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-23 18:05) [#7102]

The page should be also for beginners, who do not know yet what "dead" is.

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-24 18:45) [#7109]

If they don't know what dead is, they can find it at the page dead, which is linked from the place where it is mentioned in this page. It would be utter madness to have a formal definition of dead on every page that uses the term.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 08:37) [#7111]

Sure. The problem is, of course, that you require beginners to understand terms more difficult than what is necessary for counting.

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 10:25) [#7114]

If I tell a beginner: "remove the stones that you and your opponent agree should be removed", the immediate counter question is: "Why should I agree to any of my stones being removed? Those are worth points". Which requires me to explain the concept of death anyway.

You cannot count without understanding when and why stones are dead.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 15:45) [#7120]

As I have explained before, beginners not understanding or not wishing to agree on which stones to remove are able to play it out according to their (weak) insight. They do not need to understand at all what "dead" according to perfect play is. It suffices if they are able to alternate moves and to count when they do not want to continue alternating moves any longer. - Quite some beginners like to play out things anyway. Especially young children. They like it so much that, e.g. in tournament games against me, they would test every not pass-alive string until it is pass-alive, regardless of how often I might pass in between. Some adult beginners against me have also tried it but for a slightly different reason. While a beginner child cannot read far enough (not even 2 or 3 moves), an adult beginner suspects that I must be right but wants to understand it for himself and therefore continues until he is able to read to the stones' removal. (Approach liberties inside a fake eye are the greatest hurdle.)

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 16:16) [#7123]

Yes, you explained before that you feel stronger players should not try to improve the understanding of beginners for fear of making them "unhappy". I think I'll just continue to teach beginners, rather than leaving them ignorant.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 18:40) [#7128]

I do not not teach beginners - I teach them after the game. (Unless a) they are so fresh beginners that they do not understand the basic rules yet or b) they want to be taught during the game.)

HermanHiddema: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-25 21:32) [#7130]

Ah, I see. Reading Sensei's Library somehow counts as during the game, apparently, and hence it is not OK to explain the concept of death here?

Bill: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-24 03:26) [#7105]

Since this page is about Chinese Counting, as distinct from Japanese Counting and even Ing Counting, shouldn't it describe how Chinese professionals actually go about counting the score at the end of the game? Do they remove dead stones? Then say so.

RobertJasiek: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-24 09:26) [#7106]

Is the removal of stones even part of the counting procedure itself...? Presumably we should say: the other game ending procedures precede the counting.

Anyway, Chinese Counting can be applied to Chinese Rules or can be applied to other rulesets, too, regardless of whether they are played by professionals.

Bill: Re: Dead stones (2010-01-24 18:24) [#7108]

Is the removal of dead stones part of the counting procedure?

Good question. It is not part of the play. It is part of the scoring procedure, but is not peculiar to Chinese counting.

OTOH, the removal of dead stones and the rearrangement of territories typically occur at the same time, so the distinction is abstract. A description of the actual procedure should include the removal of dead stones. The theory is covered under the area scoring page, this page is about procedure. :)

reply ((no subject)) (2010-01-21 21:33) [#7084]

From the main page: "the dead stones" vs "the stones on that the players agree that they shall be removed" in point 2

RobertJasiek: From a strategic point of view, these stones would be either player's dead stones left in his opponent's territories. Some rulesets using Area Scoring might define "dead", other ruleset might not use that term at all.

Phelan: The way you phrased it above is not very clear in english. How about "remove stones which both players agree can't live"?

RobertJasiek: The players do not need to agree on life (especially when life is not a concept in the rules at all) but can "agree on which stones to remove"!

Phelan: According to point 1 in the sequence in the main page, they should already know which are the live stones, so I think asking them to "remove stones which both players agree can't live" is a simpler way of referring to dead stones without mentioning the term "dead". I think the main problem with the phrasing you used, is that if you tell two absolute beginners to "remove the stones you both agree shall be removed", they'll most likely ask you "and how do we know which stones we should agree to remove, so we can remove them?". "The ones you think are dead/can't live" would be my reply. Also, I think this page is aimed at giving a simple explanation of chinese counting, I don't think it needs to have strict definitions with complex language which may confuse beginners.

Edit: just noticed the page had two inconsistent mentions of the issue. I restored the second one to the previous mention of "dead stones". When a consensus has been reached on which phrase to use, please replace both occurrences.

RobertJasiek: Re: ((no subject)) (2010-01-21 23:00) [#7086]

I don't know when the reference to "live stones" was added to point 1 again. This has the same problem as the reference to "dead stones" in point 2.

Simpler way of reference is not the same as correct way.

The page title is "Chinese Counting" and is not "Chinese Counting Explained for Absolute Beginners". If you want a page with the latter contents, then create it! If you want a page giving a simple explanation of chinese counting, then create it and give it the title "Chinese Counting - Simple Explanation"! A page with the general current title, however, requires correct and preferably complete information.

The answer to "and how do we know which stones we should agree to remove, so we can remove them?" is: If you do not know, then do not agree but resume play and play it out!

emeraldemon: change wording about dead (2010-01-25 16:52) [#7124]

Is there any reason not to add a sentence like: "if either player isn't sure or disagrees that some stones are dead, players simply resume play, and the game ends after 2 more consecutive passes." Or even "Any player may request that her opponent capture stones she claims to be dead, although this is rarely done among more experienced players." It seems to me this clarifies the main point: if you don't know what dead means in a context, you can still play the game.


p.s. I didn't edit the page itself because this is obviously a touchy subject; I'll certainly make the edit if no one objects.

HermanHiddema: Re: change wording about dead (2010-01-25 17:20) [#7125]

Formally, you don't start "counting" until after you've determined dead stones. ie, this page is purely about the mechanical procedure of determining the score, and not about how to get there. It is, however, useful to make note of that fact, so I will add it to the page.

Back to forum     Back to page

New reply

Forum for Chinese Counting
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library