# on Go Theory re: your review of Beauty & The beast [#423]

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Dieter: on Go Theory re: your review of Beauty & The beast (2006-05-08 16:33) [#1511]

Yeah, me too I would be irritated whenever there was a reference to "Go Theory". As far as I could see, the theory was NOT available, except for Davies' Life and death. The first time I saw something resembling Go Theory, was when I read Minue's Haengma tutorial for beginners, which is why it meant such a boost for my own ideas on Go theory

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Bill: Re: on Go Theory re: your review of Beauty & The beast (2006-05-08 17:32) [#1513]

What do we mean by theory? Go has a number of high level concepts and proverbs (heuristics). What it lacks, perhaps, is unification and formalization.

I was suprised some years ago to read a definition of theory as a collection of facts. I think of theory as being at a higher level than that. By that definition, Eight live, six die, and the enumeration of liberties for big eyes are theory.

Now, combinatorial game theory is certainly a theory, and a formal one, at that. What about its applicaton to go? The evaluation of plays is theory, which go already had (except for certain ko positions). But it has only heuristic value. As for go infinitesimals, that's pretty well a collection of facts. Difference games are theory, but are limited by not being applicable to whole board positions with kos or potential kos. Even this most formal of go theory pretty well comes down to collections of facts, approximations, and heuristics.

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Dieter: re: Bill (2006-05-08 17:58) [#1515]

Hey Bill. The heuristics and proverbs that were present (in English literature) 10 years ago, were to be taken at face value, mostly. Take Lessons in the fundamentals: few of the fundamentals there are well founded. You're told to do so ("trust me, nets are better than ladders") but you don't really understand why.

What I mean by theory is a set of principles built from the rules, which are verifiable by facts. Certainly not the facts themselves (nor principles that cannot be verified, for that matter). Most of the proverbs I know are some kind of intuitive abstraction of facts not really backed up by constructive reasoning.

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Bill: Re: re: Bill (2006-05-08 19:54) [#1516]

I know what you mean. Still, of the intellectual games that I play, bridge, poker, chess, shogi, and go, go strikes me as the most theoretical. One can become an average club player (single digit kyu) by relying principally on high level concepts -- even not understanding them all that well.

As for net vs. ladder, there is a general principle in game theory that if game G' is the same as G except for having an additional option for one player, that player is at least as well off with G' as with G. That is enough to justify a statistical argument for the heuristic that a net is better than a ladder, because, as a rule, when you capture a stone in a ladder, you give more threats (options) to your opponent to save the stone than when you capture it in a net. A major exception occurs when one of the threats against the net is better for the opponent than each of the threats against the ladder. But the odds are against that.

So that heuristic has a theoretical underpinning. Still, in a book aimed at the general reader, I would not go into game theory and statistics. Most people are put off by formality and abstraction. I would, however, say something about the greater number of threats with the ladder. Didn't Kageyama do that?

CharlesMatthews: Re: re: Bill (2006-05-08 20:16) [#1519]

Charles The ladder is sometimes better, as I think we all know. As I recall, Kageyama says 'prefer the tighter capture', and that arguably is the ladder. But he is not so much saying that, as to prefer the close net to the looser net

195.153.117.68: Re: re: Bill (2006-05-09 11:44) [#1524]

I know what you mean. Still, of the intellectual games that I play, bridge, poker, chess, shogi, and go, go strikes me as the most theoretical.

Hmmm, I would regard poker, certainly, as more theoretical than go. Yes there are many heuristics , proverbs etc for go, but Poker has more coherent, consistent models for looking at the game as a whole than Go.

The endgame is the only part of Go for which I think that the latter can be said and all the 'theory' for the opening and middle game seems a mish mash of sayings and old wives tales in comaparison with Poker.

Just my 2 of spades...

(kokiri)

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Unkx80: ((no subject)) (2006-05-08 20:05) [#1518]

Yes, I agree that a number of Chinese books (I assume that Shen Guosun is Chinese) like to use the term 棋理 (Go theory) and often they say things that imply that "going against the theory is bad". And until now, I still have a very fuzzy idea of what these "theories" is supposed to mean. To me, most of these "theories" hold true for most of the cases, but there are exceptions, so these "theories" are very similar to proverbs. In fact, a number of proverbs seem to be touted as "theories".

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71.192.5.223: Re: ((no subject)) (2006-05-09 14:40) [#1525]

Bob McGuigan: Is there a translation issue here? In Japanese the character 理 has a meaning of "reason" or "principle". Would it be correct to translate the Chinese 棋理 as "go principles"? If so that would be less comprehensive than "theory".

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