the dorbel daily

Sunday 10 October 2010

Bots and Backgames

A correspondent offers as an opinion that the positions I showed in the last post should not even be doubles. The reason that he offers for this is, "That bots do not understand backgames". This is an opinion that is held by my many people, some of whom should be listened to because they are respected thinkers, some of whom are merely parrotting what others have said.
Let's sort out some nomenclature. White in the last post is "playing a backgame", i.e. holding two points in the opponent's home board with the hope of generating shots later, hitting one or more checkers and winning the game in that way. Red is "defending against a backgame", i.e. trying to bear in and bear off without leaving any shots, or surviving them or indeed winning after being hit.
Do the "Bots can't play Backgames" set think that the bots play them poorly, or defend against them poorly, or both? I'm not clear on that. Do they think that they play the checkers badly or do they think that they are very badly wrong in their assessment of the possible outcomes of the game to decide upon cube action? Somebody enlighten me here and I will be very pleased to hear opinions, ideally backed up with some data.
Some people I know produce positions, usually composed, that the bot will handle in a very odd way, I accept that, but I don't think that that is evidence that the majority of games are played badly. I also know positions where the bot can be well off the money in non backgame positions.
I will be very happy to play the first position from the last post as a prop, either double against no double or I will pay White a point to take the cube. Props can be set up and played on Gamesgrid. Any takers?
Alternately I will be very happy to take snowie playing either side against a human, each player to take the same side for, say, 50 games. Any takers? A sporting 5 euros a point shouldn't kill anybody and might settle the discussion in this case at least.


ah_clem said...

Well, the bots certainly understand backgames better than I do. I would surmize that they play them better than almost all humans, and that's good enough for me to take their play as "correct".

higonefive said...

Neil Kazaross has, as he said at bgonline, backgame RO's in stock , but he could not share same by now, because they will be part of a series of articles he is writing. I think the question can be easily settled, if you ask him there. And my personel opinion is, that Neil is not working with the bots just how to show, they can't play backgames.

Anonymous said...


PL here. I take your challenge and would happily play White against Snowie with cube on 2. So how'd be the steps to take the bet?



dorbel said...

Thanks for these comments. I think that it is perfectly possible that Neil Kazaross can play backgames from either side better than a bot. He is after all clearly one of the very best players in the world. How rollouts performed by bots can show that bots can't play backgames is beyond my understanding though.
Thank you PL. As I think that this position is a pass I will as I said give you a point to play White holding a 2 cube. I think that Gamesgrid has their prop function up and working, so I will check that out. I already have an account there, so you should open one yourself if you want to play. They don't as yet have cash accounts, so I suggest that we both send a suitable sum by PayPal to a third party who can be the stake holder. If we are going to play for 5 euros a point, then 250 euros would be a good sum I think. If one player goes 50 points down, the series is over. If neither player goes that far behind we could settle after 50 games, or if mutually agreed, play a second set of 50. How does that sound?
We could either play this as a money game, the simplest option, or we could play it at the match score in the article, which is Red leading 5-4 to 9. In that case, rather than play the match to a conclusion, we could just settle according to an agreed MET at the end of each game.

dorbel said...

Looking at the first position again, I still think that it is a pass at that match score (4-away, 5-away), but probably a take for money, so the offer to pay a point to white to take a money cube is closed to newcomers. Having offered it to PL, I will stick to that if he wants it.