Korea and China scored one gold medal each in men’s team and women’s individual respectively. At the final round of women’s individual division, Yu Zhiying 5P found a sequence to rescue black’s big group in the center and successfully concluded the game. With the latest gold, Yu Zhiying recorded three gold medals in a row, including the 3rd and 4th SportAccord World Mind Games.
In the run-up to AlphaGo’s challenge match with Lee Sedol 9p in Seoul in a little over a week, Go players have been worrying about the new age whose beginning might be marked by an AlphaGo victory. What will the Go world be like when computers are so good? Will people still want to play go? What will change? Taking advantage of the collegiality of the IMSA Elite Mind Games in Huaian, we sought counsel from a community that had been through this before. We asked chess players how the game was affected by Garry Kasparov’s loss to IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997, and the steady growth in strength of computer chess since, and how Go players should greet the news. The general view was that Go players should not be afraid of the new age, but that things will be a little different. There may even be some new and interesting problems to handle, as there have in chess.
“So many cheats!” said KwaiKeong Chan, a long time chess player, arbiter and organizer from Honk Kong. Chan is helping run the chess section of the IEMG as deputy chief arbiter. The software is so strong that it has become very easy to find new ways to cheat, Chan said. “Hiding in the toilet is primitive,” he said dismissively of a toilet-based chess scandal last year in Dubai, however refusing to detail some of the more subtle methods people use. Strong computers also are how officials crack down on cheats, he said. Chess software is so good that given a board position and an ELO rating, you can predict the exact set of moves a player of that strength will likely draw from. If a player consistently picks better moves than are likely for his or her rating, officials know to pay close attention. “You cannot play beyond yourself. It’s not humanly possible,” said Chan, who himself had designed some very early chess-playing software.
Beyond that, chess players don’t really care about computers’ strength and said Go players shouldn’t either, he said. Rather, the advent of strong computer Go will bring publicity to the game, as Deep Blue did for chess, Chan said. “That is always a good thing, publicity, good or bad. Publicity is what you need.” Chess is being played more than ever before, and while Deep Blue is not the main reason for that – he cited years of community effort in presenting chess well – it did produce a second surge of new players after the Bobby Fischer surge of the 1970s.
The presence of such strong computers has had other effects on how chess is played and the nature of chess expertise, players suggested. Since strong computers can provide weak and middling players with solid and accurate analysis, the role of the chess master is different than it was, said Russian player Alexandra Kosteniuk, a grandmaster, former Women’s World Chess Champion and author of “Diary of a Chess Queen.” The strength of players has gone up, but the best players don’t command the same respect they might have in years past because the best critique is available to everyone. “Maybe in a few years, there will be no Go masters,” she said.
Shahriyar Mamedyarov, a 31-year-old Azerbaijani grandmaster and former rapid chess World Champion, said it used to be that when he was in world championship tournaments, he might have seven or eight fellow players with him helping him prepare for the games. He doesn’t need to do that now, since any questions he has or analysis he needs done can be done by computer. Valentina Evgenyevna Gunina, a three-time Russian women’s champion, said computers had raised the standard of training and that “we need to memorize much more than we did before.”
Kirsan ILyumzhinov, the controversial president of both the Federation Internationale des Echecs and the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, as well as the head of IMSA and a long time sponsor of computer go competitions, said in the early days of the computer go project, human players and human programmers would work hard to develop the computer player and make it stronger. “Now the computer develops and trains the human.”
Perhaps the bluntest argument against fear of computers learning to play our games well came from Ruslan Ponomariov, a Ukrainian grandmaster and FIDE World Champion from 2002 to 2004.
“What we can do?” he asked with a shrug.
– Reporting by Andy Okun and Natalia Kovaleva
Being pushed to the loser’s bracket Yu Zhiying 5P managed to come back to the final, defeating Yu Jin 6D and Joanne Missingham 7P in a row. Choi Jeong 6P and Yu Zhiying 5P are playing the final round tomorrow for the gold and silver medals. The bronze medal went to Joanne, while the 4th place to Cao Youyin and the 5th to Yu Jin 6D.
Korea is getting close to winning two gold medals. The Korean team is leading the men’s team competition with three wins and no losses, while Choi Jeong 6P, the top Korean female player has advanced to the final match for the gold.
In the third round of men’s team division, Korea defeated Japan by 3 to 0, China defeated North America by 3 to 0, and Chinese Taipei defeated Europe by 3 to 0. As a result of today’s round, the Korean team is leading the league and Japan, China, and Taipei are following with two wins and one loss each.
In the women’s division, Choi Jeong is waiting to find out who will be her opponent in the final for the gold medal, from among Yu Zhiying 5P, Cao Youyin 3P, Joanne Missingham 7P and Yu Jin 6d. The next round will be Cao Youyin (China) against Joanne Missingham 7P (Taipei) and Yu Jin 6d (Canada) against Yu Zhiying 5P (China); the two winners of these matches will play each other for the ticket to the final round.
The International Mind Sports Association will hold three more IMSA Elite Mind Games in Huaian, Jiangsu Province, China over the next three years, according to IMSA Secretary General (and AGA VP) Thomas Hsiang. IMSA signed a memorandum of understanding on Feb. 28 at the first IEMG with officials from the Jiangsu Sports Bureau, the government of Huaian and the China Qiyuan (the Board and Card Games Administrative Center of China’s General Administration of Sport) under which a second, third and fourth IEMG will be held the second week of January in 2017, 2018 and 2019. “I am very grateful to our friends at the China Qiyuan for their crucial role in making the first IEMG possible, and now for adding three more rounds of IEMG,” said Hsiang. “The local organizational efforts have also been just marvelous! The past few days have been most enjoyable and I look forward to having this event become a regular fixture on the mind sports scene.” As part of the MOU, IMSA will open an office and a mind sports academy in Huaian and all the parties have agreed to work to spread mind sports generally and also to promote Huaian as the “Mind Sports City of the World.” The IEMG were in part prompted by the end of the successful four-year run of the similarly structured SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing.
As the 1st IMSA Elite Mind Games continues, the race to the gold medal is getting intense. On Feb. 27th, the 2nd round of Men’s team division and the 3rd round of Women’s individual division matches were completed.
At the IMSA Elite Mind Games, the Japanese men’s Go team started well, with a 2-1 win over Taiwan in round 1, despite a less-experienced team from the Nihon Kiin’s newest generation of players. Wins were scored by Yuta Mutsuura 2p against Lin Li-Hsiang 6p and by Toramaru Shibano 2p over Lin Shih-Hsun. The team’s first board, Tomoya Hirata lost to Chen Shih-Iuan 9p. Yuta and Toramaru are both 16 years old, pros for the last two years, well-dressed in conservative blue suits and almost painfully shy when interviewed. Asked about the playing style of his generation in Japan, Yuta shrugged. “I always play Go on the Internet against players from China, Korea,” he said through an interpreter. “So many players, so many styles.” Both players have been five or six times to international tournaments, as well as keeping the very busy schedule of active Japanese pros and winning quick promotion to 2p. Yuta said he copes with the stress of tournaments by listening to music and walking by himself before his games. He learned go from his father as a young child. He said he receives a lot of support and encouragement, but it is sometimes difficult being a full-time go player since not many of his friends and none of his family play the game, except, of course, for his father. “He likes Go more than I do,” Yuta said.