The Computer vs the computer
It was an ironic showdown between the computer and ‘The Computer’.
Ishida was nicknamed ‘The Computer’ in his prime, because of the accuracy of his counting and endgame skills.
Born in 1948, Ishida is now 64 years old.
However, back in the 70s, Ishida won the prestigious Honinbo title for an impressive five consecutive years, making him one of the top players of that era.
After the game, Ishida said that he thought the program was a ‘genius’ and marvelled at the calmness and flexibility of its moves.
In contrast, Ishida admitted that he felt frustrated at not being able to catch up.
Towards the end of the game, as Crazy Stone began to play some safety first moves that lost points, it became clear to those who are familiar with computer Go that Crazy Stone believed it had won.
We can assume that Ishida was briefed about the possibility of this happening before the game, so he wouldn’t be taken aback.
In the end, Crazy Stone won by 2.5 points.
Coulom and Crazy Stone also won the 6th Computer Go UEC Cup a week earlier, defeating the defending champion, Zen.
Crazy Stone seems to be enjoying a resurgence after having previously won the 1st and 2nd Computer Go UEC Cups.
Those of you who follow computer Go will be familiar with Zen. It defeated Takemiya Masaki on four stones in 2012.
Takao Shinji’s comments
At this more recent event, Ishida also played against Zen on 4 stones. However, Zen didn’t fare as well against Ishida and, according to Takao Shinji 9p, made many unforced errors.
Takao, a former Honinbo himself, also commented on the game between Ishida and Crazy Stone.
He admired black 52, pointing out that it’s the kind of move a human would overlook (preferring to atari from the other side instead).
That’s because it would be a bad move under most circumstances, but in this case it was surprisingly effective.
Takao said that white didn’t get any other good chances after black’s excellent play (with 52 and so on) at the bottom.
A four stone handicap
For the benefit of readers who aren’t necessarily Go players, a four stone handicap means that black (the computer) was allowed to place four stones on the board before white (Ishida) made any moves.
This may sound like a lot but, while it is a significant handicap, it’s not really as big as it sounds.
Only a fairly strong amateur player can hope to defeat a professional player like Ishida Yoshio with four stones.
More to come!
This event, the Denseisen, translates literally to something like ‘electronic holy war’ 🙂
The nitty gritty – rules and hardware
The games were played under Japanese rules and the players were given 30 minutes main time, followed by 30 seconds per move byo-yomi (quite a fast game by professional standards).
Crazy Stone ran on a 64-core server when playing Ishida. Zen ran on a 30-core cluster of 5 PCs.
We don’t have more details about the exact specifications of the hardware at the time of writing, but if you know, please leave a comment below.
What do you think about the games?
What do you think about the games (just below)?
Did Crazy Stone’s steady play surprise you? Or are you getting more used to a world where computers are now very good at Go?
Leave a comment below to let me know what you think 🙂
Crazy Stone vs Ishida Yoshio
Zen vs Ishida Yoshio
Zen vs Crazy Stone
- Takao Shinji’s commentary (Japanese)
- More about the Computer Go UEC Cup
- A list of human vs computer Go challenges
- Denseisen event page (Japanese)
- Rémi Coulom’s homepage
- Takemiya Masaki 9p vs Zen
- Computer Go demystified – with computer Go expert Martin Müller
- Man vs Machine Showdown – The Shodan Go Bet