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[Bug-gnubg] GnuBG faring poorly in backgames

From: Rob Adams
Subject: [Bug-gnubg] GnuBG faring poorly in backgames
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 13:39:13 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, I'm new to this list... I've learned a lot from
gnubg over the last few years and am very grateful to
all who have been a part of making it what it is.  I
wasn't sure how to reply to this thread, sorry if it's
starting a new one.

I disagreed with gnubg's evaluation and rollout result
of a backgame position posted on GammOnLine {from
Chicago Point's newsletter actually}, so tried to play
it out and quickly realized gnubg was just lost and I
wasn't learning anything.  So I tried just to beat
gnubg.  Since then, I've played several hundred
matches against Xbot and Tbot on gamesgrid {starting
from the nack opening} which I suppose are based on
gnubg 0ply and 2ply.  And I'm winning over 60% of 1pt
matches by just throwing blots at it...  I'm not a
great player either.

So, sure, it is going to be a lot of work to improve
gnubg in these types of games.  You can't just let
gnubg play itself because it is terrible.  It will
take some kind of supervised training.  But it needs
to be done.  Right now you just cannot say that gnubg
is a world-class level player.  Neil Kazaross's quote
on the opening page of the website an easily defeated
challenge; with anti-bot strategy, it is beatable.

Note that it isn't really backgames that are the
trouble, in "normal" backgames gnubg is fine (I
think); it is many checkers "back" games. 
Specifically if you start all 15 checkers in their own
home boards like an acey-deucy game opening ... from
there gnubg just doesn't do well.

Perhaps a new Neural Net for situations where there
are many checkers "back"?  I really don't know.  Maybe
use Snowie 4 to help train it (is that even legal?). 
Or maybe just use human v. human training... let a
strong human player or two play both sides.  I realize
this is asking a lot.  But failure to improve gnubg
will eventually render it into obscurity.  Newer bots
will come along that play better.  Maybe Snowie 5,
maybe Zbot3, maybe something else.  But if gnubg
doesn't keep improving, it will eventually lose out. 
And this is one area where gnubg has obvious,
horrifyingly bad shortcomings.  After these are dealt
with, more routine , small errors can be tackled, but
the need for improvement will never end.

I don't know how much this will change gnubg's
evaluations in more "normal" positions like the
opening rolls and replies: probably not much.  I
understand if people don't think it is worth the
effort.  I know it would be a lot of work for perhaps
little gain.  But until it is done, gnubg is
beatable...by Amateurs... are y'all happy with that?

Rob Adams

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