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watsu

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Registered: Dec 16, 2001
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Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 16, 2008 4:08 AM

Ninuki-Renju (the game which Pente is a simplification of) has always seemed to me to be unneccesarily complicated for insufficient benefit, but I had a thought as to how it could be adapted slightly in order to make it into more of a Pente/Renju hybrid and in order to use the added complexity to make a fairer game. So, here are links for the rules of Ninuki-Renju, Renju and what follows is my adaptation proposal:
Ninuki:
http://www.gamerz.net/pbmserv/ninuki.html
Renju:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renju#Rules_and_Opening_Sequence

My hybrid proposal:
Player 2 plays the game with standard boat Pente rules (six in a row also wins, no restrictions on moves or threat combinations)
Player 1 wins with either exactly 5 in a row or 5 captures but has tournament rule restrictions on first two moves and
Ninuki-Renju restrictions on how threats may and may not be constructed. Player 1 would not be able to play a stone in certain locations (programmed in) just as currently no stone will appear for Player 1 inside the tournament rules restriction area.

Boat Pente rules on captures after an imperfect 5 is formed apply for both players.

So, what would this hybridization potentially accomplish, you may ask?

1.) Hopefully, it would serve as a bridge between Pente and Renju with more Renju players becoming interested in playing the game "with captures" and more Pente players learning a fairer and more challenging way to play as Player 1.

2.) It would offer a reason (besides complexity) for the additional rules which Ninuki had which Pente ended up dropping- a pretty equal game (my estimation, based on Renju results) for both players.

3.) With restrictions auto programmed in, players would be able to learn the Player 1 restrictions in a fairly intuitive way (as opposed to memorizing them)- through play of the game and seeing what is allowed on the board and what is not.

4.) It leaves out the DPentelike swap option currently used in Renju, so captures would be traded for swaps (in terms of complexity of game rules). It might not make quite as fair a game as Renju does because of this lack, but I think that it would a.) definitely be fairer than tournament rules and b.) be complex enough in its variations to challenge just about any player, Renju or Pente, to master.

I don't want to play non tournament rules games. If you take one of my unrated invites, play tourney


watsu

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Registered: Dec 16, 2001
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Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 18, 2008 5:06 AM

And, I'd leave in the potential for a rare draw (a fifth capture creating a five line from a six line) which is part of the Ninuki-Renju rules.

I don't want to play non tournament rules games. If you take one of my unrated invites, play tourney
attwo

Posts: 14
Registered: Aug 5, 2008
From: Italy
Age: 13
Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 19, 2008 6:27 PM

I agree with you, but the "hybridized" game may not be liked because of the too many handicaps that you are giving to P1: he is playing with the standard ninuki-renju rules and P2 with no restrictions at all! I have a different proposal about the rules:

1) Board is reduced to 11 by 11.
1) P1 places 2 black stones and 1 white stone on the board.
2) P2 player now chooses whether to play black or white.
3) White then places one more stone on the board.
4) Black places 2 stones on the board.
5) White removes one of the two black stones from the previous move.
6) White places a white stone.
7) The game continues as usual.
8) A five may not be broken and wins.
9) If black makes a six or more in a row (or is forced to do it) loses.
10) Black wins also capturing six pairs of stones (18 stones for Keryo-Pente).
11) White wins also capturing four pairs of stones (12 stones for Keryo-Pente).
12) An official game MUST be repeated twice, reversing roles of P1 and P2.

These rules add the fair Renju opening sequence to Pente, are not going to be difficult to remember and provide to white a little advantage, making the game more balanced.

watsu

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Registered: Dec 16, 2001
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Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 20, 2008 3:38 AM

Considering that free Renju (without swaps) was proven to be a win for P1, I don't think P1 has such an advantage in the above proposal. A larger board (19x19 as opposed to 15x15 in Renju) favors the first player. Overlines are fairly rare, so I doubt that counts for much of an advantage, personally, except perhaps between two players who are "masters". Any expert (or above) level Pente player will concede that tournament rules is insufficient as a handicap for P1. Both players have boat Pente capabilities for endgame scenarios, so no disadvantage is inherent for P1 in that aspect. So, to summarize, my theory on my proposal:

1. Tournament rules- insufficient disadvantage
2. Overline- minimal disadvantage
3. Imperfect 5s- (Boat Pente) even
4. 19x19 board- P1 advantage over Renju
5. 4x3 formation restrictions- insufficient disadvantage in Renju
6. Captures of 5 pairs wins- frequent advantage for P1 in Pente; additional winning option to that available in Renju... probably = slight advantage for P1


Bottom line (my assessment)- probably still advantage to P1, but fairer than current tournament rules.

A few comments on your alternate proposal:

Your proposal offers an extreme disadvantage on the captures. I once proposed adding a pair of stones to P2's count at the befginning of each game as an equalizing factor. Dmitri King's assessment was that that was too great a handicap and that the game would then favor player 2 at the top level of the game. You've not only proposed a version of that, but also extended the number required for P1 to win!

Playing on an 11x11 board would be uninteresting in the extreme to me. Even 13x13 is too small for my taste.

As far as swapping goes, we already have D Pente if we want to go that route, so I can't see a reason for an additional swap game when hardly anyone actually plays the one we already have...

I don't want to play non tournament rules games. If you take one of my unrated invites, play tourney
attwo

Posts: 14
Registered: Aug 5, 2008
From: Italy
Age: 13
Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 20, 2008 9:09 AM

Probably what are you saying is true, but I cannot see other paths than the swap for make a fairer game.

I have also tried the simple P1 moves once, P2 moves twice and then normal moves, but now P2 becomes a P1 and the problem is not solved.


P.S. Win by capture: with 6/5 is even an advantage for P2?

zoeyk

Posts: 1,930
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Age: 36
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Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 21, 2008 1:18 AM

ok heres my idea,..

regular pente rules,.. sorta,.
both players place a keystone side by side first move at the same time. so like,.. K10 white and L10 Black,..
after that both players will have a window pop up,..
it will ask both players secretly what cross coordinates they want to play their next move,..
once they have both entered their move they press enter,..

then if the moves were not in the same place then both moves will be made at same time.
how ever,.. if they have chosen to do same move it will not allow moves to either,.. so then either one or both must change move to not match. if they match moves in error 3 times in a row then game ends in a draw.

in theory; if played out correctly both sides will get a 5 in a row or 5 captures at same time and will draw.'
this is even,.....remember,...in even, there is never a winner. only can be draw. how ever in this variation there is zero advantages and usually someone will out smart the other,...or just get lucky.

~Z

Scire hostis animum - Intelligere ludum - Nosce te ipsum - Prima moventur conciliat - Nolite errare
attwo

Posts: 14
Registered: Aug 5, 2008
From: Italy
Age: 13
Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 21, 2008 9:59 AM

Your idea cannot work zoeyk.

The player who places a stone in K10 is P1 and because of that has an advantage even if the moves are done at the same time. E.g. if a player moves in K10 and the other in J9, it would be like a standard pente game in which P1 moved K10 and P2 J9. So, if a player moves anything but K10, his opponent, playing K10, will become P1.

Here's the perfect game:
1. K10 K10 K10 K10 K10 K10 1/2-1/2

zoeyk

Posts: 1,930
Registered: Mar 4, 2007
From: San Francisco
Age: 36
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Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 21, 2008 4:18 PM

umm no,.. i'm afraid you misunderstood what i meant.
lets say for example that the board was infinite in size.
now lets forget about K10 for a second.

there are 2 stones side by side touching. one black and one white. they both got placed there at same time. none came before the other. there is no player one in this situation.
again-there is no single P1,....both are P1 at same time.

they both continue to make moves at exactly the same time. neither player can ever be ahead of the other.

you said K10 K10 K10 K10 ext ext...

but,..in my situation im saying that the first moves are predesignated side by side with out choice,.....or*
that the game can not start until both players agree to not start in the same place,.. either way this solves that.

then,..to fix the problem of both players fighting over a move space 3 times in a row causing a draw*** Instead how about this,.. instead of a draw, the place they were fighting for gets filled by a grey colored stone that eliminates that place for both sides. like a road block, a dead stone. the pattern will have to work its self around the dead stones.

this game will in theory end in a draw every time if played correctly,...and why would you want it any other way? lol every one is always wanting to make the game even,.. but when its even no one can be a winner in theory. you just can't have your cake and eat it too

and hell,.. while im at it, incase this ever gets scrpited one day, im goina go ahead and name it right now lol,..i'll call it "Even-Pente"

~Z

Scire hostis animum - Intelligere ludum - Nosce te ipsum - Prima moventur conciliat - Nolite errare
attwo

Posts: 14
Registered: Aug 5, 2008
From: Italy
Age: 13
Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 21, 2008 4:32 PM

The dead stone feels innatural, it could work if played in an unlimited board with the two initial stones touching by a corner.

zoeyk

Posts: 1,930
Registered: Mar 4, 2007
From: San Francisco
Age: 36
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Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 21, 2008 4:33 PM

it could work on a 19x19 board too...and allthough it might work placing the stones into a corner why would you feel that this would be needed in order to make this variant work? but im sure your idea of having them in the corner vs putting them in the center would be just as fun and just as even.

Scire hostis animum - Intelligere ludum - Nosce te ipsum - Prima moventur conciliat - Nolite errare
zoeyk

Posts: 1,930
Registered: Mar 4, 2007
From: San Francisco
Age: 36
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what players really want.
Posted: Aug 21, 2008 5:01 PM

i doubt when it comes down to it that players want a even game,..when faced with a draw every time the game will be boring.

and players don't like that one side has more of an advantage over the other,..resulting in a continual P1 victory.

heres what i think players really want in a board game, they want the odds of evenness to be 50.5% vs 49.5%. so that the game doesn't end in draw,...but it really feels even-ish.

why? so players can search for that 1% ultimate pattern exploitation hiding in the complexity of it. so there is a very tuff puzzle to solve,..a puzzle that is able to solve vs a draw with no solution, and a puzzle that is not clearly easy to solve making it boring.

i think to get the percentage of odds closer to even (but not being 100% even)it will require more complexity.


~Z

Scire hostis animum - Intelligere ludum - Nosce te ipsum - Prima moventur conciliat - Nolite errare
attwo

Posts: 14
Registered: Aug 5, 2008
From: Italy
Age: 13
Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 22, 2008 9:16 AM

I don't agree, zoeyk. The fairness and the solution are not the same thing. Tic Tac Toe is strongly unbalanced, but it's solved into a draw. Anyway, any game will someday be solved: also checkers fell. And players WANT a 50/50 odd. I play chess also; odds in chess are 53/47 (at the strongest level, 51/49 between amateurs) and players are already thinking to the swap...

P.s. touching BY a corner, not touching a corner. My proposal was as this:

- - - - - -
- - - - - -
- - - O - -
- - X - - -
- - - - - -
- - - - - -

and the board unlimited in any direction. Very intresting, i would try it...





watsu

Posts: 826
Registered: Dec 16, 2001
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Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 22, 2008 10:57 AM

Chess, Go and Renju all have potential for draws to occur and draws do occur in those games to varying degrees. IIRC, Mark Mammel mentioned a stat of about 1/10 draws among top Renju players, I don't know what the figures are for Go, but they are generally relatively high for chess, despite the first player advantage in both Chess and Go.

Personally, what I'm looking for is not as even as possible a Pente game or the potential for draws to occur, but rather a game which is simple, keeps to the basic spirit of Pente (5 in a row and captures) and fair enough for both sides to allow a more natural spread range in ratings than is currently possible in Pente. The top rated players in the world should ideally be in the 2700-2900 Elo range, not 2100-2300. Four hundred Elo points difference between players means the higher rated player is expected to win about 97% of the time. So, there would be room for a whole level of Grandmasters who could beat "masters" 9 or more times in ten games if we had a game which was as even as Chess or Go (which still have first player advantages, as mentioned).

Connect 6, D-Pente and Renju are certainly similar games to Pente which are much fairer than Pente is and allow for that spread, but they don't hold a lot of interest for me because 1.) I like captures 2.) I prefer simple rules and 3.) evaluating/creating an even beginning board position (for Renju and D-Pente) begins to seem too much like work to me.

Even Pente sounds interesting; if neutral stones are allowed to be captured (mixed captures as in cutthroat) that could add an interesting twist as well. I haven't thought about that particular case too much, so I'm not sure how the game might need to be adjusted.

I don't want to play non tournament rules games. If you take one of my unrated invites, play tourney
attwo

Posts: 14
Registered: Aug 5, 2008
From: Italy
Age: 13
Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 22, 2008 11:45 AM

In go draws are impossible with official tournament rules since the komidashi compensation is of 6 points (= 6 points + draw odds).

Getting back to the numbers, the following analysis of the January 2006 FIDE rating list gives a rough impression of what a given FIDE rating means (from wikipedia):

- 19743 players have a rating above 2200, and are usually associated with the Candidate Master title.

- 1868 players have a rating between 2400 and 2499, most of whom have either the IM or the GM title.

- 563 players have a rating between 2500 and 2599, most of whom have the GM title

- 123 players have a rating between 2600 and 2699, all (but one) of whom have the GM title

- 18 players have a rating between 2700 and 2799

- Only 4 players (Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and Viswanathan Anand) have ever exceeded a rating of 2800, and none do in the latest (July 2008) list.

The highest ever FIDE rating was 2851, which Garry Kasparov had on the July 1999 and January 2000 lists.

In the whole history of FIDE rating system, only 48 players (to October 2007), sometimes called "Super-grandmasters", have achieved a peak rating of 2700 or more. (Wikipedia)

However, numbers cannot give you an idea of the true strength of a player, because the famous R(a) is unknown. The Elo system is the search of that strength. More games a player plays, more his elo score gets close to his true strength, but never perfectly matching it. Elo rating would be "perfect" after a player has played infinite games, so no player in the world has a 100% accurate elo rating.

A problem caused by elo is the "protecting one's rating", even from wikipedia:

In general the Elo system has increased the competitive climate for chess and inspired players for further study and improvement of their game. However, in some cases ratings can discourage game activity for players who wish to "protect their rating".

Examples:
They may choose their events or opponents more carefully where possible.
If a player is in a Swiss tournament, and loses a couple of games in a row, they may feel the need to abandon the tournament in order to avoid any further rating "damage".
Junior players, who may have high provisional ratings, and who should really be practicing as much as possible, might play less than they would, because of rating concerns.

In these examples, the rating "agenda" can sometimes conflict with the agenda of promoting chess activity and rated games.

Some of the clash of agendas between game activity, and rating concerns is also seen on many servers online which have implemented the Elo system. For example, the higher rated players, being much more selective in who they play, results often in those players lurking around, just waiting for "overvalued" opponents to try and challenge. Such players may feel discouraged of course from playing any significantly lower rated players again for rating concerns. And so, this is one possible anti-activity / anti-social aspect of the Elo rating system which needs to be understood. The agenda of points scoring can interfere with playing with abandon, and just for fun.

Interesting from the perspective of preserving high Elo ratings versus promoting rated game activity is a recent proposal by British Grandmaster John Nunn regarding qualifiers based on Elo rating for a World championship model. Nunn highlights in the section on "Selection of players", that players not only be selected by high Elo ratings, but also their rated game activity. Nunn clearly separates the "activity bonus" from the Elo rating, and only implies using it as a tie-breaking mechanism.

The Elo system when applied to casual online servers has at least two other major practical issues that need tackling when Elo is applied to the context of online chess server ratings. These are engine abuse and selective pairing.

Chess engines

The first and most significant issue is players making use of chess engines to inflate their ratings. This is particularly an issue for correspondence chess style servers and organizations, where making use of a wide variety of engines within the same game is entirely possible. This would make any attempts to conclusively prove that someone is cheating quite futile. Blitz servers such as the Free Internet Chess Server or the Internet Chess Club attempt to minimize engine bias by clear indications that engine use is not allowed when logging on to their server.

Selective pairing

A more subtle issue is related to pairing. When players can choose their own opponents, they can choose opponents with minimal risk of losing, and maximum reward for winning. Such a luxury of being able to hand-pick your opponents is not present in Over-the-Board Elo type calculations, and therefore this may account strongly for the ratings on the ICC using Elo which are well over 2800.

Particular examples of 2800+ rated players choosing opponents with minimal risk and maximum possibility of rating gain include: choosing computers that they know they can beat with a certain strategy; choosing opponents that they think are over-rated; or avoiding playing strong players who are rated several hundred points below them, but may hold chess titles such as IM or GM. In the category of choosing over-rated opponents, new-entrants to the rating system who have played less than 50 games are in theory a convenient target as they may be overrated in their provisional rating. The ICC compensates for this issue by assigning a lower K-factor to the established player if they do win against a new rating entrant. The K-factor is actually a function of the number of rated games played by the new entrant.

Elo therefore must be treated as a bit of fun when applied in the context of online server ratings. Indeed the ability to choose one's own opponents can have great fun value also for spectators watching the very highest rated players. For example they can watch very strong GM's challenge other very strong GMs who are also rated over 3100. Such opposition, which the highest level players online would play in order to maintain their rating, would often be much stronger opponents than if they did play in an Open tournament which is run by Swiss pairings. Additionally it does help ensure that the game histories of those with very high ratings will often be with opponents of similarly high level ratings.

Therefore, Elo ratings online still provide a useful mechanism for providing a rating based on the opponent's rating. Its overall credibility, however, needs to be seen in the context of at least the above two major issues described ? engine abuse, and selective pairing of opponents.

The ICC has also recently introduced "auto-pairing" ratings which are based on random pairings, but with each win in a row ensuring a statistically much harder opponent who has also won x games in a row. With potentially hundreds of players involved, this creates some of the challenges of a major large Swiss event which is being fiercely contested, with round winners meeting round winners. This approach to pairing certainly maximizes the rating risk of the higher-rated participants, who may face very stiff opposition from players below 3000 for example. This is a separate rating in itself, and is under "1-minute" and "5-minute" rating categories. Maximum ratings achieved over 2500 are exceptionally rare. (wikipedia)

Conclusion: Elo is a VERY good thing, but it mustn't be considred more that what it is.

watsu

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Registered: Dec 16, 2001
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Re: Ninuki Renju variant
Posted: Aug 22, 2008 2:24 PM

Yes, I actually read your entire post re: Elo. My point was this- we already use Elo here, so we can already see the potential downsides for Pente which are inherent in Elo ratings. However, unlike in other games, Pente can't make full use of the Elo rating system spread due to the large player 1 advantage, which puts an artificial ceiling on the ratings and congests things near the top of the game. That to me is the key issue, not the merits or lacks of the Elo system itself.




I don't want to play non tournament rules games. If you take one of my unrated invites, play tourney
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