Twixtbot (a) TWIXT PP

7 replies. Last post: 2020-02-09

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Twixtbot (a)
  • MisterCat at 2019-11-19

    Regarding the TWIXT BOT, I have some comments which I will organize in separate threads.a) Twixtbot playing in tournamentsb) Twixtbot juniorc) Using Twixtbot for analysisd) Cheating in Twixte) How Bony Jordan can make money from this
    a) Twixtbot playing in tournaments.Hairspring’s recent post – is playing Twixtbot a waste of time?  Well, I can understand the thinking here.  Twixtbot WILL win, and having faced this monster twice, I can attest – your loss can be a bit demoralizing.  I say this because you might think that you have an advantageous position; maybe even a winning one, and then the bot makes moves that are completely unanticipated, flipping the game result in it’s favor.  It IS an ‘experience’, though – personally I think that everyone SHOULD give it a try.  While it is questionable as to how much you can really ‘learn’ in terms of useful strategy from the games (see topic c, below), I believe that it can broaden one’s appreciation as to how profound this game can really be.Look at Twixtbot’s recent history – several players have played game after game after game; a few dozen is not uncommon.  Even after all those losses, they keep playing – maybe in the hope of scoring that elusive win, or perhaps hoping to glean some new elements of strategy.  The games are free, it doesn’t really ‘hurt’ to lose, so I say – GO FOR IT!  (I think some comments here, by those players, would be apropos.)I expected the bot’s recent victory in the championship, and I am anticipating another victory in the current one.  You know what I’d LOVE to see?  How about the return of previous champions – you know, like Sam Dakota, Thierry Pertuy, Alan Hensel, Maciej Celuch, spd_iv, Florian Jamain, Dan Mircea Vasilescu and of course David Bush and passenger; perhaps joined by a few of the current top players.  This would be a ‘tournament of champions’, like the game show ‘Jeopardy’ will be featuring in January (GO KEN JENNINGS!).  The games will be so exciting to watch!  Of course, Twixtbot will win again, but cheer up: accolades will be deserved by the player who finishes in 2nd place!I’d love for this to happen.  However, here I am inclined to agree that perhaps Twixtbot SHOULD eventually retire from the tournaments.  After all – Chess software no longer plays in ‘human’ tournaments – as everyone agrees: what would be the point?  Programs like Stockfish and Leela Zero out rate Magnus Carlsen by some 400 points.  The top grandmasters don’t bother playing games against software; rather, they use it as a tool for analysis.  This, indeed, can prove useful in Chess; maybe someday, it will prove useful here, in Twixt.  Don’t go away, Twixtbot!  Just stop stealing away those championship titles!Twixtbot has already dominated the monthly cups (and retired) and Infinity (and retired).  Retiring from the championship eventually is probably best; after all, we humans ENJOY the satisfaction of seeing our name on the winners' list every now and then!

  • DrJochum at 2019-12-03

    Twixtbot should retire some time!
    But at the moment it is so inspiring to watch! If I had more time I would like to play against it.
    And right: I also would like to see some of the really strong player fight against the Twixtbot!

  • Alan Hensel at 2019-12-24

    1) If you are in a game with TwixtBot, I think you should just make the best move you can at any given time... like always... right? I never worried about my opponent’s rating. I let intimidation work to my advantage, and never to my disadvantage.

    2) In terms of game design, I think it’s good to have a bot, and it’s best to have a bot that is calibrated to people’s skills. TwixtBot, such as it is, is taking 5 minutes to think about each move, and it seems too strong for any human. I’d support TwixtBot having a TwixtMinuteBot account where it didn’t spend more than 1 minute thinking.

    3) I agree that TwixtBot, at this point, shouldn’t sign up for tournaments against humans. It’s like putting an automobile in a foot race. 

    4) I’d like to see Bot Tournaments, although that doesn’t make much sense until there’s a 2nd bot capable of beating TwixtBot.

  • MisterCat at 2020-02-08

    Seeing how this 'Twixtbot (a) thread is short, I’ve decided to post my thoughts on the recent ‘Twixtbot vs. The World’ experiment here.  As my first post above divided my subsequent posts into the topics: 

    a) Twixtbot playing in tournaments

    b) Twixtbot junior

    c) Using Twixtbot for analysis

    d) Cheating in Twixt

    e) How Bony Jordan can make money from this

    I will point out that the original subtitle for this post, which I neglected to include in the topic line - (‘Twixtbot playing tournaments’) is in line with some of what I have to say.

    My thanks to all who participated in the experiment, and these players have been cited in another post.  In as much as it was ‘fun’ to view this game as ‘pride of humanity’ vs. ‘the advent of machines’, and it WAS FUN, it really was not my intention.  I have learned enough about Alpha Zero programming (reading articles, interviews, YouTube posts, etc.) to get a handle on the type of analysis and decision making being used.  There is really NO strategy – no techniques – no ‘learning’ being applied in these games; rather, it is NOTHING BUT A MATTER OF STATISTICAL TABULATION.  Play 50,000, or 2,000,000, or whatever sample games (moving initially at random), and see which moves result in wins; build a neural net based on those moves that WIN MOST OF THE TIME, which can continue to improve as more results are tabulated; and in live games, continue the tabulation by playing out moves in the actual game to enhance the neural net, and more tabulation. (Correct me if I am not accurate.)

    There is nothing wrong with this; in fact, I’m somewhat IN AWE at this development in computer science, and I do believe that this type of programming can have far reaching consequences – hopefully good ones, but like all tools for good, one can envision it being perverted to evil uses.  But for the good, imagine benefits for world economics, ecology, medicine, space exploration, etc. that might come out of this approach!

    However, my feeling is that the ‘Alpha Zero’ approach to playing strategy games is NOT LIKELY to lead to improvements in the way HUMANS play these games.  Humans can not internalize databases of millions of games, or tabulate billions of results to decide on moves in a game.  We do NOT work that way, CAN NOT work that way, and WILL NOT EVER work that way.  (Commander Data wins a strategy game on an episode of Star Trek TNG – but then again, Data is NOT human. Data wins at Stragegema       )  Humans STRATEGIZE; they learn ‘rules of thumb’ in a game – what makes good positions, what are bad approaches to take; how to look immediately ahead for a few moves; no human internalizes millions of positions and tabulates them.

    So Twixtbot is basically playing statistically.  That the approach wins games can be seen from it’s record, but what occurred to me that it still is not actually playing ‘positionally’ or ‘strategically’.  How does it win, then – in a game with as much complexity as Twixt (or Chess, Go, and most others), it is only a matter of TIME, statistically speaking, before a human player will play less-then-optimal moves.  These moves might still allow that human player to win games against another human player, since neither of them can fathom it’s weakness; only the machine can see that after 50,000 games, the moves loses, say, 42% of the time.  After a string of less-optimal-moves are played, the machine enters territory where it is spotting moves which win, say, 95% of the time, so plays them.  The human is lost.

     But these ‘less-than-optimal’ moves ARE mistakes, of a sort.  They are too subtle for most human players to notice; not without playing through thousands of variations, and what human has the time or energy for that.  But mistakes, they are – so without the machine, CAN HUMANS AVOID THESE MISTAKES BY EMPLOYING A TEAM APPROACH?  That was the experiment.  Individually, none of the players on The World team can boast a good record of playing against Twixtbot, but NOW, the moves are being DISCUSSED, CHECKED, RE-CHECKED, and ANALYZED, using HUMAN UNDERSTANDING of the game.  No tactical blunders will be made.  No unwise decisions will pass scrutiny.  The Team worked with a goal – analyze and capitalize on the weakest part of Twixtbot’s statistical approach, and plan accordingly, using knowledge of the game, strategy, positional analysis, and limited looking ahead.

    IT WORKED!  WE WON!  Frankly, I had my doubts going in – based on what I had seen, I would not have been surprised at all by a Twixtbot victory.  I had ONE editorial planned in case we lost, another editorial planned if we won (this one), and I have no idea what I would have said in case of a draw.  But we won, so here we are.

    Should Twixtbot compete in rated play and the championship?  Well, NOW, I think that things are different.  Twixtbot CAN be beaten.  We have proved that.  It is not at all easy – but winning a championship is never ‘easy’, anyway.  Opinions above are leaning towards saying that TB should be removed from all rated play, because it can not be defeated.  This has changed.  For me, personally, at my level of play there is NO WAY I would ever be able to play with the degree of care and profundity that is required to win such a game.  But perhaps the top players here would rather be put to the test?  Humans can defeat the machine by using normal, human analysis, as long as sufficient effort is made so as to not blunder the game away with one or more poor moves.  Furthermore – based on this, I would very much like to see if a team of the best Chess players in the world – working with analysis, time, databases, opening books, etc. can defeat the best Chess engines – you know, Stockfish, Leela Zero, etc.  These engines are all rated over 3200, where Magnus Carlsen is a measly 2800, so generally NOBODY stages human vs. computer matches anymore.  Even the best human players come right out and say they will be crushed!  But I am not aware of what I am proposing EVER BEING TRIED!  If anybody knows of such a case, do tell.  Let us see how ambitious I am – perhaps I will describe the results of our ‘Twixtbot vs. The World’ experiment to the ‘powers that be’ in the Chess world, and see if anybody wants to test it out.  Again, my feeling is that ‘positional’ and ‘strategic’ chess moves, when applied WITHOUT ERROR, will defeat the mathematical approach taken by the machines.  I may post this remark over at the Chess Forum to see if anyone can further this discussion.


  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-02-08

    Regardless of how tb arrives at its moves, those moves are amazingly strong in the vast majority of cases. So yes, humans can learn a lot from the bot about what moves to consider. We’re much better off seeing all these specific examples than we would be had we remained ignorant. How could it be otherwise? I believe it is possible for humans to work out their own ways of finding similar amazing moves after enough study and exposure to this high standard.

    Now there is a second bot which takes a few hours per move on Bony Jordan’s machine. In the first game against its faster brother, I believe it demonstrated a superior understanding of opening principles, if not necessarily the first few moves. So this is an even better resource for humans to learn on.

    Having recently become more attached to my own rating, I hope Mr. Jordan would be willing to accept the current arrangement which restricts the bots to unrated games. Maybe after enough games against the top players, they could be given unofficial ratings.

  • MisterCat at 2020-02-08

    David, we have disagreed on the learning potential of Twixtbot before.  Actually, in THIS thread, I want to add comments regarding rated play, and will continue with comments regarding analysis over at the ‘using  Twixtbot for analysis’ thread.  Do we even KNOW of BonyJordan’s decision?  I mean, the next championship cycle has not begun yet; is it IN, or OUT?  I guess we will find out.  But if Twixtbot is really THAT strong, then doesn’t the poor thing deserve a chance to see it’s rating soar up to 3000?  That will never happen if all you weak 2400 players keep refusing to play rated games against it.  It has accomplished what it can by winning numerous monthly cups and the Infinity tournament.  All there IS is for it to continue to mercilessly beat up on all the ‘Twixt Masters’ here, so long as they are willing to play.

    And why not be willing to play?  We have demonstrated that the bot CAN be defeated with insightful and correct play; one would think that the ‘masters’ here (honorary title) might enjoy the challenge of defeating it on their own.  We have seen how to do it.  But this is not for me – I shall not be playing the new Twixtbot, and certainly have no expectation of playing in championship section A (down the road – someday – well, one can hope).  So I would still like the decision to be reached by the actual players, yourself included of course, and the creator.

    As for analysis and training, here is a link to the other thread:

    My Youtube link above was not posted correctly, so try this:


  • TwixtBot at 2020-02-09

    TwixtBot is not currently registered for any tournaments, although I think it still has the finals of the 2019 monthlys to play.

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