Boardgames in the News: Google plays Go

Go is an ancient Chinese two player game played with black and white stones on a nineteen by nineteen grid.  The game is one of territory where the aim is to surround the most intersections.  Although the game itself is very simple with players taking turn to place stones on the points of the grid, There is significant strategy involved in the game, and the number of possible games is vast (10761 compared, for example, to the estimated 10120 possible in Chess).

Go
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor ManCorte

In addition to the huge number of possible moves, Go has also always been considered to be particularly challenging for an Artificial Intelligence to play well as strategy involves patterns rather than specific moves with a finite solution tree – something that humans generally do better than computers.  Thus, for twenty years, devotees Go, have smugly pointed out that while Deep Blue first beat the then World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in February 1996,1 a computer has never beaten a Go Champion.  Yesterday, however, Google announced that it’s AlphaGo software (part of their DeepMind project) had beaten the reigning three-time European Go champion Fan Hui winning five consecutive games.  The work has been published in the scientific journal Nature,2 which seems to have been making a bit of a habit of publishing boardgaming articles recently…

Go
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor ManCorte

1 Campbell, et al., Artif. Intell. (2002), 134, 57; doi:10.1016/S0004-3702(01)00129-1.
2 Silver et al., Nat. (2016), 529, 489; doi:10.1038/nature16961.

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  1. Pingback: Boardgames in the News: AlphaGo Goes Again | boardGOATS

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