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 Post subject: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #1 Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 2:26 pm 
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Hello!

I apologize if this has been brought up before, i couldnt find anything in the search that seemed to match. I recently have been looking at AGA rules, up to this point i have only played in club games and online, and both usually do not use the passing stone rule, where if you pass, you give a capture to the opponent. It seemed reasonable, but I played a game the other day that pointed out an issue. It was an OGS game, in endgame. Everything worth playing had been played, but my opponent played 3 moves in my territory that did absolutely nothing. Normally these stones count as captures, but since I had to pass every move in AGA rules I would have given the opponent a stone for each of the dead stones played nullifying the difference.

I was playing as white and passed first, so technically got a single point out of the exchange (because white has to pass last in AGA). But even so, I feel like an opponent could just keep playing dead stones with no penalty until i had to either play a move to capture something or black finally passes. Of course this probably isnt an issue in a reasonable game, but it's already frustrating when someone plays such frankly dumb invasion attempts after the game is over, but at least you get points for it. But with the pass a stone rule, you might as well respond to every black move in your territory because it is worth just as much as passing.

I am mostly curious if i am simply misinterpreting something, because I am seriously considering trying to go to some AGA tournaments if the lockdown ever ends. I want to make sure i am interpreting this correctly. And if i am, it just seems like troll bait to allow that.


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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #2 Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:17 pm 
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Yes, pass stones mean you cannot smuggly pass and gain points as your beginner/dumb/troll opponent repeatedly dies in gote inside your territory, like you can with Japanese which are 'sharper'. But do you think a troll really cares about losing a few points?

KayaKai wrote:
But with the pass a stone rule, you might as well respond to every black move in your territory because it is worth just as much as passing.

Yes, it has no direct cost, though there is an opportunity cost if there are valuable moves still left on the board. Remember in AGA rules dame are valuable moves (if counting territory style they are worth 0 whereas passing is worth -1).

But the BIG advantage of AGA rules and pass stones is that when you beginner/troll opponent refuses to admit their dead stones inside your territory are dead and says "go on, prove it, capture them because then you lose 4 points and I only lost 1, haha!" (they don't understand the complicated dispute resolution and rewind procedure of Japanese rules, and you don't fancy explaining it) you can do so whilst they have to pass and give you a stone to make up for you filling in your territory. Things like bent four in the corner are also simply resolved by playing them out, because once the dame are filled you can defend inside your territory to remove ko threats without cost.


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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #3 Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:35 pm 
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KayaKai wrote:
Hello!

I apologize if this has been brought up before, i couldnt find anything in the search that seemed to match. I recently have been looking at AGA rules, up to this point i have only played in club games and online, and both usually do not use the passing stone rule, where if you pass, you give a capture to the opponent. It seemed reasonable, but I played a game the other day that pointed out an issue. It was an OGS game, in endgame. Everything worth playing had been played, but my opponent played 3 moves in my territory that did absolutely nothing. Normally these stones count as captures, but since I had to pass every move in AGA rules I would have given the opponent a stone for each of the dead stones played nullifying the difference.


I am not up to date with OGS rules, but online go servers in the West often use what is called territory scoring, which is what the Japanese and Korean rules use. Under territory scoring playing a stone inside settled territory loses a point. If it is your own territory, you get one less point, and if it is the opponent's territory she gets a dead stone, also worth one point.

The AGA rules use what is called area scoring, which does not count captives or dead stones but counts lives stones instead. Chinese rules use area scoring. If each side has placed the same number of stones on the board, the net score is normally the same. (There are exceptions, such as whether to count territory in seki.) Pass stones are one way to assure that the number of stones on the board during counting is the same for each player, so that you can play by area scoring but you only have to count territory. One drawback to area scoring is that if your opponent makes unnecessary plays inside your territory, you do not get the advantage of your opponent's mistakes. One advantage to area scoring is that if you have a question of whether stones are dead or alive, you can get an answer to that question by playing it out.

In an article in the AGA Journal in the 1970s, when almost everybody in North America used territory scoring, I suggested the use of pass stones, which I called "bookkeeping stones", as a way for people to try out area scoring while using the familiar way of counting the score by territory. :)

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #4 Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:51 pm 
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On the flip side...

If it is Black's turn immediately after all the dame are filled, Black can stick an extra stone in his territory if he isn't 100% sure it can't be invaded. In this case, Black loses a point of territory, but White now has to pass twice instead of once. So Black gets some free peace of mind.

Scoring rules are there to assess who won given what transpired - the rules themselves have nothing to say about what should have transpired.


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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #5 Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:06 pm 
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KayaKai wrote:
I am mostly curious if i am simply misinterpreting something, because I am seriously considering trying to go to some AGA tournaments if the lockdown ever ends. I want to make sure i am interpreting this correctly. And if i am, it just seems like troll bait to allow that.
As Uberdude explained, you got everything right, and I understand that you are still frustrated by the lack of direct punishment against such a "trolling". If someone is firmly determined to go on, eventually you will end up making all your territory honeycomb(?) shaped, and the troll will eventually run out of space to play. Then, the four pass rule of the AGA rule will end the game.

As long as it is guaranteed that the troll does not gain a single penny by doing so, the rule theoreticians usually regard that it is acceptable. Again, as Uberdude said, if the troll really wants to mess your game, making him losing a few points cannot really be a critical penalty. Thus, it is understandable that the rulemakers are more concerned about guaranteeing to finish the game at finite moves, without the innocent player being penalized.

And.. of course, don't worry. No one will do so in an offline game. (I mean, the AGA president will give him a lifetime ban once it happens.)

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #6 Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:14 pm 
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When having to choose between protecting novices and trolls (Chinese/AGA/area scoring) vs punishing novices and trolls (Japanese/Korean/territory scoring), I prefer the latter.

IME beginners will learn soon enough what is happening under territory scoring. Although it may take them a couple of games before they understand, I think they will understand the game better using territory scoring. So in the end, territory scoring may even speed up the learning process (in particular the concept and importance of determining the status of stones).

Also, area scoring can give beginners a false sense of security. Many think that under area scoring they can play unneccessary moves inside their territory at any stage of the game without point loss, which is not true. So area scoring can easily be a learning hindrance.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #7 Posted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:35 pm 
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Under area scoring rules, such as AGA Rules, futile invasions are harmless because they can be removed in alternating play. They also occur in online dan games when somebody wants to provoke mistakes or has had no time to read and plays to find out status. Simply reply and the encore is over fast (within ca. 30~60 seconds) - instead, if you pass whenever possible, such encores become longer than you want (don't complain because your passes contribute to prolonging it).

Futile invasions also occur if somebody is an escaper-like cheater. They would play them under area scoring (without loss) or territory scoring rules (such as Japanese Rules, with loss whenever you can pass). Now, they don't play the invasions for their own sake but as a means to prepare escaping or similar cheating.

Typical behaviour of an escaper under area scoring: they are hopelessly behind, they play some futile invasions, I reply by alternately removing all their dead stones, they switch their cheating tactics by passing, I reply by continuing with alternately removing all their dead stones (so they will not be able to cheat during the phase of removals by agreement clicks on remaining dead strings), this gives them the (in their mind) moral right to escape so they escape (e.g., on KGS, where such escaping only delays but does not prevent them from losing, but they are unaware that their "successful" escaping does not avoid their loss).

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #8 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 12:31 am 
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Side note: respond carefully to "dumb" invasions, they can be successful, especially if you think the game is over and lose your concentration.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #9 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:22 am 
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In the West, many beginners learn to play without an experienced opponent to teach them about ending the game. Even with the ubiquity of online play, we still see them here from time to time. Playing by area scoring (normally without pass stones, which are aimed at people who are familiar with territory scoring) allows them to resolve their uncertainties by playing simply playing on. That may be a major reason that the AGA switched to area scoring decades ago.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #10 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:12 am 
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I don't think there is much difference for novices when playing IRL under territory scoring or area scoring.

They both keep playing redundant moves, but when one starts passing, the other will follow suit soon, so typically the point loss due to the scoring method stays pretty balanced.

Quite often they will even finish the game when there are still points on the board (under area scoring or territory scoring), and possibly some groups aren't even clearly dead or alive, which is far more important for the score (regardles of the scoring method used). But if they agree on the result without asking for help, I would generally just accept that result, even if it's not quite correct.

By the time they try to consciously exploit the scoring method used (only playing redundant moves after all neutral points are taken, passing while the opponent keeps playing useless invasions), they may not be considered true novices anymore and they can understand both scoring methods.


Last edited by gennan on Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #11 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:44 am 
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gennan wrote:
I don't think there is much difference for novices when playing IRL under territory scoring rules or area scoring rules.


Well, one of the most frequent beginner questions here has to do with dead stones. Namely, can I gain points by playing inside my opponent's territory that he then has to capture while I pass? Another frequent question is, how do we score this position? Usually the question is about dead stones, but often the game is not finished, because the players passed with gainful plays left. Also, IMX, there are players who bought a go set, read the little insert with the rules, and have no idea how to finish the game. Often they simply give up. Things may be better these days, with internet play and computer programs to play against.

But area scoring where you tell the players to capture everything they can before ending play simplifies matters immensely for beginners in the West.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #12 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:09 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
Well, one of the most frequent beginner questions here has to do with dead stones. Namely, can I gain points by playing inside my opponent's territory that he then has to capture while I pass? Another frequent question is, how do we score this position? Usually the question is about dead stones, but often the game is not finished, because the players passed with gainful plays left. Also, IMX, there are players who bought a go set, read the little insert with the rules, and have no idea how to finish the game. Often they simply give up. Things may be better these days, with internet play and computer programs to play against.
When novices try to learn go without any teacher, I think it's always going to be difficult. The scoring method only addresses a small fraction of the learning curve.
When there is a teacher, I think it's fine for the teacher to use whichever scoring method she feels most comfortable with to teach.
Bill Spight wrote:
But area scoring where you tell the players to capture everything they can before ending play simplifies matters immensely for beginners in the West.
Even if I don't give the advice to capture everything, they will still try to do that. So I don't really see how this is related to the scoring method.
By the time they ask about gaining points by useless invasions or passing to exploit useless invasions, it's a good time to talk about 2 eyes (or perhaps a little late even).

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #13 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:23 am 
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In the case of sudden death time control futile invasions and filling own territory could be an effective tactic to try to make the opponent lose on time. Of course this is a special situation.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #14 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:27 am 
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gennan wrote:
The scoring method only addresses a small fraction of the learning curve.


Right but the scoring method delayed world wide spreading of go by centuries and my start of playing go at all by a decade. (Now, with my rules explanations and the internet, the hurdle has become smaller for everybody actively seeking online information.)

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #15 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:52 pm 
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I don't remember territory scoring being a problem for me when I started playing and I also don't notice it being a problem for the children that I teach.

Teaching someone how to play a game of go on a small board and score the game (whatever the method) is not very difficult IME. Far easier than teaching someone how to play a game of chess at least.

What I find much harder, is teaching players from 25k to 10k, where the focus shifts from basic tactics, making 2 eyes and defending territory towards judging strength or weakness of shapes and groups and using that to attack or defend.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #16 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:37 pm 
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In my experience with beginners, I find that they are often obsessed with ending the game at the correct point and not making a single move too many. "Is the game over now? How about now?" They then get hung up on perfecting their skill at recognizing the end of the game (after all, game-ending conditions are part of the rules, right?) with the result that they think they have to acquire 10k-level skills at game-end-recognizing before they can play any games at their current 25k level. Heck, I'm not even always sure when a game is "really over". I much prefer to use area scoring with beginners, and then the answer to all "is this group alive or dead?" questions is just "let's play it out and see".

(It's quite possible that this is more of an issue for adult learners, who might be more uncomfortable with not fully understanding the rules of the game they're playing.)

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #17 Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:41 pm 
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I teach children mostly, but I also taught adults and I don't really notice them being obsessed with avoiding redundant moves.
Maybe it depends on how much the teacher elaborates on redundant moves?

Ofcourse it's also possible that there is a big difference between the people that I teach and the people thay you teach.
I can imagine that teaching go to a mathematician is not the same as teaching go to a healthcare professional. I have more experience with the latter than the former.

But I think there is always a risk of overteaching (about redundant moves and many other things).
Overteaching will confuse them, make them feel like they do it wrong all the time, make them feel insecure.

So I try to refrain from that. When they need help, I will try to help without going into details that they won't understand yet.
I prefer to let them play as much as possible and leave to them to their own devices to build their confidence.

For example, when there are many unfinished areas and half-dead/alive groups in a novice game and they ask me if the game is finished, I would just point to 1 or 2 locations and encourage them to play on a little bit to clear things up there. When they are both convinced the game is over while there are still some minor loose ends, I may just fix those loose ends for them without any fuss (in a manner that seems fair to me for their level, consulting their opinions about the status of some stones when neccessary) and help them to count the score.

Novices will play redundant moves, but I don't see that as a problem and I don't want them to worry too much about it. Only later, when they have gained some experience and confidence with finishing and scoring games, I will come back to the issue of redundant moves. At that point it will be easier for them to understand the logic.
Still they will keep playing redundant moves, but it will wear off gradually as they gain more experience and become stronger.


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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #18 Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2020 4:27 am 
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I explicitly avoid alerting people to redundant moves, because I want to avoid the sort of obsession with precise game state that I think is very distracting to learners. The reason I prefer area scoring so much is that redundant moves have only an opportunity cost, not an inherent cost, so people (ideally) don't get so hung up on the shame of making explicitly point-losing moves.

But people pick up ideas and attitudes from many sources, not just from me. :) Anyway, I think the lesson is that everyone has different experiences.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #19 Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2020 2:30 pm 
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KayaKai wrote:
I am mostly curious if i am simply misinterpreting something, because I am seriously considering trying to go to some AGA tournaments if the lockdown ever ends. I want to make sure i am interpreting this correctly. And if i am, it just seems like troll bait to allow that.


Hi,
This is correct. However, I've been running tournaments in France for some years with the french version of the AGA rule, that also uses pass stones and allows free invasions after the neutral points are filled, and I have never seen such a behaviour occurring.
And I agree with Gennan, a troll will troll whatever the scoring rule. In practice, players smart enough to understand that dumb invasions are free under AGA rules are smart enough not to play dumb invasions.

Besides, jlt's note is very true :

jlt wrote:
Side note: respond carefully to "dumb" invasions, they can be successful, especially if you think the game is over and lose your concentration.


Bill Spight wrote:
In an article in the AGA Journal in the 1970s, when almost everybody in North America used territory scoring, I suggested the use of pass stones, which I called "bookkeeping stones", as a way for people to try out area scoring while using the familiar way of counting the score by territory. :)


Aaaah ! It was YOU ! You deserve the Nobel prize of go for this ! :clap:

The question of the best rule is not a matter of trolling or teaching. I agree with Gennan on this point :

gennan wrote:
When there is a teacher, I think it's fine for the teacher to use whichever scoring method she feels most comfortable with to teach.


For me, the best rule for the game of go must meet these three requirements:
  • It must be clear and complete, so that national go federations around the world can publish it, referees can learn it, and players can understand the referee's decisions.
  • It must be easy enough to be understood by novice players when they ask themselves "what does the rule say" ?
  • It must be programmable, so that software artificial intelligences can play go and score any game without mistake.

The official Japanese rule (1989) doesn't match any of these three requirements. For example players can't accept that a group with two eyes is seki if it possesses a dame. That makes the referee's task nearly impossible.
Novice can't use it in order to answer their questions because it makes use of life and death to define the score, and novice players can't tell what's alive and what is dead.
And it is not programmable because it relies on perfect play (or at least on some actual attempts to find correct play) in order to define life and death, which in turn defines the score of a player.

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 Post subject: Re: AGA rules and passing stones
Post #20 Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:50 pm 
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Pio2001 wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
In an article in the AGA Journal in the 1970s, when almost everybody in North America used territory scoring, I suggested the use of pass stones, which I called "bookkeeping stones", as a way for people to try out area scoring while using the familiar way of counting the score by territory. :)


Aaaah ! It was YOU ! You deserve the Nobel prize of go for this ! :clap:


Oh, I'm sure I was not the only one to come up with that idea. Robert Maas came up with an equivalent rule for the Lasker-Maas rules. But it is certainly possible that the AGA rule can be traced back to that article.

Anyway, today I am a champion of Button Go, which is a hybrid of area and territory scoring. And again, I am not the only person to have thought of that. :)

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