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December 03, 2007



The cat/flash game is a little like a dumbed down version of go, or wei chi in Chinese. The thing about the Asian game of Go is that while the rules are simple the strategies are complex. Even a slightly above average wei chi player can defeat any computer at at the game. Compare this to chess where only a grandmaster can have any chance of defeating Deep Blue. While it's very likely that IBM cheated and that Garry Kasparov would have prevailed against Deep Blue otherwise, the overwhelming majority of the earth's population, chess players included, could not have done so. The advantages machines have in chess rather than wei chi is that in chess both players are engaging the rules, whereas in wei chi the simplicity of the rules allows each player to engage the mind of the other player. This is where computer simulations fall short.


Actually I've tried that cat thing out and I would retroactively scratch the "dumbed down" part. It almost looks like someone was trying to create something a wei chi simulation that could defeat human beings. Granted the cat is only a single moving point while in wei chi play can occur anywhere on the board. I suspect that the only way to catch the cat is to know what algorithm the programmer used and that reasoning intuitively or even once removed from that will result in failure every time. It reminded me of playing wei chi at the New York Go Center against one of the accomplished players there, but imagine multiple cats that are also trying to surround you.

Kip W

I start by putting a dot at the edge, opposite the cat. No telling what direction it'll go in. When it starts heading somewhere definite, I put three dots at the edge with one blank space between each, centered on the cat's heading. If I have time, I put one more parallel to the last dot with a blank space between. By this time the cat will be moving to a space next to the edge, and I block that. It moves to the next one and I block that. If the cat moves to another edge, I do the same thing. If I have an opportunity, I construct a gutter to an edge and block it off at the last second. The cat's a sucker for those.

I try to set things up so that a cat doesn't have the option of going to a penultimate row next to two available edge spots. There are some situations that are a guaranteed loss, like if you are just keeping up with the cat on the row next to the edge. Might as well give up.

I just wish that, when you see the cat is getting out, you can't push a button and kick its ass the hell outside, while yelling, "You wanted out? Well get OUT you stupid little shit, and don't come crying back here when you get hungry!"


Well you have more patience than I. You should try wei chi. My experience with it is that I teach someone how to play, then beat them at their first and sometimes second game, after which I lose every time. There are wei chi simulators and pick up games on the web. The New York Go Club is interesting too. I remember it being up by Hunter College and there is a Hoboken Go Club that meets at Stevens Institute. There is an interesting book about Maoist military strategy and wei chi. However I found, as many do, that reading books about the theory behind the game results in a deficit in playing ability. I suspect that given effort I could surmount this obstacle but why?

Kip W

I did it because the damn cat bugged me, and now I can take it seven out of ten times or better.

I have a book that the Japanese tourist board put out in the 30s about the game of Go, and the neatest thing I learned from it is that a Go table has a hollow carved underneath, for the sole purpose that the stones will make a pleasing sound as they are placed on top.

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