As we approach the end of four decades of the ICGA Journal, two themes are emerging.
The journal has visited many game and model domains over the years, and each has its variety of stakeholders, including professional and amateur players, authors, composers, various specialists in the computer industry, fans and observing members of the public. For all these stakeholders, computers and computer systems have affected the games and domains in two major ways. First, there is the opinion that the computer’s inevitable supremacy over humans may negatively impact human interest in the games in question. Second, there is the opinion that new knowledge and methods can be discovered with the help of these advancements. Both of these voices can be observed in the chess community after DEEP BLUE, and in the Go community following recent developments with ALPHAGO.
We believe that the computer contribution has been, in net terms, a positive one. In chess for example, openings, tactical opportunities and endgames have been shown in a new light because of computer discoveries. In Go, professional players are still in the process of analyzing the few ALPHAGO game records available. Professional players will surely incorporate ALPHAGO’s strategic innovations in the years to come. Each one of us, should we think about it, could identify some ‘Favorite Computer Finds’, surprises that delighted us in some way. It seems reasonable that the ICGA Journal should encourage the members of the games community to share their favorite finds in its pages.
Two of our authors in this issue have responded to the ‘Favorite Computer Finds’ theme. One is Karsten Müller, familiar to readers and to the chess community, and the other is Efstratios Grivas, a leading chess trainer but new to our pages. Both have recently written fine books whose clarity and authority is enhanced by their intelligent use of computers as tools but not crutches. They write with gratitude about how they have used computer-originated information. We encourage our readers to write of their favorite computer finds and to encourage others, new to the ICGA Journal, to do the same.
The other theme is the one of ‘Reflection’. With the recent advancements in artificial intelligence, it is natural to look back on the history of how current developments came to be. It is our hope that this theme can bring about renewed appreciation of the topics that have arisen in the ICGA Journal, and for more informed perspectives on particular subjects now that we have the advantage of hindsight.
It is with this in mind that we have included two articles in this theme. The first is a transcript of Garry Kasparov’s TED talk in April on intelligent machines and how we should perceive them. The second is a history of Go-playing programs, compiled by Jon Diamond, detailing events from its infancy in the ’60s to the computer’s triumph over one of the strongest current Go players earlier this year.
So, members of the ICGA Community are also hereby invited to offer their reflective thoughts, however short, for inclusion in the journal. While we all look to the future as researchers, a degree of looking at history can be healthy too.
We include in this issue two contributions which are both theoretical analyses. The first article, by Yasuhiko Takenaga and Yo Shimada, examines PuyoPuyo, a game that is similar to Tetris. The authors were able to find necessary conditions for a winning strategy, given that the game is played as a single-player game. The second article, by Thomas Wolf, examines the seki, a particular situation that can occur in Go. The author defines a graph equivalent that can be used to represent simple sekis, then presents a numerical encoding for them. We hope the reader finds our selection of articles in this issue interesting.