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Characteristics of Games

Posted By: Timothy Chow
Date: Sunday, 30 September 2012, at 4:06 a.m.

In Response To: Characteristics of Games (Daniel Murphy)

Daniel wrote:

Tim, I don't think we can conclude that because Jacoby or not makes little difference in game length with bot-perfect play that it also makes little difference with human players of various strengths.

Yes, exactly; that was my point, of course.

Do you have a reference to the bot rollouts you cite?

I'm slightly confused because I thought you were one of the people who made this observation, here for example. But anyway, if rollouts with Jacoby were noticeably faster than those without, I'm sure somebody would have reported this by now.

Regarding your sample positions, I can't deny that they furnish an example where the stronger player benefits from the Jacoby rule. But frankly, it's inconceivable to me that this is why the Jacoby rule was introduced. For comparison, let's consider the Simborg Chouette Rule. Manifestly, the reason for this rule is that people get impatient waiting laborious calculations about how to best save the gammon, and so invent a rule that allows them to cut such calculations short in many cases. Now, you might be able to come up with some interesting unforeseen consequences of the Simborg Chouette Rule that favor the stronger opponent. But it's clear that that's not what originally motivated the rule. Impatience was the motivation.

In the case of the Jacoby rule, we even have the testimony of people that "it speeds up the game." This is clearly a somewhat clumsy attempt to articulate the fact that the rule was introduced to address impatience. It's not because they cleverly figured out that such a rule would gain them some equity in situations like yours. If trying to gain equity were their goal, the strong players could have come up with any number of ad hoc rules to bamboozle the weak ones. Why the Jacoby rule?

Again, I think that if you study the evolution of gambling games in general, you'll see a ton of rules that are introduced to reduce downtime. Once you see that pattern, the Jacoby rule obviously falls into that category.

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