[ View Thread ] [ Post Response ] [ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

BGonline.org Forums

I don't think your conclusion follows from your premises

Posted By: Timothy Chow
Date: Tuesday, 22 April 2014, at 11:54 p.m.

In Response To: Denmark v. The World - All Match Files--what about luck? (phil simborg)

Phil, you've presented this argument often before, but I don't think that your conclusion follows from your premises. I have mentioned this in passing before, but let me try to spell out the logic in more detail.

First, let me state what I think are your premises.

Premise A: It is desirable that there be a strong correlation between the winner of a tournament and the most skilful participant.

There are those who reject Premise A, arguing that "backgammon is not chess" or that one has to level the playing field to attract more fish. I will not argue that, but will simply accept Premise A, because I believe that you're assuming it and that it is needed for your argument.

Premise B: The way most backgammon tournaments are currently structured, differences in skill are swamped by luck.

Premise B can also be challenged; in fact, you yourself have in the past presented an argument (perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek) for the radical claim that there is no luck in backgammon. However, I will not contest Premise B here.

Now for what I believe is your conclusion.

Conclusion: More variants and complications are needed in backgammon.

I would argue that not only does this not follow, but that such an approach is not an effective way of achieving your goal of increasing the correlation between the winner of a tournament and the most skilful participant.

Rebuttal 1: Introducing variants and complications does not increase the skill spread.

The way to get a large skill spread is to create a game with a lot of depth, in the sense that it repays significant investment of effort with significant improvements in performance, and to give the population of players enough time to make significant investments in the game. If you constantly create complications and variants, then there is no time for experts to master the depths, and so a large spread cannot develop. You appear to be under the misapprehension that lots of "theory" is a sign that a game has "tapped out" and reached a plateau where all the best players are equal because they have all memorized all there is to know about the game. This is simply not the case. There is an enormous amount of theory in chess and it is increasing all the time. But it is far from tapped out. At the top, Magnus Carlsen leads his closest competitor by over 70 Elo points. It is because the chess community has had time to study the game and develop its theory that there is such a large spread of skill. Whenever you introduce a new game, the skill spread is necessarily smaller because the best players have not had the time to understand the game thoroughly and thereby pull way ahead of the competition.

Rebuttal 2: If you want tournaments to select more strongly for skill, then the way to do that is to redesign the structure of the tournament, not to change the game.

There is plenty of skill spread in backgammon if you measure it appropriately. PR, or something like it, is an obvious example. Quizzes are another. I know you're aware of these and approve of them; I'm not saying you don't. What I am saying is that quizzes and PR tournaments are far more to the point than creating variants is. They bring out the skill differences that already exist in the population, rather than obliterating them by changing the rules of the game.

Final remark: Variants and complications have their merits, but not as a vehicle for increasing the skill-discrimination power of tournaments.

It's clear that you enjoy variants and complications. That is perfectly fine, and it's perfectly fine to argue for them on their own merits. It also appears that you have more respect for players that are able to apply their knowledge quickly and effectively to related but new arenas than for players who rely on memorization to excel. That is also a matter of taste, and de gustibus non est disputandum. But it does not help your case if you argue that variants and complications will help address the problem highlighted above in Premise B, when they do not.

Messages In This Thread


Post Response

Your Name:
Your E-Mail Address:

If necessary, enter your password below:




[ View Thread ] [ Post Response ] [ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

BGonline.org Forums is maintained by Stick with WebBBS 5.12.