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Suggested Idea for Performance Grading

Posted By: Timothy Chow
Date: Sunday, 5 October 2014, at 7:20 p.m.

In Response To: Suggested Idea for Performance Grading (David Rennie)

David Rennie wrote:

As to whether XG plays close to the Platonic ideal of Perfect backgammon I just don't believe we are qualified to know that. You may say it's obvious

I don't say that it's obvious. And we don't know it for sure. But we do know some things. We know that it's better than we are at playing at backgammon, because strong players have collectively played millions of games against it and nobody is willing to bet that they can beat XGR+ more than 50% of the time in a long string of five-point matches. We have some indirect experience from games like 8x8 checkers and seven-piece chess for what truly perfect play is and what things look like when we get close to perfect play (8x8 Othello for example). We know of certain types of positions that XG definitely does not play perfectly. The fact that when we take the tools that we use to determine that XG does not play perfectly in those positions and apply them to other positions, they turn up empty, is some evidence (not proof) that XG is playing accurately in those other positions. And so on.

Having said all that, I will say that I agree with you about the "cult of PR." As I mentioned recently, it still annoys me when people refer to the bot play as the "correct" play. I've said before that PR is a valuable tool for improvement but that PR tournaments promote the wrong attitude towards the game and that it's somewhat silly to argue vehemently about what the "right" measure of error rate is. However, I still think that the question is whether Rick's proposal will benefit the game by increasing interest and participation. My guess is that it will. The fact that a side effect of the system is to promote the cult of PR is admittedly a downside, but my opinion is that overall it will still be beneficial. I certainly like it better than having separate PR tournaments.

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