Computer Go Challenge at Alternative Party 2009

Man meets machine

A demonstration match in the game of go was organized at the Alternative Party 2009 on Saturday 24th of October, 2009. There were dozens of people following the match live both on location and through the internet (using KGS). Go is a board game from the far east. It is the second most researched game after chess as an AI challenge.

The human player Javier-Aleksi Savolainen is one of the strongest players in Finland despite his young age. He has a 5 dan ranking which has been given to only four Finnish go players.

The computer player was the computer go program MoGo (version 4.86) running on a 56-core supercomputer Cray CX1 provided by CSC. MoGo is one of the strongest go programs and it was the first one to efficiently use Monte Carlo methods that lead to fast improvements in computer go around 2006. It simulates the game from the current situation to the end hundreds of thousands of times before deciding the next move. (The simulations use randomness and therefore it is called a Monte Carlo method.)

Javier-Aleksi Savolainen and Cray CX1.

The first game was played on a small 9x9 board usually used by beginners. Both players had 15 minutes thinking time for the whole game. Computers are known to be strong on such small boards, winning even against professional players.

Man got the black stones and the first move. Machine gets 7.5 points in compensation.

There was some interesting fighting in the game, the machine has used most of its time already.

At the end, the machine won by 0.5 points.

For the main event, game on the full 19x19 board, both players had 45 minutes thinking time.

Because computers are not yet that good players on the full board, man gave the machine a 3 move handicap. In the image above, the man (white) has just made his first move against the machine (black).

The machine played a good opening. The style was a bit unusual compared to human players, giving more emphasis to the middle of the board than to the edges. A mistake by the machine was to let the man strengthen the left side (move shown in the image above), before invading it.

Black player's (machine's) invasion to the left side was unsuccessful. The machine tried to make a fight elsewhere on the board, but at this stage (image above), the machine resigned. Man is still stronger.

The game records are here: 9x9 game, 19x19 game

Human-Computer Go Challenges (list of matches)
Alternative Party 2009 (digital culture festival)
MoGo (computer go program)
CSC (IT Center for Science)
Cray CX1 (supercomputer)
KGS (go server)
Tapani Raiko (author of this page)