by Douglas Zare
1 April 2009
Gnu Backgammon and Snowie are both extremely strong backgammon players. Some types of positions are better understood by one bot than the other. Which bot understands the opening better?
In the comments following my February 2009 column, I mentioned that Gnu Backgammon and Snowie disagree on how to play a 1-1 response to an opening 2-1 slot. Gnu hits 24/20*, while Snowie primes 8/7(2) 6/5(2). I decided to survey the disagreements between these bots in the responses to the opening roll. As a referee, I used Stick Rice's collection of rollouts in the opening. I was surprised to find that the bots disagree with each other, or with rollouts, in about 15% of positions. Most differences are too small to call errors, but a few are significant, and even a small mistake may be a sign that the evaluations are off by a larger amount.
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