What a week did we have...
- Starting on Saturday, May 28, a new version of Zen is available on KGS for nonstop play. Zen19d plays with 15 seconds per move and 9 Byoyomi phases. It seems to be a stable 5-dan, playing convincingly not only against other 5-dan humans, but also in handicap games with 5 or 6 stones against 1-kyu or 2-kyu, respectively.
- On Monday a commercial western version of CrazyStone (stable 4-dan on KGS when running on a small cluster) became available. Prize is 60 $-US for the electronic version. Unfortunately, the interface is made for "mass market", not for true go users.
Perhaps, this publication of CrazyStone was the last trigger for David Fotland (author of "Many Faces of Go") to propose a "universal" go bot interface, based on the very nice interface of his "Many Faces". In the computer-go mailing list David asked on Tuesday if people (especially also other programmers) were interested and how much they were willing to pay for such an interface.
My opinion: A universal MF-interface would help a lot to speed up progress in computer go. In computer chess, 25 years ago the foundation of ChessBase worked as a fantastic catalyst.
- Aja Huang (Taipei) is the programmer of bot Erica which had won the gold medal in 19x19 go at the Computer Olympiad in October 2010, ahead of Zen, ManyFaces and other strong participants. But Aja is also a strong amateur player, being 6-dan on KGS. On Tuesday, May 31, he announced that he would make the binaries (= the exe) of Erica publicly available before the end of July. This should give other programmers a new push, when they can use Erica as a sparring tool for their bots. By the way: Aja is a Ph.D. student in computer science, currently writing down his thesis on computer go.
My opinion: It is not unlikely that we will see bots on KGS with stable 6-d or 7-d rank - already before EGC 2012 in Bonn. Who would have expected such progress two years ago?