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Subject: bidding hex online. rss

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James Hutchings
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I've just finished a rough draft of my page that plays a version of Bidding Hex.

It's here: http://www.apolitical.info/private/hex/

The game seems to play reasonably well. Please let me know what you thought.
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Russ Williams
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Cool. I played a game and won handily in the end. Early on the AI seemed to play OK, and I even got worried as it overbid me several times in the midgame, breaking my apparent connection, but then it ran out of money, and from that point on it was very easy for me to win by bidding one more than the AI had, effectively doubling my bid each time more or less, and then when the AI started to get too much money, I let it win the bid once - it would bid most of its money to play on a miai connection of mine, leaving me reach again and easily able to take the other miai point, solidifying my connection. So the AI seemed to do poorly in the endgame, or in the case where the human has more money to bid.
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Maurizio De Leo
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Interesting.
I played and lost. It has a "poor get poorer" feeling: once I was down on money, I couldn't play and then I had to spend most of the money recovered to stop the computer from immediate winning, effectively playing 2 moves every 3 of the opponent.
 
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Russ Williams
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Hmm, so I tried it again. (11x11 in case that matters.) Again I won by letting the AI spend a lot of money early on to drop stones down until I was rich enough to place some stones very cheap (spending 1 or 2 or 3, etc) creating a chain of miai connections. Then I could occasionally let the AI pay a lot to take one of the miai points, whereupon I'd be sufficiently rich to take the other, securing the connection, with certainty.
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Maurizio De Leo
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Yes, your strategy works.

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Channing Jones
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I like it.

The "let the AI spend his money strategy" does work though. Always bid cheap (in the teens) until the computer spends down to zero. Then do the miai strategy. The computer will spend all his money on every second turn.

How about instead of tossing a coin when the bids are equal, then the player who did not move last gets it?
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Russ Williams
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I tried a 20x20 game, just to confirm that the AI was so abusable on larger sizes. I just let the AI place stones until it had no money. Then I made a simple chain of miai. Every time my bids started to get more than I wanted, I let the AI make a move to pump me money again and if it took one of the miai spaces, I then took the other space to solidify the link.

 
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David Bush
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Maybe the human could give the computer a handicap of bidding points at the start of the game, just to make it interesting? Could this be implemented as an option?
 
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James Hutchings
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Thanks for the feedback.

I've increased the computer's 'thinking time'. Please let me know if that changes things.

twixter wrote:
Maybe the human could give the computer a handicap of bidding points at the start of the game, just to make it interesting? Could this be implemented as an option?

This is a good idea. However, I'd like to get the regular game working properly first.
 
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Russ Williams
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apeloverage wrote:
I've increased the computer's 'thinking time'. Please let me know if that changes things.
I just tried 11x11 and 20x20 again.

The AI seems a little more intelligent, but on 11x11 I still win handily by intentionally bidding low in the opening for many turns until the AI has 0 money. Then I set up a chain of miai by always bidding more than the AI has, but occasionally bidding low so the AI will spend most of its money to take one of the miai points, and then I bid maximum to take the other miai.

However there was a clear increase in AI strength on the larger 20x20. I ran out of money overbidding the AI to secure my initial chain of miai links, and I had to start a second chain, which the AI also successfully blocked! I started a 3rd chain at the other side and that time managed to keep within my budget, so to speak, and secure my chain. So congrats on the 20x20 being much harder than before!



PS: Feature request: please indicate the AI's last placed stone (e.g. by a somewhat different color stone, or "X" on the stone, or something like that.) Also, when the game is over, there should be an obvious link to get back to the start page and start a new game.
 
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David Bush
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It's more difficult on smaller grids. Can anyone win on 9x9 or smaller?
 
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Russ Williams
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twixter wrote:
It's more difficult on smaller grids. Can anyone win on 9x9 or smaller?
Interesting! I'd not tried smaller boards before.

I lost several times on 9x9, and also on 5x5. This intrigued me since I won on 11x11 easily after the AI improvement. So I tried 10x10 and won quickly. Weird. After that I tried 9x9 again and this time I won.

I then tried 8x8 a few times and lost.
 
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James Hutchings
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I've increased the 'thinking time' yet again. This makes it quite slow on larger boards, but hopefully it will play better.
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Russ Williams
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It is stronger now indeed on 11x11. I lost several games. (And one on 12x12.)
 
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James Hutchings
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russ wrote:
PS: Feature request: please indicate the AI's last placed stone (e.g. by a somewhat different color stone, or "X" on the stone, or something like that.) Also, when the game is over, there should be an obvious link to get back to the start page and start a new game.

I've now done both of these. It marks newly-placed computer stones with an 'x'.
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Russ Williams
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Cool, thanks!

I found that I can win on 9x9 and 11x11 by bidding 7 over and over until the AI is about to make its final connection. By that time, it is sufficiently poor that the human can win with some cheap blocking and then miai connections, occasionally letting the AI spend a lot to desperately take one miai point and then the human cheaply overbids the AI to take the other miai point.

E.g. here is a 9x9 game where the computer spent most of its money making a straight connection across the middle, and at the last moment I cheaply blocked it and gained the upper hand:



However I didn't get this technique to work for me on the smallest (5x5) board.
 
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Channing Jones
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russ wrote:
Cool, thanks!

I found that I can win on 9x9 and 11x11 by bidding 7 over and over until the AI is about to make its final connection. By that time, it is sufficiently poor that the human can win with some cheap blocking and then miai connections, occasionally letting the AI spend a lot to desperately take one miai point and then the human cheaply overbids the AI to take the other miai point.

E.g. here is a 9x9 game where the computer spent most of its money making a straight connection across the middle, and at the last moment I cheaply blocked it and gained the upper hand:



However I didn't get this technique to work for me on the smallest (5x5) board.

The same strategy works on a 19x19 board by bidding 5.

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James Hutchings
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OK- I've been busy with other things, but I've just tested this and found that I can reproduce the problem.

So, I'm going to try a strategy inspired by AI 'rock scissors paper' programs, of keeping track of human bids to try and develop a strategy of deliberately underbidding.
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James Hutchings
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I've added a new element to the AI: it keeps track of your bids, and 'underbids'.

This should make the strategy of waiting for it to run out of chips slightly less easy.

Please let me know how it goes.
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Russ Williams
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There are times when only a single placement remains to connect the AI and win for it, but the AI underbids instead of bidding all of its stones. I can't see any reason for it to not bid all of its stones in that case. I think it should simply bid all of its stones when a single placement will win because:

If it wins the bid, then it wins the game, so who cares if it then has no money left.

If it doesn't win the bid, then the human had to have bid higher and thus the human loses more money than if the human won by beating a lower AI bid, and so the AI is richer and stronger for the rest of the game.


This bug caused the game to go easier for me and last unnecessarily longer once I noticed it. E.g. just now the AI had more money than I, yet only bid 17 to make a winning connection, so I blocked it even though the AI could have outspent me and simply won outright. It's sort of an annoying AI bug since it makes the AI look unnaturally stupid: if the AI has more money and can win in one move, it should just take its win instead of prolonging the game!
 
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James Hutchings
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I've changed it as suggested. If there's a square which would give victory to either player, the computer will go all out for it.
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kid onTheRocks
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Just played it. Very cool!

Could you make the total range of bid variable? I'd love to be able to select bid range at the start of the game.

Instead of 100, I'd try first total of 10 only.
 
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James Hutchings
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Thanks!

Do you mean that there should be a maximum possible bid?

Would this be the same for the whole game?
 
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kid onTheRocks
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I mean, instead of 100, let the players EACH have only N coins each. (N can be set at the start of match).
 
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James Hutchings
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OK--I've changed it. Let me know if that was what you wanted.
 
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