Go Programs

Last March…a computer program named Crazy Stone defeated Yoshio Ishida, a professional Go player and a five-time Japanese champion. The match took place during the first annual Densei-sen, or “electronic holy war,” tournament, in Tokyo, where the best Go programs in the world play against one of the best humans. Ishida, who earned the nickname “the Computer” in the nineteen-seventies because of his exact and calculated playing style, described Crazy Stone as “genius.”

The victory was not quite a Deep Blue moment; Crazy Stone was given a small handicap, and Ishida is no longer in his prime. But it was an impressive feat. As with computer chess in the nineteen-eighties, computer Go is dominated by individual programmers and small teams. Crazy Stone, for example, is programmed by one man, Rémi Coulom, a professor of computer science at Université Lille 3, in France.

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