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omar
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2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« on: Apr 29th, 2015, 1:11pm »
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It has come to my attention that side bets have been placed on the outcome of the 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match by one of the challenge defenders, the developer of the program trying to win the challenge and one of the sponsors of the challenge prize. I'm sorry I have not had the time to follow all the postings in the forum and chatroom to be aware of this sooner. This was brought to my attention yesterday by an anonymous member of the Arimaa community. I am highly disappointed and disturbed to learn about this.
 
The specific details are as follows:
 
browni3141 - one of the three challenge match defenders.
lightvector - developer of the program Sharp trying to win the challenge prize.
Fritzlein - has pledged to award $1000 USD to the developer who wins the challenge prize.
omar - founder of Arimaa and the Arimaa Challenge Match; has pledged to award $10,000 USD to the developer who wins the challenge prize.
 
Fritzlein posted the following forum message (Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge; Reply #11 on: 04. Mar 2015 at 22:57)
"In the chat room, browni3141 and I negotiated for him to sell me some insurance.  I am on the hook for $1000 if the Arimaa Challenge is won this year, and I am worried about having to pay out to lightvector, but browni3141 rates the odds of that happening as very low.  (Exactly how low, browni?  Less than 100:1 for sure, since you need a premium to justify taking on increased variance.)
 
In any event, I have sent 200 Arimaa points to browni3141, and he has promised to give me all of his prize money from this year's World Championship if the Challenge is won this year. If he wins the World Championship, that is 23994 Arimaa points of insurance, i.e. almost a quarter of my liability.  Thanks, browni!"
 
FYI: 200 Arimaa points = $2 USD.
 
lightvectory and browni3141 discussed the following in the chatroom:
2015-04-12 06:16:21 lightvector: browni, if sharp wins the challenge this year, I'll send you your WC money, so don't worry about it and just play a good game
2015-04-12 06:16:53 browni3141: My ego hurts more than my wallet.
2015-04-12 06:20:40 browni3141: I suppose I could grudgingly accept due from anybody but Fritzlein who I would flat out refuse
 
1. browni3141 - as a challenge match defender you cannot be involved in any sort of bets on the outcome of the challenge match. This is not explicitly stated in the challenge rules, but it is an unwritten rule that is expected as part of ethics. When I write the rules of Arimaa I don't need to explicitly write that you are not allowed to swipe or misplace an opponents piece while they are not looking; it is understood.
2. Fritzlein - it would have been fine if you placed such a bet privately with anyone else but one of the defenders.
3. lightvector - I see no reason for you to be involved at all. If I were to ask you "If the challenge match is won by your program will you be making a payment to any of the challenge match defenders?" your answer would have be "Yes". This is not good. Perhaps you had good intentions, but being the developer of the bot that is trying to win the challenge prize you need to steer clear of any such involvement.  Again this is not explicitly stated in the challenge rules, but it is an unwritten rule that is expected as part of ethics.  
 
It is clear from browni3141's comments in chat that he regretted having made the bet with Fritzlein since it caused additional pressure for him to win. Although the challenge defenders receive no compensation other than glory for defending the challenge, they are never penalized monetarily for losing. The bet with Fritzlein changed this situation.
 
It is clear from browni3141's comments in chat that after lightvector offered to cover him if the bot won the challenge prize, he felt less concerned about winning his challenge match series as long as he would get a chance later to show that he is better than Sharp. In fact after the challenge match was over browni3141 has asked me to make Sharp available on the same computer that was used for the challenge match.
 
I don't think any one of the people involved had bad intentions, but their actions have caused the challenge match to be influenced in ways that were not intended. We go to great extents in the Arimaa community to run fair, clean and unbiased events and we need to preserve that. As such the result of the 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match are declared to be invalid and the challenge match will continue in 2016.
 
This may give negative publicity to Arimaa and outsiders not familiar with all the details may think that I am trying to avoid having to pay the challenge prize. But I am not phased by this. In the long run they will see that I will pay it when it is won without any issues. Had it not been for these side bets I was prepared to pay the challenge prize and had even planned to announce two new challenges on Saturday. Regardless of this announcement lightvector and I have some exciting announcements to make on Saturday about the future of Arimaa.
 
http://arimaa.com/arimaa/radio/
 
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #1 on: Apr 29th, 2015, 1:50pm »
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I haven't been much following Arimaa lately but I must express that after hearing the good news about Arimaa challenge finally being conquered, it's disappointing and very unexpected to hear such news.
 
I'm not going to take a stance on the decision but I feel for you Omar, I really do. Good to hear you have already plans for the future.
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omar
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #2 on: Apr 29th, 2015, 3:53pm »
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Thank you clojure. Yes, this was an extremely hard decision to make. After I was informed of what had happened, I did consider just taking the easy route and ignoring it. But I could not be content with such a decision. I realize that I am putting the reputation of Arimaa and my own reputation at steak by taking this decision. In the long run I think this is the right thing to do. Based on how things have gone this year with the challenge match I'm about 95% sure that the challenge will be claimed before 2020. It will give me a chance to prove that I do stand by my word.
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #3 on: Apr 29th, 2015, 4:16pm »
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I've already said this in the chatroom, so this will just be repeated for some of you, but I feel I should post here for posterity.
 
From a mathematical standpoint none of the bets should cause me to perform worse in the Challenge. My initial bet with Fritzlein was in favor of humans, so losing is not incentivized. Lightvector's offer makes this initial bet null, so both winning and losing my mini-match is $0 expectation, therefore losing is not incentivized.
 
It could be speculated that I was psychologically influenced by these bets, but I do not think that is the case. In the past I have bet and won/lost hundreds of dollars in single hands of blackjack or poker. I view money much more in terms of expectation than results, therefore I was a little frustrated with myself that I made an apparently bad bet, but I am comfortable with losing money on a good bet. I regretted the decision I made with Fritzlein only because I believed that I gifted him expectation after I got more information about sharp, not because I was worried about losing money.
 
Some of what I said in chat was a way of dealing with the psychological pressure from attempting to defend the Challenge after so many other good players had lost to sharp before me and from the high stakes other people had in the event (not myself!) While I am not results oriented about my own monetary gains/losses, I feel pressure when other people's money is on the line and I'm expected to win.
 
Saying that having sharp available after the Challenge made me less concerned about winning was also a psychological trick for me to deal with the pressure. I don't like to admit this, but I was highly concerned with the fact that a bot could defeat me in a match the year I won my WC. It may seem silly and unimportant to others, but I take great pride in being the best at something, and having that taken away a week after I got it is extremely disheartening. I was less concerned about losing my Challenge games if I still had a chance to beat sharp later. Realizing this helped me with the pressure. These have no relation to any of the bets made anyway.
 
None of the circumstances caused me to give anything but the greatest effort I could muster in the Challenge games. I treated these games as seriously, if not more seriously, than my WC games due to others' stakes involved, and didn't deviate from my own ethical principles at any point.
 
Although I feel I have done no wrong by my own principles, I am very sorry to lightvector for causing you harm by my actions, and sorry to omar for putting you in a tough spot by compromising your principles.
 
I still strongly disagree with the decision, and wish you to reconsider.
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #4 on: Apr 29th, 2015, 4:52pm »
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Omar, I am sorry, and can only imagine the surprise and shock you must have felt upon learning this. I did not consider how my action would shine in the light of a clear, principled stand such as the one that you've expressed, and I apologize. I realize now that I made a mistake in not communicating the situation to you.
 
Indeed, it was not my intention to influence the incentives around the outcome of the challenge adversely. Exactly the opposite - by refunding Mathew Brown, I felt that I would both be helping him out from a situation he greatly regretted and that was negatively impacting him, while also restoring the situation back to the status quo. That is, I would be transforming it back to a situation in which none of the defenders would have any monetary stake in the matter and where for all practical purposes I would simply be pledging to return a small portion of Fritzlein's contribution to the challenge back to Fritzlein in the event that my bot won.
 
To be honest, I care little for the challenge prize money itself, and feel lucky to be in a position in life where I *can* care little for it. I therefore felt unique in my position to be able to contribute in that situation, given that in the event of a challenge win, I alone would be receiving a windfall for which I would have no particular use, while Mathew would suffer a loss that according to him would significantly impact him. What I stand for is for the fun and enjoyment of the people in this community and the shared discovery of this game. From that stand, I would do the same thing again in that situation if there were no other way to dissolve the agreement in a way acceptable to both parties.
 
And regardless of what happens now, I continue to stand in support of the the fun and health of the community. As I've speculatively expressed to you before privately, regardless of whether this year or in a future year if I win the challenge I intend to donate the prize back to the community.
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #5 on: Apr 29th, 2015, 6:05pm »
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Thank you browni3141 and lightvector for expressing your perspectives. As I mentioned in the chat my decision here is not based on game theory but rather on principle. Everyone who is familiar with the Arimaa community know that we go to great extents to make sure that our events are run fair, clean and unbiased. We have implemented features such as delayed relaying of event games to spectators, resuming of games that encounter problems, deep discussion of formats, seeding, etc. We do all this even though in the grand scale of things almost no one is watching or cares. We go to this level of rigor because Arimaa is important to us and we care about this grand experiment to see how long humans can stay ahead of computers using only a chess set. We should be proud and thankful that we've have lasted almost 18 years beyond chess.  That could never have happened if I was the only one defending the challenge. I am very lucky and thankful that other players much stronger than myself found interest in Arimaa and glory in defending the challenge. The games played by the challenge defenders are priceless and there is no monetary value I can put on them to compensate what they are doing. That is why it's ever so important the the defenders play only for glory and nothing else. We have maintained this clean slate for all these years. So as a matter of principle I cannot be content knowing that bets were placed on the outcome by key participants. We all make mistakes and we've all done things that have had unintended consequences. I hope no one takes this personally. I have had good long term working relations with you guys and hope to continue that in the future. I hope this turbulent phase will come to pass and years from now we can look back on it and say that in principle we did the right thing.
 
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #6 on: Apr 29th, 2015, 8:05pm »
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In order to clear others from suspicion I'll make it clear that the "anonymous member" was me.
 
The reason for being anonymous and not bringing this up in Chat or Forum was that I wished to cause no stirrup in case Omar would take no action. I was there when the bets and deals were made and at the time I saw nothing wrong, but subsequently one of them slowly started to disturb me somewhat. Then just a couple of days ago I realized that Omar possibly wasn't aware of these. At that point, after thinking about it for a shorter while than I would have liked, I came to the conclusion that I had to speak my mind at least to Omar as soon as possible or forever stay quiet and risk having to keep questioning myself whether I should have spoken after all, especially in the case someone else would think about this later and lament nothing was done about it until it was absolutely too late.
 
For what it's worth I really see no serious wrongdoing from neither browni3141 nor Fritzlein; browni was originally betting for himself and then accepted a deal in which there was no possible downside for him and clearly stated he didn't ask for it. Fritz just made a normal bet.
 
What bugged me was lightvector essentially paying the opponent of his bot should he lose. I have no doubt about his intentions being bona fide, but for some total outsider his behavior would seem similar as if say Roman Abramovich were to publicly announce to pay Glenn Murray whatever his current goal bonus is should he fail to score a winning or equalizing goal in the Crystal Palace-Chelsea match next Sunday.
 
I hope this will not harm the great community around a great game.
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #7 on: Apr 29th, 2015, 10:12pm »
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I strongly disagree with Omar's decision to invalidate the Challenge.
 
First, as browni3141 stated, he never had any monetary incentive to lose.  Having lost, he receives no compensation.
 
Second, if having money at stake in a tournament setting invalidates the results of games because of the addition of psychological pressure, then every Arimaa World Championship to date is invalid due to the psychological pressure created by the prize money which has been available every year, and all future Arimaa World Championships must be played for glory only (without prize money) so as not to distort the results.
 
Third, Omar can hardly call it "an unwritten rule that is expected as part of ethics" that a player can't bet on himself, given that Omar himself sanctioned it for six years.  From 2005 through 2009, participants in the Arimaa World Championship were allowed to bet on themselves to win their games in the parallel Spectator Contest, and they were indeed awarded prizes for having correctly bet on themselves if they won.
 
Fourth, while there is a solid precedent for players being allowed to bet on themselves in the Arimaa gameroom, there is no precedent for players being disallowed from betting on themselves, including in the 2014 Arimaa Challenge in which supersamu, one of the Challenge Defenders, publicly bet on himself to sweep his three games.  When an activity has been officially sanctioned in the past and publicly tolerated up to the present, it is far fetched to invoke an "unwritten rule" against it.
 
Fifth, Omar himself has a clear conflict of interest in deciding whether the conditions of the Arimaa Challenge have been met, or whether external circumstances have arisen which would invalidate the result.  The Match Director of the event should not be a participant; he should be a disinterested third party.  This logic seemed clear to both Omar and myself when we agreed that I should not participate in the 2013 Arimaa World Championship because I was the Tournament Director.  Indeed, Omar himself intended to appoint a disinterested party for the 2015 Arimaa Challenge as well, as he said in the chat room:
 
Quote:
2015-04-16 11:12:28 omar Actually I would like Janzert to be the TD, but I forgot to ask him.

 
If Omar had publicly expressed his concerns upon discovering the financial arrangments that had transpired alongside the Arimaa Challenge, and he had belatedly appointed Janzert to adjudicate the matter, I would have presented my first four agruments for Janzert to take under consideration and would have then bowed to Janzert's decision.  Instead, Omar chose to act unilaterally.  Of the potentially dubious actions taken by the four interested parties (Omar, browni3141, lightvector, and myself), I believe that Omar's decision not to defer to a neutral party is the most dubious.
 
Omar has said in chat that he doesn't think anyone acted in bad faith, but he nevertheless couldn't in good conscience let the result of the Arimaa Challenge stand.  Likewise, I don't think Omar has acted in bad faith, but I can't in good conscience abide by his unilateral decision.  In my judgment, sharp won the Challenge fair and square, and I will therefore pay David Wu the $1000 I pledged to the prize fund.
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #8 on: Apr 29th, 2015, 10:42pm »
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on Apr 29th, 2015, 10:12pm, Fritzlein wrote:
In my judgment, sharp won the Challenge fair and square, and I will therefore pay David Wu the $1000 I pledged to the prize fund.

Is that not even conditional on him submitting a paper to the ICGA?
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #9 on: Apr 30th, 2015, 2:08am »
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What bugged me was lightvector essentially paying the opponent of his bot should he lose. I have no doubt about his intentions being bona fide, but for some total outsider his behavior would seem similar as if say Roman Abramovich were to publicly announce to pay Glenn Murray whatever his current goal bonus is should he fail to score a winning or equalizing goal in the Crystal Palace-Chelsea match next Sunday.

 
This is bad comparison, because it doesn't take into account that browni3141 is -236$ if he loses. Compensation from lightvector doesn't give browni any incentive to lose, only takes off the burden of possible loss of 236$. Essentially this only completes the debt-loop: Fritzlein gives 1000$ to lightvector, lightvector gives 236$ to browni3141, browni3141 gives 236$ back to Fritzlein. Fritzlein wanted insurance, and lightvector says "OK, let it be not 1000$, but 764$". Browni3141 acts only as intermediary here. I see nothing bad in it.  
 
What omar has done is total absurd. Omar penalizes the guy (lightvector) who restored his own condition "challenge defenders receive no compensation other than glory for defending the challenge, they are never penalized monetarily for losing". If there is anybody to be penalized, this is Fritzlein, who disregarded this condition. (The question is if Fritzlein could know of condition's existance)
« Last Edit: Apr 30th, 2015, 2:21am by Boo » IP Logged

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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #10 on: Apr 30th, 2015, 2:26am »
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The posts of Fritzlein and Boo summarize the facts nicely.
 
Unbelievable decision by Omar.
 
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #11 on: Apr 30th, 2015, 3:01am »
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I am glad to see people standing up for what they believe is right, and I have a lot of respect for all involved.  I feel I must point a couple things out though.
 
on Apr 29th, 2015, 1:11pm, omar wrote:
Although the challenge defenders receive no compensation other than glory for defending the challenge, they are never penalized monetarily for losing. The bet with Fritzlein changed this situation.
 
I am afraid this is not true.  Fritzlein was a defender last year and in 2011 and stood to lose $1000 in the prize fund.  Omar has been a defender several times and could have lost $10000 by losing his games.  Browni agreeing to be responsible for a part of the prize fund is not new, even if he got paid $2 to do so.
 
on Apr 29th, 2015, 1:11pm, omar wrote:
It is clear from browni3141's comments in chat that after lightvector offered to cover him if the bot won the challenge prize, he felt less concerned about winning his challenge match series as long as he would get a chance later to show that he is better than Sharp. In fact after the challenge match was over browni3141 has asked me to make Sharp available on the same computer that was used for the challenge match.
 
Browni expressed his desire to show he was better than Sharp over a longer match before lightvector offered anything.  
 
2015-04-11 22:46:54 browni3141 I still think I'm objectively better than sharp, and will request that it go up after the Challenge so I can do a longer match against it.
 
After accepting lightvector's offer, browni does make a comment about how he wants to be the best player and beating Sharp in a longer match would make him feel better, but it was immediately preceded by his comment that losing the Challenge would feel like a personal failure (2015-04-11 23:44:43).  I do not get the impression at all that he felt less concerned about winning.
 
(Edit: Note chatroom timestamps are in EDT)
« Last Edit: Apr 30th, 2015, 3:11am by novacat » IP Logged

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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #12 on: Apr 30th, 2015, 3:08am »
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on Apr 30th, 2015, 2:08am, Boo wrote:

This is bad comparison, because it doesn't take into account that browni3141 is -236$ if he loses. Compensation from lightvector doesn't give browni any incentive to lose, only takes off the burden of possible loss of 236$.

 
Well I'm sorry it isn't perfect, it was just the closest analogy I could quickly think of. lightvector's offer didn't give browni any incentive to lose, but neither does my example give Mr. Murray any incentive not to score decisive goals (actually he still would have some incentive to score even if you don't think about the team as he could score more goals after the winner). It just took out the monetary incentive to win, of course that is not nearly as serious as actual match fixing but still somewhat questionable.
 
I've spent more than my two cents here. I don't want to be a judge or even a juror here, I just wanted to explain why I felt like I should let Omar know.
« Last Edit: Apr 30th, 2015, 3:31am by Heyckie » IP Logged
chessandgo
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #13 on: Apr 30th, 2015, 4:35am »
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I think the Challenge has been won fairly by bot_sharp and the prize money should be payed to David.
 
To me, voiding this year's challenge is the worst decision for arimaa. From second-best to second-worst, here are some other possibilities:
 
- Belatedly appoint a Tournament Director and let him make a final decision. Janzert would be a prime candidate, and we would all happily abide by his ruling, no matter what. Even if he made the same decision as Omar, the arimaa community would, I think, be much happier about it coming from a respected neutral 3rd party.
 
- Declare browni's mini-match void and make him replay it. [Harvey's and mine weren't influenced by the bet in any manner. It would be unfair for sharp not to have a chance at the challenge this year in spite of qualifying.]
 
As for the bet itself, I'd say that browni's bet with Fritz is fine given that it gives no incentive to browni to change any decision he makes during the challenge defense, and that no other bet was made on the challenge (contrary to a situation in http://joshuaspodek.com/non-judgmental-ethics-sunday-athlete-wants-bet).
 
In my eyes, the only relevant part in Omar's argument is lightvector's pledge to refund browni in case of a loss. Although I'm 100% sure that David meant well by making this pledge, reducing the incentive of your opponent to beat you is going to be controversial. I don't see this as warranting a cancellation of this year's challenge though.
 
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Re: 2015 Arimaa Challenge Match results invalid
« Reply #14 on: Apr 30th, 2015, 7:11am »
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on Apr 30th, 2015, 4:35am, chessandgo wrote:

- Declare browni's mini-match void and make him replay it. [Harvey's and mine weren't influenced by the bet in any manner. It would be unfair for sharp not to have a chance at the challenge this year in spite of qualifying.]

 
Great idea. But rather than lightvector compensating browni3141 if he loses, I will do that. This solves a lot of problems. Fritzlein gets his insurance, browni3141 has no external pressure on how he performs and lightvector is not involved. I also like that this whole matter will be decided over the board rather then anyone's judgement. I've already rented the server for another month, so if browni3141 is up for it, we can move forward with it.
 
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