Komi needs correction on 9 x 9

It was cool to be the heel in this debate. :slight_smile: Only one “almost” on my side :-).

@mark5000 had the most enlightening response. Thank you. Does results based mean that the Komi would change depending on black’s starting point? That would be a major
departure from the organic nature of the game.

Anyway, to everybody who thought I had a snowball’s chance in hell of persuading OGS to revise or eliminate 9 x 9 Komi, I appreciate the laugh. :slight_smile:

This was a case of “I’m probably going to lose so I’ll toss a stone deep into enemy territory and see what happens.” :slight_smile:

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No. The concept of komi is independent of where black chooses to play his first move. Komi points represent compensation given to white for having the disadvantage of moving second. Some first moves may be better than others for black, but I don’t think many have suggested to set komi based on black’s first move.

Don’t worry, I doubt that anyone was really concerned that your argument might actually affect change on OGS regarding 9x9 komi. I think the response was mainly due to people clamoring to point out the flaws in your arguments, which even seemed a bit like trolling given their tone.


Black starting at 3-3 he has already secured ~8 points!

I’m only 12 days old in this GO world - but I see the komi advantage as being a bit much. When you get a 25k (me) against a 22k and they have a 5.5 disadvantage. I’d imagine that these 22k folk are exactly setting the world on fire.

Look at this;

I’m 24k against 25k and have a 5.5 advantage. hmm.

This is where you see the difference between komi and handicap.

The only role of komi is to counteract the advantage black has of going first in an otherwise even game.

If your desire is to play an opponent of a different rank but you want both players to have an equal chance of winning, this is where handicap stones come in (assuming both players’ ranks are accurate)


I’m glad this thread got revived, as I would like to give moral support to @Professor_X. I agree that komi is too high for 9x9, at least for DDKs, but since you can choose to play white, or set a custom komi, it can be mitigated.Oddly enough, a compilation of more than 17,000 19x19 OGS games (Win rate by players ranks in OGS) showed that all but two ranks from 16k to 1d had a losing percentage as black. Doesn’t this suggest that komi is too high even for these people in 19x19?

In another thread (New way of deciding Komi), I pointed out that komi for 19x19 is, I think, based on pro games, so it is not logical to believe that it has equal validity for lower-level games. The weaker the skill, from pro to DDK, the less ability a person has to exploit the advantage of the first move. I suggested that the ideal komi probably exists on a sliding scale based on rank. This is similar to what @zedsdeadbaby argues above.

In a long interesting discussion in the chat a couple months ago, @thought argued, very cogently I believe, that the stats actually show 7 to be the ideal komi for 19 x 19 (and logically, komi should be an integer since there are no half points in the game). Consequently, the half-point tie-break distorts the komi from the start.

To come back to 9x9, let’s look at another avenue for analyzing this. Instead of considering komi as a proportion of total points on the board, consider it as a proportion of the winner’s score (not the difference). Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that 65 is the average winning score in 19x19 (and leaving aside issues of rank). Then the Japanese komi would be 10% of the winner’s score. For 9x9, my impression is that the average winning score is in the low 20s. If 22, a 6.5 komi would be roughly 30%. The 5.5 OGS standard would be 25%. That strikes me as very large. Even if you substitute different numbers, the point is that the practical limit on how many points can be scored is vastly lower in 9x9 and hence the significance of komi looms larger.


But as @mark5000 pointed out, with less stones being played, while 6.5 points is a higher percentage in terms of score, the influence gained by getting the first play on such a small board is arguably larger.


I’ve wrestled with that, and I’m not quite convinced. The size itself may be a limiting factor. Black has far more constraints of space on how he can take advantage of the first move. In other words, the small board limits the scope of what Black can do. Indeed, games do not always follow a linear logic. While we can probably safely conclude that the first move is still advantageous in 9x9, the limits on ts influence are really unknown. To illustrate what I mean, in poker your table position can have several consequences, good or bad, depending on the particular game being played. In 6-way Chinese checkers (traditional rules, no jumping in and out of home territories), I have analyzed hundreds of games against the computer and concluded that 4th position has an advantage (apparently because the networks of pieces first come to fruition in time for 4th position to take advantage of them).

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I would be carefull with statistics :smiley: they are tricky. AFAIK OGS gives black to the weaker player, that might partly explain why black is losing more often and maybe the komi is actually fair? There is many factors at play, you can’t just deduce komi is not fair from something so simple.
I dunno, I am just reluctant to start screwing with komi at our level of understanding the game. Also it would seem very silly when someone from OGS went elsewhere and was surprised by different komi.

Just dont change the rules :smiley: there is a standart set up by people who play better than us, let’s keep it simple. You know to create a far fetched analogy we are back to that one driver who thought driving on the other side of the road would actually be better. I for one think that at our level of play the 1 or 2 points make no real difference. It’s not like I would constantly by losing by 1 point, is it…


Good point about the weaker player being assigned black. I hadn’t thought of that, and it may indeed offer part of the explanation for those numbers. However, I don’t believe that anything I said depends on go knowledge or playing strength. The issues are statistical, and they depend on such things as understanding validity, which, as you say, is certainly a very tricky business in statistics, For example the issue of the half point added to komi is not a go issue at all. It is a tie-breaker, a subject much discussed in philosophy of sports, particularly with reference to soccer (football to non-Americans), because many people think that tie-breakers are often ill-conceived and unnecessary.

My main beef is the continual trotting out of pro statistics to validate komi across the board, all the way down to DDK, as if the majesty of pros trumps all arguments. The argument is laughable from the standpoint of logic. It’s like polling some Wall Street bankers and then trying to apply the results to Blue Collar workers. I would love to see someone do a master’s thesis that compiled statistics from all levels to derive a komi for each level, Perhaps it would produce a curve that reflects the game’s learning curve.

I do not seek a change in komi. I do not have the activist personality needed to pursue such a program (especially not at my age). I just enjoy discussing various theoretical issues. I would perhaps like to see a reduction in what seems a misplaced reverence for komi as something writ in stone.

The solution for people who don’t like the komi in 9x9 is simple: play white.

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I haven’t actually looked at the records, but I feel like the percentage of DDK games that were won or lost by less than 5 points would be more or less statistically irrelevant. Even in 9x9 games I typically observe a 10+ point win one way or the other making komi in DDK games more or less a formality / novelty with little to no impact on the majority of games (due largely in part to DDK players not being able to efficiently take advantage of black’s starting sente)

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Your comments actually agree with two of my points. I completely agree that DDK players (or perhaps we should say high DDK players) do not have the skill to take advantage of the first move. That is the core of my main argument. However, it can be applied up the line as well, I think, though no one knows where it may stop. In other words, pros have more ability to take advantage of the first move than do SDKs, etc.

Yes, I’ve previously seen the argument that DDK games hinge more on blunders than on komi. In a sense that supports what I’m saying: that pro-derived komi can’t reasonably be applied to DDK games. What is more important, is that it is a poor argument for saddling someone with what is in effect a handicap from the beginning. If we know they can’t take advantage of the first move, then we are knowingly handicapping them.

Two points on this conclusion.

Firstly, “know they can’t take advantage” is very strong language. I would say it is less likely that they will reap its full benefit. Certainly, there is still some advantage to going first.

Secondly, as far as “we are knowingly handicapping them” goes, again, it is only 6.5 points. Very few games have results this close. Furthermore, DDK ranks are much less precise than higher ranks as it is so easy to learn simple parts of the game in as little as a few hours that can boost at times a player by several ranks. Due to this, I find ACTUAL DDK handicap games in which stones are awarded to a player to be of more concern than the seemingly inconsequential komi.

Even so, I wouldn’t advocate changing this. SImply put, the idea of a “perfectly even DDK game” is a joke and impossible to code for, there is simply too much volatility and as you say, decided more so by blunders than anything else. Trying to cater to them at this level will leave them unprepared when they get to higher levels. Better for them to have consistent rules throughout, and to just acknowledge their presence when it doesn’t matter so that when they are skilled enough for it to be significant, they already know and adjust for them naturally within their play.


I’m not advocating for any change, as I previously stated. Also, the quote, “perfectly even DDK game,” does not come from me—I’ve never said or imagined such an absurdity.

I don’t really disagree with most of what what you say in this reply, because you are speaking mainly in practical terms, while my interests are more theoretical. “Reap the full benefit” is a more precise phrasing—thank you. I am, however, disturbed by the “it is only” argument, which is weak in almost all contexts (and may even fall into one of the many categories of fallacy—I can’t remember): for example, “it was only a punch in the arm.”

It would be interesting to see numbers on how close games are, at DDK as well as up the line. However, a komi that is too large can have psychological effects that haven’t been considered in this thread. I have often heard players speak of the need for black to play more aggressively in 9x9 because of the large komi, and personally speaking, I feel this way too. Of course, we may well be wrong, but the psychological influence is real, nevertheless.

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It’s hard to get and analyze all the games correctly. After all, indeed strong players can evaluate the score during the game and instead of peacefully losing by four points start doing crazy stuff. Plus many players just resign even if it’s just four-five points, so we wouldn’t be able to count that.

But I wonder which color people prefer to play. I haven’t played 9x9 in a long time, but I feel much more confident with Black. When I play as White I feel like I am just defending trying to live under Black’s attacks. And if I’m Black I’m controlling how the game goes.


most people have a losing percentage as black on all board sizes because of being assigned black as the weaker player combined with the fact that no one seems to want to use handicap on ogs

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If Komi is set right, you’d think the “assign black to weaker player” would be nonsense, wouldn’t you?

It seems to have other undesireable effects too, like getting used to playing first if you’re playing a stronger player. Wouldn’t we all be best served to get an even mix?


I think one reasonable way to solve this issue is to find the statistic of win rate of 9x9 on this site, If white or black has win rate significantly above 50% then we adjust the komi. Then we monitor the win rate and adjust again if needed.

@q4w56 if you had read the rest of this topic you would have found several arguments for why it isn’t quite that simple.

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Yes, i’m sure the entirety of the go world’s professionals are wrong about what komi should be, and some data from one amateur server will show everyone the light