I know that Go games can technically go on infinitely (pass, move, pass, move, capture, move…), but I’m interested in the max number of moves to more or less settle or fill the board.
I’d like to know this so that I can start making estimations of the length of games using different time controls, and then tournaments. Using this information I can add it to the tournament description to give people an idea how long it will take.
My first idea was to count the number of intersections on the board and use that as the move estimate.
So 9x9 will take 81 moves, 13x will take 169, and 19x will take 361.
Is this a good way to do it? Does anyone have a better idea?
its probably not quite that easy. the average number of moves will be significantly lower than that, and the max number is hard to calculate because of ko situations. the number of moves actually played in a game also depends quite heavily on the players strenght. in my experience weak players dont fill up the board as strong players do.
A ballpark estimate that I use is 62 points for black and white each. Assuming no captures, that is 118 free intersections at the end (62+56), after 243 moves played. Assume less moves and more points in a moyo game, more moves and less points in a fighting game.
There is really no substitute for actually counting though.
Learn and practice frequent counting, the earlier the better
Edit: This was adressed to the question on the length of games, not the maximum number of moves. Games tend to take an average number of moves on average, not the maximum on average
Maybe this is a question that can be better answered with statistics. Does anyone know of an easily searchable database of games and the number of moves? If I could get a set of a couple of thousand games per board size that would give me something to work with.
I suspect mode might be something silly like 5 moves in this instance… Definitely think median or mean are best in this case (opinion)
Edit : for full clarity, I quite like displaying mean, median and mode side by side for comparison sake
Do you really think most games end in 5 moves? I’ve sampled a lot of game histories and 5 move games are almost exclusively the work of thinly veiled sandbaggers. These people are in the minority and even they don’t finish most games in 5 moves, so I think your suspicion is unfounded. :3
Moreover, even if 5 moves was the mode,… that would precisely mean that the typical game ended in 5 moves and whenever someone played a game they should expect a 5 move game.
Ignoring completely the original motivation for this question, I did some reading on what the longest game possible is (assuming the superko rule).
First of all an algorithm to make a 361^3 (about 47 million) move game is not too difficult to conceptualise: Black fills the whole board except one point, then white captures, and black will try to fill up the whole board, etc etc, which takes around 2 x (360 + 359 + 358 + … + 1) = 361^2 moves to reach a position where white has filled the entire board except a single point (which should not be the same as black first’s move, because of superko).
Then Black captures, and the whole thing can repeat itself from this starting position, and again, and again, giving another 360 iterations of this strategy, so we’re now at 361^3 moves, and back at a position with only one stone on the board.
For those interested, Tromp and Fanrebäck also published a paper on the combinatorics of go. In that paper it is stated that on a 1xn board, a lower bound for the number of moves is 2^(n+1) - 4.