The game of Go has very simple rules, but an enormous depth of possible strategy. Unlike Chess, the huge size of the 19x19 playing board makes brute-force search by computers to be not an effective strategy for playing the game at an advanced level. As of 2003, any reasonable human amateur can defeat the world's best Go programs, and human Go experts can just toy with the programs. For more background about Go, check the links on the Kiseido Go Server. (Update, spring 2010: the best Go programs are now competing in the middle of the professional ranks. The breakthrough insight seems to have been to use Monte Carlo methods for training the learning systems.)
Twice a year (by default on the 3rd Sunday in May and the 2nd Sunday in November, at the Stanford Coffee House), a Go match will be held between a software program, and a human player (usually Will Harvey). The betting pits each programmer against Don Geddis, Will Harvey, and/or Narinder Singh.
Scott Roy: Starting 6/8/2003 (perpetual bet begun 12/23/2003). Scott's program vs. Will Harvey. Stakes: $10 each vs. Don, Will, and Narinder. More details.
Also note some Side Bets and Completed Bets.
Details of the full results of each match are available.
On 5/18/2014 (full terms agreed 5/17/2015), Dusty Leary entered an (ongoing) running bet with Will Harvey, Don Geddis, and Joe Mathes. (Dusty ran a 5:45 mile in 9th grade.) At the event of each Go match here, Dusty will race Will in a distance of Dusty's choosing, from 100 yards to 1 mile. (Emergency exceptions are allowed to skip a race, e.g. due to temporary health reasons.) If Dusty loses the race, he pays a total of $50 (Will $25, Don $12.50, and Joe $12.50). If Dusty wins the race, then Dusty's payments to date are refunded, and in addition Will pays Dusty $10,000, Don pays $5,000, and Joe pays $5,000. The bet lasts 10 years, so the final race will occur in May of 2025 (for a total of 20 races).
Joe Mathes: Started 11/25/2012, terminated 3/31/2014. Joe's program vs. Will Harvey. Stakes: $50 each vs. Don and Will. Same structure as Dusty's bet.
Dusty Leary: Started 11/14/2010 (renewed 12/15/2011, perpetual bet begun 10/19/2012), terminated 5/17/2015. Dusty's program vs. Will Harvey. Stakes: $50 each vs. Don and Will. More details on the original bet, the renewal, and the perpetual bet. After seven straight losses ($700), Dusty fielded an (illegal) program that beat Will. It was clear that Dusty was capable of writing a Go program that would beat Will indefinitely. Don and Will bought him out of the perpetual bet for $800.
On 3/31/2014, Joe Mathes accepted a $1000 bet with Will Harvey. Will proposed that "the world champion Go player on March 26, 2024 will be human". Joe is betting that the world champion on that date will be a software program.
Resolved on 11/13/2016: Will conceded that AlphaGo's success in 2016, essentially means that the current world Go champion is likely already a computer, and certainly would be by 2024. Will paid $1000 to Joe.
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