Thursday, 8 July 2010

Where to stick the punctuation?

Automated annotation of games via computer engines is still an imperfect art. While strong programs can show long lines of analysis, attaching meaningful comments is still better handled by humans.
One difference I've noticed is the handing out of ! and ? marks in games. When I annotate I'm happier to attach ! to moves I think are good, rather than ? to moves I believe are bad. In fact it is often a decision based around a pair of successive moves, in that the choice is between giving a ! to good move, or giving a ? to the preceding move that allowed it to happen.
For example, in the diagrammed position White play 1.g3. This allows the tactical shot 1. ... Qxg5 for if White captures the Queen, the 2. ... Nh3 is mate. After 2.gxf4 Qxg4+ 3.Nxf4 exf4 Black also has a winning position.
While I'd be happy to give 1. ... Qxg5 a !, Fritz would rather give 1.g3 a ??. Clearly the reasoning is that good moves don't change the assessment of the position, they merely confirm your opponents mistake.
And while I can see the logic behind this, I'm afraid that such an approach would drive ! marks out of the game forever.

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