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$robots: Tbot, Xbot, and Ybot

 What are the $robots? 
The $robots are neural-network backgammon players, based on GnuBG, that play for small money stakes. The $robots are owned by Paul Magriel (X22 on GamesGrid).

 What are the different $robots? 
You will see $robots in several incarnations, which are set to play at different skill levels. Tbot plays with 2-ply lookahead, the highest interactive level. Xbot plays with no lookahead. Ybot plays with induced errors, so that it does not always make the play that was evaluated as best. This technique causes it to play at an Intermediate level.

 Who may play the $robots? 
GamesGrid members may play the $robots. Guests may watch the games, of course the $robots play only public matches. They play money sessions, and matches up to 9 points.

 Why do the $robots' ratings fluctuate so much? 
Even though the backgammon $robots play completely consistently from match to match and day to day, you will see wide variations in their ratings over time. For example, Xbot has held ratings from 1797 to 2109, a 312-point swing. Although unfinished matches and the particular opponents played also have a role, these fluctuations are due almost entirely to the luck inherent in backgammon. Like all of us, the $robots experience good and bad streaks, and when they do, their ratings change accordingly.

Because the $robots play so many matches (hundreds of matches per day), their ratings fluctuate more than those of human players. On the other hand, the $robots never get tired or steamed or overconfident. Over an equal number of matches playing against the same player mix, their ratings tend to vary less that would those of a human player against the same mix of opponents.

 Do the robots get better dice? 
No. The $robots receive dice in the same way as every other player. The robot program runs on a different machine than the game servers. They are connected to the server using the same client program that human players use, modified to communicate with the robot evaluation engine and to send the selected plays automatically. As far as the game server is concerned, the $robots are the same as every other player on GamesGrid.

Like the best human players, they arrange the checkers so that more rolls are good for them, and fewer rolls good for their opponents. Because the higher-level robots play better than the great majority of players, they appear luckier to the uncritical eye.

 A robot is not accepting invitations. What's wrong? 
The $robots play multiple-simultaneous matches. When they are available for invitations, their green available indicators will light up. When it is playing as many simultaneous matches as it can, the available indicator will be off.

 Can I get robots to play slower (or faster)? 
Yes. A robot begins each match at its "medium" speed. Although you cannot affect its calculation speed, a robot's opponent may ask it to change the speed at which it makes its moves, by typing in the chat entry box
/tell Xbot slower
/tell Xbot faster
(and similarly for Tbot and Ybot). The robot will announce that it is adjusting its playing speed.

At its fastest speed, a robot moves the checkers as soon as the best play is selected. At its slowest speed, it will pause approximately two seconds before it makes each move. This can be useful if you want to visually follow the action in bearoff situations, since the moves can be played very fast indeed.

Only a robot's opponent may request speed adjustments.

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last modified: 2005-04-27