I would like to share with you the impressions I got after playing a series of games after the Axel Thue memorial tournament. I have no idea how Josh managed to make it, but I have witnessed how AB has turned from an old aunt's pocket monster into a sprouts devil! The new version of the program can turn a trivial position into every player's worst nightmare — you have my word on it. Every new game broadens my horizons of the misere game's world.
The games we play now are far ahead of all previous years' games; they are pure poetry... I wish that people could understand how unique every game is.
I used to think that misere was just a variation of the normal game, but now I tend to reckon that misere is totally different, a fully individual game with its own unique "ecosystem". Fighting against the new version of AB armed only with our old set of techniques will end in nothing. A whole new approach is required...
What approach? I have no idea!
I always thought that if you strictly followed a certain strategy AB wouldn't be able to create complex positions, i.e. if you walk down a good path in the forest, you wouldn't get lost... However, the new AB has learned how to trick you into losing your way completely and getting lost in dark woods.
To sum up it all - bravo, Josh!
In April 2006, I wrote, "I don't believe an unassisted human will ever be able to compete with a computer program at sprouts." I'm finally beginning to see a small amount of evidence for this statement in "over-the-board play".
My fondest wish is that Roman will retire from sprouts, saying that the game is too hard for humans and should be left to computers. However, Russians never surrender, as the saying goes, and I wouldn't write him off just yet. With his tremendous tenacity and creativity, Roman has consistently dashed my hopes for computer superiority up to this point, and the safe money is that he will continue to do so into the future.