World news

Go Spotting: Kurusawa’s “Stray Dog”

AGA news - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 01:58

“In the 1949 movie ‘Stray Dog’ Toshiro Mifune plays a homicide detective looking a criminal,” writes David Matson. “Ten minutes before the end he scans a room for suspects. The two men who best fit the description are both in their late 20′s, wearing white linen suits and white hats with wide black bands. Both men are reading newspapers. One man has an open-collared white dress shirt with no tie, sunglasses and a watch on his left wrist. The other has a crew-neck sweater with horizontal stripes. I watched this on Hulu, viewed on a small laptop, but I think both newspapers showed go game diagrams (different games).”

Categories: World news

Your Move/Readers Write: Where’s the 2015 Yearbook? Seeking Go Players in CA

AGA news - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 23:00

Where’s the 2015 Yearbook? “Last year you published the 2014 Member’s Edition Collection of Games, including a zip file of all files,” writes Joe Maia. “I didn’t find a similar page for the 2015 Game Collection. Are here any plans for a game collection (with zip file) for the 2015 Game Collection?”
The online 2015 Yearbook — the Member’s Edition Collection of Games, Commentaries & More — is in production now; members should keep an eye out for a notice about publication soon. If you want to get the Yearbook and the weekly Member’s Edition, click here to join the AGA now.

Seeking Go Players in CA: “Trying to find Igo players (any strength) in Marin County, California,” writes Myoun Korin, “Cities like San Rafael, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Fairfax,etc.”
Click here for Where to Play Go across the US, including clubs in California.

Categories: World news

“A strange and very bitter feeling”: France’s Dai Junfu on his WAGC performance

AGA news - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 17:00

by Dai Junfu, France’s representative at the 2016 World Amateur Go Championships (WAGC).  

It is a strange and very bitter feeling. I finished in 9th place at the 37th WAGC, a very disappointing result. Before the tournament, many people close to me said that I had the level to take 3rd place, and with luck, that I could finish even higher on the podium. Even myself, I had the same illusion, because Satoshi Hiraoka, the representative of Japan and twice winner of the WAGC, had been defeated by players from Europe, but I had never lost against a European. In the end, my sense of pride and lack of practice cost me dearly.

I had quite a difficult draw, because at the end I had the third highest SOS despite my three defeats. Starting from the third round, my opponents where all higher than 6-dan, excepting the final round. After having beaten the USA’s Benjamin Lockhart (7-dan), I was drawn against the winner of the tournament, China’s Bai Baoxiang, in the 4th round. He is considered to be one of four titans of amateur go in China, and his level is at least 4 or 5 professional dan. He turned down many chances to become a professional because he makes a good living from the many amateur tournament in China which have high prize pools. I tried with everything, but he had a solid victory without leaving me the slightest chance. It was the first time in 10 years that I had the feeling of losing a game without creating any problems for my opponent. Very sad. For the 5th round, my opponent was the player from Hong Kong (6-dan). He took a lot of territory but was unable to resist my attacks. With 4 wins from 5, I regained my confidence and was on track for a podium finish.

The turning point came in the 6th round. After losing to Taiwan, Japan’s Satoshi was without any significant victory. I was convinced that I was bound to defeat him, and that he would undoubtably make some blunder and I would have an easy win. In the game, my play was completely unbalanced. I could not recognise myself. I started to wake up when he had almost enclosed his gigantic moyo. Despite my tesuji in his centre, contrary to my illusions, he responded well and I was lost. Later, Mr Satoshi lost by not more that 2.5 points against Bai Baoxing because of bad yose. Actually, he is very strong. If I had appreciated his level, then I would have played differently against him in my game! After this defeat, I had said goodbye to the podium.

Round 7, is the game against my old friend Cristian Pop (7-dan) from Romania. Cristian made his usual moyo but I brought the game under my control. Then, at the crucial junction, I played the losing move, an instinctive play without a second of reflexion. Cristian took advantage of a ko and a good threat to take back control of the game. The last round was against a Belgian player and I won easily. Thanks to my high SOS, I took the 9th place but it was really a mediocre result and I felt a little ashamed. After the championship, I had the impression that the level of amateur players had progressed globally. The European players also had very good results. Notably the Ukrainian Andrii Kravets took 4th place ahead of Japan.

Even if it was a disappointing tournament for me, I met many new friends from all around the world. Notably I established a good relationship with the administration of the IGF. I hope that I can contribute more to the development of Go in the world because of my ability with languages (Chinese, French, English and a little Japanese). I hope that I can train a little more so as not to drop down in level, and I hope to make a better result if I am able to represent France again.

Based on the original report in Revue Francaise de Go, which includes game records and pictures.

Categories: World news

Your Move/Readers Write: More AlphaGo effect; Go classifieds work 

AGA news - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 03:04

More AlphaGo effect: “My uncle teaches math at Colorado Mesa University and asked me to give a presentation about go and AlphaGo,” writes Sirocco Fury Hamada. “Dr. Edward Bonan-Hamada’s mathematical modeling class at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO is interested in mathematically modeling human reasoning. He asked me to teach his students about go so they could understand it and think about the math behind AlphaGo. It was a small class, just seven students, but they asked great questions and are very interested in go now. A lot of them expressed interest in wanting to learn more about it and playing it online or with each other. AlphaGo is creating interest in go in unusual (or not) places!”

Go classifieds work: “The classified ad you ran for me (books, semiprecious stones, and kaya bowls for sale) was an unqualified success,” writes Donald Garratt. “All the items have been sold! Thank you. I will contact you in the future when I am ready to sell some more go equipment.” Go Classified ads are free; email us at journal@usgo.org 

 

Categories: World news

Rational Play? The Master of Go vs. AlphaGo

AGA news - Mon, 13/06/2016 - 23:30

by Andrew Feenberg

This is the story of two go matches. In March, Google’s artificial intelligence computer AlphaGo defeated world champion Lee Sedol 9P 4-1. This is considered a great triumph for artificial intelligence. Does it mean that AI is almost human? Or that humans have simply become machine-like? Another historic match in 1938 provides some useful perspective.

Games are ambiguous phenomena. On the one hand they are models of rationality. There are unambiguous rules, actions, and measures of success and failure. On the other hand games are social events, collaborative performances governed by meta-rules such as sportsmanship that contextualize the play. The players need each other in order to perform. They produce an object together through their combined efforts. The effect of this activity is to contribute to their own personal development as human beings. And we often qualify the product of their activity in aesthetic terms: a beautiful play in football for example.

Rationality as found in games is also a general attribute of the culture of modern societies. Modern societies contain many game like systems. Individuals act as players in these systems in order to get a raise, get a job, learn new skills, take a plane, avoid paying taxes, and so on. Thus games can appear as models of modernity and what happens with games can tell us something about what happens in modern societies in general.

This is why the Nobel prize-winning Japanese author Kawabata chose the game of go for one of his most famous novels. “The Master of Go” is based on a real match that Kawabata witnessed as a newspaperman in 1938. This was the last match of the old master Shusai and his challenger, called Otake in the novel. Each player represents an era. The old master represents traditional play, while his challenger represents modernized play, influenced by Western ideas. Traditional play is all about the human side of the game, deference, the notion of way or vocation as practiced in Japanese martial arts for example, and beauty, the beauty of the moves and the board as the game evolves. Modernity is about winning. Just that.

The novel recounts the game’s play as it reveals the characters and the historical background. The whole intrigue centers on a single move in the game, move 121. The reason this move is so important has to do with Western innovations introduced by the challenger and favored by the newspapers. In the old days the master would have regulated the flow of play, deciding when to start and end each day’s session. But the 1938 match was organized around time limits and sealed moves at the end of the day as in Western chess. Of course players are equal in the game play, but the traditional way of playing recognized the differences between the players in the world outside the game. Now the equalization internal to the game was being extended outward into the world of play. One can see how this might appeal to the challenger and to the newspapers, both of whom would prefer not to be subject to the whims of the old master. To the old master it seemed a lack of due deference.

As it happened, the challenger began to run out of time toward the middle of the game. To gain time to reflect on a difficult position in the center of the board he sealed a final move off in a corner. This trivial move required the master to respond away from the central struggle. The manipulation implied in this use of the time limits and sealed moves upset the master. He was offended and said that the beauty of the game was lost. As a result he made several mistakes and the challenger won. Modernity triumphs over tradition. But we are left with the clear impression that the old master was the better player of the two.

Kawabata wrote after World War II that he would only write elegies, elegies for the lost beauty of the old Japan. The novel is obviously a critique of modernization. But note that it is not about the contrast between rational modernity and the irrational tradition. There is nothing strategically irrational or inferior about the old master’s play. So the contrast of modernization and tradition is not about strategic rationality vs. irrational sentimentality. It is about the place of strategic rationality in the real world. Tradition is a set of meta-rules that contextualize and organize the rationalized sectors of social life such as games. Modernity extends the rationality of games into the real world. This has counterintuitive consequences. For example, in the case of the actual match the inferior player wins through manipulating the new meta-rules and upsetting his adversary rather than through superior play.

Here is the how Kawabata described his elegy for traditional go: “It may be said that the master was plagued in his last match by modern rationalism, to which fussy rules were everything, from which all the grace and elegance of go as art had disappeared, which quite dispensed with respect for elders and attached no importance to mutual respect as human beings. From the way of go the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled.”

The losers of the two matches were Shusai and Lee Sedol. The winners were Otaké and AlphaGo. What do they have in common? If we understand games in all their ambiguity as both strategic exercises, rational systems, and also ways of self development and aesthetic achievement, then I would suggest that their reduction to mere winning is a disaster. The matches reveal the limits of modernity as a way of understanding and organizing human life. In reorganizing the social world around strategic rationality, modernity prepares the triumph of the machine.

This essay is based on a talk presented at the McLuhan Centre at the University of Toronto in early March. It has been condensed and updated. Feenberg has written extensively about Kawabata’s novel previously in his book Alternative Modernity.

Categories: World news

Go Spotting: Freakonomics Radio

AGA news - Mon, 13/06/2016 - 23:00

“I just listened to one of my favorite podcasts called Freakonomics Radio with Steven Dubner,” writes Aaron Murg. The title of this episode is called “How to Win Games and Beat People,” and it is all about board games. In it, they interview a board game historian who mentions go within the first 5 minutes! The podcast would be very interesting to any board game player and informational as to the economics of board games.

Categories: World news

One Week Left to Sign Up for Pandanet 13×13 Internet Go Tournament

AGA news - Sun, 12/06/2016 - 17:16

There’s just a week left to register for Padanet’s 13×13 Internet Go Tournament. Registration is free but you must sign up by June 19. “This year we are holding an open tournament in which all games are played on even and a handicap tournament based on Pandanet ratings,” Pandanet’s Keiko Sota tells the E-Journal. The open tournament is for players 3-dan and higher; the winner will earn the right to challenge Yuki Satoshi 9-dan in a 13×13 game and the second place winner will earn the right to challenge Sakai Hideyuki 8-dan, also in a 13×13 game. The handicap tournament is divided into A class (2-dan~2-kyu) and B Class (3-kyu and under); there are no handicap stones; the handicaps will be in komi. Click here for details and applications; if you are not already a member of Pandanet, register and get an ID here first.

Categories: World news

“Whole Board Thinking, Vol.2″ Back in Print

AGA news - Sun, 12/06/2016 - 17:08

Slate & Shell has just re-issued Yilun Yang’s “Whole Board Thinking in Joseki Volume 2.” Long out of print, this is a continuation of Mr. Yang’s exploration of joseki, written in collaboration with former AGA president Phil Straus. “The title of this book is a bit misleading,” notes Slate & Shell. “It does not aim to teach you josekis. It aims to teach you how to decide which joseki to use in a particular situation (assuming you know the relevant josekis). So what it is really about is judging how to play in the early opening. To narrow down this enormous topic and provide a very thorough treatment of it, Yang focuses on situations in which a few opening moves have been made, including in all four corners, and your opponent has approached your 3-4 stone in one corner. The issue is how should you respond: by settling the corner, trying to get out (in the proper direction), or attacking from the outside. It depends on the rest of the board, of course, and this book shows you how to determine the correct response in terms of the whole board situation. This is very useful knowledge even if your understanding of how to achieve the correct goal in that situation is somewhat limited. At least you will know what you should try to do instead of just guessing the proper continuation.” 181 pages, $26

Categories: World news

“JustGo” Game Recording App to Demo at Go Congress

AGA news - Sun, 12/06/2016 - 16:54

Automatic game recording app “JustGo” will be demonstrated at this year’s US Go Congress. Lei Chen 7d and Yi Tang 2p from WanTong technology will be on hand at the Congress with their newest technology. Click here to see a demo; the app will be available both in iOS and Android.

Categories: World news

Cotsen Open Set for October 22-23 in LA

AGA news - Sun, 12/06/2016 - 16:28

Save the dates of October 22-23 on your calendar for the 2016 Cotsen Open. The popular tournament returns to the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles this year, thanks to the support of the Korean Consulate and KCCLA. The 2016 tournament will feature all of the things that previous participants have come to expect and look forward to from the Cotsen Open, including roving masseuses, free lunches, gorgeous trophies, a game between Yilun Yang 7p and another top pro, and thousands of dollars in prizes. “This is a tournament you won’t want to miss!” say local organizers. Registration will open soon; stay tuned for more details and get updates on the Cotsen Open Faceboo page. photo: Mark Lee gets a massage at the 2015 Cotsen Open; photo by Chris Garlock

Categories: World news

Go Classified: Go stones wanted

AGA news - Sun, 12/06/2016 - 14:17

Slate and Shell Go Stones (Used) Needed: Mr. Wan is collecting all types of shell & slate go stones. If you have such stones in good condition and willing to sell, please email zhang.tfa@gmail.com with your offer price and pictures.

 

 

 

Categories: World news

Results from the EGF-survey at the last congress in Liberec

European Go Federation - Sun, 12/06/2016 - 10:56
At the European Go Congress 2015 in Liberec, together with Prof. Mei Wang (WHU, Otto-Beisheim-School of Management, Germany), I conducted a survey among the participants. Here, I would like to summarize the main results
Categories: World news

“Introduction to Applied Go Studies” brings together music, art, improvisation, and philosophy Sunday in Philly

AGA news - Fri, 10/06/2016 - 03:28

Philadelphia-area go players will want to check out the interesting and unusual go and music event scheduled for this Sunday, June 12. “Introduction to Applied Go Studies” is a day-long workshop in which participants will learn how to play the game, “and we will ask if music, art, improvisation, or philosophy has anything to learn from Go,” say organizers. “What bridges can be built? And which models will we smuggle across?”

The event runs from 12-8pm at the University Arts League, 4226 Spruce Street, and is being put together by Penn Go Society  club member Quinn Dougherty. RSVP on Facebook here or to sothis.ensemble@gmail.com. Dougherty can be reached for further inquiries at quinndoughtertymusic@gmail.com or 484 883 9487.

 

Categories: World news

Huaxia Chinese School Hosts Tri-State Area Go Tournament

AGA news - Thu, 09/06/2016 - 23:00

More than 30 participants turned out for the June 5 tournament sponsored by the Huaxia Chinese School of Greater New York held at White Plains High School, NY. Go players came from various cities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for the first AGA-rated tournament organized by Leon Lei and Jie Tang. Attendees included children 6-12 and go students from the Chinese school who competed in a casual round-robin tournament while adults (AGA members) played in rated games.

The tournament featured a special guest, Matthew Hu 2P from California. Along with Yingshyan Ku 3k, the two of them gave a presentation on the highlights of the Lee Sedol v. Alpha Go games. Hu also played simultaneous games with students of the Huaxia Chinese School.

“The tournament was a great success, and there are plans to host another tournament in the Tri-State Area next year,” reports organizer Leon Lei. “The attendees provided positive feedback on their experiences and appreciated the opportunity to play go at this convenient location.”

photos courtesy Leon Lei

Categories: World news

AGA YouTube: Lee, Park in Ing Quarterfinal; then Women’s HuangLongShi final

AGA news - Thu, 09/06/2016 - 20:15

Park Junghwan 9p and Lee Sedol 9p face off tonight in the first game of a best of three for the quarterfinals of the 8th Ing Cup Professional. Myungwan Kim 9p will give his commentary on the AGA YouTube channel starting at 8 p.m. PDT tonight, hosted by Andrew Jackson.  After the Ing match, probably around 11pm, if time permits, Myungwan and Andrew will continue with the final match of 6th 黄龙士双登杯 (HuangLongShi ShuangDengBei), the Nongshim Cup for women. The final players are Choi Jung 6p of Korea and Wu Zhiying 5p of China. Both of them are the strongest women professionals in their country and whoever wins will bring the trophy home.

Categories: World news

Interview with Baoxiang Bai, China

IGF Ranka - Thu, 09/06/2016 - 04:50

I was born and grew up in Jilin, a medium-size city in a province of the same name. I started to play go when I was five years old, going on six. I reached amateur 5 dan at about the age of ten by going to a school that taught go; not a go daochang (dojo), just an ordinary go school. Then I moved to Beijing and started attending about five go daochangs, with hopes of pursuing a professional career.

Those hopes were dashed when I was sixteen years old. The age limit for participating in the professional qualification tournament was eighteen. I presented a birth certificate showing that I was still only sixteen, but that year they also checked people’s age by taking bone x-rays, and my x-ray showed that my ‘bone age’ was eighteen and a half.

You can imagine my disappointment, but over the next few years I began to realize that this was a blessing in disguise. Of course if I had become a pro I could have trained and competed with some of the world’s top players and perhaps become a stronger go player than I am now, and if I had been able to sign with one of the teams in China’s professional inter-city league, I would have had a good income, but if I had gotten into that league I would have been under terrible pressure to win, and if I had not gotten in, I would have had a somewhat restricted set of tournaments in which to compete. As an amateur, I was under less pressure and had all sorts of tournament opportunities. By now I think I must have competed in amateur tournaments in a hundred different cities in China.

This year, for example, I competed in and won the Evening News Cup — that’s how I qualified for the World Amateur Go Championship — and along with Ma Tianfang, who is another of China’s four ’titans of amateur go’, I played for the Nanning team and helped it win the Chinese amateur inter-city league. We beat out the Chengdu team, which had Hu Yuqing and Wang Chen, the other two titans. I also played this year in the amateur MLILY Cup, the Dujuanhua Cup, the Qinhuangdao Cup, the 700 Net Cup, which has a fantastic first prize of 700,000 RMB, the Feng Cheng Cup, where I finished second to Hu Yuqing, and more minor tournaments than I can remember. I missed the Yellow River Cup because it ended just before the WAGC began and I wanted to get some rest for the WAGC, but even so, it’s been a busy year, and it’s not half over yet. Another inter-city league is about to start. Besides amateurs, it’s open to Chinese pros who are not ranked in the top 100, and has an additional bracket for foreign players. Chengdu is fielding a Korean 9-dan pro, Choi Chulhan, no less, in the foreign bracket, so I may get a chance to play him.

Anyway, I’m very happy with my life as an amateur go player. When I won the Evening News Cup in 2011 I had the option of turning pro — that’s one of the rewards of winning that tournament — but I aleady knew I wanted to stay amateur. I’m not worried that my game will lose its edge. Playing in some ten big national tournaments a year, I get lots of chances to keep in form by playing tough opponents.

Go is not quite my whole life. I also play amateur football — I’m a defensive midfielder. And I like to read, especially the martial arts novels of Jin Yong.

Of my games in this year’s WAGC, my hardest was against Japan’s Satoshi Hiraoka. He put a lot of thought into the middle game and got the better of me at one point, so I may have been behind for a while, but I managed to win by two and a half points in the endgame. I won all the rest of my games by resignation.

Categories: World news

Day Four

IGF Ranka - Thu, 09/06/2016 - 02:37

From the left: Kibaek Kim, Baoxiang Bai and Chia-Cheng Hsu

Once again the central garden of the Ramada Plaza Hotel, a miniature wetland with trees and a large pond, was filled with early morning birdsong, but rather than indulge in birdwatching, almost all the contestants at the World Amateur Go Championship chose to get some extra rest in preparation for the final day of play. On their way to the playing venue, in place of bird calls, they were serenaded by the throbbing beat of a karaoke program being televised from the third floor.

A few of the seventh-round games finished quickly. The women contestants continued to find the going tough. Switzerland’s Armel-David Wolff won a 4-dan match-up with Australia’s Amy Song, and Azerbaijan’s Elchin Hasanxan Aliyev (1 dan) proved superior to Belarusian 5-kyu Anastasiya Ilkevich. Anastasiya was then drawn up to play Amy in the final round.

In the middle of the playing room, Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo bowed early to an opponent twice his height, Russia’s Dmitry Surin. The players from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore also lost to European opponents (Germany, Belgium, Hungary), and Brunei’s Ignatius Chin lost to Colombia’s Santiago Espinose Uribe. Of the Southeast Asian contingent, only Vorawat Tanapatsopol (Thailand) emerged victorious from the seventh round; he beat Slovenia’s Gregor Butala.

At the high end of the room, the pace of play was slow and deliberate. On the top board, Japan’s Satoshi Hiraoka played doggedly to the end of his game against Baoxiang Bai, but lost by two and a half points, moving China a big step closer to the championship. On the next two boards, Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu and Korea’s Kibaek Kim and rebuffed the challenges of, respectively, Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser and Serbia’s Dusan Mitic. Chia-Cheng was then drawn up to play Baoxiang Bai in the final round, while Kibaek was drawn to play Germany’s Lukas Kraemer.

Of the four WAGC rookies who took 4-2 records into the seventh round, only New Zealand’s Chahine Koleejan managed to win, and his opponent was also one of the four: Tal Michaeli of Israel. As his final-round opponent, Chahine drew Andrii Kravets, who defeated Poland’s Stanislaw Frejlak.

The fate of the awards was decided by eight tense games in the final round. On the top board, China’s Baoxiang Bai defeated Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu to win his second world amateur championship with a perfect 8-0 record. On the next board, Korea’s Kibaek Kim disposed of Germany’s Lukas Kraemer to finish a clear second at 7-1. Of the six players who ended with 6-2 records, Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng took a clearly deserved third place. He had lost only to Bai and Kim, and beaten the players from the Ukraine, Japan, and Serbia, who finished fourth, fifth, and eighth.

The Ukraine’s Andrii Kravets got fourth place by beating New Zealand’s Chahine Koleejan in his final game. Chahine looked disappointed, but he had done rather well to score five wins in his first WAGC attempt. Japan’s Satoshi Hiraoka captured fifth place by winning his final game against Hong Kong’s Chi Hin Chan (avenging last year’s loss) and winning a tie break with Hungary’s Csaba Mero, who beat Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser to finish sixth. The tie break was carried out by deducting the first-round results from Japan’s and Hungary’s SOS scores. Serbia’s Dusan Mitic beat Russia’s Dmitry Surin in his last game to finish seventh, despite having beaten Csaba Mero in round four. Romania’s Cristian Pop was drawn down and beat Macau’s Kei Chon Wan to take eighth place. France’s Junfu Dai beat Belgium’s Niels Vets to capture a well earned ninth place; he had lost only to the players from China, Japan, and Romania. Chi Hin Chan took tenth place, having lost only to the players from the Ukraine, France and Japan.

Elsewhere in the playing room, Battulga Byarnbaakhuu rescued Mongolia’s honor by downing India’s Supravat Pal, and the distaff contest between Australia and Belarus was won by Amy Song, a 4 dan beating a 5 kyu.

The round ended at five o’clock. The awards were presented at a refreshingly brisk closing ceremony at 6:30, followed by a buffet dinner in the hotel. Many of the players then repaired to the second-floor lounge, where go boards were set up throughout the week, and continued to play or to carry out post-mortems.

Full results here.

– James Davies

Categories: World news

Interview with Satoshi Hiraoka, Japan

IGF Ranka - Tue, 07/06/2016 - 14:41

Satoshi Hiraoka

This is perhaps my tenth visit to China, but my first to Wuxi. It impresses me as a pretty city, even though we’ve arrived in the middle of the rainy season. I first competed in the World Amateur Go Championship in the early 1990s, when it was always held in Japan. Although I won it on my first try, during the following quarter century, frankly, China and Korea have opened up a clear lead over Japan. The percentage of the population that learns to play go is higher in those countries than in Japan. So Japan has some catching up to do.

One good sign for the future is the new All-Japan Go Association. This is an amateur-based organization started by Yasuro Kikuchi about three years ago with the aims of stimulating go activity and increasing the number of players in Japan. Its main activity so far has been collecting signatures to petition the government to have go incorporated into Japan’s primary school curriculum. The goal was to get ten thousand signatures. The Association also holds about four tournaments a year and rates players according to the results. These are face to face tournaments, played in Tokyo, not online. I happened to win one of them and went right to the top of the rating list. I’m not sure I’m still at the top, however, because some strong younger players are coming in now: high-school students, and young people aiming at pro careers. Not insei, because they’re not supposed to compete in amateur tournaments, but people who are over the insei age limit of 18 but still under the age limit of 25 for becoming a pro. Anyway, we hope to increase participation further and establish a Japanese national rating system. If go regains its popularity in Japan, I expect that we’ll be able draw even with China and Korea again.

Categories: World news

Day Three

IGF Ranka - Tue, 07/06/2016 - 14:29

Following some evening thundershowers and early morning rain, the grounds of the Ramada Plaza Hotel were drenched with moisture but alive with birdsong as the World Amateur Go Championship contestants tramped down to breakfast, then up to the playing venue for the fifth round. Play commenced at 9:00 and finished by 11:30, and for two players in particular it was a good morning. Italy’s Filippo Gorlero scored his first WAGC triumph by overcoming India’s Supravat Pal, and Australia’s 15-year-old Amy Song, whose only win so far had been a bye, scored her first victory on the go board against Slovakia’s silent veteran Miroslav Poliak. Filippo and Amy were visibly delighted by these outcomes.

In the middle section of the field, a pair of young Southeast Asians scored their third wins by downing 5-dan North American opponents: Malaysia’s Fu Kang Chang toppled Canada’s Manuel Valesco, and Vietnam’s Nhat Minh Vo ambushed Mexico’s Emil Garcia. Also scoring his third win was Romania’s Cristian Pop, who was drawn up against German champion Lukas Kraemer and rose to the occasion by beating him. This last result was viewed with some disappointment by Lukas’ bevy of young female admirers in the referee corps.

In the 3-1 group, interest centered on the game between France’s Junfu Dai and Hong Kong’s Chi Hin Chan. Chi Hin has become accustomed to finishing fourth in the WAGC, but that may be difficult this year, for Junfu got the better of him. The players from Chinese Taipei, Japan, Luxembourg, Serbia, and the USA also improved their records from 3-1 to 4-1. In the top group, China’s Baoxiang Bai and Korea’s Kibaek Kim stayed undefeated by ending the two-day winning streaks of the Ukraine’s Andrii Kravets and Indonesia’s Rafif Shidqi Fitrah. That set the stage for a China-Korean showdown in the afternoon.

The sixth round began at 2:30. Both undefeated players arrived early, first Kim, who was scheduled to play black, and then Bai. Kim had the upper seat, and could watch the rest of players as they came in and sat down. Bai watched Kim watching them. When the Bai-Kim game began, black got prior occupation of three corners by allowing one of his corner stones to be pincered. An early ko fight developed in the pincered corner, and this time there was to be no disappointment among the Chinese staff. White won the ko and went on to win the game by resignation.

Left to right, top row Hiraoka, Bai, Hsu. Bottom row: Heiser, Kim, Mitic

Baoxiang Bai’s next opponent will be Satoshi Hiraoka, who defeated France’s Junfu Dai to stay in the group with only one loss. Also remaining in this group were Chinese Taipei’s Chia-Cheng Hsu, who defeated Andrii Kravets; Luxembourg’s Laurent Heiser, who defeated Rafif Shidqi Fitrah; Serbia’s Dusan Mitic, who defeated the USA’s Benjamin Lockhart; and of course Korea’s Kibaek Kim. The pairing algorithm matched Hiraoka against Bai, Hsu against Heiser, and Kim against Mitic in round seven. The one-loss group is still very much in the running for the championship, if at least one of them can defeat Baoxiang Bai tomorrow.

The championship may now be out of reach of the fourteen players who ended the day with 4-2 records, but they are still competing for the second to tenth place awards. Among them are four WAGC rookies: Lukas Kraemer, who defeated Turkey’s Emre Polat in round six; Chahine Koleejan (New Zealand), who defeated Macau’s Kei Chon Wan; Nhat Minh Vo, who defeated Norway’s Pal Sannes; and Israel’s Tal Michaeli, who defeated Slovenia’s Gregor Butala.

And what of pair who scored their first wins in the morning? In the afternoon Amy Song succumbed to Finland’s Matti Siivola, but Filippo Gorlero added a second victory to his score. This time his victim was Anastasiya Ilkevich, the electronics engineer from Belarus, who had a bye in round three and will be seeking to add a real victory tomorrow.

Full results here.

– James Davies

Categories: World news

Interview with Junfu Dai, France

IGF Ranka - Tue, 07/06/2016 - 07:01

Junfu Dai

I was born in Shanghai at the end of 1983. In 1988 Shanghai had an outbreak of food poisoning, from seafood, and both of my parents were stricken. During the year-long break they took to recover, they started playing five-in-a row, and I learned to play too. I was only five years old, but I learned well — maybe too well — after a while I was beating everyone in my family. Thinking that I had talent for black-and-white board games like this, my grandfather took me to see a friend of his who ran a local club in our district, and that’s where I learned to play go. So it was purely by accident that I took up the game. My family were under the impression that go was something similar to five-in-a-row.

After that, I had to go to school, but I continued to drop in at the club to play go on weekends, and I was lucky enough to get some good instruction. Within a year or so I had reached 1 kyu. After that I had a private tutor, or rather a series of private tutors, each about four stones above my current rank, who would give me one teaching game per week. That really helped me a lot. Around the age of ten I reached 5 dan without ever having trained at a formal go academy. My tutor then became Liu Jun, who won two world amateur go championships. I took private lessons from him for three or four years, and under his tutoring, I became one of the reigning powers of amateur go in Shanghai. I started playing for Shanghai in national tournaments, sometimes even beating Liu Jun in official competition.

But I continued my scholastic career, graduating from a good high school and passing the entrance exam for Jiaotong University, which was the fourth or fifth ranked university in China. So my scholastic level may not have been as high as my go-playing level, but I was on a proper career path. I didn’t have to sacrifice my academic life to play go.

In 2007 I went entered EM Lyon, a French business school ranked eighth in the world. One reason I chose a school in France was that my father was working there as a diplomat. Another reason was that my father had taught French, and I had lived in France for nine months when I was eleven years old, so I already had a kind of attachment to the country and could speak the language well. Still another reason was that after graduating from Jiaotong University I had gone to work for China Mobile, as a kind of sales representative for business to business service. I was under a lot of pressure in that job, and the salary structure was weak. Everyone told me that if I graduated from a good school in France, I could work there and earn a more comfortable living.

All that has changed, incidentally. Chinese salaries have doubled, and France is in the middle of an economic crisis. But I have a good job as a financial director in the innov8 group, for a wholesale firm that supplies accessories for smartphones.

I don’t play go now as much as I used to. Mainly I play in tournaments near Paris; I don’t have time to travel around. For that reason, even though I have one of the highest ratings in the European rating system, I’m not well known to most European go players. They see me only if they come to Paris.

But I’ve written a couple of French go books, one about strategy in the middle game and one about the endgame. Another ambitious project I have is to introduce people to go by associating go theory with Chinese culture: with I-ching, yin and yang, Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the Thirty-Six Strategies, and so on. I want to do something to help the international go community, and I’d like to promote go in this way, rather than by the Hikaru-no-Go method.

Categories: World news
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