“I like the You Tube highlights from the qualifier games,” says Bob Gilman. “These analyses of important situations provide insights in a readily digestible form. Longer game commentaries are good to have also, but they demand a big time commitment to watch, and it’s easy to forget many of the points made. I hope you continue to do features like these.”
“Just wanted to compliment the short videos,” writes Keith Arnold. “While there is some suggestion that they were born of necessity and bad internet connection, I actually think they have been uniformly excellent, informative and just right for busy modern life and short attention spans.”
The latest batch of pro tourney game highlights includes Sarah Yu (W) vs Manuel Velasco (B), Ben Lockhart (W) vs Aaron Ye (B) and Jeremy Chiu (W) vs Eric Lui (B), all from the fifth round of the round robin.
by Chris Garlock
The AGA’s professional qualification tournament tests the go skills of its young competitors, but it’s also a grueling endurance challenge. With two rounds each day, and each game usually going at least three hours, that’s six to eight hours a day for a full week. The concentration these players bring to bear on each game is fierce; every move is considered, and then reconsidered. I’ve seen players think about a move for twenty minutes, reach into the bowl for a stone, take it out and then put it back and settle in for another ten minutes. Even the most natural, “obvious” move must be fully read out and time, while a factor, seems to be the furthest thing from their minds as they follow the branching trails deep into thickets of strategy and tactics, move and countermove, probe and response.
The silence in the playing room is deafening. Traffic swishes by outside and the sounds of a working hotel drift in throughout the day. The pinging of the elevator doors. Housekeeper carts rumbling overhead. Snatches of conversation as hotel guests walk by the room. The hum of air conditioning.
As fierce as the competition is here — and every single one of the players wants to win — it’s not unusual to see two players who have just spent the last few hours trying to slaughter each other’s groups now peacefully reviewing the game, sometimes for another hour. In fact, the analysis is so cooperative and collegial that it can often be difficult to know which player is the winner and which the loser. Perhaps because they understand that in the shared search for mastery they are both winners.
Garlock is leading the E-Journal’s game recording/broadcasting team at this week’s AGA Pro Qualification Tournament in Los Angeles. photo: Daniel Gourdeau (l) and Jeremy Chiu review their game while Manuel Velasco and Sarah Yu watch.
Ke Jie’s defeat of Lee Sedol in the M-Lily Cup is the buzz of Chinese media. The 18-year-old Chinese phenom has been on a stunning run of success, winning three championships in one year: the Bailing Cup, the Samsung Cup, and then the M-Lily Cup earlier this week. Ke Jie’s record in rated games for the year was 58 wins and 16 losses, with an impressive 34-game winning streak when playing with White, which was broken by Lee Sedol.
Ke Jie is the youngest person in history to win three major international tournaments, taking the mantle from Lee Sedol, who had accomplished the same feat at 22. “I was going to resign,” Ke Jie said in an interview immediately after the M-Lily final. “I still feel like I’m in a dream. I thought I had lost.” Ke Jie’s teacher, Nie Weiping, had been commentating on the game and was worried about his student. He mentioned that the game was “just too exciting.” Ke Jie had felt that he hadn’t played his best. He said “I thought if Lee Sedol is at the top of his game, then there is no way I can win. Strength was not the main factor for deciding who won. I was fortunate to win.”
Ke Jie started learning go at the age of 5 and studied under Zhou Zong Qiang 5 dan. His father was a go enthusiast. Ke Jie lived in Li Shui in Zhejiang province where there were not many places to play, however Ke Jie’s father started his own go center. This attracted many stronger players to come, making for a good environment to learn the game. Ke Jie started studying under Nie Weiping at the age of 8, won the National Youth Tournament in 2007 and became professional in 2008.
- Jonathan Hop, translated from Chinese news reports. Click here for GoGameGuru’s report as well, which includes game records, commentaries, photos and a discussion of how the final game’s result unexpectedly hinged on half point kos and the counting system used, according to Korean professionals.
Top seed Eric Lui 7d is one game away from winning the AGA Pro Qualification Tournament’s round robin section, with a 5-1 score and and just one more round to play before the knock-out section begins. Third-seeded Aaron Ye 7d is in second place, also with five wins, and Andrew Lu and Daniel Gourdeau are next with three wins each. Second-seeded Ben Lockhart has scored just two wins thus far, as have Jeremy Chiu, Sarah Yu and Manuel Velasco. The knock-out section begins Wednesday afternoon; it’s a best-of-three match in which the first game was played in the round robin.
All the games are being broadcast live each day on KGS, starting at 9:30a PST and 3p PST. The tournament is being held in Los Angeles at the Hotel Normandie. Click here for the tourney crosstab with results and game records. Brief game highlight videos are posted on the AGA’s YouTube channel.
- report/photo by Chris Garlock; photo: Eric Lui (left) reviews his Round 6 game with Daniel Gourdeau
In our latest batch of brief video game highlights focusing on key points in selected games, Norman Tsai 6-dan shows how Jeremy Chiu’s attachment to unimportant stones in his third-round game against Andrew Lu causes him to choose the wrong direction of play. In Daniel Gourdeau’s third-round game against Aaron Ye, Tsai explores what happens when a forcing move turns out not to be forcing after all. The dangers of gambling on a big kill are the focus of Tsai’s review of Ben Lockhart’s third-round game against Sarah Yu. And the problem of defending unimportant stones comes up again in Eric Lui’s third-round game against Manuel Velasco. Finally, second-seeded Ben Lockhart reviews his fourth-round game against Manuel Velasco.
“I like these game extracts as they are wonderful illustrations of when applying basic principles would have made a big difference,” comments Dontbtme. “It’s illuminating, so thanks a lot.”
You can check out all of our videos on our Pro Tournament playlist.
After four rounds in the AGA Pro Qualification Tournament, Eric Lui 7d, Aaron Ye 7d and Andrew Lu 7d are tied for first place in the round robin section, each with three wins. Ben Lockhart 7d and Daniel Gourdeau 6d are next with two wins each, and Jeremy Chiu 6d, Sarah Yu 6d and Manuel Velasco 5d each have one win apiece. There are three more rounds in this section, after which the knockout rounds will begin on Wednesday afternoon. All the games are being broadcast live on KGS, starting at 9:30a PST and 3p PST. Click here for the tourney crosstab with results and game records. Brief game highlight videos are being posted on the AGA’s YouTube channel. photo: the Round 4 Velasco-Yu game Monday night; photo by Chris Garlock
Ke Jie 9P edged out Lee Sedol 9P by the narrowest of margins — a half-point — to win the MLily Cup Monday night in a dramatic deciding fifth game that drew a record number of viewers to the AGA’s YouTube channel, where Myungwan Kim 9P and Andrew Jackson provided blow-by-blow commentary to a nailbiting audience that hit just over 14,000 at its peak, far surpassing the previous record of 400 viewers. The winner collected not just this year’s MLily international title and a purse of over $300,000, but bragging rights in the classic showdown between two go titans, one a seasoned veteran from Korea, the other a young rising star from China. The battle see-sawed back and forth, taking fans of both players on a wild ride, and went on until just past midnight on the West Coast, drawing intense attention worldwide — especially in Korea and China — and the AGA’s broadcasting efforts, anchored by Kim and Jackson, brought the match to a much broader gaming audience on YouTube and Twitch. A report on Myungwan Kim’s commentary was also featured in the Chosun news, helping to drive thousands of Korean viewers to the AGA’s YouTube channel as well. The coverage even inspired one viewer to donate to the AGA. “I had such a blast on the live MLily Cup Game moderated by Andrew Jackson with the Myungwan Kim 9p comments) that I just donated $50 to the org, this is truely awesome!” wrote Indigonauts. “This is amazing that I can watch a professional #baduk match in English now. Thanks @theaga,” added Christopher Annanie on Twitter. The AGA broadcast team also included Kevin Hwang, Peter Nelson, Steven Hu, Nick Sibicki, and more (we’ll update this more completely asap).
- Chris Garlock
The American Go Association has received an invitation to send two North American professionals to play in the first round of the 8th Pro Ing Cup Championship, which will be held April 18-25, 2016, in Shanghai, China. The organizer of the prestigious quadrennial tournament will cover round trip tickets plus room and board during the event. Online playoffs will be held on the weekend of January 16-17, with the format of the playoff depending on the number of interested players. Eligibility is professional status, US/Canadian citizenship and residency in the US for 6 of the last 12 months for US players (or equivalent Canadian Go Association international eligibility requirements). Players must be able to play in the online selections. Interested players must email firstname.lastname@example.org by this Sunday, January 10th.
The E-Journal’s coverage of the 4th AGA Pro Qualification Tournament — this week in Los Angeles — has been expanded to include brief video game highlights focusing on key points in selected games. In our first batch, Tyler Oyakawa 5d provides a 2-minute review of the main ways to approach the 3-5 point in the Round 1 game between Sarah Yu and Daniel Gourdeau (right). “Nice comparison,” says Dontbtme. In his review of the Round 1 Andrew Lu-Aaron Ye game (4:10), Oyakawa explains how to manage an attack on weak groups, and in the Manuel Velasco-Jeremy Chiu first-round game (5:10), he looks at options for handling your opponent’s moyo, including when to reduce and when (and how) to invade. Finally, Oyakawa provides a brief explanation of Ben Lockhart’s fast opening moves against Andrew Lu in their Round 2 game (2:00). “Check them out and let us know what you think!” urges EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock.
The AGA has received a request to send a young US or Canadian player to Tokyo, Japan for the third GLOBIS Cup U-20 World Go Championship, to be held April 21-24, 2016. The event, sponsored by the GLOBIS Corporation and organized by the Nihon Ki-in, will provide meals and accommodations, while the air fare expense will be borne by the player. The player must be under 20 years old as of January 1, 2016, and meet the other AGA or CGA eligibility requirements. Any necessary online play-offs will take place the weekend of January 23-24 on KGS. “This is a great opportunity to compete in an international tournament, explore Tokyo, and represent the AGA,” says AGA president Andy Okun. Interested players should respond with their names, best form of contact, and KGS IDs before January 12 to email@example.com.
Registration is now open for the 2016 Irish Confucius Cup occurring the weekend of March 4th-6th in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin. First prize for both the Go and Chinese Chess tournaments will be €1,000! Full details are available here.
The year is barely a few days old and it’s already been an exciting one for the American Go Association. Hundreds tuned in on January 1 to Myungwan Kim 9Ps commentary on our YouTube channel for the third round of the MLily Cup battle between go titans Lee Sedol and Ke Jie. Then an attack on the datacenter that hosts our site took the AGA’s website down until midday Sunday (though we were able to get some preliminary content out via our Facebook and Twitter feeds on Saturday and early Sunday), just in time for our coverage of the 4th AGA Professional Qualifier at the Hotel Normandie in Los Angeles. And as the AGA pro event began to wind down for the day early Sunday evening, our coverage of the fourth round of the MLily began. “After the pro qualifications, I thought I’d have a go overdose, but no way,” said one YouTube viewer, “let’s watch this game.”
AGA Pro Qualifier coverage continues all week, with game broadcasts beginning at 9:30a PST and 3P PST daily, along with continuous posts on Facebook and Twitter, plus game highlights on YouTube. And if a fifth game is needed in the MLily Cup, we’ll broadcast that as well; stay tuned for complete details.
report/photos by Chris Garlock
As you may be aware, the AGA website has been down for the last couple of days, due to a DDOS attack on the datacenter that hosts our site. While this issue has hopefully been resolved, we strongly urge you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll be continuing to cover the ongoing AGA Pro Qualifier Tournament live in Los Angeles, CA. Games are being broadcast on KGS starting at 9:30a and 3p PST daily.
- report/photo by Chris Garlock
We can’t guarantee it’ll make you a stronger player but Stephen Miller’s new Go Quiz app is a lot of fun and will definitely improve your knowledge of the game. Available on Quizup (or search for Quizup in the App Store), the quiz now has 289 questions covering a wide range of go information, including history, players and the game itself. “You can play against people you know, or you can play against random players,” Miller tells the E-Journal. “Either way, it’s a fun way to learn some go facts, history, lore and trivia.” Each game has seven rounds and Miller says “The best experience in Quizup is to download the app on your mobile. It’s designed more as a mobile game, but you can certainly play online.”
Sun Ruoshi has just released “The Celestial Arsenal,” his English translation of the late Ming dynasty classic “Xianji Wuku.” Originally compiled around 1629, “The Celestial Arsenal” comprises a collection of hundreds of famous games, corner and side josekis, opening and invasion patterns, and over 400 life-and-death problems. Lu Xuanyu, a famous collector of go manuscripts, carefully selected and edited material from several famous go manuals and game records into eight scrolls: Gold, Rock, Silk, Bamboo, Gourd, Earth, Leather and Wood. This translation, however, is on 500 paper pages. The cover features two problems from the book; White to live on each side of the board. The book is available on Amazon and CreateSpace.
“With regard to the ‘Top US Players to Compete in 4th AGA Pro Tourney January 3-9 in LA’ report (12/29),” writes Ted Terpstra, “shouldn’t this be ‘North American’ go players instead of US go players as some of the 8 are from Canada?”
Quite right, thanks for the correction. Canada will be represented by Daniel Gourdeau, Manuel Velasco, and Jin (Sarah) Yu. Gourdeau is a returning contender, but for Velasco and Yu it will be their first attempt.
Iyama wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama play-off: The 17th Japan-China Ago Kiriyama play-off (right) was held at the Shangri-la Hotel Chengdu in the city of Chengdu in China on December 25. Iyama Yuta 9P (left) put an end to a long series of defeats for Japan by beating Huang Yunsong 4P of China. Taking white, Iyama won by resignation. Earlier in the year, Huang won the 2nd Globis Cup; in the final of the Chinese Agon Kiriyama Cup, he beat Chen Yaoye. The game was broadcast live on Chinese TV. After winning the first four play-offs, Japan lost the next twelve, so Iyama’s win was a much-appreciated Xmas present for Japanese fans. First prize is five million yen and second is two million.
Finland’s Tormanen becomes pro shodan: Thanks to good results in the professional qualifying tournament for 2016, Antti Mikael Tormanen has qualified as professional shodan as of April 1, 2016. Aged 26, Tormanen (right) has qualified as a Foreign Nationality Special Professional. His record in the qualifying tournament was eight wins to seven losses. He is the first Westerner to become a professional at the Nihon Ki-in since the late Hans Pietsch 6P in 1997. (See our original 12/8 report here.)
To 7-dan: Akedo Kazumi (120 wins) (as of December 18). Akedo was born on June 27, 1947. He became 1-dan in 1968 and is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in.
To 4-dan: Son Makoto (50 wins) (as of December 4).
The AGA’ live game commentary on the MLily Cup finals between Lee Sedol 9P and Ke Jie 9P will begin with Game 2 on Wednesday, December 30, not Tuesday 12/29 as previously announced. Myungwan Kim 9Ps commentary will begin at 9pm PST (midnight EST) on the AGA’s YouTube channel.
graphic by xhu
Eight top US go players will gather in Los Angeles next week to determine the next US professional. Play in the 4th AGA Pro Qualification starts on Sunday, January 3 and ends on January 9. The games will be broadcast live on KGS from the Hotel Normandie by the E-Journal; morning rounds will begin at 9:30 AM and afternoon rounds will begin at 4:30 PM. The players are Eric Lui 7d, Ben Lockhart 7d, Aaron Ye 7d, Jeremy Chiu 6d, Sarah Yu 6d, Andrew Lu 7d, Daniel Gourdeau 6d and Manuel Velasco 5d. The tournament will be played in two parts, a Round Robin Prelim Sunday through Wednesday, followed by the Championship Thursday and Friday. Myungwan Kim 9P is the tournment referee, Jeff Shaevel is the Tournament Director, AGA President Andy Okun will be on hand and Chris Garlock and Dennis Wheeler will head up the EJ recording team, which will also broadcast game commentaries on the AGA’s YouTube stream.
photo: at the 2015 pro tourney; photo by Chris Garlock