It’s unusually nice out today*. As I stroll down my neighborhood and head towards the park, the sun’s rays hit me square in the back, right between the shoulder blades. The tingling warmth spreads all the way down and brings feeling to my toes…
It’s midnight in Huai-An, China, the site of the inaugural IMSA Elite Mind Games 2016. After a thirty-hour ordeal that included a cab ride of record-breaking speed between Shanghai’s international and domestic airports followed by a half-day layover, I arrived at the New Century Grand Hotel, a majestic venue secluded from downtown and just about everything else.
I’m looking around for a familiar face. There are none, to my slight disappointment mixed with relief, since at this point I’m rather unsure in my ability to form a coherent thought, let alone communicate in words. I stumble inside the luxurious living quarters on the eighth floor (surely a sign of good things to come), dragging the trusty luggage that has been with me to the ends of the earth. I check my phone for messages, and there it is, in flawless pinyin, ‘ming tian jian’, meaning ‘see you tomorrow’. Just for a moment, the fatigue melts away and my mind is clear and sharp.
The next morning at the dining hall I’m greeted by Ryan Li and Sarah Yu, the Canadian half of our North American Go Dream Team led by Mingjiu Jiang on the first board and Andy Okun, AGA president extraordinaire, as team leader. With players from around the world representing the various disciplines (Go, Chess, Draughts, Bridge, and Xiangqi), it’s a truly international event, complete with a security checkpoint and metal detectors located at the entrances to each of the playing areas.
“If the situation is bad, keep your head up and wait for your opponent to make a mistake.” Mingjiu chuckled slightly, motioning with his fork towards the air. It was lunch the next day and he was giving us some last-minute advice before we were set to take on Korea in the Men’s Team competition. We nodded solemnly in unison, Ryan and me, carefully avoiding each other’s gaze to prevent the inevitable burst of laughter. Despite arriving after midnight and missing the opening ceremony, Mingjiu appeared in good spirits, greeting anyone he recognized with a hearty clap on the shoulder. With so many varied and delicious desserts up for grabs, it was all I could do to resist overindulging myself right before the game. I reluctantly bade farewell to the sublime chocolate cake, looking back one last time before taking the long walk to the battlefield with the others, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
Both Korea and China fielded teams of some of the world’s top players. While we were unable to take a game from either country, we scored a win against Japan in a game where Ryan (right) fully showcased his fighting skills to defeat one of Japan’s up-and-coming young professionals. Against the Taiwanese team there were also good chances to win, although their superior experience prevailed in the end. After consecutive defeats, we managed to regain some pride with a victory over Europe. Overall, we were still somewhat disappointed, but there were moments during my own games when I felt that my opponents were not as strong as I imagined, and I was not as weak. With steady, determined effort, I wholeheartedly believe that in the foreseeable future the West will be competitive on the international stage.
After the conclusion of the Men’s Team and Women’s Individual events, the Pair Go knockout in which Ryan and Sarah participated took place. I wandered into the game review room during the final round, and, whilst standing around awkwardly, was invited by one of the top Taiwanese players, Chen Shiyuan 9p, to take a seat alongside him and Zhou Junxun 9p as they analyzed their compatriots’ game. Being able to ask them questions when I didn’t understand something was a real treat. Even after just a couple of hours, I felt like I had gotten stronger. These are the moments that every go player lives for.
I’m on the trail now, picking up speed as I navigate the winding path through the riverbend. When I reach the top of the hill, I’m breathing hard and my jet-lagged legs are starting to cry out in protest. In just a few days it’ll be roughly twenty degrees cooler again for a while before the warmth finally returns for good. But for now, on the cusp of spring, I’ll take one more lap around the baseball field, one more breath of the crisp air, enjoying the moment while it lasts, wishing for one more day in sunny Huai-An, and my very own copy of AlphaGo.
*The IMSA Elite Mind Games were held in early March and Eric sent in this report a few weeks ago; we apologize for the delay in publication. Click here for the E-Journal’s previous reports on the IMSA. Team photo (l-r): Mingjiu Jiang, Sarah Yu, Andy Okun, Eric Lui, Ryan Li
by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Takao leads Meijin League: Takao Shinji 9P, the previous challenger, has the provisional lead in the 41st Meijin League with four straight wins, but two other players, Cho U 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, are also undefeated on 3-0 (they have each had a bye). Round 4 of the league has been completed. The league is proving inhospitable for the two league debutants, who have yet to win a game. Hirata Tomoya and Uchida Shuhei are both 0-4.
Recent results: (March 3) Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.; (March 10) Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; (March 17) Takao (B) beat Hirata by resig.; (March 24) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
Fujisawa Rina wins junior tournament: The final of the 2nd Ibero-Japan Cup, a tournament limited to players under 18, was held at the Nihon Ki-in on March 18. Fujisawa Rina 3P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 2P by resig. This is the second win by a woman player in a tournament open to both sexes (the first was Xie Yimin’s win in the 1st Young Carp tournament ten years ago). This is a good win, as Shibano is building a reputation as one of the top players of his age group, along with Kyo Kagen 3P, whom Fujisawa beat in the first round.
Tuo wins 2nd Japan-China Ryusei: This is a play-off between the winners of the Japanese and Chinese Ryusei titles and was held at the Chinese Qiyuan (Ki-in) in Beijing on March 16. Taking black, Tuo Jiaxi 9P of China beat Yuki Satoshi 9P of Japan by resig.
Three-way tie in junior international tournament: The 4th Japan-China-Korea Young Stars tournament, sponsored by the Korean Baduk Association, was held in Hapchon, Korea on March 19 & 20. This is an all-play-all tournament for three young players from these countries. It started with Onishi Ryuhei 1P of Japan beating Pak Zonghun 1P of Korea but losing to Liao Yuanhe of China. Liao then lost to Pak, so the result was a three-way tie.
Promotions: To 2-dan: Ms. Kibe Natsuki (30 wins) (as of March 4); To 4-dan: Horimoto Mitsunari (50 wins) (as of March 25)
Obituary: Kosugi Masaru
Kosugi Masaru 8P died of stomach cancer on March 2 aged 72. Kosugi was a disciple of his father, Kosugi tei (Chokufu) 7P. He was born on January 22, 1944. He became 1-dan in 1969 and reached 7-dan in 1986. He was promoted to 8-dan a
fter retiring in 2010.His older brother, Kiyoshi 9P, is also a professional.
by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Cho Chikun wins 2015 Title Winners Tournament: This is a new tournament now in its third term. Participants are all the title winners from the previous year plus one player selected by a vote by go fans. Even though Iyama holds six titles, there were still eleven participants in this year’s tournament. Tournament conditions are the same as the NHK Cup (30 second per move plus ten minutes). The semifinals and final were held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on March 19. In the semifinals, 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun beat Yo Seiki 7P and Kyo Kagen 3P beat Iyama Yuta, winner of the first two tournaments. The final was played on the stage in the second-floor hall of the Nihon Ki-in with a public commentary being given on the same stage. Cho (B) beat Kyo by resignation after 217 moves.
Takao becomes Honinbo challenger: Going into the final round, there were only two players still in the running
in the 71st Honinbo League: Takao Shinji, on 5-1, and Motoki Katsuya, on 4-2. Motoki, a league debutant, had held the sole lead at the end of the third round, then shared the lead for the next two rounds, but he stumbled in the sixth
round. He therefore needed to win his own final game and have Takao lose to end in a tie for first. However, Takao made no mistake, winning his final game by resignation. That secured him the right to make his first Honinbo challenge
since the 68th term, when he lost 3-4 to Iyama Yuta. Takao won the 60th to 62nd Honinbo titles and was Meijin Honinbo in 2004. The title match with Iyama Yuta will start on May 9.
Recent results: (March 17) Cho U 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by half a point.
(March 31) Takao (W) beat Kono by resig.; Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki by half a point; Motoki Katsuya 7P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.; Cho U 9P (W) beat Ida Atsushi Judan by resig.
Tomorrow: Takao leads Meijin League; Fujisawa Rina wins junior tournament; Tuo wins 2nd Japan-China Ryusei; Promotions; Obituary: Kosugi Masaru
Iyama closing in on Grand Slam in Judan challenge: The first game of the 54th Judan title was played at the Osaka University of Commerce on March 8. The Judan is the lowest-ranked of the seven open titles, but this year an extraordinary amount of interest is being taken in the title match because it is the last title Iyama Yuta needs to complete an unprecedented simultaneous grand slam, that is, a genuine grand slam. Usually there would be a lot of fan support for the youthful titleholder, Ida Atsushi, who turns 22 on March 16, but probably few people want to see Iyama miss this opportunity to set a new record. Ida got black in the nigiri. In the opening, Iyama played just one stone on the right side before building a position on the left, so the game became a moyo contest. Instead of trying to save his solitary stone,
Iyama switched to invading the top right corner. When he settled his group in sente, he got a good game. Ida later invaded White’s bottom left position; he lived, but White severely harassed his group, taking a definite lead. Ida resigned after 206 moves. The second game was played at the Yu-no-yama Hot Spring Yumoto Green Hotel in the town of Komono in Mie Prefecture on March 23. The first 41 moves were the same as in Game Three of the Korean Myeongin (Meijin) title match, played on January 20 between Park Junghwan (black) and Lee Sedol. Iyama had reviewed the game in a study group and concluded that the opening, in which Black built thickness, was not bad for Black and wanted to try it out in a game. Ida obviously felt that it was playable for White, though he diverged from the Korean game with move 42. In the middle game, the game seemed even, but Ida made two mistakes: playing in the wrong direction with 124, then choosing the wrong hane out of two possibilities with 134. The latter move was labeled the losing move. Ida faces a kadoban, that is, a game that could lose a series, on April 14. Iyama has now won 18 title-match games in a row.
Xie defends Women’s Meijin: The second game of the 28th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Osaka University of Commerce on March 9. As has been the recent practice, it was held in conjunction with the Judan title match. Playing black, Aoki Kikuyo 8P forced a resignation after 209 moves, so she evened the score. The third game was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on March 16. In a tense endgame contest, Xie emerged the victor by half a point, so she defended her title. She has now held it for nine years in a row and it is her 23rd title overall. Xie was also recently named as a Guest Professor at the Heian Jogakuin University (Jogakuin means Women’s Academy), which was the venue of the first game. The university is also known as St. Agnes’ University and is Anglican. A game in the title match has been held at this university for five years in a row. Xie has played in all of them, and on each occasion has given students instruction in go the day after the game. Correction: The first game was played on March 3, not February 28, as given in my previous report.
Cho U wins NHK Cup: The final of the 63rd NHK Cup was telecast on March 20. The finalists were Cho U 9P, who has won this title three times, and Teranishi Rei 4P, who reached the final on his debut in this tournament. Playing with white, Teranishi perhaps took a small lead after a large-scale trade arising from a ko fight, but Cho overhauled him in the middle game. Teranishi resigned after move 211. Cho’s last NHK cup was eight years ago; this is his first title since 2012. Last year Cho moved back to Taiwan with his family, partly to give his children a chance to learn Chinese and partly to try and recover form. He “commutes” to Japan for his tournament games. His NHK win may be a sign that this decision is paying off. Apparently he plans to return to live in Japan this summer.
Tomorrow: Cho Chikun wins 2015 Title Winners Tournament; Takao becomes Honinbo challenger; Recent results
Mingyu Oh 7D won the 2016 Paris Go Tournament, held in Neuilly, Paris, France from March 26-28. 152 players competed this year. This is the 44th edition of the event with 6 rounds and a first prize of €1000. It is the largest tournament in France and one of the major European tournaments. Mingyu Oh 7D (at left in photo) won the tournament undefeated and also recently won the Irish Confucius Cup from March 4-6. Jinwon Chae 6D took second place going 5-1 with his lone defeat to Mingyu. Thomas Debarre 6D of France placed 3rd, falling to Mingyu and Jinwon, as the highest placing European. Dai Janfu 8D of France placed 4th. Other familiar competitors attended the tournament including Cornel Burzo 6D and Cristian Pop. Next year’s tournament will be in April.
- edited by Howard Wong; with reporting by Alain Cano; photo by Jérémie Rocher
The 33rd World Youth Goe Championship is open for registration, reports Mingjiu Jiang 7P. The event is open to US citizens only. The Senior Division is for youth aged 12—15, and the Junior for kids under 12. Players cannot be on the team, in the same age division, more than twice within 3 years. The initial qualifiers will be held on KGS with Ing rules, April 30th and May 1st. The top two players in each division will play the final games face to face, on May 14th and 15th, at the Ing Foundation in Menlo Park, California. Round trip airfare to Menlo Park, and lodging, will be paid by the American Ing Goe Foundation. The final winners will then compete in the 33rd World Youth Goe Championship, to be held in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 3—8. The players’ airfare, food and lodging will be covered by the organizers.
Registration is due by April 23, 2016. To register, email your name, date of birth, division, rank, KGS id, phone and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call Mingjiu at (650-796-1602)
Sponsored by: Ing’s Goe Foundation. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.
Young North American players are being sought for the first session of the new Li Min Cup World Best Go Star Championship from April 25 to 30 in Hangzhou, China. Note that this a separate event from the Li Min Cup Finals, which we reported on earlier this week (AGA Seeks Young Player for Li Min Cup 3/27/2016). The events have different deadlines, structures, and compensations; most notably, players will cover all expenses to attend the first session, while organizers cover costs for the finals, so they are in fact quite different despite the title.
Eligibility: US/Canadian citizen born after Jan. 1, 1993 for amateur players and US/Canadian citizen born after Jan. 1, 1996 for professional players. Players must also meet AGA’s/CGA’s eligibility requirements too. Prizes (Pre-tax amounts): 1st round: 3,000 RMB (if you are top 32 player). 2nd round: 4,000 RMB (if you are top 16 players)
Interested players should respond before midnight April 7th. Please email email@example.com
- Joel Sherman
As AlphaGo finished playing the first round of its historic matches against Lee Sedol, news media around the world was reaching out to go organizations around the world. In the US there was a large number of print and internet publications. In three cases AlphaGo was talked about on TV for the US. The Daily Show covered AlphaGo and its AI prowess. On March 9th Michael Chen met with Poppy Harlow on CNN’s Quest Means Business on CNN International. During the segment they discussed the importance of the match and some basic of the game (Transcript). On March 10th Andrew Okun was interviewed by Ivan Watson from CNN International about the second loss from the matches. Okun talks about how far go has come to get to this point (Transcript).
- Steve Colburn
“I was looking at manga online when I happened across this comic strip style manga called BugCat-Capoo,” writes Taylor Litteral. “It’s a very interesting series and had this cute scene of BugCat ‘playing Go’ against his dog friend.” This particular sequence, or chapter, is titled “Go Experts” and portrays BugCat and the dog pretending to play a heated game of go to the befuddlement of their caretaker. BugCat thinks of an impressive move only to realize that it was a mistake when his friend sabotages his plan. He gets mad and throws a tantrum, ruining the game, while his friend calmly watches.
- edited by Crystal Lin & Joel Sherman
To understand how China thinks about its’ rivalry with the United States, one needs to understand the game of go. That’s the message Dr. David Lai, a Professor of Asian Security Affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, gave during a half-day seminar on go held March 4 at the U.S. Army War College, also in Carlisle. More than 30 attended, about half of them U.S. Army officers.
The seminar was the idea of Colonel Jack Pritchard, Chief of the Strategic Wargaming Division of the War College. Colonel Pritchard, who had never played go, became intrigued by references to the game in literature on military and political strategy, including a monograph written by Dr. Lai titled “Learning from the Stones: A Go Approach to Mastering China’s Strategic Concept, Shi” as well as Lai’s recent article “China’s Moves and Countermoves in the Asia Pacific,” Parameters, Spring 2015. Col. Pritchard asked a member of his staff, Lieutenant Colonel Donald Travis, to organize a seminar that would introduce the game to other officers and civilians closely associated with the War College and affiliated programs.
LTC Travis, who has played go with the Carlisle Go Club, planned the event in consultation with Lai and two other Carlisle go players, Dr. Howard Warshaw and Dr. Fred Baldwin (above, right). The result was a four-hour session, divided between lectures and actual play. Dr. Baldwin opened with a brief history of go from its Chinese origins to the present, emphasizing its appeal to strategic thinkers. Then, Dr. Lai applied go concepts more specifically to Chinese geopolitical aims. Dr. Warshaw followed this up with an explanation of the rules of go and fielded questions on go basics, including capturing, life-and-death, and scoring.
During the second half of the seminar, the officers and other go neophytes played against each other on 9×9 and 13×13 boards, during which Warshaw, Baldwin, Lai and four other frequent Carlisle-area players were available to answer questions. Warshaw and Baldwin noted that the officers grasped the basics quickly, especially considering that none of them had ever played the game before.
The War College is the Army’s version of graduate school for senior officers, those at the rank of Lieutenant Colonels or Colonels. Speaking from a War College perspective, LTC Travis remarked that Col. Pritchard and he considered the seminar a success. He also indicated that it may be possible to incorporate an introduction to go into the school’s academic curriculum on a more systematic basis.
Edited by Noah Doss and Howard Wong; photos courtesy Donald S. Travis
From SNL Korea “AlphaGo” participated in a rap battle vs Block B last weekend. Can AlphaGo master freestyle rap the way it mastered go? Click here for Show Me the AlphaGo Part 1 and Show Me the AlphaGo Part 2.
- Steve Colburn
The Irish Confucius Cup took place from the 4th to the 6th of March, at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin. A field of 44 players took part in the go competition, whilst separate Xiangqi and Chess competitions ran alongside in parallel. The field was very strong, with European professional Mateusz Surma (1-pro) in attendance, alongside the veteran height of Cristian Pop (7-dan). Visiting on the first leg of their European go holiday were former korean insei Jinwon Chae (7-dan) and the eventual winner Oh Mingyu (7-dan). Surma took second, with Pop taking third on tiebreak from Chae. Winner of the Rapid tournament was Piotr Gawron (4-kyu). The generous sponsorship allowed Ms Shuang Yang (5-pro) to visit and to give commentary to all the players, which was very much appreciated.
- Ian Davis, based on the full report from organiser Rory Wales
At the beginning of March the Go players of the Ile de France region were faced with a difficult choice: a weekend of quiet contemplation before the debut of the AlphaGo – Lee Sedol match, a plane trip to Dublin and the Confucius Cup, or a ride on the Paris Metro to the Levallois tournament.
As with previous years, the tournament was held in the in the College of Anatole France, beside the metro station of the same name. 71 players, ranging from 25-kyu to 6-dan, took part in 4 rounds of competition. They came not just from Ile de France, but from distant and intriguing lands such as Italy, Luxembourg, and Auvergne ( where, just so you know, they even have black cathedrals). Also of note was the fact that this year there was a relatively high number of female players – almost 10% of the field.
Reigning champion Junfu Dai was unable to defend his title, which left Kenzo Meier (6-dan) of Paris Ouest the favorite. Indeed, he made short work of his opponents, finishing with a flawless score of 4/4. The Italian Alessandro Pace (4-dan) finished in second with 3/4, ahead of Mathieu Daguenet (3-dan) on SOS. Let’s hope that the great atmosphere will be repeated next year for the 20th edition!
- Ian Davis, based on the original article in Revue Française de Go by Louise Roullier; photo: Alessandra Pace contre Kenzo Meier (photo : Jean-François Le Galiard)
The AGA has received a request to send a young North American (US or Canadian) player to Hangzhou, China, for the new Li Min Cup World Best Go Star Championship Finals in mid-October. The tournament format will be a single elimination knockout of the final 32 players. The organizers will provide food and lodging, and travel expenses of up to 10,000 RMB.
Eligibility: US/Canadian citizen born after Jan. 1, 1993 (must meet AGA’s/CGA’s eligibility requirements too).
Awards (before tax): 1st round: 5,000 RMB (32 players), 2nd round: 8,000 RMB (16 players), 3rd round：10,000RMB (8 Players), 4th round: 10,000 RMB (4 Players), Champion: 400,000 RMB, Runner-up: 120,000RMB
Interested players should respond before midnight April 3rd. If there are multiple interested players, a quick single elimination play-off may be held based off of ratings on the April 9/10 weekend.
If interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your KGS ID, best form of contact, AGA ratings. Please confirm in the email that you are born after Jan. 1, 1993.