This week we’ll present extended coverage of the Korean World Amateur Championships (KPMC; click here for our winner’s report on December 8). Below you’ll find U.S. rep Eric Lui’s delightful reminiscence of the event, where he went undefeated for five rounds, losing only to champion China in the final (Ben Lockhart did the same thing last year, except his final round loss was to Korea). Tomorrow we will have a Q&A with Eric about the event, and finally we will present a brief review of his 5th round game against Hong Kong.
It’s been nine years since I participated in the first Korea Prime Minister’s Cup. My memories of the occasion as a whole are dim at best, but I can still recall a few fragments of the extravagant outdoor opening ceremony, and the completely bonkers closing ceremony that had players and local Korean folk holding hands and running in circles around the plaza square into the night.
Turn the clock forward and it’s time for the 10th Korea Prime Minister’s Cup, held in Seoul’s Gangnam district. While the first KPMC was lavish in style and grand in execution, the 10th edition thrived on the strength of its organizers, a charismatic and multilingual group who couldn’t have been more welcoming. The genuine camaraderie among the players and organizers produced a truly festive atmosphere.
Before each round, music played from a large boombox at the front of the stage. In particular, a rousing rendition of Chicago’s hit song “If You Leave Me Now” put me in a whimsical mood before my important fifth-round match against the player from Hong Kong. If only Peter Cetera were there, he would finally be able to cite definitive proof to any naysayers who claim that his music has yet to reach an international audience. “You see?” He might say, pointing vigorously to a video feed. “I made it!”
The standout performer this time was Cristian Pop of Romania, who, in a first-round heavyweight clash, defeated Japan’s Dr. Shinichiro Osawa, a neurosurgeon and former teacher of the star player Ichiriki Ryo 7p. Pop would go on to finish 3rd. My last-round defeat at the hands of China’s top-rated amateur Hu Yuqing, the tournament winner, landed me in 4th place on SOS. Hu has terrorized the amateur go world for well over a decade, and, playing in his 6th (!) KPMC at the raw age of 34, shows no signs of slowing down.
The closing ceremony was well-attended with VIPs such as Seo Bongsoo 9p, chief referee, Kim Seungjun 9p, Lee Hajin 3p, secretary of IGF, and Martin Stiassny, president of EGF. The highlights featured a male performer, clad in headgear with a long wavy band attached to the brim, executing aerial cartwheels around a circle in a breathtaking display of athleticism and artistry, and a moving interpretation of Secret Garden’s iconic “Song from a Secret Garden” by a quartet on traditional Korean instruments including a vertical fiddle, a bamboo flute, and a long zither.
The next day was the traditional sightseeing day and the first snow of the season. Later that night, while walking in downtown Myeongdong, Seoul’s premier shopping district, clutching bags filled with cosmetics and various beauty products, it crossed my mind that in less than half a day, I would be on my way to the airport and this trip would become just a memory.
When we reached the end of the street, I looked back, shivering slightly in the freezing cold, and took it all in: the bright lights, buildings that seemed to touch the sky, hustle and bustle in a world I didn’t understand, and felt strangely at ease.
In that moment, I saw myself four days ago, sleep-deprived and slightly haggard upon arrival. I recalled the interesting conversations, laughter, and failed attempts at procuring more food. I thought of the first time I participated in this tournament, so eager and determined to prove something.
I felt pure joy at having had the opportunity to play in this tournament again, and a twinge of regret about all the pictures I had forgotten to take, yet I took solace knowing that others would not have done the same.
I remembered standing on an outdoor patio at Tokyo Narita Airport, watching from a distance as a plane barreled down the runway and took off into the sky, my hopes and dreams soaring with it, and I smiled inwardly as I realized how much there was to look forward to.
And then the moment was gone. I heard a voice, and a sudden gust of wind brought me back to earth. Following a few steps behind a small crowd into a donut shop, I rubbed my hands together in anticipation of warmth.
Tomorrow: a Q&A with Eric about the 2015 KPMC.
Park Jeonghwan Defeats Cho Hanseung in Kuksu: The finalists in the 59th Kuksu — Park Jeonghwan and Cho Hanseung — are the same as last year and defending champion Park is looking to repeat the previous result as well. Park, playing White, forced Cho to resign after 178 moves. “Black had a lot of territory in the beginning, so it didn’t look good,” Park said in an interview, “but after the middle game White’s territory increased significantly, and I was fine.” The second round in the best-of-three match will be next year in January.
Gyeongbuk Wins Samdasu Amateur City League Cup: The question of which city is the strongest in all of South Korea was decided on December 9th when the two finalist cities, Cheonnam and Gyeongbok, faced off in their final match in Jeju, South Korea. Kyeongbok defeated Kyeongnam on the 20th of November in the Baduk TV studios in Seoul to join Cheonnam in the finals. The tournament began with 12 different teams from different cities/regions in South Korea. Each team has four members who all face off; each team earns points by winning, and whichever team has more points by the end wins. This way, the teams play out all four games, even if the first three people lose, the result of the last game can decide the whole match. The Gyeongbuk team was comprised of Park Gangsu, Song Yesul, Park Yeongjin, Yi Cheolju and Park Seonggyun.
- Jonathan Hop
Pittsburgh-based artist Jesse Kauppila is looking for two “highly skilled go players, hopefully dan-level, who can memorize and reenact a historic go game which I can film.” An artist in Carnegie Mellon Univeristy’s MFA program, Kauppila is working on visualization/film project in which “I will be visualizing a game of go using a 7 axis Robot and 20,000 Legos.” The project is an extension of Kauppila’s recent public art project, “Checker Brick House.” “I am located in Pittsburgh, but I am willing to travel for this project,” Kauppila says. Contact him here.
Image: Kauppila’s “Bitmap Machine”
Bao Yun 6d of China has just set a new Guinness record for the most wins in a blindfold go simul, defeating five amateurs ranging from about 2d to EGF 6d in Guangzhou, China. The games lasted nearly 12 hours and the players could not resign until the game was at least 180 moves in. “It is an odd feature of the Guinness process that a resignation has to be defensible, lest players connive in earning the record,” reports AGA president Andy Okun, who was on hand to serve as a witness — along with EGF president Martin Stiassny and Malaysian Go Association president Tiong Kee Soon — to the attempt.
Earlier in the year, on July 4 and 5, the Latin American Online Youth Tournament ´Las Tres Águilas´ was held on the Online Go Server. 55 players from 5 countries represented their schools, academies, and go clubs, their ranks ranging from 25 to 6k.The top three players for the 19 by 19 division were Abel Pérez 12k from Venezuela, Matías Salinas 8k from Chile, and Mateo Nava 12k from Mexico. The top three players for the 13 by 13 division were David Poblete 15k, Juan P. Ascencio 25k, and Francisco Gonzales 16k, all from Chile. Yuri León from Colombia received recognition for his fighting spirit. For more information and pictures click here for Tres Aguilas and here for Orion. -Story by Amy Su. Photo: Students from Chile competing.
Correction (12/19): Poblete, Ascencio and Gonzales are from Chile, not Colombia, as originally reported.
Whether you’re definitely planning to attend the 2016 US Go Congress July 30-August 7 in Boston or just considering it at this early stage, you’ll want to sign up for updates from Congress organizers. The site will continue to be updated as more details are finalized.
“Inside companies like Google and Facebook, deep learning is proving remarkably adept at recognizing images and grasping spacial patterns—a skill well suited to Go,” reported Cade Metz in Wired last week . “As they explore so many other opportunities this technology presents, Google and Facebook are also racing to see whether it can finally crack the ancient game. As Facebook AI researcher Yuandong Tian explains, Go is a classic AI problem—a problem that’s immensely attractive because it’s immensely difficult. The company believes that solving Go will not only help refine the AI that drives its popular social network, but also prove the value of artificial intelligence. Rob Fergus, another Facebook researcher, agrees. “The goal is advancing AI,” he says. But he also acknowledges that the company is driven, at least in a small way, by a friendly rivalry with Google. There’s pride to be found in solving the game of Go.” For more on Facebook’s research, check out “How Facebook’s AI Researchers Built a Game-Changing Go Engine” in the MIT Technology Review last week.
Smart Go’s Anders Kierulf also recently published a blog post on “Go at Facebook”, saying that “As long as Facebook and Google stick with trying to find general solutions to general problems, I don’t think top Go programs like Zen and Crazy Stone have anything to worry about. But once these giants decide to beat the strongest human players and are willing to focus on Go-specific solutions, it will get interesting.” Check out also his explainer on Monte Carlo Tree Search and his post about the impact of the Swift programming language on his go programs.
To celebrate the holiday season, go video blogger Dwyrin is releasing a short new go video each day this month on his channel. The playlist for
this specific set of videos can be found here and features go proverbs and short game reviews.
“The Narrow Road to the Deep North (11/27 EJ) is actually named after a Japanese classic,” writes Michael Redmond 9P. “Quoting from Wikipedia: ‘Taking its title from 17th century haiku poet Matsuo Bashō‘s famous haibun, Oku no Hosomichi, best known in English as The Narrow Road to the Deep North…’ The 17th century text is one of the major classics of Japanese literature.”
graphic: Bashō by Hokusai
Ke Jie 9p (right) won the 2015 Samsung Cup by defeating Shi Yue 9p 2-0. The Samsung final was held on December 8-9 in Shanghai, China. This was Ke Jie’s second international title — his first was the Bailing Cup in January, 2015 — and this was the first time since 2011 that a player has won two international titles in the same calendar year (Lee Sedol 9p won the BC Card Cup and Chunlan Cup in 2011). Ke Jie’s Samsung win also made him the first of the new generation of young Chinese world champions to win a second international title. He’s undefeated on white this year and his games in the Samsung semifinals against Lee Sedol, and the final against Shi Yue, were wonderful and faultless.
- excerpted from Youngil An’s report on Go Game Guru, where you’ll find An’s commentaries on both games and more photos.
“There are very few things that beat saunas in the winter,” says Boris Bernadsky. “One of them is playing go in the sauna in the winter.” That’s why he’s hosting an unusual go Meet-Up this Saturday at the King’s Spa, a Korean style bathhouse in Palisades Park, NJ. Here’s a link for a discount entrance fee. “The spa has a space separated by gender where the bathing occurs and a coed area where there are many dry sauna and activity areas, including go boards,” says Bernadsky. “I will bring two more just in case.” The spa provides clothing for the coed area. There is also a restaurant, and for $10 extra you get a blanket and can spend the night on a lazyboy — the go event runs from 5p Saturday through 8a Sunday — although as Berndsky notes, playing all night “is not mandatory. Anyway it will be fun!”
China’s Yuqing Hu won the 10th Korean Prime Minister’s Cup (KPMC), held November 22-27 in Seoul. Hu (left) topped a field of 55 countries. Heesu Kim (right) of Korea was second, Christian Pop of Romania took third place, Eric Lui of the U.S. took 4th place with a 5-1 record, and Shinichiro Osawa of Japan was fifth. At 5-0, Lui played for the championship in round 6 against China with both players undefeated, the first time an American has played in the deciding game of an international tournament. This is the second time a Chinese player has won the KPMC; Korea has won seven times and Taiwan has won once. Complete results can be downloaded from the European Go Federation’s report.
Finland’s Antti Törmänen has just been accepted as the newest Nihon Ki-in professional, the first westerner to qualify since the late Hans Pietsch, 18 years ago. Törmänen, 26, is a three-time Finnish champion, and a founding member of the Nordic Go Academy. Törmänen started playing go back in spring 2002, has participated in over a hundred European amateur tournaments, and became an insei at the Nihon Ki-in in Fall 2011. Though he did not reach the top two in the most recent Nihon Ki-in pro exam this fall, winning more than half of his games was deemed enough to qualify. His professional debut is scheduled for April 1st, 2016. “I plan to remain in Tokyo and compete in professional tournaments indefinitely,” Törmänen said in an interview with the European Go Federation. “Early on my salary will be fairly limited, so I imagine I will also be teaching go both online and offline, and possibly writing some go literature in English.” Click here to read his “Go of Ten” blog, where Törmänen’s latest post includes a report (in Japanese) in the Mainichi newspaper about the promotion.
- Chris Garlock, based on reports by Tuomo, an E-Journal reader in Finland, and the EGF Facebook page.
The Hangzhou team defied the odds to win the Jin Li Smartphone Cup on December 6. The Cup is actually a 22-round professional league, the biggest in China, also known as the 17th Chinese Weiqi League A. The Jin Li company sponsors a few other tournaments, including amateur tourneys. The Hangzhou team came in first, with the Wuhan team coming in second and the Zhuhai team in third. The Hangzhou team, not being a famous team or really an elite team, was not necessarily expected to win, but pulled through and was victorious in the end. The player with the best record was Ke Jie with a final score of 16 wins and 5 losses. Following him were Zhou Ruiyang with 16 wins and 6 losses, and Wu Guangya with 15 wins and 7 losses. It has been a hot topic that the Shanghai team, the former marquee team, was demoted to the B league, even with elite players like Chang Hao 9P, Qiu Jun 9P and Hu Yaoyu 8P. The Guangxi team was also demoted. This result is considered due to lack of positive competition within a team, in contrast to surge of the younger generation.
- Jonathan Hop, China correspondent for the E-Journal, with updates from Edward Zhang (12/12).