As a special free bonus for all E-Journal readers, Michael Redmond’s recent Oza game commentary against O Meien 9P appears here. Full AGA members get exciting commentaries like this every week. The game commentaries alone are worth the price of AGA membership . For youth memberships the deal is even better, just $10 a year! To sign up for the members edition, register with the AGA here .
Michael gives a summary of this powerful game, “I have Black against O Meien 9P in this game. In a fight within White’s moyo, I was successful, up to a certain point…“.
Despite being pushed to the loser’s bracket, Yu Zhiying 5P defeated Yu Jin 6D and Joanne Missingham 7P to make it into the women’s final at the IMSA Elite Mind Games, where she’ll play Choi Jeong 6P for the gold medal. In the men’s team division, North America defeated Europe 2 to 1, thanks to Jiang Mingjiu 7P’s (right) dramatic half-point victory over Fan Hui 2P and Eric Lui 1P’s win against Ilya Shikshin 1P. The match between North America and Europe attracted a lot of attention because for the first time, both teams were represented by professional players. Meanwhile, China defeated Japan 3-0, Korea defeated Chinese Taipei 2-0 and with just one round to go, the Korean team is leading with four wins while the Chinese team has three wins and one loss.
- adapted from a report on Ranka Online
by Special Correspondent Andy Okun, with reporting by Natalya Kovaleva
In the run-up to AlphaGo’s challenge match with Lee Sedol 9p in Seoul in a little over a week, go players have been worrying about the new age whose beginning might be marked by an AlphaGo victory. What will the go world be like when computers are so good? Will people still want to play go? What will change? Taking advantage of the collegiality of the IMSA Elite Mind Games in Huaian, we sought counsel from a community that has been through this before. We asked chess players how the game was affected by Garry Kasparov’s historic loss to IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997, the steady growth in strength of computer chess since, and how go players should greet the news. The general view was that go players should not be afraid of the new age, but that things will be different. There may even be some new and interesting problems to handle, as there have in chess.
“So many cheats!” said KwaiKeong Chan (right), a long time chess player, arbiter and organizer from Hong Kong. Chan is helping run the chess section of the IEMG as deputy chief arbiter. The software is so strong that it has become very easy to find new ways to cheat, Chan said. “Hiding in the toilet is primitive,” he said dismissively of a toilet-based chess scandal last year in Dubai, although he refused to detail some of the more subtle methods people use. Strong computers also are how officials crack down on cheats, he said. Chess software is so good that given a board position and an ELO rating, you can predict the exact set of moves a player of that strength will likely draw from. If a player consistently picks better moves than are likely for his or her rating, officials know to pay close attention. “You cannot play beyond yourself. It’s not humanly possible,” said Chan, who himself had designed some very early chess-playing software.
Beyond that, chess players don’t really care about computers’ strength and said go players shouldn’t either, he said. Rather, the advent of strong computer go will bring publicity to the game, as Deep Blue did for chess, Chan said. “That is always a good thing, publicity, good or bad. Publicity is what you need.” Chess is being played more than ever before, and while Deep Blue is not the main reason for that – he cited years of community effort in presenting chess well – it did produce a second surge of new players after the Bobby Fischer surge of the 1970s.
The presence of such strong computers has had other effects on how chess is played and the nature of chess expertise, players suggested. Since strong computers can provide weak and middling players with solid and accurate analysis, the role of the chess master is different than it was, said Russian player Alexandra Kosteniuk (left), a grandmaster, former Women’s World Chess Champion and author of “Diary of a Chess Queen.” The strength of players has gone up, but the best players don’t command the same respect they might have in years past because the best critique is available to everyone. “Maybe in a few years, there will be no go masters,” she said.
Shahriyar Mamedyarov, a 31-year-old Azerbaijani grandmaster and former rapid chess World Champion, said it used to be that when he was in world championship tournaments, he might have seven or eight fellow players with him helping him prepare for the games. He doesn’t need to do that now, since any questions he has or analysis he needs done can be done by computer. Valentina Evgenyevna Gunina, a three-time Russian women’s champion, said computers had raised the standard of training and that “we need to memorize much more than we did before.”
Kirsan ILyumzhinov, the controversial president of both the Federation Internationale des Echecs and the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, as well as the head of IMSA and a long time sponsor of computer go competitions, said in the early days of the computer go project, human players and human programmers would work hard to develop the computer player and make it stronger. “Now the computer develops and trains the human.”
Perhaps the bluntest argument against fear of computers learning to play our games well came from Ruslan Ponomariov (right), a Ukrainian grandmaster and FIDE World Champion from 2002 to 2004.
“What we can do?” he asked with a shrug.
photos credits: Kirill Merkurev (Chan); chessqueen.com (Kosteniuk); en.chessbase.com (Ponomariov)
After two rounds, the Korean and Japanese men’s teams are undefeated in the first International Mind Sports Association (IMSA) Elite Mind Games in Huaian, China, while North America’s sole woman player scored a win to stay alive in the women’s Individual event.
After losing to a Korean pro in round one, Sarah Yu 6d (right) of Canada beat the European team’s Rita Pocsai 4d of Hungary in round two, moving on in the double elimination tournament. Yu said she and Pocsai were well matched and that she had benefited from a few mistakes in her opponent’s endgame play. On the other hand, playing against Oh Yujin 2p in round one was daunting, the strong amateur said. “When you are playing against a pro, you just have to try to make the game last longer,” Yu said. “It forces you to play better.” In the game against Oh, “there were never any chances.”
On the men’s side, the North American men were winless against Korea and Taiwan, though Eric Lui 1p believes he had an opportunity against Lin Shih-Hsun 5p of Taiwan. Lin and Lui, who are friends, reviewed for two hours after the game. Lin made left a major group vulnerable late in the game and Lui (left) attacked but was unable to bring off the kill. “Unfortunately, I went for a small part of the group instead of trying to kill the whole group, which clearly would have been the right thing to do,” Lui said in an interview in the bright white marble lobby of the New Century Grand Hotel Huaian. While the game wasn’t over then, Lin didn’t let down his guard again and won by resignation. His game on day one against Kim Jiseok 9p was not so suspenseful. “The thing about active young pro players today is their game is so well-rounded,” Lui said. “Their game has no real weaknesses.”
On board one, Jiang Mingjiu 7p lost to Lee Donghoon 5p on the first day and Taiwan’s Chen Shih-Yuan 9p on the second. Ryan Li 1p of Canada lost to Park Jeonghwan 9p of Korea and Lin Li-Hsiang 6p. The Korean and Chinese teams are thought to be the strongest, so Korea, in addition to defeating North America, may have effectively taken the lead in the round robin tournament when it defeated China by 2-1 in the second round. Japan’s very young team, including two 16-year-old 2 dans, is also undefeated, having beaten Europe in a clean sweep and Taiwan by 2-1.
- Andy Okun, reporting from Huaian, China. For more IEMG reports, game records and the tournament contestants, go to Ranka Online’s website.
The International Mind Sports Association will hold three more IMSA Elite Mind Games in Huaian, Jiangsu Province, China over the next three years, according to IMSA Secretary General (and AGA VP) Thomas Hsiang. IMSA signed a memorandum of understanding on Feb. 28 at the first IEMG with officials from the Jiangsu Sports Bureau, the government of Huaian and the China Qiyuan (the Board and Card Games Administrative Center of China’s General Administration of Sport) under which a second, third and fourth IEMG will be held the second week of January in 2017, 2018 and 2019. “I am very grateful to our friends at the China Qiyuan for their crucial role in making the first IEMG possible, and now for adding three more rounds of IEMG,” said Hsiang. “The local organizational efforts have also been just marvelous! The past few days have been most enjoyable and I look forward to having this event become a regular fixture on the mind sports scene.” As part of the MOU, IMSA will open an office and a mind sports academy in Huaian and all the parties have agreed to work to spread mind sports generally and also to promote Huaian as the “Mind Sports City of the World.” The IEMG were in part prompted by the end of the successful four-year run of the similarly structured SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing.
- Andy Okun, reporting from Huaian, China
If you’ve been following the E-Journal over the last several years, you will know that Cole Pruitt (right), Will Lockhart and many friends have been working on The Surrounding Game, the first major documentary about what’s “going on” in the world of go today. Here’s Peter Shotwell’s November 2015 interview with Pruitt during a visit to the Los Alamos, New Mexico labs where Pruitt was conducting labs tests for his Washington University of St. Louis PhD thesis.
Following the Seattle Go Center’s lead (Seattle Plans AlphaGo-Lee Sedol Watch Parties 2/25 EJ), the Evanston Go Club will have a watch party for the first game of the Lee Sedol/AlphaGo match. The party will be hosted by club President Mark Rubenstein at his home. The game will be shown on a 55” TV in Rubenstein’s rec room, which also has a pool table and a dartboard. “It should be a lot of fun!” says Rubenstein. “There will be plenty of go sets available for people to follow along with the game, play their own games, or both.” The party will start at 10 PM on Tuesday March 8 at 917 Maple Ave, Evanston Illinois. “This is an historic event for the go world. Come and be part of it! And please bring some liquid libations or munchies to share.” says Rubenstein. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
photo: Evanston Go Club meeting; photo courtesy Mark Rubenstein
The Seattle Go Center is planning to host watching parties for the upcoming AlphaGo-Lee Sedol 9P 5-game match, March 7-15. “We did something similar for the Jubango between Lee Sedol and Gu Li in 2014, although those games were longer,” reports club manager Brian Allen. “It was great fun. You can also play casual games at the same time.”
The first game will happen in Korea on March 9, which will be Tuesday, March 8 Seattle time. “We plan to watch it at the Go Center with our video projector,” says Allen. “The game starts at 8 p.m., and is expected to run 4 or 5 hours. Dennis Wheeler will be the host. Lee Sedol 9P, winner of the Jubango between Lee Sedol and Gu Li, and representing the human race, is confident that he can beat the version of AlphaGo that beat the 2 dan pro Fan Hui in October of last year. The big question is: how much has AlphaGo improved since then?”
Allen sent along the Harry Belafonte version of “John Henry” the “steel-drivin’ man” who so famously took on the steam engine.
Check the Seattle Go Club’s calendar for the dates of the other games, which they’ll also be watching. If other clubs plan similar events, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
photo: Frank Lam and Andrew Jackson (r) following the first Jubango game at the Seattle Go Center; photo by Brian Allen
by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Lead shared in Honinbo League: The first game in the fourth round of the 71st Honinbo League was played on January 7, with Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points. On January 14, Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 7P by resig. This was Motoki’s first loss, so he now shared the lead with Yo; both were on 3-1. On January 21, Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ida Atsushi 9P by resig. On January 28, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Cho U by resig., so he joined Yo and Motoki in the lead. On February 4, Cho U 9P picked up his first win, beating Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig. with white. On the same day, Motoki Katsuya 7P (B) beat Ida Atsushi Judan by resig. On February 11, Takao (B) beat Yamashita by 7.5 points. On February 18, Kono (W)beat Yo by 1.5 points. That game completed the fifth round. At present, Takao and Motoki, both on 4-1, share the lead.
Women’s Meijin League concludes: The final round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League was held on January 7. Aoki Kikuyo 8P had already won the league in the fifth round, but she won her final game as well to finish with a perfect score. Results: Aoki (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 3P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Mannami Nao 3P by 2.5 points. The title match with Xie Yimin will start in March.
“I’m reading ‘When the Emperor was Divine’ by Julie Otsuka, a small book about the forced Japanese internment during the second World War,” writes None Redmond. “At the beginning of the second chapter as the family of three arrive at the desert camp, the boy thinks he sees his father everywhere in a variety of camp activities as well as ‘Playing go with the other men in their floppy straw hats …’ I was reminded of Tom Tamura who I remember telling Peter that he had learned to play go when he was a child in the desert camp. Interesting that as a child Tom had no feeling of the camp’s restriction nor when he was an adult any resentment over his imprisonment. Peter told me that Tom said he had enjoyed being with the other youngsters there, playing football as well as learning to play a little go. It was when we lived in Santa Barbara that Peter and Tom became quite close over the go board.”
by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
Iyama to challenge for Judan: The new tournament year at the Nihon Ki-in got off to a start on January 7. Most of the interest focussed on the semifinals of the 54th Judan tournament. The Judan is the only top-seven title Iyama Yuta doesn’t hold; if he becomes the challenger, he has a chance of achieving a simultaneous grand slam. In his semifinal, Iyama (B) beat Imamura Toshiya 9P by resignation. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Ida Atsushi will be Yo Seiki (Yu Zhenqi) 7P of the Kansai Ki-in, who won the other semifinal. Yo’s opponent, Shida Tatsuya 7P (B), forfeited the game because of an illegal move; he recaptured a ko immediately, without making a ko threat. (To be precise, Yo’s ko threat was a ko capture in a position that was a double ko; Shida, who was in his last minute of byo-yomi, should have captured the other ko.) Last year Yo lost the play-off to decide the Oza challenger to Iyama, so he was seeking revenge when the play-off (right) was held at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on January 21. Yo (W) took the lead when he cleverly settled a weak group, but winning the first fight is not enough to beat Iyama. The latter subjected Yo to so much pressure that eventually he slipped up in the endgame, letting Iyama stage an upset. Yo resigned after 277 moves. The title match with Ida Atsushi Judan starts on March 8.
Meijin League: The first game of the second round of the 41st Meijin League was played on January 7. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. At this point, Ko, on 2-0, took the provisional lead. On January 11, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and joined Ko in the provisional lead. On January 21, Cho U 9P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by half a point and Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Hirata Tomoya 7P by resig. On February 4, Takao (B) beat Hane Naoki by resig. On February 11, Cho U (W) beat Ko Iso by resig. Cho and Takao, both on 3-0, share the lead, but Murakawa, who had a bye in the third round, is also undefeated. Cho’s good results in this league are a stark contrast to his bad performance in the Honinbo League.
Tomorrow: Lead shared in Honinbo League; Women’s Meijin League concludes
Three children from North America are being invited to Japan, for international friendship matches. The sponsors of the trip are paying all expenses while in Japan, and a stipend of 100,000 yen (around $893 at press time) for airfare. Fifty-four children under the age of 13, and at least ten kyu, are being invited from ten countries: Japan, China, Korea, France, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, and the US. The kids will stay at the Maisima Lodge, in Osaka Bay, and will have opportunities for cultural exchanges as well as for playing go. The AGA will select three kids, two from the US and one from Canada, based on participation points earned from attending various AGA events. The matches will be held July 25-28, and AGA Go Camp Director Fernando Rivera will lead the team. All expenses are paid for the kids, but parents who wish to come will need to pay their own travel and lodging expenses. If you are interested in attending, please fill out the form here. Any questions should be addressed to email@example.com. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: Participants at last year’s Life International Go Meeting. The event is sponsored by Life Sports Foundation, and NPO Life Kids Go Club, with the cooperation of the Nihon Ki-in and the Kansai Ki-in.
by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal
The first game of the 40th Kisei title match was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in the city of Aizu-wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture on January 14 and 15. Defending champion Iyama Yuta (aged 26) drew white in the nigiri to decide the colors. The challenger Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (37) made a positive start, playing aggressively in the opening. The game was decided by a ko fight in which Yamashita sacrificed a group in order to win a ko started after White invaded a black position. Iyama (right) took the lead in this exchange and hung on for a win, rebuffing some do-or-die attacks by Black. Yamashita resigned after 202 moves. In retrospect, the game was a convincing win for Iyama.
The second game was played at the Bokoro inn in the town of Yurihama in Tottori Prefecture on January 28 and 29. Yamashita (W) played cleverly in the early middle game and took the lead. However, he missed a chance to decide the game and then began playing erratically, letting Iyama upset his lead. Iyama later played a thin move that let Yamashita narrow the gap, but the latter slipped up in the endgame. After 273 moves, Iyama won by 2.5 points. Considering his good play in the first part of the game, this was a painful loss for Yamashita.
The third game was also played in Tottori Prefecture after a break of only two days. It’s quite unusual to schedule two two-day games so close together in the same prefecture. The venue was the Kasuitei inn in Kaike Hot Spring in Yonago City. The game started with difficult fighting in the top right corner in which Iyama took the lead. Yamashita attacked fiercely in the middle game, but Iyama fought back strongly and kept his lead. Yamashita resigned after move 200. Like the first game, this was a good win for Iyama.
The fourth game was played at the Hokkaido Hotel in Obihiro City, Hokkaido on February 17 and 18. Playing black, Iyama controlled the flow of the game and took the lead in the middle-game fighting. Yamashita didn’t seem to make any really bad moves, but his attacks were skilfully parried by Iyama. The latter maintained a comfortable lead, so Yamashita resigned after 189 moves. Last year, after losing the first three games, Yamashita was able to fight back and win the next three before losing the seventh game. However, Iyama seems to be in even better form this year and, apart from the second game, dominated the series. After having his winning streak broken at 24 late last year, he has started another, winning seven games in a row. He has also won 16 games in a row in title matches, starting with the third game of the Gosei title match and continuing with the Meijin, Tengen, and Oza matches. This is his fourth Kisei title in a row and his 36th title overall. He is now in seventh place in the all-time list of title winners.
The legendary Lee Sedol, the top go player in the world over the past decade, will take on computer program AlphaGo in a landmark five-match, million-dollar tournament March 9-15. AlphaGo’s 5-game sweep of professional Fan Hui 3P rocked the world in late January (Game Over? AlphaGo Beats Pro 5-0 in Major AI Advance 1/27/2016 EJ)
“Regardless of the result, it will be a meaningful event in baduk (Go) history,” said Lee Sedol (left). “I heard Google DeepMind’s AI is surprisingly strong and getting stronger, but I am confident that I can win, at least this time.” AlphaGo has been developed by Google DeepMind, whose CEO and co-founder Demis Hassabis said “Go is the most profound game that mankind has ever devised. The elegantly simple rules lead to beautiful complexity. Go is a game primarily about intuition and feel rather than brute calculation which is what makes it so hard for computers to play well. We are honoured and excited to be playing this challenge match against Lee Sedol, a true legend of the game, and whether we win or lose, we hope that the match will inspire new interest in go from around the world.”
AlphaGo will play Lee Sedol in a five-game challenge match to be held from Wednesday, March 9 to Tuesday, March 15 in Seoul, South Korea. The games will be even, with $1 million USD in prize money for the winner. If AlphaGo wins, the prize money will be donated to UNICEF, STEM and go charities.
“The whole world is interested in this event as this is the first stage where humans and computers are competing in intelligence,” said Park Chimoon, Vice Chairman of the Korean Baduk Association. “I am proud that this historical stage is baduk (Go). I hope Lee Sedol 9 dan will win this time in order to prove humans’ remarkable intelligence and preserve the mysteries of baduk.”
The first IMSA Elite Mind Games (IEMG) are being held from February 25 to March 3 at the New Century Hotel Huaian, China. A re-branded event of SportAccord World Mind Games, IEMG will feature five mind sports: go, chess, bridge, draughts, and xiangqi. Thirty top players from around the world will be competing for total prize money of 200,000 EUR in three medal events: Men’s Team, Women’s Individual, and Pair. The International Mind Sports Association is organizing the event and Ranka Online will provide full coverage of the event.
- adapted from a report in Ranka Online, which includes the list of players, tournament outline and schedule.
See also Strong North American Go Team Headed for Huai’an for Inaugural IMSA Games.
If you missed the February 14 livestream of “Lee Changho 9p vs Cho Chikun 9p, the LEGENDS OF BADUK FINAL ROUND” you can catch it now on the AGA’s YouTube Channel. Lee Changho plays Cho Chikun (Chihoon), in the last round of the LEGENDS OF BADUK tournament featuring the greatest Korean players of the ’80s and ’90s; Myungwan Kim 9P comments, with Andrew Jackson.
Slate & Shell is having its annual “Dark of Winter” sale. The following books are available at 50% off through February 29: The Meijin’s Retirement Game, Old vs New Fuseki, All About Joseki, Whole Board Thinking in Joseki, Monkey Jump Workshop, Kamakura, The Chinese Opening, 200 Tesuji Problems, and Master Play: The Style of Lee Sedol.
Beomgeun Cho 7D (right) won the 2016 Jujo Ing Cup open section and Ary Cheng 4D won the handicap section. The 24th Jujo Ing Cup tournament was held February 14 at the Hilton Hotel in Chinatown, San Francisco. Jiang ZhuJiu, Rui NaiWei and Jiang MingJiu were all in attendance. “A great time was had by all, but the main topic of discussion always seemed to revert to AlphaGo,” reports organizer and TD Ernest Brown. “Next year’s tournament — the 25th — promises to be a grand affair and we hope to provide free entry to anyone who has participated over the past 25 years.” Click here for complete open section results and handicap section results.
photo by Ernest Brown
Forty-three players from five states competed in the South Central Go Tournament, held in Dallas, Texas February 13th and 14th. Fifteen played in the Open Section (right) and 28 in the Handicap Section. “It went so well we are already thinking of doing something similar next year,” said Tournament Director Kevin Hwang.
In the Open Section, Zelong Dong 7D took first place, Muzhen Ai 5D was second, and Xuyu Xiang 7D took third place. In the Handicap Section (left), Andrew McGowan 1K took first place, Zhiqiang Xiang 1K was second and Billy Maier 4K took third place. “For several players this was a first AGA tournament and for some others marked a return to AGA tournament play after a long interval,” reports Bob Gilman, AGA Central Region Director. photos by Bob Gilman