Let me start off by alienating the half of the audience that may not be alienated after reading this, by giving away the title of my next installment, Why Go Is Better Than Chess, Really (From the Non-Chess-Playing Perspective).
For those of you who aren’t having a bad day and easily saw past that ruse, may I offer some unvarnished truths, in the form of the real answers to questions that I cavalierly and annoyingly dismissed when asked earnestly by those to whom I was only too happy to present myself as knowledgeable in the past. This is in opposition to talking around the subject, which I never do despite the difficulty in following my convoluted English, which I’ve used to actually talk myself out of traffic tickets, thanks very much. I’m never not honed in like a hawk eyeing a field mouse when I’m answering a question someone asked me five years ago. I’ve either missed it entirely, or am dead on.
Q. How much is the ability to memorize involved in go-playing?
A. Let me tell you a story about my father. My father once memorized a 50-page poem when he was in high school. In English. Which he didn’t speak. It’s not clear to us whose memory is better, because he remembers things I don’t and vice versa. This has something to do with whether he or I was there or paying attention, I believe.
No one cares or truly believes this wild talent, except perhaps exes who are literally rendered speechless and apoplectic when I quote what they said verbatim years ago by way of reply to questions posed as to how I’m doing, etc. now. It really only comes in handy these days when my son asks me what lithium is and I send him running out the door with a tour of the periodic table sung to the tune of “Beautiful Dreamer,” which my father did for me when we went for a walk when I was eight.
My dad taught me how to play go by spending about ten hours a week on it with me for a long time. So that’s the answer to the other question, how did I make progress so quickly. Because I was young and it was easier to learn when I was young and I’m very smart and talented, yes, yes, that must be it. Spending ten hours a week on Netflix now has nothing to do with stalled progress. If only he’d spent ten hours a week on video games with me for a long time, I’d be a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.
Which is not to say that I think memorization of moves plays a big part in go playing. I barely remember any specific actual moves, or generally even where my opponent played last. Which is not to say I didn’t write a whole go book entitled The Palace of Memory. Which enervated many people that there were many typos. And apparently enervated no one that I said I remembered like ten things, but had a lot of jingles and off-topic anecdotes and references that actually constitute what I know about go that you may secretly suspect is true.
But seriously, folks. How many of you read Lee Sedol 9 dan’s book of commented games? When I heard about it I thought that was the holy grail and almost flew to Korea. I could not contain myself. Lee Sedol 9 dan became the world champion because he spent a lot of time on go, and that time had emotional content, because his father spent a lot of time teaching him and his father wanted him to be world champion and then his father died. Remember, Bruce Lee said emotional content, not anger. The point isn’t to get angry at ourselves or our opponents, but to find what is meaningful to us in the conversation with our hands that we are having. If we spend even a few minutes trying to extract what we and our opponents were trying to say as we played, with respect for our words, surely we can find something, if we are looking for it, that we can remember to take away with us. So I knew it would be the holy grail, before I even read it.
I actually don’t remember the moves of the games I read (I can only recreate games if I paid attention throughout and remember the first few moves and how I was thinking about them at the time and exactly who the players are, then, it all follows logically), but Lee Sedol (who means a lot to me because his brother was a good friend long ago who said he would sacrifice his own career to make sure Lee Sedol would be world champion) made one comment in a matter-of-fact, off-hand way that entirely changed my perspective on go and made me realize what I had been doing that had been frustrating me and causing me to lose most of the time even the few times when I was way ahead. It was because I was ahead. I could only knock out my opponent because I had no idea how to pull a punch and wait, and stronger opponents don’t get knocked out easily. That will be the actual subject of my next installment.
The American Go E-Journal’s coverage of the 2015 US Go Congress in St Paul, MN was truly wall-to-wall this year, with more than 60 games broadcast live on KGS, 23 live video feeds on our YouTube channel, well over a dozen live pro game commentaries and nearly two dozen reports in the E-Journal, as well as numerous posts to the AGA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. None of that would have been possible without a talented and committed team of volunteers, some of them veterans of previous congresses and some newbies, but every one richly deserving of a hearty round of applause and appreciation. Click here to see our Facebook album of team photos.
First and foremost are Assistant Manager Todd Heidenreich, Tech/IT Manager Steve Colburn and Lead Game Recorder Dennis Wheeler; their titles don’t begin to do justice to the many key roles these three play in ensuring our smooth operation. Todd, Steve and Dennis have been our core team for many years now, and hanging out with them in the EJ room each year is a joy that many others have discovered as well.
An exciting addition to the EJ team this year was our video streaming operation, managed by Andrew Jackson, who surpassed his goal of dramatically improving the current state of go video streaming, as evidenced by the impressive number of live viewers and video views. The video streaming team included Ashish Varma (fairgo) Shawn Ray (clossius), Justin Teng (odnihs),Stephen Hu (xhu98), Lionel Zhang and Calvin Sun.
Youth Editor Paul Barchilon makes sure we give proper coverage to the many exciting youth events and rising young go stars; he’s also training the next generation of the EJ’s youth team and worked with Jackson to coordinate youth coverage; special thanks to Justin Teng, who went above and beyond to organize the streaming team for the Redmond Cup games. Game recorders included Andrew Lu, Ethan Frank, and Ashish Varma.
While video streaming and social media coverage have been generating a lot of this year’s interest in the Congress, our game recording team quietly went about the everyday work of broadcasting top-board games online, not only so that go players around the world could watch live, but so that the games are recorded for posterity. Dennis Wheeler anchored the team, as usual, and with the indefatigable Richard Dolen they broadcast all the morning top-board games. The evening game recording team included Solomon Smilack — who also transcribed the live pro commentary for the Friday Night Big Broadcast –David Weimer, Bart Jacob, Stephen Hu, Andrew Lu, Ethan Frank, George Schmitten, Yong Peng, Yanqing Sun and Austin Harvey. Thanks as always to Akane Negishi and the entire team at KGS for their support and help. And a big shout-out to US Open Masters/US Open TD Jon Boley, whose coordination with pairings and results data was critical to our timely reporting; plus his sense of humor made him a perfect fit for the EJ team.The professional go players have become an integral part of the EJ team each year, contributing their insights in live game commentaries, this year on our YouTube livestream as well as on KGS. They included: Feng Yun 9P, Cho Hye-yeon 9P, Yilun Yang 7P, Jennie Shen 2P, Shirley Lin 1P, Stephanie Yin 1P, Cathy Li 1P. Special thanks to Myungwan Kim 9P and Yilun Yang 7P for their Big Game broadcast Friday night, and to pro coordinator I-Han Lui, who provided professionals for both the KGS and video stream commentaries. And a very special thanks this year to Hajin Lee 3P and Nick Sibicki, who anchored our streaming video commentary, and to Matthew Hershberger, who also helped with the commentary on Pair Go night.
Finally, I want to thank EJ photographer — and my very good friend — Phil Straus (left, in yellow shirt), without whom literally none of this would be possible: Phil taught me how to play go 30 years ago when I showed up at the Philadelphia Go Club, which he ran out of his house in center city Philly. He’s been there for me as a go player, go journalist and friend for three decades.
Thanks to the entire team, and to you, our readers; see you next year in Boston!
photos by Phil Straus (top right), Ken Koester (left) and Chris Garlock (bottom right).
Benjamin Lockhart 7d prevailed over fellow American Ricky Zhao 7d in the finals of the Samsung Cup World Baduk Masters World Division in Seoul, Korea and will play next month in the round of 32 of the top international event in Beijing. The World Division was established three years ago as a way of encouraging players from the rest of the world to excel at go; Americans have won all three years. Lockhart was in the final last year but lost to Eric Lui 7d. This year the division was expanded from eight to 12 players, with four from Europe, three from North America, one from Latin America, and four from Asia excluding the major go countries. Click here to see more photos.
The Orange County Go Club’s Kevin Chao 6D (right) prevailed in a spirited bidding war at the annual go board auction at the 2015 U.S. Go Congress banquet August 8. For much of the auction, conducted by E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock and American Go Foundation president Terry Benson, it was a 3-man duel between Brady Daniels, Congress Director Josh Larson and an increasingly hoarse banquet MC Andrew Jackson. The back of the board — donated by Yutopian — had been signed by most of the professional go players attending the Go Congress, and previous winner Andy Okun testified to the veracity of Garlock’s promise of improvement, noting that he’d been 1-kyu when he won the auction and is now shodan.
When Jackson’s bid of $1,200 knocked Daniels out, the board seemed destined to head to Seattle, but then Chao swooped in with a bid of $1,500, his first of the evening, and it proved decisive. “This is so amazingly generous,” said Benson. “This will help fund American Go Foundation activities and programs that promote go across the United States, including important future investments like go camp scholarships.”
“The support of go players like Kevin and Chris (whose recent walk across Wales raised $2,400 for the AGF) is what makes this such an incredible community,” added American Go Association president Andy Okun. “They, and all our generous AGF contributors, are truly planting the seeds for the future of American go.”
photo: (top left) Benson, Okun & Garlock; photos by Phil Straus
The 2015 Canadian Open will be held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from September 4-7. Click here for complete details or check out the event’s Facebook page. The 6-round event also features professional go players who will teach, analyze games and lecture. Sohyun Park 3p from Korea has been confirmed as attending, and will be joining forces with Stephanie Yin 1p to teach go during the event. The event is sponsored by Caisse populaire Desjardins du Mont-Royal, Huawei Technologies and Salon de thé et de Go Senthé, “The perfect place to play go in Montréal.”
2015 Congress Ratings Update: As of Friday, August 14th, the results of four Congress tournaments have been submitted, reports Jonathan Bresler. “The four tournaments are the U.S. Open, the U.S. Open Masters, the DieHard and the Girls 16 and Under. The DieHard and Girls have been rated.” Self-Paired results are expected to be submitted Monday. Click here for AGA ratings.
(8/16 Update/Clarification: the U.S. Open and U.S. Open Masters results were just submitted on August 14 and have not yet been rated)
Winner Reports Posted: Complete Congress tournament winner reports are now posted online.
Congress Coverage Going Viral: The EJ’s Congress posts on Twitter and Facebook have been generating lots of traffic and likes, and the videos on our YouTube page have been getting tons of views. Our story on the Cuban delegation, for example, reached over 1,000 people on Facebook, the report on go pioneer John Goodell reached nearly 1,000 and photo albums like Phil Straus’ recent collection of Pair Go photos reached nearly 600. Over on YouTube, the 23 Congress videos reached people in over 100 countries, added almost 1,000 subscribers and the most-viewed video was Round 4, Mark Lee vs Cao Youyin with Haylee commenting, with over 2,600 views since it went live.
photo: 2015 US Open players; photo by Chris Garlock
In the new season for the Pandanet AGA City League, the A and B League will enlarged to eight teams each. The teams in last place for the A League and the winners of the B League will be demoted and promoted as normal. The other teams in the B League will be promoted until there are 8 teams in play. The B League will be the same way with the C League until there are 8 teams. “Start gathering your team for the fourth season of this exciting league,” says League coordinator Steve CColburn. The new season include some revised rules to make the seasons longer and more challenging games. Check the rules for a special registration deal for the teams. “Does your team have what it takes to defeat our winners from last year?” Colburn asks. Registration is open until September 20th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register your team.
Jeffery Deaver’s 2014 book of short crime stories “Trouble in Mind” has a story “The Competitors” set at the Beijing Olympics, reports Tony Atkins. “In it, the Chinese head of security out-thinks terrorists as he is a go player,” says Atkins, who’s Vice-President of the British Go Association. “He explains to the US and Russian officers ‘It’s our version of Chess. Only better, of course.’” The head of security “I look forward when I play the game. You must always look forward to beat your opponent at go. You must see beyond the board.”
Atkins has added this book to the exhaustive round-up of “Novels and Other Books Featuring Go” on the BGA website.
Karl Irwin was victorious in the recent Belfast tournament with a perfect 5/5. James Hutchinson was second. His seventh year in a row to make the top 3 without winning. In third place was visiting Louise Roullier from France.
Full results to follow.
Shida qualifies for Samsung: The General Preliminary Tournament for the 20th Samsung Cup was held in Seoul from August 1 to 5. This is a massive tournament and the preliminary is held on a proportionate scale, with additional qualifying sections for women and senior players besides the open section. Five Japanese representatives took part in the open section, of whom one was successful. Shida Tatsuya 7P (at left) won a place in the main tournament by defeating Pak Seung-hwa 6P of Korea in the final. Oya Koichi 9P and Goto Shungo 9P competed in the senior section but without success. The opening rounds of the main tournament will be held in Beijing on September 8 and 10. Nineteen qualifiers through the preliminary will join 13 seeded players. The seeded players for Japan are Ida Atsushi 8P and Yoda Norimoto 9P.
Iyama defends Gosei, maintains quadruple crown: The fourth game of the 40th Gosei title match was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya, Tokyo on August 7. Playing white, Iyama (left) forced a resignation after just 122 moves and so defended his title by a 3-1 margin. He has now won this title for four years in a row, so one more win and he will qualify for the title of Honorary Gosei. Iyama has beaten Yamashita Keigo in the three title matches they have contested so far this year; the others were the Kisei and Honinbo. Incidentally, three matches in the same year equals for record for the same two players. They have played 16 games with each other this year, which also equals the record. Iyama seemed to gain a slight advantage in the first major fight of the game, which occurred when he set out to reduce Black’s top moyo. Yamashita went all out and got back into the game, but then went wrong in the decisive fight. Iyama cut off and killed a large group, deciding the game. As mentioned in my report in May, when Yamashita became the Gosei challenger, two pairs of players had previously played three matches in the same year. They were Otake Hideo and Cho Chikun in 1982 and Kato Masao and Kobayashi Koichi in 1988. It was the latter two who previously played 16 games in one year.
Promotions: To 3-dan: Fujisawa Rina (40 wins) (as of August 7); To 2-dan: Bian Wenkai (30 wins) (as of August 7)
Rin Kaiho wins 1,400 games: On August 6, Rin Kaiho, Honorary Tengen (left), became the second Nihon Ki-in player to win 1,400 games when he beat Takemiya Masaki 9P in a game (right) in the 41st Gosei Preliminary B. Taking white, Rin won by half a point. The first player to reach this landmark was 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun. Rin was born in 1942 and became a professional in 1955.
At the AGA Board meeting held August 4, in Minneapolis, MN at the U.S. Go Congress, Chris Kirschner , Martin Lebl and Diego Pierrottet were congratulated for winning election to the AGA Board; they’ll serve September 1, 2015 to September 1, 2017.
The 2014 Go Congress in New York City had a very healthy surplus. The 2016 Congress will be held in Boston, almost certainly at Boston University, near Fenway Park and across the river from MIT.
There was a discussion on how to award qualifying North American Masters points for the next year. The points will be used to help select the team for the 2016 World Mind Sports Games and eligibility for the Open Masters section as well as its North American prize. A committee will have a proposal circulated before the next board meeting.
At the end of 2014, the AGA had 96 chapters and 2012 members. These numbers have been steady over the last couple of years.
The board was informed of purchase of audio/visual equipment that enabled commentated games from the 2015 Go Congress to appear on YouTube. The equipment can be used for similar purposes at other go tournaments.
The next AGA Board meeting will be held on Sunday, September 13.
- Ted Terpstra, AGA Western Region Board Member
Yulin Tong 4P defeated Zexiang Sui 7D in just 126 moves (click here to see the game) Saturday morning to lock up his 2015 U.S. Open MastersTournament championship, losing just one game, to defending champion Mark Lee, on his way to an 8-1 record. Click here for complete results and to see the professional review by Cho Hye-yeon 9P and Myungwan Kim 9P on the AGA’s YouTube page. Albert Yen won the U.S. Open; click here for complete results.
photo: Tong (second from left) reviews the Round 9, Board 2 game with Chen Wang 7D and Qun Wang 8P, as Yongfe Ge 7D, Ryan Li 1P and Eric Lui 7D watch; photo by Chris Garlock
Rafael Torres Miranda had a problem. The automotive importer had just discovered the game of go in 1990 but had no one to teach him and, worse yet, no one to play with. Twenty five years later, he’s attending the U.S. Go Congress as President of the Cuban Go Federation, the first time a delegation of Cuban go players has ever participated.
“The high level of play and the variety — as well as sheer quantity — of go activities is very impressive,” Miranda (at right, in white shirt) told the E-Journal. The other member of the delegation is Dr. Lazaro Bueno Perez (far left), a professor of chess and go at the University of Camaguey, and both said that they “will be bringing much back to Cuba from the Go Congress.”
Miranda says that there are some 2,000 go players in Cuba, ranging in strength from 5-dan to double-digit kyu players. “We’ve come a long way in a very short time,” he said. Miranda learned about the game from a Japanese colleague in the automotive business. The game intrigued him immediately. Although his colleague didn’t think he was serious, but he did teach Miranda the rules and they played. “No one in Cuba played go,” he laughs, “everyone played chess.” But as a judo teacher Miranda knew how to study and train and determination did the rest. They have had major support from the Association for International Go Exchange (a group of retired Japanese who love the game) and pros from the Nihon Ki-in. The Cubans make their own go equipment and there are now players in every city in the country.
In addition to the obvious barriers posed by Cuba’s political isolation, perhaps the biggest obstacle to spreading the game and improving Cuban go player’s strength has been one that go players around the world can appreciate: extremely limited internet access. There’s also a real hunger to participate in go tournaments around the world. “Always we want to participate,” Miranda said, chuckling. “We can’t, but we want to.” He hopes that the timing of the Cuban delegation to the U.S. Go Congress as official relations between the United States and Cuba have been established this year may be a harbinger of more opportunities to travel and compete internationally. “We are grateful to the AGA, the American Go Foundation, and to Bob Gilman for making this possible.”
Cuba will host the 17th Iberoamerican Go Championships October 9-11 at the Cuban Go Academy in Havana. Cuba. In addition to the chance for Cuban go players to meet their comrades from other Latin American countries, Miranda said it’s an opportunity for the Cuban Go Federation to be in the spotlight; after all Cuba organized the first four international tournaments in Latin America (1998-2001) before the current Championship series began.
- Chris Garlock; photo by Phil Straus
Yulin Tong Takes Lead in US Open Masters: Yulin Tong is now the leading contender for 2015 US Open Masters champion, defeating Beomgeun (Evan) Cho for a 7-1 record going into the final round Saturday morning. Other contenders include Zexiang Sui, who’s 6-2, and Chen Wang, also 6-2. Defending champion Mark Lee lost to Sui to drop to 5-3, taking him out of contention. Click here for complete results through Round 8.
Albert Yen Leads in US Open: Albert Yen 7D, undefeated going into the final round of the US Open on Saturday, is the favorite to win this year’s Open. Other 5-0 players: Xiaocheng Hu 4D; Yifan Zhang 3D; Gilbert Feng 2D; Brian Kirby 1D; Kelly Liu 1D; Mark Fraser 7K; Sherrie Echols 9K; Ryan Kim 21K. Click here for complete results through Round 5.
Saturday Broadcast Schedule: Catch the US Open Masters Board 1 game live on KGS — with video streaming on the AGA’s YouTube channel — starting at 9a CST. Board 2 will also be broadcast on KGS.
Game Records Wanted: Send in your US Open game records and we’ll add them to the official crosstab. Email them to us at email@example.com
photo: Friday night’s live US Masters Open pro commentary by Myungwan Kim 9P (at board) with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock; Yilun Yang 7P also provided commentary. photo by Steve Colburn
Amy Wang 5d and her partner Daehyuk (Daniel) Ko won first place in the 2015 North American Pair Go Championship Thursday night at the U.S. Go Congress. “U.S. Pair Go fans should watch for Amy and Daniel to be competing in the upcoming World Amateur Pair Go Championships in Tokyo,” said TD Todd Heidenreich. The Championships will be held the first weekend in December. Forty eight pairs participated in the popular event, including nine professional players. Six of the eight players on boards 3 and 4 were professionals, drawing a lot of interest from spectators. “Special thanks to Dennis Wheeler, Steve Colburn, Susanna Pfeffer, and Garrett Smith for their assistance,” Heidenreich added.
The top table of the Pair Go tournament determined the overall champion. As with many of the tournaments at this year’s Congress, the matches played on the top board of the tournament were broadcast online — in this case on the Pandanet Go Server — along with a live stream on the AGA’s YouTube page. Click here for Steve Colburn’s album of photos.
Top table results: 1st Place – Amy Wang 5d & Daniel Ko 7d; 2nd Place – Melissa Cao 1k & Justin Ching 6d; 3rd Place – WanYu Chen & Andrew Lu 7d; 4th Place – Julie Burrall 2d & Lionel Zhang 7d.
Table Winners: Amy Wang 5d & Daniel Ko 7d; HsiYun Tang 2P & Mark Lee 7d; Jennie Shen 2P & Josh Larson 3d; Mirano Shiraki 5d & Shunichi Hyodo 6d; Agnes Rzepecki 2k & Aaron Broege 1d; Isabelle Peng 5k & Evan Zou 4d; Nqua Xiong 2k & Fernando Torre 3k; Yoko Ohashi 6k & Mark Fraser 7k; Vivienne Blandy 9k & Mark Smith 7k; Kaoru Hidaka 19k & Shigeo Hidaka 2d; Sarah Crites 11k & Bob Crites 7k; Susanna Pfeffer 10k & Rab Beverly 12k
- photos by Eric Jankowski (right) and Steve Colburn (left).
Curious to see how go might be played without a center point, John Goodell didn’t just theorize about it; he produced 3,000 go sets sans center point. They didn’t catch on, but Goodell’s lifetime of promoting the game earned him the American Go Association’s first Edward Lasker Distinguished Service Award in 2002; he died in 2004 at the age of 94. A longtime St Paul resident, he’s been honored this week at the US Go Congress with a prominent display of memorabilia celebrating his life as a go player and promoter.
Goodell (second from right) learned the game in the mid-1950′s while doing customer research for a department store. His idea was to see if board games would help elicit more reliable information from customers. Although that didn’t work, he became deeply involved with go, leading the US team to the second World Amateur Go Championships in Japan in 1964, as well as serving as president of the AGA from 1962 to 1964. Perhaps most famously, he once imported two tons of go stones and distributed them across the country.
John Goodell said that go is “almost like meditation. When you play go, the world goes away.” And though he played the game for more than half a century, he never entered a tournament, where “You play to win; but winning and losing is of almost no consequence.”
A St Paul documentary filmmaker, Goodell was nominated for an Academy Award in 1974 for “Always a New Beginning.”
Click here for more information about the history of the American Go Association.
Nearly twenty videos from the US Go Congress have been posted so far on the AGA’s YouTube channel as part of the E-Journal’s expanded coverage this year. They include Crazy Go, Lightning Tournament, US Open Masters Rd6: Tong Yulin 4p vs Mark Lee 7d, US Open Masters Rd 5: Cao Youyin 3p vs Tong Yulin 4p live commentary by Cho Hyeyeon 9p, and USGC 2015 – Wang Chen 7d interviewed by Kevin Hwang. The videos have been extremely popular, usually with well over 100 viewers for the live streams and some of the videos have now been viewed over 2,000 times.
Melissa Zhang 3d won the inaugural 2015 AGA U16 Girls’ Championship on Thursday, defeating Kelly Liu 1d. The tournament was held during the US Go Congress in St Paul, Minnesota. Although Ms. Liu won a tense ko fight to save a large group in the middle of the board, Ms. Zhang emerged with insurmountable advantage to win the game and the $100 first prize. In the consolation game, Melissa Cao 1d took third place by defeating Amy Wang 5d.
- Ted Terpstra: photo (l-r): Melissa Cao, 3rd; Amy Wang, 4th; Kelly Liu, 2nd; Melissa Zhang, 1st. photo at right: Zhang and Liu playing final. photos by Ted Terpstra (left) and Chris Garlock (right).