World news

Murakawa Daisuke Takes Oza Title in Surprise Victory Over Iyama Yuta

AGA news - Sat, 20/12/2014 - 23:57

In a surprise victory, Murakawa Daisuke 8P defeated Iyama Yuta 9P on December 16 to win the 62nd Oza. The Oza is Murakawa’s first major title. This is the first time a player from the Kansai Kiin has won the Oza since Hashimoto Shoji 9P did so 33 years ago in 1981. The final game was played in Toba, Mie Prefecture, Japan. The upset attracted a lot of attention in Japan, because former Oza Iyama Yuta currently dominates the domestic Japanese go scene.
- excerpted from Go Game Guru; click here for the full report, including game records.


Categories: World news

Singapore Go School Welcomes US Students

AGA news - Sat, 20/12/2014 - 14:00

A new go school in Singapore welcomes students from the United States. The Go Academy offers a wide range of classes, from a 1-day introduction to kyu and dan intensive camps, reports Director Daniel Chan. More info available on Facebook.

Categories: World news

Your Move/Readers Write: An IBM CTO Responds to Scottish Neural Network

AGA news - Sat, 20/12/2014 - 13:04

“It’s interesting to read about the work of University of Edinburgh to use machine learning to improve the level of playing in computers, (Scottish Neural Network Takes Computer Go to Next Level 12/16/2014 EJ)” writes Nin Lei, Distinguished Engineer and CTO, Analytics and Big Data, STG IBM Systems and Technology Group. “However, the title in their article creates an impression that their research is creating a program that can beat the best human players. If their probability of guessing their next move is only 44%, then their chance of guessing it wrong is 56%.  In a sequence of 10 moves, the chance of getting the complete sequence correctly is 0.44 ** 10, which is a very small number.” Noting that checkers “has been solved via machine learning,” Lei says that “it appears it is promising for go as well.” But because machine learning predicates that there is a pattern in the underlying data set, Lei warns that “it could be so complex that machine learning can only attain a certain level of accuracy.  It seems to me a program needs to have very high level of accuracy before it can play a good game at strong human level.” Lei also says that “Since machine learning is based on pattern recognition, I wonder if a professional can trick the program by using moves that may not be optimally locally but will create patterns that the program has not seen before. I applaud the work they are doing,” Lei concludes. “It is innovative by using a different approach than the existing strong computer programs.  It will be interesting to find out if someday they can come up with an algorithm that can improve the accuracy significantly.”
12/22: the chance of getting the complete sequence correctly has been corrected to 0.44 ** 10 (from 0.56).


Categories: World news

Awards and Closing Ceremonies

IGF Ranka - Sat, 20/12/2014 - 09:35

Late in the afternoon of December 17, go players at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games attended their second awards ceremony in the Beijing International Convention Center. This time the awards for pair go were given out. China’s Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting collected their second gold medals, Korea’s Choi Jeong and Na Hyun collected their first and second silver medals, respectively, and China’s Cathy Chang (more formally, Chang Kai-Hsin) and Lin Li-Hsiang received their first bronze medals.

Final Award Ceremony at 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games

Medals were also awarded for individual contract bridge, Basque system chess, super-blitz draughts, checkers, and xiangqi. Four countries picked up their first gold medals here: Monaco, for whom Geir Helgemo came through in open bridge; Cameroon, whose draughts star Jean Marc Ndjofang won the men’s superblitz; Vietnam, whose Ngyuen Hoang-Yen shone in women’s xiangqi; and Italy, which proved to have the world’s top two checkers players.

All told there were 24 separate events in this year’s world mind games, and mind athletes from 20 different countries and territories won medals. Between them, China and Russia took the gold medals in half the events, winning six each. Russia outpointed China in silver medals, but China outpointed Russia in bronze, won medals in a greater number of disciplines (all but draughts), and won the greater total number of medals – by a wide margin if China’s medals in the team and pair events in go and bridge are counted as multiple medals. All of Russia’s medals came in individual competition in chess and draughts. Full results and further details can be found on the SportAccord schedule and results page and news page.

At the closing ceremony at the V-Continent Beijing Parkview Wuzhou hotel, Mr Hai Zhenwen, deputy secretary general of the organizing committee, praised the successful conclusion of the four-year series of SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing. China’s former ace weightlifter Ma Wenguang, representing SportAccord Asia/Pacific, thanked the city of Beijing and expressed a hope that world mind games would continue elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific area in the future. Mr Vlad Marinescu, Director General of SportAccord, said that he had been humbled at finding himself in the midst of so many geniuses but inspired by the enthusiasm of Beijing’s children, and noted that on the publicity front, this year the games had achieved a 50% growth over last year on all media platforms. Mr Chen Jie, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports, thanked the organizers for their hard work, after which he and Mr Marinescu exchanged gifts, and then everyone settled down to a good dinner.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

China vs. Korea for the Gold Medals in Pair Go

IGF Ranka - Sat, 20/12/2014 - 09:19

This is the game in which China’s Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting won the gold meal in pair go by defeating Korea’s Kim Choi Jeong and Na Hyun. Click here for the sgf game file.

Black 37 (A in diagram 1, played by Choi) defends against a double peep at B, but lets white jump to C. Black is playing too safe. She should have capped at 1 in diagram 2. If white peeps, pushes, and cuts as shown in the diagram, black can give up two stones, after which white will be unable to reach the center. Then black can develop on a truly large scale by pressing white down on the lower side as shown (moves from 11 to 15 in diagram 2).

Diagram 1

Diagram 2

Black 43 (played by Na) was also too conservative. Black should have occupied white 52, the junction point of his framework on the right side and the white framework on the lower side. When white got to play 52, the Chinese pair had a territorial lead.

White 64 may have been an overextension. Black 65 immediately started to threaten white’s thin position. With 66, white began dancing around to protect the weak white stones in this area and the weak white group at the top. But white danced successfully. By the time white played 92, white’s weak stones and group were out of danger.

Black 111 (Na) may have been the decisive mistake. Before playing here, black could have made sente moves at 112 and 150. Instead, white was able to play 112 and 148-150 in sente, gaining approximately seven points.

Black’s last chance was to start the ko at 157, but black lacked the necessary ko threats. Black 159 was inadequate. White simply ended the ko with 160, gaining as much at the top as was lost in the bottom left corner. When black renewed the ko challenge at 183, white accepted by cutting at 184. When Yu took the ko with white 194, Na decided that black’s prospects were too poor to continue and offered to resign, and his partner agreed.

- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p.

Categories: World news

Chinese Taipei vs. Japan for the Bronze Medals in Pair Go

IGF Ranka - Sat, 20/12/2014 - 01:42

This is the game in which Chinese Taipei’s Chang Kai-Hsin (Cathy Chang) and Lin Li-Hsiang (White) won the bronze gold meal in pair go by defeating Japan’s Fujisawa Rina and Ida Atsushi (Black). Click here for the sgf game file.

The opening pattern up to white 8 has become very popular quite recently and appeared in several SportAccord games.

Up through black 71 (the marked stone in diagram 1) the position is about even. White appears to have more territory, but the white position on the lower side is thin and can easily be invaded, so black is not behind. In fact, if black had played 71 at 1 in diagram 2, black might well have been ahead. White cannot cut black apart. Given the continuation through black 9, black is solidly linked up and the white group cannot make two eyes on the right side, so black will be able to attack it in the center.

Diagram 1

Diagram 2

The move that Ida Atsushi chose for black 71 was readily answered by white 72, and black 73 let white break up black’s right side territory in sente with 74 and 76. Aside from losing territory, black was placed on the defensive, and would be hampered in going deeper into the white territory at the bottom.

From this point on, the fighting in the center became quite confused. White’s top group seemed to be in trouble, but it could never be killed unconditionally, except at the sacrifice of an even larger black group. When white 168 connected the ko in the top left, white had a clear territorial lead.

By white 186 black’s position had become untenable and the Japanese pair resigned.

- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p.

Categories: World news

Baduk TV releases More Classic Go Books

AGA news - Fri, 19/12/2014 - 14:00

Another series of classic go books has just been released by BadukTV, reports Shawn Ray (Clossius). The first set of four books was “The Profound and Mysterious,” a life-and-death exercise book written between 1347 and 1349, during the Yuan dynasty. The second and just-released series is “The Art of Closing,”  a 6-book set filled with ancient problems put together by previous masters and translated by Cho Hye-yeon. “It is a level below that of ‘The Profound and Mysterious’ so players 5-kyu and stronger should be able to benefit greatly from it,” Ray tells the E-Journal. “Though I think anyone can take a lesson or two from it.” Click here to buy both as a bundle of all 10 of the books. For more info e-mail Ray at


Categories: World news

Europe vs. Europe for Fifth Place in Pair Go

IGF Ranka - Fri, 19/12/2014 - 12:39

This is the game in which the Russian brother-sister pair of Ilya Shikshin and Svetlana Shikshina, both former European champions, defeated Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva and France’s Fan Hui to take fifth place in the mixed pairs competition. Click here for the sgf game file.

White 8 to 16 are one variation of a popular joseki. This variation and others appeared several times during the week of World Mind Games.

White 38 (the marked stone in diagram 1) was a mistake. The critical issue here is the relative strength of the groups in the center. If the white pair had played as shown in diagram 2, their own center group would have had the upper hand, and they would then have been free to deal with the loose black framework on the right side.

Diagram 1

Diagram 2








If black had captured white 98, the white group in the center would have been in serious trouble. Apparently Ilya decided that invading the bottom right corner first would be a safer way to win, but this is not necessarily true. If white had played 123 in sente before black did so, then given the same continuation on the rest of the board, the final margin would have been only half a point. As it was, black won by 1-3/4 stones, or 2-1/2 points.

- Ranka, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p

Categories: World news

SAWMG Update: China Wins Pair Go Gold; Russia Takes Home Most Medals Overall

AGA news - Thu, 18/12/2014 - 21:56

China won the SportAccord World Mind Games Pair Go Event to complete their sweep of gold medals in the 4th annual event, which wrapped up on December 17 in Beijing, China.

Russia emerged as the SAWMG’s big winners overall this year, as their players took home a total of six gold, five silver and one bronze medal. In total, 150 players from 37 countries took part in the 2014 World Mind Games. There were 14 disciplines across five sports, with 24 medal rounds contested. Click here for full results.

More Gold for China (Ranka Pair Go report)
Pair Go Begins (Ranka)
Pair Go Game Records

photo: China’s Pair Go Team, Yu and Mi


Categories: World news

BIBA’s Winter Camp in Hawaii

AGA news - Thu, 18/12/2014 - 21:41

Blackie’s International Baduk Academy (BIBA) has just announced their Winter BIBA Camp in Hawaii. The camp runs January 29 through February 4 on Kauai Island and will be led by Kim Seung-jun (Blackie) 9P and Koszegi Diana 1P. The cost is 1800 for 6 nights and 7 days, and includes accommodation, meals, renting cars, basic sightseeing programs and study fee. Email for details or to register.

Categories: World news

Top 8 and AGM

Irish Go Association - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 18:56

The Irish Championship of 2014 is not yet finished, but a date has been set for the event of next year. On the weekend of January 10th – 11th the Top 8 kick-off event will take place at the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin. The Annual General meeting will be held on the evening of Saturday the 10th of January. The AGM will take place on the Saturday, after the Top 8 games finish, provisionally at 5:00pm. Read on to find the AGM agenda.

Discussion items are:
1. The return of qualifier matches to decide who plays in the Top 8.
2. Non McMahon tournaments to be class C for Korea points.
3. The Ladder to be class C for Korea points.
4. Executive positions
5. Korea tax to be increased to 2 points.
6. Korea tax only to apply if you haven’t earned any Korea points in a given year.
7. Inter provincials – Leinster captain sought.
8. Event to mark 60th anniversary of JET in Ireland
9. Creation of a Women’s Championship


Categories: World news

More Gold for China

IGF Ranka - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 15:38

China (left) playing Korea

The final round of pair go competition at the 4th SportAccord World Mind Games was played in the morning of December 17. Deputy referee Michael Redmond gave the starting instructions. The gold medal game was televised, so Michael next moved into the broadcast booth to do the live commentary.

That game started well for the Chinese pair, due in particular to a couple of overly conservative Korean moves (Choi Jeong’s black 37 and Na Hyun’s black 43, click here to download the sgf file.) in the opening. The Koreans’ conservative style gave their opponents Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting a territorial lead. Although the Korean pair gained ground through good play in the center, forcing the Chinese to go on the defensive, the Chinese pair handled their weak stones very well and maintained their advantage. Then as the endgame began the Koreans missed making a couple of valuable sente moves and found themselves definitely behind in territory. Although they tried to catch up in a ko fight, they lacked adequate ammunition, lost the ko, and resigned. China had swept all the gold medals in go. Korea’s silver is at least an improvement on the bronze the Korean pair got last year.

Cathy Chang (left) and Lin Li-Hsiang

The battle for this year’s bronze was won by Chinese Taipei. The Japanese pair (Fujisawa Rina and Ida Atsushi) began well enough, but gave away territory in order to embark on a long and confused fight that did not turn out well for them, and eventually had to resign. The new pair from Chinese Taipei (Cathy Chang and Lin Li-Hsiang) played very well this year, as a different pair from Chinese Taipei had also done in winning the silver medal last year.

The all-European battle for fifth place was waged for the larger monetary prize (5000 USD) instead of medals. After some initial fighting, it turned into a close but peaceful contest of very large territories. The winners, with one stone or two points to spare, were former European champions Svetlana Shikshina and Ilya Shikshin. Their opponents Natalia Kovaleva and Fan Hui took sixth place (4000 USD).

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Scottish Neural Network Takes Computer Go to Next Level

AGA news - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 01:40

“One of the last bastions of human mastery over computers is about to fall to the relentless onslaught of machine learning algorithms,” according to a December 15 report in the MIT Technology review. Why Neural Networks Look Set to Thrash the Best Human Go Players for the First Time reviews the work of Christopher Clark and Amos Storkey at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, who “have applied the same machine learning techniques that have transformed face recognition algorithms to the problem of finding the next move in a game of Go.”

“The question that these guys have trained a deep convolutional neural network to answer is: given a snapshot of a game between two Go experts, is it possible to predict the next move in the game?…Clark and Storkey used over 160,000 games between experts to generate a database of 16.5 million positions along with their next move. They used almost 15 million of these position-move pairs to train an eight-layer convolutional neural network to recognize which move these expert players made next…the trained network was able to predict the next move up to 44 percent of the time, ‘surpassing previous state of the art on this task by significant margins.’”

After just a few days training, Clark and Storkey’s neural network beat GNU Go almost 90 percent of the time in a run of 200 games, but against Fuego 1.1, it fared less well, winning only just over 10 percent of its games.

“There is no suggestion from Clark and Storkey that this approach will beat the best Go players in the world,” the report concludes. “But surely, it is only a matter of time before even Go players will have to bow to their computerized overlords.”

Thanks to John Goon for passing this along.

Categories: World news

Interview with Yuki Satoshi

IGF Ranka - Tue, 16/12/2014 - 15:59

Yuki Satoshi, who played top board for the Japanese men’s team at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing, came to that event as an established title winner. Last spring, for the fifth time, he won the NHK Cup (Japan’s national TV tournament) and the year before that he won the Judan title (one of Japan’s seven major go titles) and the Daiwa Cup (an online tournament). In Beijing he posted an excellent 4-1 won-lost record, losing only to China’s top-rated Shi Yue, and it was his hair’s-breadth victory over Chinese Taipei’s Chen Shih-Iuan in the final round that gave the Japanese team a bronze medal. But Yuki is more than a go player; he is also a railroad buff. His career description on the Kansai Kiin’s website mentions that if he had not taken up go as a profession, he would probably have become a railroad man.

Ranka: What impressions have the World Mind Games left you with?
Yuki: Competing with all these younger teammates was a stimulating experience. As for winning a bronze medal, well, we accomplished our minimum goal, and it felt good to get up on the dais at the awards ceremony, like the Olympic athletes you see on television.

Ranka: Turning now to railroads, can you tell us something about them?
Yuki: Sure. When I was younger and had the stamina and the spare time, I used to ride trains all over Japan–once even took a sleeping car up to Hokkaido. I don’t have that much time now, but I still like to take railroad trips when the opportunity arises.

Ranka: What types of trips?
Yuki: I like to ride the local lines, especially in Kyushu and Hokkaido.

Ranka: Would that include the steam locomotive that still runs in Kyushu?
Yuki: Between Kumamoto and Hitoyoshi, yes, I’ve ridden that train.

Ranka: What do you think of Japan’s bullet trains?
Yuki: They’re just a means of getting from A to B, not as much fun as the local lines. They’re so fast that you can’t take in the scenery.

Ranka: Have you ridden the railroads in other countries?
Yuki: Not very much, but one trip each in China, Korea, and Taiwan.

Ranka: How do they compare with the Japanese railroads?
Yuki: I haven’t ridden them enough to say, but if I get the time, I’d like to do some more train travel in those countries and find out more about their railroads.

Ranka: Thank you, and we hope you get the chance.


Categories: World news

SportAccord World Mind Games Update: China Sweeps Gold

AGA news - Tue, 16/12/2014 - 14:05

China has swept the SportAccord 2014 World Mind Games go competition, winning gold in the men’s team and women’s individual events. Tuo Jiaxi, Mi Yuting and Shi Yue (right) easily dispatched the US team in the final match to clinch their gold medals.

More SAWMG coverage:
Of love of Go, wine and Hollywood (Interview with France’s Fan Hui 2P)
Final Rounds: Gold Medals for China (Ranka)
Women’s Final: Yu Zhiying vs Kim Chaeyoung (Ranka)
Pair Go Begins (Ranka)
Mind Sports at Beijing Schools (Ranka)
Game Records-Men (Pandanet)
Game Records-Women (Pandanet)
Game Records-Pair (Pandanet)

Categories: World news

2014 SportAccord WMG Day 5: Gold Medals for China

IGF - Tue, 16/12/2014 - 13:00

After the first four days of go competition in the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games, the main issues waiting to be settled were who would win the gold medal in the women's individual event, and who would win the bronze medals in the men's team event. Last year the answers had been China's Yu Zhiying and the men's team from Chinese Taipei. Could Korea's Kim Chaeyoung or the Japanese men's team provide a different answer this year?

The men's teams matches began at 12:30. The team from Chinese Taipei was in their seats early, all in their chipper blue and white uniforms. The black-suited Japanese team arrived just a minute or two before deputy chief referee Michael Redmond began reciting the daily litany: two hours of time per player with five renewable 60-second overtime periods; Chinese rules with 3-3/4 stone compensation; mobile phones off or silenced; the round starts! 

An hour and a half later, the women's gold medal game began. Kim Chaeyoung, sole survivor of the losers' bracket, drew white against undefeated Yu Zhiying.

In the team event, the Chinese men clinched their gold medals at about three o'clock, when North America's Huiren Yang and Daniel Daehyuk Ko resigned against Mi Yuting and Tuo Jiaxi. Later Shi Yue defeated Mingjiu Jiang by 5-3/4 stones (11-1/2 points) to complete a shutout victory. 

The Korean men clinched their silver medals in similar shutout fashion. First Fan Hui resigned to Park Younghun, then Aleksandr Dinershtein resigned to Na Hyun, and then, after fighting desperately, Ilya Shikshin resigned to Kang Dongyoon. Dead European groups were much in evidence on all three boards.

The next match to end was the women's. Yu Zhiying remained undefeated. She had attacked a weak white group on the right side of the board, starting a huge, confusing struggle that spread through most of the center. There was a point at which white had a chance to win, but she went after the wrong black group and it was the attacking white group that lost the capturing race. The position was still confused, but it was hopeless for white and Kim Chaeyoung resigned. Losing is always bitter. Nevertheless, her silver medal is the best result yet achieved by any non-Chinese go player in three years of SportAccord women's individual competition. Yu Zhiying's two consecutive gold medals would seem to establish her as top in the women's go world, and she is still only seventeen.

And what of the men's team match between Japan and Chinese Taipei? As he had the previous day, Lin Li-Hsiang got Chinese Taipei off to a good start, winning by resignation on board two, but then Seto Taiki evened the score for Japan by defeating Chang Che-Hao by resignation on board three. All now depended on the result on board one, where Japan's Yuki Satoshi was playing Chinese Taipei's Chen Shih-Iuan. Chen (black) had taken the lead by attacking in the center in the opening, but during a difficult middle game Yuki had gradually caught up, and in the endgame it appeared that he might be ahead. When the final score was counted, it turned out that he was indeed ahead. He had won by exactly a quarter of a stone, or half a point. The two players spent considerable time afterward reviewing the endgame, with assistance from Seto Taiki, who interpreted between Chinese and Japanese. Both Yuki and Seto are from the Kansai Kiin, in Osaka. After the failure of Japan's Tokyo-Nagoya based men's team in the 2013, Osaka had come to the rescue.

At the evening awards ceremony, following the presentation of medals for blitz chess and pairs bridge, Mr Park Chimoon, acting president of the International Go Federation, presented the bronze medals to the Japanese men's team, the silver medals to the Korean team, and the gold medals to the Chinese team. Bridge ambassador Fulvio Fantoni gave them their medal certificates; then their national flags were raised and the Chinese national anthem was played. Next the medals for women's individual go were awarded by chief referee Hua Yigang: bronze to Rui Naiwei, silver to Kim Chaeyoung, and gold to Yu Zhiying, who triumphantly mounted the dais as a woman transformed, attired in a long and strikingly attractive flowered skirt. This time it was Ms Wang Wenfei, the other bridge ambassador, who gave out the certificates.

Counting chess and bridge, Chinese mental athletes had had a good day. Their total haul was ten medals: five gold, including one in women's chess; two silver, both won in women's bridge; and three bronze, including two more in women's bridge. The games are not over, but China has already shown that it leads the world in go, and leads the Far East in bridge and chess as well.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Pair Go Begins

IGF Ranka - Tue, 16/12/2014 - 12:01

The first day of pair go at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games began at 9:30 on December 16 under the direction of chief referee Hua Yigang. In the previous three years Chinese and Korean pairs had taken turns winning the gold medal, China prevailing in 2011 and 2013, Korea in 2012, but this year, all eight pairs came out fighting.

Yu Zhiying_(left) and Mi Yuting

In the first game to end in the morning round, China’s Yu Zhiying and Mi Yuting killed a black group and beat North America’s Irene Sha and Daniel Daehyuk Ko by resignation. ‘Of course they are much stronger than us,’ said Daniel, ‘but at least we made them fight for their win.’

The three European pairs also lost by resignation. Playing Korea’s Choi Jeong and Na Hyun, Europe’s Dina Burdakova and Alexandr Dinershteyn gave up quickly when they found themselves with ten dead stones on the right side and a very weak group on the lower side.

The game between Chinese Taipei’s Cathy Chang and Lin Li-Hsiang and Europe’s Natalia Kovaleva and Fan Hui looked hopeful for the Europeans at one point, when they killed a black group on the right side, but they had weak stones elsewhere. A large fight developed in the center, and they surrendered when it became clear that to save a beleaguered white dragon they would have to give up some white stones and bring the dead black group back to life.

Svetlana Shikshina and Ilya Shikshin played out their game against Japan’s Fujisawa Rina and Ida Atsushi nearly to the end, but early in the middle game they had lost a big fight that they should have been able to win. They were over thirty points behind when they finally admitted defeat.

Natalia Kovaleva (left) and Fan Hui

In the afternoon round, winners played winners and losers played losers. The loser’s bracket included an all-European game between the Kovaleva-Fan pair and the Burdakova-Dinershteyn pair. Alexandr Dinershteyn played his first move (black 3) on the 7-7 point, and the table was engulfed in mirth as Dina followed suit with black 5 and Natalia did likewise with white 6. After that, however, the fighting became serious, and it turned out better for white. After less than two hours of play, Dina and Aleksandr agreed to resign.

Svetlana Shikshina (left) and Ilya Shikshin

In the other losers’ game, the brother-sister pair, Svetlana and Ilya, gained a measure of revenge for the European men’s team’s loss to North America by defeating Irene Sha and Daniel Daehyuk Ko in another fighting game, featuring a nifty throw-in that set up a ko at the bottom. This in turn set up an all-European contest for fifth place in the final round on December 17.

In the winner’s bracket, the Chinese pair (Yu and Mi) tried the avalanche against the Japanese pair (Fujisawa and Ida), choosing a somewhat unusual variation of this complex joseki. They handled it perfectly and their opponents did not. This gave the Chinese side an initial advantage, and they added to it as the game progressed. Although the Japanese pair managed to keep the game fairly close throughout the middle game and endgame, they could not catch up, and eventually resigned.

The game between the Korean pair and the pair from Chinese Taipei was also close. The climax came when the Korean pair invaded the upper side and started a ko. They had more ko threats and the invading stones lived in grand style, giving the Koreans a clear lead. Their opponents played on, trying to kill another group instead, but this could not be done, so they resigned. In the final round, China and Korea will play for the gold medal, while Japan and Chinese Taipei play for the bronze.

- James Davies

Categories: World news

Women’s Final: Yu Zhiying vs Kim Chaeyoung

IGF Ranka - Tue, 16/12/2014 - 07:03

Diagram 1: Full game record

Gold for China in the Women’s Individual Go as Yu Zhiying 5p defeats Korea’s Kim Chaeyoung 2p. Ranka takes a look at their exciting game. Check the game record for detailed comments by Michael Redmond 9p.

The action began with Kim Chaeyoung making a very active extension on the lower side of the board (move 30). Compared to the usual three-space extension, this turned out to be an overplay that would decide the course of the game. In the trade that followed up to move 77, Yu allowed Kim to move out but took ample profit both on the right side and also at the top, giving her a territorial lead.

Kim continued her active play by ignoring her weakness in the centre and shifting to the left side to build a moyo with move 78. This gave Black the opportunity to fight back and begin to surround White’s group on the right side. Up to move 99, White was in a bit of trouble, however Black missed a severe clamp and this gave White some chances to make the position more complicated.

A difficult fight ensued, with both sides having to deal with their many weak groups under the pressure of byoyomi. Move 137 was an inaccuracy for Yu as this move does not give enough eyespace to her central group.

Diagram 3: White has a good position

White suddenly went for the kill with move 158 (Diagram 2). But the ensuing semeai was impossible to win and we can call this the losing move. Instead of this all-out strike, the sequence shown in Diagram 3 is how Kim should have played and would have given White a promising position.

Congratulations to Yu Zhiying, who remains undefeated in this year’s World Mind Games. She will be teaming up with Mi Yuting 9p for the Pair Go tournament, hoping for another gold for China.


- John Richardson, based on commentary by Michael Redmond 9p

Categories: World news

Interview with Okuda Aya and Fujisawa Rina

IGF Ranka - Tue, 16/12/2014 - 07:02

The Japanese contestants in the women’s individual and mixed pairs events at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games had a tough time. They consistently lost to opponents from the other Far Eastern countries. On the other hand, they consistently beat opponents from North America and Russia. Ranka spoke afterward with the two women, Fujisawa Rina and Okuda Aya. They are rivals who, earlier in the year, had played the final game for the Aizu Central Hospital Cup, and the final game that decided which of them would become women’s Honinbo challenger. (Fujisawa won both games, and also won the women’s Honinbo title match.)

Ranka: Okuda-sensei, this is your second SportAccord World Mind games. What impressed you this time?
Okuda: Getting a chance to play Rui Naiwei. She’s had such a fantastic career!

Ranka: Do you have any general comments about the games themselves?
Okuda: Well, the one hour of basic clock time was a lot shorter than the three hours we’re used to in Japan. The main issue becomes how much accurate reading you can do in that limited time. The Chinese and Korean players are very good at this. Particularly in the opening, with only one hour you can’t afford to take time to think things out. You have to rely on prior research, and theirs is more advanced.

Ranka: So was time a major factor in your losses?
Okuda: No, it wasn’t. I actually managed my one hour pretty well, saving some of it for the endgame when I knew I would need it. I lost because of mistakes in the middle game and thereafter. I need to work on my reading skills.

Ranka: How did you prepare for the Mind Games?
Okuda: I had already played most of my prospective opponents in other international tournaments, so I went over my games with them, trying to find better moves.

Ranka: Please tell us about your first game, in which you defeated Russia’s Svetlana Shikshina. Was she one of the players you had played before?
Okuda: No, I don’t think so, but I knew she had a professional ranking from Korea, so I expected her to put up a strong fight. I didn’t expect to be demolished, however.

Ranka: Surely that’s not what happened.
Okuda: It was. I had a terrible opening, and for a long time after that I was in a losing position. I won in the end, but not by playing winning go.

Ranka: If not by playing winning go then how?
Okuda: I guess my opponent was too relentless. She never let up. If she had restrained herself and compromised a bit, on the left side, for example, she could have won easily. The game would have been utterly hopeless for me. But she kept choosing the strongest possible moves, and that gave me some chances.

Ranka: Did you ever consider resigning?
Okuda: Many times! The reason I didn’t was that I couldn’t bear to lose in such a humiliating way. This was my worst game of the tournament.

Ranka: Fujisawa-sensei, how was your game with Russia’s Natalia Kovaleva?
Fujisawa: She had beaten a player from Taiwan, so I expected her to be strong, but I was surprised at how strong she was.

Ranka: Still, you won.
Fujisawa: I guess I played fairly well, for me.

Ranka: How were your other games in the women’s tournament?
Fujisawa: My first opponent, Yu Zhiying, is one I wanted to meet because she’s about the same age as me but she’s so strong. I was badly beaten. I’m going to have to work hard to reach her level.

Ranka: Well, she won the gold medal. How was your game against the silver medalist, Kim Chaeyoung?
Fujisawa: Beaten again, but not as badly.

Ranka: Aside from those losses, you’ve had a very successful year in 2014. What do you think is the reason?
Fujisawa: I haven’t changed the way I study and practice, but I’ve been getting more opportunities to play in international tournaments, and that’s been a real stimulus. Maybe that’s why my results have improved.

Categories: World news

Interview with Seto Taiki

IGF Ranka - Tue, 16/12/2014 - 02:52

After a bad year in the Japanese tournaments (‘My worst yet!’) Seto Taiki scored four wins against only one loss for the Japanese men’s team at the 2014 SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing, but as he put it, all of his games were tight: he had chances to beat the Korean opponent he lost to in the first round, and the opponents he beat from North America, China, Europe, and Chinese Taipei in the remaining rounds all managed to put him in danger of losing. He described receiving the bronze medal as a memorable experience, the first time he had won any kind of medal for playing go. But he has some medals in other sports, and two years ago he also had a fling at recording a popular song.

Ranka: Please tell us something about Monotone, the song you recorded.
Seto: I recorded it with two players from the Nihon Kiin: Takanashi Seiken, 8-dan, and Hsieh Yimin, women’s meijin. It was Takanashi Seiken who came up with the idea, and when he put it to me I decided to give it a try. The whole project, including making a promotional video, took almost a year. I had some professional coaching in recording an acting. We released one thousand copies of the CD, and got some favorable reactions from within the go community, but sales in general were not very good. We’re not planning a second release.

Ranka: What are your feelings about the project in retrospect?
Seto: It was a good experience, but I think we could have done some things better. I should have rehearsed more, and we could have looked for some more imaginative ways to boost sales. But since we’re professional go players, perhaps we couldn’t have expected any great success in this area.

Ranka: Getting back to go, how did you feel in Beijing?
Seto: This was my first chance to play on a team representing all of Japan in an international tournament, and considering my poor record this year I figured it might be my last chance, so I felt more pressure than I’ve ever felt before. That may have done me some good. I think I played reasonably well. I hope I can keep this momentum going into next year.

Ranka: Aside from the pressure, did playing as part of a team make a difference in your approach to the games?
Seto: Yes, especially in the last game, against the player from Chinese Taipei. The opening went well and later I was moving toward killing a large group of stones. If it had been an individual tournament, I would have gone for that kill, but here I thought about the team. If I won, we might take third place and get the bronze medal. If I went after the group, failed to capture it, and lost, we’d be fourth and get no medal. So since I was ahead anyway, I decided to let the group live and play to win conservatively.

Ranka: Finally, how would you evaluate the European and North American opponents you faced during the World Mind Games?
Seto: They were both strong. There was a point during my game with the North American player (Daniel Dae-hyuk Ko) when he had the upper hand, and my European opponent (Ilya Shikshin) really knew how to put the pressure on in the clinch. For him to defeat a pro would not be surprising.

Ranka: Thank you very much.

Categories: World news
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