The Canwa Vancouver 1 team prevailed in the finals of the Pandanet AGA City League, played Saturday in Boston, MA as the 2016 US Go Congress got underway. Vancouver — Hanchen Zhang, Bill Lin, Ryan Li and captain Cathy Li (photo at right) — swept 3-0, overcoming a strong challenge from the Greater Washington team (left; Zirui Tim Song, Eric Lui, Yuan Zhou and captain I-Han Lui) which has now challenged for the title the last two years. Board 1 was broadcast live on the AGA YouTube Channel with Hanchen Zhang 1p vs Zirui Tim Song 1p. Ryan Li defeated Eric Lui on Board 2 and Bill Lin defeated Yuan Zhou on Board 3. Photos of the event can be found on the AGA Facebook page.
- Steve Colburn, TD; photos by Todd Heidenreich
With over 600 signed up, this year’s U.S. Go Congress in Boston has the most registrants in the 32-year history of the event and it seemed as though just about every one of them was crowded into the main playing area in Boston University’s George Sherman Union Saturday night as AlphaGo’s Aja Huang 7d gave the keynote address, along with Fan Hui 2P. The audience was spellbound as the two gave a fascinating insider’s look at the two-year development of the AI program that decisively defeated Lee Sedol last March and attracted global attention to the game of go.
Huang (right) gave an overview of how AlphaGo started in 2014 as a 2-man project as he and David Silver worked to explore deep learning and reinforcement learning with computer go. (Click here to see the video of the keynote speech) The policy network trained by supervised learning was developed by Chris Maddison and the team realized significant improvement in the latter half of 2014 by combining the policy network into AlphaGo. While the details are fully explained in the team’s Nature paper, Huang shared personal stories like how Fan Hui was chosen to test the program. “I saw him at a tournament in Dublin and the top Korean players were all going out to drink the night before the tournament but he said no, he couldn’t go because he had to prepare for the games, so I knew he was very serious,” Huang laughed.
Fan Hui (left) said that he almost missed the invitation to visit the DeepMind team in London because it seemed a bit odd and he thought “it might just be spam.” In fact, “when I heard it was Google, I assumed they would be hooking me up with something like Google Glass, so when I found out they just wanted me to play a computer program I was so relieved and thought Oh, this will be easy.” In perhaps the most poignant story of the evening, Fan Hui took the rapt audience through his five secret games with AlphaGo in Fall 2015, losing every game until at the end, “my game was crushed and I thought I now knew nothing about go.” Out of those defeats, however, Fan Hui discovered even greater depths, not just to go itself, but to his own fascination and love of the game. “What AlphaGo teaches us is that you can play anywhere,” he said, as the audience erupted in applause.
After their presentation, the two took questions from the audience, many of whom wanted to know things like when an AlphaGoBot on KGS will be available and whether a strong version of the program would be available in the near future for desktops or handhelds. Most were answered cryptically with “Under discussion,” but in response to a question about how strong AlphaGo is today, Huang — who had earlier showed a graph charting improvement of one rank a month — did say that it was possible that the program could now give a professional two stones, but that this has not yet been tested. He also said that commentaries will be released soon on all five AlphaGo-Lee Sedol games, as well as three games between AlphaGo v18 (the version that played Lee Sedol).
Longtime International Go Federation and American Go Association official Thomas Hsiang presented Huang and Fan with a special award from the International Go Federation to the AlphaGo team “in appreciation for its outstanding contribution towards the development and promotion of go.”
- Chris Garlock; photos by Phil Straus
Click here to see the complete video of the keynote speech. Read more about AlphaGo here and check out all our AI posts here.
Presented here is the answer to the 5th tsumego from Michael Redmond 9P’s coverage of the challenging tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament.
The author of this tsumego is Ohashi Hirofumi 6P.
Michael adds some clarifications about the multiple correct variations for this problem:
“Despite what I said in my comments about tsumego 3, in this 5th tsumego White has a number of choices for variations to get a direct ko. There are differences such as size of territory when White lives, and whether Black gets to play the outside connection in the process, which would be important in an actual game, but not in a tsumego. Such an abundance of correct variations is generally considered a flaw, but in my opinion the high level of difficulty and the beauty of some of the variations makes it a worthy tsumego anyway. I must add that all the choices are for White several moves into the correct answer, and since Black has only one correct sequence, by the strict rules of tsumego it is a valid problem.“
AGACL1: Hanchen Zhang vs Zirui Tim Song
AGACL2: Ryan Li vs Eric Lui
AGACL3: Bill Lin vs Yuan Zhou
Presented here is the 5th tsumego from Michael Redmond 9P’s coverage of the challenging tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament. Michael gives the detailed solution tomorrow.
The author of this tsumego is Ohashi Hirofumi 6P.
The playing dates and deadline for sign ups to China Qiyuan’s new 2016 Gold Cup World Amateur Go Tournament, with online preliminaries for players outside of the major go countries to be held on Tygem, have been pushed back. The prelims will now take place starting August 8, with sign-ups allowed until August 2. “The prizes and playing opportunities for the players who make it past the prelims make it well worth trying,” said AGA President Andy Okun, who noted that the new playing dates no longer overlap with the European and US go congresses. The deadline for registration is August 2, 12 p.m. Beijing time; details and the registration form can be found here. The preliminaries will select 10 Chinese players, six Korean players and four from the rest of the world. Although competition can be expected to be rough, players down to 18 kyu are welcome to register. Winners of the online prelim will play face to face at the Xiamen Aqua Resort Hotel in Fujian from Sept. 14-19.
In addition to broadcasting US Open Masters top-board games on KGS as usual, the E-Journal broadcasting team will again this year video stream the US Open Masters top board on both the AGA’s YouTube and Twitch channels (check out the video trailer here) , both with live commentaries by professionals. Plus a couple extras as well…
Saturday, 3:30P EST: AGA City League Finals
YouTube/Twitch: Jennie Shen 2P, with Andrew Jackson 4d
Saturday, 7p: Congress Opening Ceremony & Keynote Speeches by AlphaGo’s Aja Huang & Fan Hui 2P
Sunday morning, 9:30a EST: US Open Masters Game 1
KGS: Jenny Shen 2P, with Andrew Jackson 4d
YouTube/Twitch: Hajin Lee 3P, with Stephen Hu 6d
Sunday evening, 7:30P EST: US Open Masters Game 2
KGS: Feng Yun 9P, with Chris Garlock 3d
YouTube/Twitch: Hajin Lee 3P, with Stephen Hu 6d
Presented here is the answer to the 4th tsumego from Michael Redmond 9P’s coverage of the challenging tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament.
Michael mentions that the author of this tsumego, Oba Junya 7P, is well known for his pro level tsumego problems.
Team Relay Go will get a tryout next Tuesday night at the U.S. Go Congress. As previously reported (Team Relay Go the “Next Big Thing”?), Relay Go involves two teams of players playing one game. At the professional level, each team consists of a captain and 10 players; two players from each team start the game off, while the rest of their teams watch and discuss the game at a separate location. After a fixed number of moves, the next set of two players from each team tag in to continue the game and so on. “The beauty of Team Relay Go is in the team discussions of the ongoing game,” says Neil Ritter. “Players work together to understand the current board state with different views being shared and explored.”
Tuesday’s experiment is with an amateur version of Team Relay Go. “The goal is to give amateur players an idea of how a professional looks at a game,” Ritter says. The format will be a little different from Professional Team Relay Go. One game will still be played by two teams, but each team will be captained by two professional players, who will work to prepare the next pair of amateur players to be tagged into the game. The amateur players, fortified with pro knowledge, “will get tagged in and play some professional-level go … yeah, right!” laughs Ritter. “They’ll do their best and after the game is over the mess will be sorted through in review.”
There’s room for up to 48 players to participate in Tuesday’s Team Relay Go. Sign up at the ‘Events Sign Up Table’ next to Registration on Saturday, July 30, or email firstname.lastname@example.org before midnight Monday, August 1. “This new event is only possible because of the professional players who have volunteered to be team captains,” notes Ritter, extending thanks to Mingjiu Jiang 9P, Feng Yun 9P, Yilun Yang 7P, William Shi 1P, Andy Liu 1P, Eric Lui 1P, Calvin Sun 1P, and Ryan Li 1P.
Zen Defeats Top Pro Cho Hye-Yeon 9P: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 became another historic date in the rapidly-developing history of computer go. Cho Hye-Yeon 9P, one of the strongest female players in the world, lost to the go playing program Zen in a two-stone handicap game. Unlike AlphaGo, which only a select few have had the chance to play, Zen bots can be easily found at KGS go server and have been seen in many computer go tournaments. Cho Hye-Yeon tried to play an active fighting style against Zen but the program calmly brought in the 1.5-point win. Click here for a video of the Cho Hye-Yeon game and her comments.
2017 Congress Confirmed for Turkey: Next year’s European Go Congress will go ahead as planned in Cappadocia, Turkey, despite concerns in the wake of recent attacks, the attempted coup and its aftermath. Turkish representatives received support from other countries’ representatives at the July 26 European Go Federation meeting, so it was decided not to change the location of the venue, a UNESCO world heritage site and beautiful historical place. Those interested can click here for info or to register. photo: Turkey’s Kerem Karaerkek registers go players for the 2017 EGC
Morozevich Bests Hillarp Persson in Go/Chess Match: The Go/chess match between Alexander Morozevich and Tiger Hillarp Persson was the spotlight of yesterday’s EGC program, with live coverage on the official Russian Go federation YouTube channel. The chess games were commented by Grandmaster Vladimir Fedoseev and the go games by Wu Hao 2P (China) and Alexander Dinerchtein 3P. Alexander Morozevich lost only the last go game and won the match 3-1. After the match he gave a chess simul where he lost only one game, to a German FIDE master Mike Stolz (2319 chess rating, 7kyu in go). Alexander Georgiev, several-time Draughts world champion, came to see the match and play the simul. He is a beginner at go too but plans to study the game.
- Daria Koshkina, E-Journal Correspondent for the 2016 European Go Congress
Ed Lee sent in this great shot of “Me playing go with my friend Blake Haber. The place is Third Window Brewery in Santa Barbara, CA, where they brew and serve their own beers. I drink only root beer but today I tried a latte from a new coffee stand there.
“Blake’s girlfriend Michelle Dixon snapped the photo — unbeknownst to both Blake and me at the time. It was a 2-stone game, I took white. Judging from the white stone in Blake’s hand, I believe we were fighting the last half-point baby ko in yose. It was our usual wild and crazy game where I made a 40+ point blunder in mid-game, but miraculously the result was W+0.5 — I couldn’t believe it after we finished scoring.”
Got go photo? Send ‘em to us at email@example.com!
With congress right around the corner, the 2016 finalists for the Redmond Cup are gearing up for the championship matches. The first match of both the Senior (under 18) and Junior (under 13) divisions will be broadcast on KGS, Sunday 8/1 at 3 pm EDT. The Senior Division Finals will also be live-streamed on the AGA’s Youtube channel with professional commentary from Jennie Shen 2p and Lionel Zhang 6d. Tuesdays match will be commentated by Stephanie Mingming Yin 1p and Michael Chen 8d, if there is a third round in either division, Gansheng Shi 1p and Andrew Lu 7d will comment live on Thursday. The player profiles below will help EJ readers know who is who.
Leading the Senior Division is 14-year-old Jeremy Chiu 6d, from San Jose, California. He is looking to win his first Redmond Cup title after being the runner-up in the Junior Division in 2014 and coming out in first place in this year’s Senior Division preliminaries. He first learned about go from his Chinese school when he was 5-years old, and started taking classes shortly thereafter. Currently, he studies with Mingjiu Jiang 7p, who has taught many other star US Youth players. On Chiu’s own time, he does lots of tsumego and reviews professional games, along with playing and reviewing games on Tygem. Aside from go, he also enjoys playing the piano and violin, as well as swimming. When asked about his thoughts for the finals, Chiu told the EJ, “Albert is a very strong player, especially in the middle game, and I will need to be very careful. I hope that we will play good games in the finals.”Albert Yen 7d, age 16, is from Chicago, Illinois, and is the defending champion in the Senior Division. He started playing go when he was 5 years old after watching Hikaru no Go and joining a local go club in Taiwan. Albert currently studies with Mingjiu Jiang 7p, and studies go by playing and reviewing slow, quality games when he has time. Yen is also a star track-and-field hurdler at his high school. While Yen fell to Chiu in the preliminaries, Yen told the EJ, “I think our strengths are very close. I don’t want to do anything too different to prepare for the finals, so I will just remain cool and trust my abilities during the games.”
Luoyi Yang 4d, age 12 is from Toronto, Canada, and placed first in the Junior Division preliminaries this year. She started playing go at the age of 4 at a local go school in China, where she studied with Ding Lie 6p, Wang Xiangyun 2p, and Wang Chenfan 4p, two afternoons a week before moving to Canada this past year. Outside of playing go, she enjoys playing the piano and singing.Ary Cheng 4d, age 10, lives in Sunnyvale, California, and is the defending champion in the Junior Division. He started learning go at age 6 in a go class at a Chinese school, and was immediately drawn towards the game. Currently, he studies with Mingjiu Jiang 7p, and plays on IGS in addition to doing tsumego. When he is not playing go, he also enjoys playing table tennis. -Justin Teng, Redmond Cup TD. Photos courtesy of the players.
Presented here is the 4th tsumego from Michael Redmond 9P’s coverage of the challenging tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament. Michael gives the detailed solution tomorrow.
Michael mentions that the author of this tsumego, Oba Junya 7P, is well known for his pro level tsumego problems.
Last Monday, July 25th, the NOVA Go Club in Arlington, VA had a special visitor from China, Yang Shuang 2P. Ms. Shuang (right) visited the club on her way to next week’s US Go Congress in Boston. She played a demonstration game, followed by review, with Josh Lee 6D. “We thought Josh had a chance with two stones and the additional handicap of our guest’s 31-hour flight to the DC area that day,” says Garrett Smith, “But Josh resigned after an exciting game.”
photo by Betsy Small
The European Team Championship is the opening event in St Petersburg at the European Go Congress. The defending champions France had qualified alongside teams from Russia, Romania, and Ukraine. In the end they finished in third place this year, losing in the first round to Russia, drawing in the second with the eventual champions Ukraine, before beating Romania in the final round. Here we (Revue Francaise de Go) present an interview with Antoine Fenech (AF), the captain of the French team.
RFG : Hello Antoine. To begin with, can you explain the principle of the Pandanet European Go Team Championship.
AF : The championship was created 6 years ago. It was one of the first big events to take place on the internet. The participating countries are separated into 3 divisions, with a system of promotion and relegation spots; France has always been in the first division. In the first division, there are 10 teams and they play a match (4 games contested by different players) every month, normally on Tuesday evening, on Pandanet, who is sponsoring the competition with about 20,000 Euros a year. At the end of the season, the 4 best teams are invited to contest the finals at the opening of the European Congress.
RFG : Do France often reach the finals?
AF : We participated 4 times in 6 years. In the beginning, we did not have high hopes and thought more of avoiding relegation. But actually we found ourselves in the fight for the qualification spots and since then this became out goal … until finally we won the tournament last year.
RFG : What did this victory change for you?
AF: I think that it was a catalyst for Go in France. Thanks to this competition, we had an objective on the European ladder. In actual fact, to be (individual) champion of Europe, it was probably a little beyond the reach of Thomas Debarre, Tanguy Le Calvé, or Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia. But to become team champions, thanks to the support of Fan Hui, it was within reach.
RFG : So for this year’s final, what were your thoughts?
AF: We arrived in poorer shape than last year, since we were only fourth in the league. We played Russia at home in the first round, and we were probably too scared of them. This initial defeat compromised our chances for the title, but we realised in the end that we were not so far from contention, as Russia were beaten by Ukraine against whom we drew! Finally, it showed us that, even without Fan Hui, the title is within our reach, and that motivates us even more for next year, even if the qualification phase is always difficult.
RFG : When we look at the results, we see that France is rather alone amongst many countries from Eastern Europe. How can you explain this?
AF : We have a young team and an excellent team spirit. If we look at our neighbours Germany, they also have strong youth players (Krämer, Obenaus, Welticke…) but they still pick the older generation, and they switch between the first and second division. We were able to better integrate our young players (Tanguy Le Calvé, Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia, and now Denis Karadaban). I hope that we will have one or two more new players there in 2 or 3 years.
RFG : Now concerning your role as Captain, how do you choose the line up for the team for each round?
AF: It is very simple, I send an email to the team before each match to see who is available. From the players who respond favourably, I try to build the most competitive team. Our team is rather homogeneous, so the absence of a single player is rarely crippling. We also use the principle that a player who won his last game has the right to play again in the following match should he choose to.
RFG : Do you take into account the opponents, for example if a French player has very good results against a particular opponent?
AF : Of course! For example in the finals, Thomas Debarre was very sad after his two initial defeats. We could have changed the line up for the final game against Romania, but Thomas is always very motivated by his games against Catalin Ţaranu. So we chose to stick with the same team, and we took the point!
RFG : Between two seasons, are there departures and additions to the squad?
AF : In the first year, our team was experimental with many “old” players present. From this generation, only Frederic Donzet still played actively and continued to participate. Today, he is no longer playing in tournaments but is still part of the team, who has not seen any departures since the second year. We have also steadily integrated more and more young talents (Benjamin, Tanguy et Denis) as I have already said. We also had the support of Fan Hui, who became French and joined the team, in helping us become champions of Europe. This year, he had less free time and took a break from the competition. As we are not short of numbers, we keep the inactive players on the team if they want to restart playing. Evidently, we continue to bring aboard the young players who make 5-dan.
RFG : Do you see yourself continuing in the role of French Team Captain for a long time?
AF : As long as we keep up this team spirit, this motivation and this dynamic, and so long as the players haven’t had enough of me, I stay! It must be understood that we have quite a different mode of operation to the other countries, who often rely on a hardcore of 4 or 5 players. They share their winnings between a smaller group, but they always have to be available for each round. I think that our strength lies specifically in our ability to be a group of 7 or 8 players. In any case, as captain, it is like this that I want to continue to manage our team.
RFG : Thank you Antoine for making yourself available to our readers !
AF : Thank you !
Based on the original interview in Revue Francaise de Go.
Given AlphaGo’s dominant performance in last March’s match against Lee Sedol 9P it was no surprise that the July 26 presentation the the European Go Congress by Fan Hui 2P (right) on behalf of DeepMind attracted a huge audience. DeepMind’s Aja Huang is scheduled to present the keynote at the US Go Congress this Saturday and on July 24 tweeted that “We will soon be posting some special commentaries on the Lee Sedol games + for the first time ever some AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo games! Fan Hui will give more details in his speech in the EGC.”
Although many in the go community might have been devastated after the the AI program defeated Lee Sedol 4-1, Fan Hui said he feels quite the opposite. From his point of view AlphaGo is a perfect teacher who can educate not only about aspects of the game but psychology and spirituality as embodied in the saying that “Greed can’t win.” AlphaGo, said Fan Hui, strives to find the best move, and does not commit to any conventional patterns or ”good” or “bad” moves listed in books or shown by pros or teachers. Thus, AlphaGo dares to be free to play any move. Many players could have been jaded after studying the tangled mess of josekis, tesujis or hametes so Fan Hui suggested that AlphaGo helps to break free and simply enjoy trying to be the best. Fan Hui compared Alpha Go to Lee Changho, who is famous for not showing any emotion when he plays, just as AlphaGo does not attribute any emotional characteristics to the moves.
Fan Hui also showed some moves from AlphaGo’s games against itself. Some of the AI program’s moves can really challenge our go beliefs, he said, citing the unorthodox attachment at left. But AlphaGo rates this the best move here, which may mean the Chinese fuseki will not be the same in the future. Click here for the video of Fan Hui’s presentation.
- Daria Koshkina; photo by Michail Krylov
Will go events soon include cheerleaders? Team Relay Go as developed in Asia has incorporated a number of NBA basketball franchise concepts, including teamwork, timeouts, huge live audiences and, yes, even cheerleaders. Greater Washington DC players tried out the idea in May when Team Virginia and Team Maryland squared off in Tysons Corner, VA. Coached by Qiao Shiyao 1P, each team included three players (though 4-7 per team is more typical), sending in one player each per quarter, which is 40 moves in 30 minutes.
In the first quarter, Yong Chen 1D (MD), successfully invaded to Zhao Zhao 5k’s (VA) moyo, while Coach Qiao 1P showed better variations for white to audiences in the nearby discussion room. The live broadcast in the tournament room was via iphone-iMac Facetime.
While everyone felt white’s 30-point comeback was a “mission impossible,” Lin Lu 8d (VA) started the relay by building a bigger moyo in the second quarter. Maryland’s strong player Muyuan Wang 3d might have wanted to play safe to keep his team’s big lead, but an inadvertent overplay triggered a huge battle in the mid-game, which soon turned into a game-deciding chase of a 20-stone black “dragon.”
In the third quarter, event host Edward Zhang 6D (VA) further reduced the eye-shape of black’s dragon. Players are allowed to take one timeout per quarter, but in the excitement of the chase, Team Maryland forgot to call timeout for help from Coach Qiao 1P and Team Virginia won by resignation after a ko-fight in the 4th quarter.
Due to the strength difference of the player pairs, the live audience was often surprised, and the discussion room filled with laughter and sometimes puzzlement. The review was also a good opportunity for players to hear the perspectives of both professionals and fellow amateurs, and many admitted lacking review and group discussion despite years of playing.
“Team Relay Go has had an explosive growth in Asia in the last two years,” said Shiyao Qiao 1P, a member of the Shenzhen Team in the 24-team City Weiqi League in China. “I’m very pleased that everyone had a blast in this team relay go event, and I look forward to teaching and promoting go more in the U.S. in the near future.” The newly emerged City Weiqi League attracted sponsors quickly and the 2016 season total prize rose to over $360,000 USD.
- reporting and photos courtesy Edward Zhang
Presented here is the answer to the 3rd tsumego from Michael Redmond 9P’s coverage of the challenging tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament.
The author of this tsumego is Kono Rin 9P. Michael explains what you may notice as a curious part of this position:
“White’s 2 non-attached stones do not change the problem’s result, but have the effect of pruning one of two correct variations for Black at move 5 of the answer, and another alternative answer later in the correct sequence, thus limiting Black to only one variation throughout the entire correct answer. In tsumego, there must be only one correct first move, but serious tsumego composers will avoid variations later in the answer as well.“
Tennis-playing go players who want to burn off some energy on the courts are invited to join E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock on the Boston University tennis courts next week. “Bring your tennis gear!” Garlock urges, fresh off league victories for both his 3.5 and 7.5 combo teams. Terry Benson invites those who prefer to handle balls with their feet to join him for the usual afternoon soccer scrimmage. Details on both TBA; email firstname.lastname@example.org
photo: Garlock and Phil Straus introduce go to the gridiron at the 2015 Go Congress