In celebration of the 90th birthday of Nihon Kiin, a special summer go camp will be held from August 26 to September 4 in Tokyo. Included in the camp are daily pro instructions in separate dan and kyu sections, playing in the largest Japanese amateur tournament — the Takara Shuzou Cup, where the 1000+ participants will all receive special commemorative prizes — and visits to the Honinbo title ceremony, to Kamakura, site of the Go Seigen-Kitani jubango, and to Yugen no ma, the Nihon Kiin’s legendary tatami playing room adorned by a Kawabata calligraphy (right). The camp fee is between JPY 50 to 55K (about $500); housing starts at about $40 a night. The camp is recommended for players 10 kyu and up, including high dans. For further information and registration forms, contact email@example.com.
- Thomas Hsiang; photo by John Pinkerton
We have not seen him for a while, but there was a time when Chuck Robbins of Lancaster PA was everywhere, running tournaments, Congresses, workshops and holding offices in the AGA and AGF. His 1126 rated games are the clear leader in the AGA Database, so Chuck (left) is the correct answer to last week’s quiz question. With 1072, Steve Barberi, also from Pennsylvania but now retired in Florida, is a close second. Legendary Congress Self Paired game player Martin Lebl (962) of Arizona is third and Jeff Horn (854) of California is fifth. 6 of 13 of you had the right answer, 3 choosing Lebl, 2 Horn, 1 Barberi and one sniffing out a trick question and claiming it was a 4 way tie. By the way, in 4th place with 945 is your quizmaster. We may never know who the real leader is since the records are incomplete (the AGA database goes back to 1991), but since the 1990s were the heyday of AGA tournaments thus far, we can be confident that one of these 5 is the current all-time leader. While my personal records show 319 games played before 1991, enough to pass Robbins and Lebl, Barberi was a very active player before 1991, so he may still have a lead over me. Congrats to Robert Tirak of The Dalles, Oregon, our randomly chosen winner from among those answering correctly.
THIS WEEK’S QUIZ: This week’s question was inspired by John Power’s E-Journal “Power Report” from 3/21. Most of your quizmaster’s knowledge of the contemporary Asian go world is thanks to the wonderful Mr. Power (at left in photo), whose Go News in Go World, his news updates on the Nihon Kiin website and now his Power Reports in the E-Journal provide incredibly interesting and complete info on the Japanese Go world, as well as info on China and Korea. Your quizmaster hangs on his every word, in print and in person, having shared meals with him at Congresses and in Tokyo. However, in letting us know about the retirement of Ishida Akira 9 dan, Power surprisingly failed to mention one of the player’s greatest claims to fame. Once again, no multiple choice, but this should be easy (and I promise it’s not a trick question): For what will we Western go players remember and thank Ishida Akira for? Click here to submit your answer.
- Keith Arnold, HKA, EJ Quizmaster. photo: Power (left) with Go Game Guru’s Jingning Xue and David-Ormerod in November 2013 at the 24th International Amateur Pair Go tournament in Tokyo.
The 41st Maryland Open is coming up May 24-25 just outside Baltimore, MD. The 5-round event — 3 rounds Saturday, two on Sunday — attracts players from across the Eastern Seaboard, with prizes in all sections. “This is a very popular weekend,” warns organizer Keith Arnold, “so make reservations now!” Click here to register and for hotel and venue info.
by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Humans Beat Computers in First “Igo Electrical King Tournament”: To test how close computers have come to human level at go, the first Igo Electrical King Tournament was staged in the top playing room, Yugen, at the Nihon Ki-in on February 11. Please take our word that “electrical king” (dennou) sounds better in the original. The program Zen played best-of-three 9×9 matches with Cho Riyu 8P and Hirata Tomoya 3P, but lost both without picking up a game. However, Zen lost by only half a point in its first game with Cho, and human commentators pointed out a winning sequence that it missed in the endgame. One of Zen’s programmers commented that it would still take ten years to catch up with pros in 9×9 go.
Zen vs. Hirata Tomoya 3P: Game 1. Hirata (W) by resig.; Game 2. Hirata (B) by resig.
Zen vs. Cho Riyu 8P: Game 1. Cho (B) by half a point; Game 2. Cho (W) by resig.
More games in this tournament were played three days later on 13×13 and 19×19 boards. On the 13×13, Emura Koki (W), a former WAGC representative for Japan, twice beat Zen by resignation. On the 19×19, Zen beat Ozawa Ichiro, a prominent politician. He is dan level, but we don’t know his exact rank.
Kataoka Scores 1,000 Wins: A win on February 27 gave Kataoka Satoshi 9P (right) his 1,000th win as a pro, making him the 15th Nihon Ki-in player to reach this mark. It took him 42 years and his record was 1,000 wins, 530 losses, 4 jigo.
Retirements: Two more veteran players have retired as of March 31. They are Ishida Akira 9P and Fukui Susumu 9P. Ishida was born in Tokyo on May 23, 1949 and became a disciple of Fukuda Masayoshi 8P. He became 1-dan in 1966 and 9-dan in 1982. He won the top section of the rating tournament (Oteai) in 1972 and the 3rd and 4th King of the New Stars titles ((1978 and 1979). He played in six Meijin leagues and one Honinbo league. At his peak, when he played in the Meijin league for six years in a row, Ishida impressed as one of the top players on the go scene, but he never put it together to win a big title. Fukui was born in Tokyo on May 21, 1947 and became a disciple of Iwamoto Kaoru. He became 1-dan in 1965 and 9-dan in 1994. His older brother, Masaaki, is still active.
The AGA Go Camp is confirmed for this summer, reports Camp Director Amanda Miller. Camp will be held the week before the Go Congress, from August 3rd to 9th, at YMCA Camp Kresge in White Haven, PA. White Haven is about 2 hours outside of New York City, so anyone who wishes to attend both camp and congress should be able to do so easily. Miller will be joined by co-director Nano Rivera, and they invite campers of all skill levels, and between the ages of 8 and 18, to join them for a week of go-playing and fun. More information regarding the camp will be available soon, and registration will open within the next two weeks. Keep an eye on the camp website for details. Those who played in the NAKC or the Redmond Cup are eligible for a $400 scholarship, and need-based scholarships will also be available. Any questions can be e-mailed to Amanda Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. -Story and photo by Amanda Miller
MTV’s Teen Wolf seems to be on a go jag. This week’s episode featured another conversation about strategy, with Kira (Arden Cho) learning about go from her mother, who even explains what the game is about, and describes territory. Later in the episode, Kira’s father tells her that go is called Baduk in Korea, and that her mother is a very aggressive player – too aggressive for her own good. This marks the third week in a row that go has been featured on the show, and next week’s episode is titled “The Divine Move,” which any Hikaru no Go fan will immediately recognize as a key concept in the manga. My guess is that next weeks episode will revolve around another go match, possibly between Kira and her mother. Check out Teen Wolf on the MTV website here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.
Guo Juan Go Class Starts New Term: The new term for Guo Juan’s Online Go Class starts up on April 12th. “You are welcome to join us,” says Guo Juan 5P. “Meet new friends, have fun and improve your go!”
Mingjiu Jiang Workshop Coming Up in Portland: Mingjiu Jiang 7P will do a two-day workshop in Portland, OR., April 26-27. Anyone interested in attending should contact Peter Freedman at email@example.com.
Takao Makes Good Start To Judan Challenge: The first game of the Mori Building Cup 52nd Judan Best-of-Five Title match, to give the tournament its full name, was held on March 4, and the challenger, Takao Shinji 9P (left), got off to an efficient start by picking up a win by a half-point margin. The first game was played, for the fourth year in a row, at the Osaka University of Commerce; the president of the university, Tanioka Ichiro, is a scholar of games in general and has recently published a book on early go history.
The defending champion, Yuki Satoshi, seemed to take a lead in the opening, but Takao narrowed the gap through tenacious play and overhauled him in the end game. Takao had white and won by half a point after 303 moves. The second game will be played on March 27.
Kato Evens Score In Women’s Meijin: It has become the custom to hold the first game of the Women’s Meijin title match in conjunction with the first game of the Judan title match; it was held at the same venue, also for the fourth year in a row, on March 5. This year Kato Keiko 6P (right) was the challenger and was playing in her first title match for five years. She had just taken the winter off to have her second child (her husband is Mizokami Tomochika 8P) and she brought her daughter with her to Osaka, so she was quite busy. Kato, who drew white, played a little erratically at the start of the game — perhaps the lack of recent match practice told on her — but she found a chink in Xie’s armor and made the game close. However, she missed a good opportunity to strike as severe blow, and Xie seized the lead once again. This time Xie played tightly and forced a resignation after 195 moves. The second game was played on another campus, that of Heian Jogakuin Daigaku in Kyoto on March 12. The name translates as Heian Women’s Academy University but in English it is known as St. Agnes’ University. This was the third year in a row that the second game of this title match had been held there, in the Arisu-kan, a traditional Japanese building. Kato followed a strategy of avoiding fighting, which is Xie’s forte, so the game was not a spectacular one. Kato’s policy worked well until she let herself down with a couple of slack moves, but she was able to stage an upset in the endgame. Xie’s losing move was, in a sense, typical of her: she chose an endgame move not for its size but because it threatened the eye shape of an enemy group. However, Kato cleverly expanded the territory of another group with a move that provided a sente threat to secure eye shape for the group under attack. Playing black, she won by 1.5 points after 253 moves. The deciding game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on March 24.
New Tournament Launches: A new tournament, the Tournament Winners Championship, has started. It is open to all title winners from 2013 plus a player chosen by a vote by go fans (13 players in all). The winner receives the Prime Minister’s Cup and the Minister for Education and Science’s Diploma. The first two rounds were held on February 14 and 15, with Yuki Satoshi Judan (left), Yamashita Keigo Ryusei, and Kyo Kagen, Nakano Cup winner, winning places in the semifinals. There they join Iyama Yuta, holder of six titles, who was seeded. The games were played on the Net, with time of 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes of thinking time to be used in one-minute units (the NHK format).The semifinals and finals will be held at the Nihon Ki-in on March 22. The 16-year-old Kyo, who was born in Taiwan, will play Iyama in one semifinal, and Yamashita meets Yuki in the other.
TOMORROW: Humans Beat Computers in First “Igo Electrical King Tournament”; Kataoka Scores 1,000 Wins; Retirements
Nine-year-old Andrew Zhang, of Corvallis, OR, took 1st place with a record of 7-1, at the Hikaru no Go Tournament in Portland, on March 16th. 14 youth competed in the event, the youngest was six and the eldest in high school, reports organizer Peter Freedman. “We developed a unique format, designed specifically for new players, who had to play four 9×9 games, three 13×13 games, two 19×19 games, or three total games of any of the previous combinations,” said Freedman. Beverly Cleary’s John Meo, age 13, took second place with a 6-1 record. Third place went to Hikaru Sato, age 11, with a record of 5-2. Four children made the trek up the valley to Portland to play in the tournament. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor
Go is referenced prominently in the liner notes for Haskell Small’s new CD, The Rothko Room: Journeys In Silence, beginning with a quote from Iwamoto Kaoru: “Go uses the most elemental materials and concepts — line and circle, wood and stone, black and white — combining them with simple rules to generate subtle strategies and complex tactics that stagger the imagination.”
“Meditations on silence and space are as structurally important to the creative life of Haskell Small as are the grids on his beloved Go board,” the liner notes continue. “And, just as with that ancient and revered “game” (using that word advisedly), vast complexity arises.” An accomplished pianist and composer, Small is a longtime go player and organizer in Washington DC.
by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League: Yamashita Keigo (left) started out and ended badly in his Kisei challenge, but his form in other tournaments has remained good, especially in leagues, where he is bidding to win three in a row (starting with last year’s Kisei League). After six rounds in the 69th Honinbo League, he is the only undefeated player. He will meet his only remaining rival, Ida Atsushi 7P, in the final round in April, but Ida will have to beat Yamashita twice in a row, that is, in this game and then in a play-off, to become the challenger. Regardless of what happens, Ida has made a very good debut by winning five games to one loss against top-level competition.
Among the other league members, two top players are enjoying different fortunes. A sixth-round win ensured Cho U’s survival, but his defeated opponent in that game, Takao Shinji, has lost his place.
(February 13) Yamashita (B) beat Kono Rin 9P (W) by 1.5 points; Ida Atsushi 7P (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 5.5 points.
(February 14) Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by 1.5 points.
(February 20) Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.
(March 6) Ida (B) beat Kono by resig.
(March 7) Yamashita (W) beat Sakai by resig.
(March 13) Cho U (B) beat Takao by 3.5 points.
Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League: As mentioned above, Yamashita seems to be unable to put a foot wrong in the leagues. After four rounds in the 39th Meijin League, he is the only undefeated
player, though his score is only 3-0, as he has already had his bye. His closest rival is Kono Rin 9P on 3-1, but the other two players to have had byes so far, Cho U 9P and Ryu Shikun 9P, also have only one loss. Yamashita’s games with Kono next month and Ryu in May will be significant.
(February 17) Yamashita (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
(February 20) Ryu Shikun (B) beat Takao Shinji by 1.5 points.
(March 6) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Ko Iso (B) beat Murakawa Dai
suke 7P by resig.
(March 10) Kono Rin (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by 2.5 points.
photo courtesy EGC 2014 website
TOMORROW: Takao Makes Good Start To Judan Challenge; Kato Evens Score In Women’s Meijin; New Tournament Launches
by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent
Iyama Defends Kisei Title, Defeats Yamashita 4-2: Iyama Yuta swept to a 3-0 lead in the 38th Kisei title match, but then Yamashita made a comeback, saving two kadobans (games that can lose a series) to keep the match alive. However, the tide turned again in the sixth game, with Iyama outfighting Yamashita to defend his title 4-2. This is Iyama’s second Kisei title, his 7th big-three title and his 23rd title overall. He also maintained his sextuple crown.
To take up the story from my previous report, the fourth game was played at the Hokkaido Hotel in Obihiro City in Hokkaido on February 20 and 21. Yamashita (white) had his back to the wall, but he played in his usual aggressive fashion and took the lead in the middle game. He suffered a number of losses in the endgame, but just managed to hang on to a half-point lead. The game ended after 243 moves, with Yamashita looking relieved that he had kept the series alive. He comes from Hokkaido, so he also made local fans happy, and the sponsors were probably also relieved that the series hadn’t fizzled out. Incidentally, this win redressed the balance for Yamashita’s half-point loss in the first game.
The fifth game was played at the Atami Korakuen Hotel in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture on February 26 and 27. Yamashita took the lead in a fight centered on a ko and then coolly wrapped up the game. Playing black, he won by 3.5 points. He was still one game behind, but his successive wins put a lot of pressure on Iyama. On the evening of the first day, Go Seigen, who lives nearby in Odawara, visited the tournament venue to look at the game and to chat with the players. Go will turn 100 on May 19 and is already the longest-lived top player in history, but he still takes a keen interest in the go scene.
The sixth game was held at Ryugon, a traditional Japanese inn with a large pond and extensive garden, in South (Minami) Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture on March 12 and 13. Iyama (B) played well and was never behind; he decided the game when he skilfully resurrected a group of three stones that he had ‘sacrificed’ in the opening. This secured a resignation after 229 moves.
This series was yet another good demonstration of Iyama’s fighting power. Yamashita is known for his fondness for fighting, but Iyama matched him blow for blow. Yamashita’s current results in other tournaments show that he’s in good form, but he was able to take only two games off Iyama.
The referee for the final game, Hane Naoki 9P, gave his view of Iyama. ‘He has stable strength in every field. He can handle any kind of game and has the confidence to trust his own judgement.’
photos: top right: Game 3; bottom left: Game 4. photos courtesy EGC 2014 website
This is the first in a 4-part series this week. TOMORROW: Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League; Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League
“Thank you very much for the problems link, especially the ebook (‘New on the AGA Website: Classic Chinese Problem Collection‘ 3/16 EJ)” writes Lee Frankel-Goldwater. “I think it’s been a challenge to have a good, and simple solution to mobile go problems while not connected to the internet. Appreciated.”
The novel “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson “has a 2-page scene involving a go board and a rambling digression using go as a metaphor in the middle of its 1100+ pages,” reports David Doshay. “Cryptography is one of the main themes of the book.” Doshay warns that “this book is not for folks bothered by swearing.”
The recent European Youth Go Championship (EYGC) and British Go Congress held in Bognor Regis, England saw Japanese professionals Minematsu Masaki 6p and Kobayashi Chizu 5p visiting the UK under the auspices of the Nihon Ki-in. As previously reported (Podpera Takes Top Prize at European Youth Go Championships, 3/9 EJ), they gave teaching sessions and reviewed games throughout the long weekend, finishing off on Monday March 4 with a full teaching day for adults as the European youth battled out the final rounds.
Additionally they both paid a visit on Thursday February 27, the evening before the start of the EYGC, to the Oxford City Go Club where Harry Fearnley had assembled 13 players from 20 kyu to 5 dan. They initially divided into two teams to play one against the other, each member of a team taking two consecutive turns before handing the baton to the next, and the pros used the moves in this game to make teaching points. After that, each pro took on 6 participants in a simul (right). Click here for Harry Fearnley’s full report of the Oxford visit, including more photos and the record of Fearnley’s game against Minematsu.
After the EYGC, Kobayashi alone went on to visit two more UK clubs: North London Go Club in Hampstead on Tuesday March 4 and Edinburgh University Thursday March 6.
I caught up with her at the North London venue, where 11 attended, from beginner to 6d. Club Secretary Michael Webster was our host. Proceedings started with a similar exercise to that at Oxford, but with only about eight present initially, we formed one team to play by turn –two moves each — against the pro while she made observations about our moves (left). This gave time for a couple of latecomers to find the Parish Church tucked away in the back streets of Hampstead, and we all then went on to look at some joseki, before most of us took on Kobayashi individually in a simul. During the simul she helpfully suggested better moves and at close of play made general suggestions about how I could play more effectively.
Between times I got the chance to ask Kobayashi her impressions of UK go and the EYGC in particular. She has long had a mission to spread the game and Japanese go culture in the western world, especially Europe, and particularly focusing on the young. In 2007 she lived in Vienna and has also spent time in Berlin and Paris, where she was heading after the UK tour. In 2008 she was appointed Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange for the Japanese Government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs and later also became a director of the Nihon Ki-in. Talking about her work, she likened the promotion of go culture to the cultivation of a garden. She mentioned points of go etiquette during the evening too, such as opening an even game as black with a play to the top right corner and not rattling the stones in the bowl whilst thinking. She told me she saw much promise amongst the young players at the EYGC – some of whom, such as new Under-20 European Champion Lukas Podpera, she had already met – but emphasised that those aspiring especially to pro status should take professional go tuition at the earliest age possible. She related how her father, a strong amateur, had applied for insei at age 19 but was told, “too late.” For that reason he sent his children to learn young, with Kobayashi Chizu herself starting at age 6. She studied under Kitani Minoru and she and two of her brothers, Satoru and Kenji all became professionals. Of Oscar Vazquez 2d, Under-12 European Champion, she said he was “very calm” and had a reputation for “never making mistakes”.
The next day, Kobayashi took the long train ride north to Edinburgh in Scotland, where she appeared on the evening of Thursday March 7 at the Appleton Tower of the University. Boris Mitrovic, a postgraduate research student at the University’s School of Informatics and a challenger for the British Go Championship last year, hosted. There 15 sat around a single board (right), starting off with the same two-moves-each against Kobayashi exercise as at N. London, as she commented with instructive criticism. They then solved a few tsumego together, after which three or four pairs of the attendees each played the first few moves of games which became the subject of the pro’s comments. At the end of the evening – and the tour – Kobayashi was taken for a meal at the Favorit restaurant.
Click here for Kobayashi’s own photo album of her UK visit.
Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal. Photos: Minematsu considers his next move against Harry Fearnley, by Oxford club member; Francisco Divers contemplates the position as Michael Webster looks on, while Kobayashi smiles at a comment by another onlooker, by Tony Collman; Katherine Power makes one of two consecutive moves for Kobayashi’s consideration at Edinburgh University, by Boris Mitrovic.
The 6th Strasbourg International Tournament will take place May 24 and 25 at the Collège Saint-Etienne. In addition to the main tournament, players may enjoy asian game demonstrations and an all-you-can-eat dinner on Saturday. There will be cash prizes for the top players and the top player with three wins. Registration is free for players below 10kyu and younger than age 18. The registration fee for all other players is 15 EU. For more information about the tournament including rules and full schedule, visit the official 6th Strasbourg International website.
—Annalia Linnan; for complete listings, check out the European Tournament Calendar
Last Week’s Quiz: Only one of you picked 1973 as the year of earliest New Jersey Open attendance in the field two weeks ago. Jeff Rohlfs (right) was working at Bell Labs when he attended the event held at his work location. The longtime player now lives in suburban Maryland. Brian Kirby, who is quickly becoming the new Phil Waldron of the quiz, missed the answer but correctly placed your quizmaster as making his first appearance in 1986, and did come up with Jeff as the possible winner. Another of Brian’s possibles, Ted Terpstra, good-naturedly complained that our blurb about the event attracting players from “all over the East Coast” failed to mention his visit from San Diego (though actually Ted was mentioned in the EJ’s first-day report, New Jersey Open Attracts Record Crowd for First Day of Play 3/1 EJ). Event organizer Paul Mathews also attended Opens when it was held at Bell Labs, but not as early as Jeff. Congrats to our sole correct answerer, quiz vet Reinhold Burger (although his nominee was Hal Small)
This Week’s Quiz: Last week’s question was fun but obscure, so this week, with Spring Training in the air, try this softball grand-daddy of US go queries: Who is the current AGA record-holder for most rated games (records going back to 1991)? Is it Martin Lebl, Chuck Robbins, Steve Barberi or Jeff Horn? Click here to submit your answer.
- Keith Arnold, HKA
Guanzi Pu (Sensei’s Library), a classic Chinese problem collection from 1660 of 1473 problems has just been added to the Learn Overview page, based on a post on L19 . It is one of the problem collections that is considered high dan/pro level, although it may be the easiest of those. Some problems are easy at the beginning, but ramp up. Includes a PDF with multiple problems per page, but doesn’t include the solutions, typeset by pwaldron. Also includes a PDF (ebook) version that includes all 1473 problems (plus a few extras) and answers from p2501 on L19.
- Greg Smith, AGA website team
The San Diego Go Club manned a go booth on May 8 at the 9th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. “On a perfect San Diego sunny spring day in the 70’s,thousands crowded into the expanded garden,” reports club president Ted Terpstra. The club introduced go to the passersby and played demonstration games. Comments ranged from “What is that interesting game?” to “You play go in America! I am a Chinese level four player.” Several new members were signed up for the club.