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Updated: 11 weeks 3 days ago

Go Spotting: “Order of the Stick” & “Sandra and Woo” Comics

Fri, 08/07/2016 - 17:00

Order of the Stick: “Order of the Stick is my favorite D&D type role-playing comic strip,” writes Mark Gilston. “So I was delighted to see the go reference by the Oriental style paladins” in this recent strip.

Sandra and Woo: “From the webcomic ‘Sandra and Woo’ I could not help but laugh at the ‘Reality in the year 2050′ panel,” writes Taylor Litteral.

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National Go Center Planned for DC

Fri, 08/07/2016 - 10:47

The Iwamoto North American Foundation for Go at its meeting in Tokyo on Thursday announced plans to establish a National Go Center in Washington, DC. Go recently garnered global headlines when Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo AI program defeated top professional Lee Sedol and the National Go Center is intended to build on the increased public awareness and interest in the ancient game.

In addition to its role in advancing artificial intelligence, many studies have shown that go can improve student performance through development of logical and spatial thinking and even to help students with ADHD. A primary mission of the new Center is to work with educators in the region to promote go in schools from primary grades through college.

The Center will also have the mission of developing strong amateur go players in the region who can represent the US in conjunction with the American Go Association at the regional, national, and international levels. Building on an already strong tournament calendar, regional and interscholastic qualifying tournaments are planned.

Organizers of the National Go Center include many AGA volunteers and leaders from the metro Washington region, where there is a long history of promoting go education, developing cultural activities associated with the game, and training strong go players in many of the regional clubs. “It is expected that the new Center will add to the synergy to make the DC area a true national center for go,” said AGA president Andy Okun.
- photo (l-r): Shusuke MASAKI, just retired CEO of Nihon Kiin; Hiroshi YAMASHIRO 9P, Nihon Kiin Vice Chairman; Thomas HSIANG, INAF Executive Director; Hiroaki DAN, Nihon Ki-in Chairman of the Board of Directors and new president of INAF; Yuki SHIGENO, Nihon Kiin Director. Photo by Chris Garlock

 

 

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Panda Sensei Tsume-Go Challenge Kicks Off Pair Go World Cup in Tokyo

Fri, 08/07/2016 - 09:40

Thirty two players comprising sixteen teams gathered Thursday in Tokyo to launch the second Pair Go World Cup. First invented in 1990 by Hisao and Hiroko Taki to attract more female players to the game, Pair Go has grown steadily in popularity around the world and the Pair Go Association now boasts 74 member countries and territories.

After an elegant Japanese box lunch at the Cerulean Towers Tokyu Hotel in the Shibuya district, the players assembled for the draw ceremony to determine their first-round opponents. With a top prize of $10M JPY, organizers have attracted an impressive array of top players, including Ke Jie – Yu Zhiying (China); Iyama Yuta – Hsieh Yimin (Japan); Park Junghwan – Choi Jeong (Korea) and Chen Shih-Iuan – Hei Jiajia (Taiwan). Notable pairs from the West include Eric Lui – Sarah Yu (North America); Fernando Aguilar – Rosario Papeschi (Latin America) and Ilya Shikshin – Natalia Kovaleva (Europe). All games will be broadcast on Pendant. “I’m very excited to see top professionals and top amateurs gathered here,” said an obviously pleased Mrs. Taki, who then conducted a warm series of interviews with the players.

The highlight of the afternoon was the Panda Sensei Tsume-Go Challenge, showing off the Pandanet Sensei life and death computer program, which has been developed over the last 30 years and on which many tsumego creators rely to check their work. In a dramatic timed competition, the professional pairs were given a series of high-level tsumego problems. They had 10 minutes to solve each problem; the first five pairs to hit the call button won the right to show their solution to the judges, led by the famous Ishida Yoshio, also known as “The Computer.” Correct answers were worth up to five points each, while wrong answers penalized the incorrect team two points. Onlookers crowded around the players as they raced to solve the problems, and it was quite entertaining to see top-level professional players wrestling with reading out problems in real time and often, just like amateurs, missing key moves that refuted their solutions. Perhaps not surprisingly, Pandanet Sensei crushed the contest, scoring 24 points; the Chinese team of Ke Jie – Yu Zhiying (top right) scored just 6 points to take second place and the Korean team’s 4 points was enough to take home third place. Acknowledging that the problems were tough and the solving time short, Ishida (at left, refuting a solution from Japan’s Iyama Yuta and Hsieh Yimin) admitted that “I had fun watching all the trouble the top players got into” trying to solve them.

The Pair Go tournament begins Saturday, with two rounds scheduled, followed by semi-finals Sunday morning and the final Sunday afternoon. All games will be broadcast on Pendant.
- report/photos by Chris Garlock

 

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Go Spotting: ‘Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst’; Hell on Wheels?

Fri, 08/07/2016 - 08:00

“I was watching some beta play-testing for the new ‘Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst’ video game,” writes Erik Walton, “(and) there’s a cut scene in which the protagonist Faith is walking in to talk with her mentor, and it turns out he’s playing go with one of the other characters. They even have some nicely rendered wooden bowls.”
The dialogue from the shot, Walton reports: Young character: “I don’t get this game, it has no logic to it!” Mentor: “You’ll get used to it. Faith used to beat me all the time, didn’t you Faith?”

Also: We’ve also received a report from Gordon Castanza that during “Hell on Wheels” Season 5, Episode 10, titled “61 Degrees,” “between minutes 43 and 45, a game of go is being played.” If anyone can track down a screenshot, please send it along!

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The Power Report (2): Kisei Leagues; Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup

Fri, 08/07/2016 - 07:00

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kisei Leagues: The S League, the top of the five leagues in the 41st Kisei tournament, got off to a start on May 12 with Ichiriki Ryo 7P, the bottom-ranked player, scoring a win. The number two player, Murakawa Daisuke, got off to a good start by defeating the number one player and previous challenger, Yamashita Keigo.  This is a short league, with just five rounds, so each win is more significant than in a bigger league. Already we can say that a fourth successive Kisei title
match between Yamashita Keigo and Iyama Yuta looks unlikely, as Yamashita has lost his opening two games. Murakawa Daisuke 8P and Kono Rin 9P, both on 2-0, share the lead.
(May 12) Ichiriki Ryo 7P beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 4.5 points.
(May 19) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.
(June 9) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8
P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by resig.
(June 23) Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by half a point.
(May 26) Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 2.5 points.
        The eight-player A League has already concluded three rounds.  The bottom-ranked player in the league, So Yokoku 9P, is the only undefeated player, on 3-0. His nearest rivals are Ryu Shikun 9P and Awaji Shuzo 9P, who are both on 3-1.

Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup: The final of the 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup, the only two-day game in women’s go, was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in Aizu Wakamatsu City on June 17 and 18. Xie Yimin (W, right) beat Aoki Kikuyo 8P by4.5 points and won this title for the first time. Xie became the first quadruple title-holder in women’s go in Japan. This is her 23rd title.

Promotion
To 2-dan: Otani Naoki (30 wins) (as of May 20)

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Guo Juan 5P to Attend 2016 U.S. Go Congress

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 10:34
A long time favorite of the U.S. go community, Guo Juan 5p is returning for the upcoming U.S. Go Congress, coming July 30-August 7 in Boston. Guo will be teaching a “Typical mistakes” series with four sessions, targeting 30k-20k, 20k-10k, 10k-1d, and 5k-3d. Guo Juan’s “Internet Go School” is also a sponsor of this year’s Congress, donating over €3,000 in prizes.  The Internet Go School is an online resource that has over 1000 recorded lectures on all areas of go at all levels and a Spaced Repetition System that drills students on problems until they know and remember them. Nearly 500 have already registered for the 2016 Go Congress.
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The Power Report (1): Iyama makes good start in Gosei defense; Iyama Yuta defends Honinbo title; Takao and Murakawa share lead in 41st Meijin League

Thu, 07/07/2016 - 10:19

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama makes good start in Gosei defense: The first game of the 41st Gosei title match, in which Iyama Yuta faces the challenge of Murakawa Daisuke 8P, was held at the Hotel Kokonoe in Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture on June 25. Taking black, Iyama prevailed in a violent clash between two large groups. Once this was decided, the game was over, so Murakawa resigned after 159 moves. Go reporters are increasingly using the term “Iyama magic” for the way he takes the lead in the fighting even when his opponent doesn’t make identifiable mistakes. If anything, Murakawa had appeared to have the edge in the middle-game fighting, but Iyama put into effect a large-scale strategy exploiting the aji of a more-or-less discarded group, whereupon it turned out that he was not the one with problems. The next game will be played on July 18. (NOTE: Iyama will be playing with Hsieh Yi Min in the Mind Sports Pair Go World Cup 2016, which begins in Tokyo this Saturday, July 9; click here for our June 19 preview and watch for EJ Managing Editor Chris Garlock’s reports later this week) 

Iyama Yuta defends Honinbo title:  The fifth game of the 71st Honinbo title match was held at the Yoshikawaya inn in Iisaka Hot Spring, Fukushima City on June 29 and 30.  Taking black, Iyama forced a resignation after 177 moves. After losing the opening game, Iyama won four in a row to defend his title. This is a landmark victory for him, as it secures him his first honorary title, which requires you to hold the title for five years in a row. Actually, in the case of the Honinbo title the wording is actually “eternal Honinbo;” Iyama will become “26th Honinbo,” followed by the special name he chooses for himself (he will unveil it at the award ceremony later this year).  He will use the title when he turns 60. Just for the record, his predecessors are 22nd Honinbo Shukaku (Takagawa Kaku), 23rd Honinbo Eiju (Sakata Eio), 24th Honinbo Shuho (Ishida Yoshio), and 25th Honinbo Chikun (Cho Chikun; Cho won 11 titles in a row, so he assumed the title immediately after his 10th term).
        The fifth game was the usual fierce fight between Iyama (black) and Takao. Both sides made moves they were dissatisfied with in the earlier part of the game, but it remained evenly balanced. A little after 100 moves, Iyama played a well-timed peep that helped him secure a group in sente, enabling him to switch to a big endgame point. This gave him the lead and, although there was a lot more fighting, he hung on to it. Takao resigned after 177 moves. Besides becoming the first player for 23 years to earn an honorary title (the last was Rin Kaiho in the Tengen title), Iyama also maintained his septuple crown.
        Fukushima City was the birthplace of the 6th Honinbo Shuhaku (1716-41); the game was played there to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his death. He became the head of the Honinbo house at the age of 18 but died young. His main grave is at the Honmyoji Temple in Tokyo, but a portion of his bones are buried at the Josenji temple in Fukushima. The day before the game, the players visited the temple to pay their respects to him. Incidentally, this game was the 400th title-match game in the modern Honinbo tournament.

Takao and Murakawa share lead in 41st Meijin League: After the seventh round (out of nine), Takao Shinji 9P and Murakawa Daisuke 8P share the lead in the 41st Meijin League, with both on 5-1 (each has had a bye). Next in the running is Cho U 9P, who is on 4-2. The results in the May round were significant. Murakawa Daisuke (who will also be playing in the Pair Go tournament this weekend), who suffered his first loss in the April round, regained a share of the lead by beating Takao Shinji; both were then on 4-1.  This was a chance for Cho U to take the sole lead, but he lost his game to Kono Rin, so he briefly joined Murakawa and Takao in a three-way tie; he then spoiled it by losing to Takao in the June round. Recent results: 
(May 12) Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by 1.5 points.
(May 19) Hirata Tomoya 7P (B) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig. This was a game
between two winless newcomers to the league. His loss will cost Uchida his lea
gue place; Hirata has an outside chance of keeping his.
(June 2) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by half a point.
(June 9). Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Uchida Shuhei 7P by resig.
(June 20) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by half a point.
(June 30). Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

Tomorrow: Kisei Leagues; Xie wins 3rd Aizu Central Hospital Cup
       

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Paul Lockhart Named Teacher of the Year

Mon, 04/07/2016 - 20:46

The American Go Foundation has selected Paul Lockhart as the 2016 Teacher of the Year.  Lockhart wins an all expenses paid trip to the US Go Congress in Boston, where he will hold an informal round table discussion about his experiences teaching children. “What a terrific honor,” said Lockhart,  “I am delighted to accept, and I look forward to the opportunity to meet and speak with other go teachers around the country.” Lockhart is well known in academic circles for his 2009 book A Mathematician’s Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form.  “For the past 15 years I have been happily teaching Go at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, NY,” adds Lockhart. “What began with four High School students and a magnetic travel go set has grown into a vibrant school-wide go culture, including an after school go club, annual tournaments, classes, seminars, and faculty participation.  I am especially pleased with the excitement and energy among the younger students.  Most of our club players are under 10, and many of our strongest High School players began playing go as kindergarteners.  It has been a fantastic learning experience for me as well.”

Lockhart is also well known in the go community, as the father of Will Lockhart (Director of The Surrounding Game film) and Ben Lockhart 7d, who has studied professionally in Korea and is seeking to become an AGA Professional.  “The current partnership with the ING foundation, which along with the American Collegiate Go Association (founded by Will Lockhart),  holds large go expos each year with hundreds of attendees, as well as The Surrounding Game documentary film, would not be possible had Paul not introduced go into our lives in such a meaningful way; a way that gave us such love and interest in the game that we both had no choice but to dedicate our lives to go,” writes Ben Lockhart. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo: Paul Lockhart (standing) teaching at St. Ann’s School. 

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Playing Go in Hong Kong

Sun, 03/07/2016 - 20:11

-by Dave Weimer

Twenty years ago I lived around the corner from the Hong Kong Go Association in the Wan Chi District of Hong Kong. Returning to Hong Kong last fall, I discovered that the HKGA had moved. After some investigation, I was able to find the new location in the Kowloon District. During my first visit I was amazed that a search of a card file revealed my membership at the old location!

Some things were the same: I was the only non-Hong Kong native who regularly played; players were friendly and welcoming, often despite the absence of a common language; and counting was usually by the Chinese method. The major difference was that Friday evenings, rather than Saturdays and Sundays, were the best times to find a lot of players and games against opponents of various strengths. My nemesis, a 13 year old named Matthew, was a regular on Friday evenings and we had many enjoyable games. Unlike twenty years ago, when most games seemed to involve big dragons fighting to the death, games seem to show more style now and players usually spend time going over completed games to improve.

As finding the Association might be difficult for someone not familiar with Hong Kong, I offer the following information:

Hours: Tuesdays through Sundays, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Fees for non-members: HK$20 (about US$2.50) on weekdays; HK$40 on weekends and public holidays.

Directions: Take the MTR to the Lai Chi Kok Station; take the B1 exit and go straight ahead a few steps to Tai Nan West Road; turn left onto Tai Nan West Road; go three short blocks to its end at King Lam Street (there is a Honda dealer on the corner); turn left onto Kim Lam Street for one block to Yee Kuk West Street; turn left and enter Number 82 on the left almost immediately; take the elevator to the third floor; play Go! (Based on experience, I highly recommend following these directions rather than relying on a map app.) -Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Go Association’s Facebook Page

 

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Mexican Go Congress Breaks Records

Wed, 29/06/2016 - 22:26

“The 3rd Mexican Go Congress turned out to be a huge success,” reports Mingming Stephanie Yin 1P. “The event was held June 18th-20th at the Tlatelolco Cultural Center in Mexico City, and was full of surprises for everyone. Three Professionals were invited: Hye-Yeon Cho 9p,  William Gansheng Shi 1p, and myself.  We held  game reviews, lectures, and simul games.   A new record high for the Mexican Open Tournament was set as well, with 56 players.   The participation in the Youth tournament was also pretty impressive, with a 36 player field in two categories,” said Yin. Mexican Go Association Youth Coordinator Sid Avila adds  “these kids are starting to compete at higher levels, some have already played in international tournaments and are also playing in the Open.”

“This is the 3rd time Mexico has run its Go Congress and every year the community is growing and people are more interested,” reports Mexican Go Association president Emil Garcia. “I believe the world of go is entering into a new stage of development, and we are really glad Mexico is catching this upheaval with the support of Associations such as KABA, the AGA, and the AGF,  who helped us bring the pros in. Undoubtedly Mexican go will keep growing having such big allies. I see a bright future for North American go as a whole.”

“On the last day, the pros were invited to visit a private Mexican elementary school named CIEA Pipiolo, which is the only elementary school with go as a school subject in Mexico City,” said Yin, “There are around 80 students ranging in age from 5-12 years old. Everyone is talented and extremely passionate about go. We three pros were separated and played pair go with the kids in teams.”

All three pros issued a joint message for the kids: “It’s wonderful to be here with all of you, our futures of go. We hope that you will enjoy playing go, learning go, and some of you may become professionals in the future.” Yin adds “I believe that the world of go will expand much more quickly than we expected. As professional go players, we will do our best to promote, teach, and help. We also hope that more schools will include go as a subject in America. I am seeing a brighter future for the world of go.”

For full standings from the congress click here.  For youth standings, click here.  Story by Stephanie Yin, pictures by Yin, Emil Garcia and Tonatiuh Zama

 

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Evanston Go Club Hosts Second 2016 Tourney; On Track for Quarterly Events

Wed, 29/06/2016 - 18:59

The Evanston Go Club held its second tournament of the year last weekend. The event, dubbed Spring Fling, drew 34 players ranging in rank from 18k to 5d. Winners were Henry Li 2d (4-0), Cheuk To Tsui 2d (3-1), Nathan Chan 3k (4-0), Cong Chen 3k (4-0), William Torres 5k (4-0), Sean Garcia 10k (4-0), Keom Granger 10k (5-2), Crystal Lin 14k (3-2), and Chad Cook 15k(3-2).

“We’re back on track to run four tournaments a year again!” said Mark Rubenstein, club president and TD. “Our March Madness tournament had over 40 players, and with 34 this time it’s clear the local go community can support four a year as we had in the past.” In addition to players from Illinois, there were also players from Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota. “Thanks to Immanuel Lutheran Church for letting us use the space, to Yellow Mountain for donating prizes, to everyone who helped during registration, and a special thanks to everyone who came from out of state! We’re looking forward to the next one in September.” Click here for more info about the Evanston Go Club, other local clubs, upcoming events, and how to join the email list.
photo by Mark Rubenstein
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US Go Congress Updates; Pay Now or Wait Later

Wed, 29/06/2016 - 18:53

This year’s US Go Congress in Boston “is shaping up to be the largest Go Congress ever!” reports Walther Chen. “Please help us make it a success by renewing your AGA membership and paying your outstanding balance in advance. This will help you avoid long queues during registration day at the Go Congress.” Also, he reminds Congress attendees that you have until June 30 to get a no-questions-asked full refund and if you register and pay on-site at Congress, there is a $100 late fee. “See you soon!”

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Ballot Redo for At-Large Election

Wed, 29/06/2016 - 18:48
Ballots for the American Go Association’s At-Large election via Ballotbin are invalid, reports Arnold Eudell. Additional emails will arrive soon from Electionrunner. “Sorry for the inconvenience,” says Eudell. 
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Myungwan Kim 9p to comment the Bailing Cup, 6/29 and 7/1 at 8:30pm PDT (UTC-7)

Tue, 28/06/2016 - 15:21

Myungwan Kim 9p will return to provide live commentary of the Bailing Cup round of 32, between Tang Weixing and Park Junghwan, starting at 8:30pm PDT on 6/29. He’ll also provide live commentary on the round of 16, on July 1, again starting at 8:30pm. The early rounds of the Bailing cup are being played in Beijing, and the players have 2hrs 45min, with five one-minute byo-yomi periods following. They’ll take a lunch break from 9:30pm to 10:30pm. Twitch broadcaster “badatbaduk”, himself an AGA 4d, will host the commentary. You can watch the event on the AGA YouTube Channel or the AGA Twitch stream.

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Alexandra Mielke Victorious in Central Iowa

Mon, 27/06/2016 - 18:34

Central Iowa Go Society’s second casual tournament saw 11 players, more than doubling last tournament’s five entrants, reports Jacob Upland. Players were split into a 13×13 beginner’s section and a 19×19 section. Alex Tong, 2 dan, swept all four games to win first, followed by Dan Klawitter’s impressive 2nd place finish with 3 wins. The beginner’s section came to a dead tie three ways, decided by a round robin.” Alexandra Mielke emerged the final victor to clinch first place,” Upland says.

“Next on the list is Indianola, Iowa on July 9th, continuing the rotation. Be sure to check it out!”

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Your Move/Readers Write: E-Journal Forum (Part 2); Where’s the 2015 Yearbook?

Mon, 27/06/2016 - 18:29

E-Journal Forum (Part 2): In another response to Eric Osman’s query about a forum for responses to articles in the E-Journal, Steve Colburn also notes that the AGA has a sub forum on Lifein19x19.com. “This is for AGA stuff much like there is for other organizations. There are a few AGA officials who also read/comment on Reddit.”

Where’s the 2015 Yearbook? “I tried looking through the AGA website to find the archived zip file with all of the yearbook 2015 sgf files,” writes AGA member Shane, “but I’m having a difficult time locating it on your website. The news article doesn’t seem to link me to where to find the file and a website search for ‘year book’ didn’t yield much better results. Help?” In a related email, Dan writes “I am a member who cannot figure out how to download the 2015 Go Yearbook. Please advise.”
The Yearbook is only for AGA members, so it’s not posted on the website; look for your June 22 Member’s Edition of the E-Journal, which contains individual links to the game commentaries published in 2015, as well as in a handy zip file. 

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Matthew Machado Tops Austin Tourney

Mon, 27/06/2016 - 18:17

The Austin Go Club held a 7-round handicap tournament June 25-26th.  A total of 18 players participated ranging in strength from 6 dan to 10 kyu. Prizes were awarded to the following participants:

Dan Level: 1st Place – Matthew Machado (2d) 6 – 1; 2nd Place – Zhao Zhixun (6d) 4-1; 3rd Place – Chengkai Ruan (4d) 4-4; Chris Hudnall (2d) 4-3

Kyu Level: 1st Place – Bart Jacob (3k) 6-1; 2nd Place – Lei Xu (2k) 5-2; John Jacob (4k) 5-2; 3rd Place –Ken Blake (1k) 4-3; Ray Heitmann (5k) 4-4

Tournament directors Bart Jacob and Jim Conyngham would like to thank all players for participating and Great Hall Games for supplying the playing venue and gift certificates as prizes.

Photo: winners (l-r): Ray Heitmann, Ken Blake, Chis Hudnall, Chengkai (Kyle) Ruan, John Jacob, Cho Chixun, Lei Xu, Matthew Machado

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The Traveling Board: The Small World of Go

Mon, 27/06/2016 - 18:08

by Keith Arnold
As I sit down for breakfast at our hotel in Beijing, the gentlemen next to me asks “Are you Chris?”  “No, my name is Keith.” “Sorry, similar face.”  And I thought that was over.

But when he returned with food he tried again. “Your voice is familiar – are you AGA?”

And that is how I met Jeff Kwang 5-dan from North Carolina.  The small world of go.

Longtime go player and local organizer Keith Arnold lives in Baltimore, MD.

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Your Move/Readers Write: Thanks, Janice; Yearbook Zip File; E-Journal Forum?

Sat, 25/06/2016 - 22:03
Thanks, Janice: “Thanks to Janice Kim for sharing her views on AlphaGo vs Lee Seedol and ‘The Master of Go,’” writes Jean deMaiffe.  “I very much enjoyed her article ‘with my morning coffee.’”


Yearbook Zip File:
 “Thank you for creating the convenient zip file of all 2015 AGA sgf files,” in the 2015 American Go Yearbook, writes AGA member Frank Brown. ” I downloaded it and expect many hours of study to ensue.”

E-Journal Forum?
“I challenge the oft-expressed claim that playing go contributes to our personal development,” writes Eric Osman. “Is there a popular forum for having discussions about things we want to respond to that we originally read in the AGA E-Journal?”
We always welcome letters to the editor. If you think a longer response might be of interest, we also welcome queries about possible submissions for articles as well.  

Thanks.  /Eric

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The Janice Kim Files: Debating the Details

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 14:57

by Janice Kim 3P

Andrew Feenberg has made illuminating and interesting points comparing and contrasting the recent match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, and the novelized match between Shusai and Kitani in the book The Master of Go.

There are differences in the modern feeling of go, and what go traditionally has been, and it is all about the details; the ones we focus on, and what they mean, are up for debate.

Feenberg suggests (Rational Play? The Master of Go vs. AlphaGo), as some observers in the book do, that move 121 was the central issue, a move away from the main center battle in order to take advantage of the time rules. Kawabata does spend a bit of time on it, but I’d say therein lies the issue for the Master: it’s not a central issue to the game itself.

For that reason, it may have the appearance of a modern attempt to take advantage of ‘fussy’ rules in order to win a game, at some cost to the meaning of the game. In fact, it may be much more insidious than that :), it’s a ‘modern’ way of extracting the maximum number of points whenever you can, without emotional involvement in what appears to be happening on the board at that moment as a battle between two human opponents. In this sense, the modern game is bringing a new, more nuanced sensibility to the concepts of “tempo” in games, specifically “sente” and “gote” in go.

The Master himself allows that it’s a question of timing, and his opponent may not be able to make that small forcing play later, depending on how the center battle goes. It possibly does throw him, as he later misses a crucial timing issue in that center battle (at this level, questions of who is the inferior player I think can’t be shown through one game, or one move in one game, and are beyond the scope of what can be argued through them). But this detail of what the Master actually said is lost as well, perhaps deliberately as it’s subtly suggested that the Master himself is now trying to “justify” an (ugly) move in an attempt to preserve the beauty of go, as if we have a lock on definitions of beauty, and 121 isn’t it, and the players themselves are telling us things about the game that they don’t understand.

If this were a modern game, there would be no question that White would lose a game without komi; there’s no reasonable chance that one top player can spot another Black no komi, the Master is almost certainly going to lose such a game precisely because of tradition. It’s interesting to me to note our human tendency to focus also on the score beyond winning and losing, as if the players would care if it was a 3 or 4 or 5 point loss, and play accordingly. Observers often say a resignation or a bigger loss is somehow indicative of a greater difference in skill exhibited between the players. It’s rare for someone to see that a great player, seeing he or she was behind, would make plays that were arguably better, but perhaps riskier and result in a greater loss.

Focusing on another detail, I’d hesitate to call this a ‘Western’ influence, although perhaps Kawabata appears focused on ‘outside’ influences and is feeling it from the West, and China could be considered west of Japan, or not being looked at, depending on where one is standing :). The way of thinking behind move 121 to me has clear roots in an outside, fresh perspective of analysis through objective territorial counting that Kitani’s great collaborator in the modern way of play, the player who came to Japan from China, Go Seigen, brought to the table.

A more compelling analogy to me would be between Go Seigen and AlphaGo, and the big question still to be answered is if AlphaGo will bring us a rich body of work like Go Seigen did, so much so that it’s said you can do nothing but study the games of Go Seigen 10 times and become a professional shodan, or if we’ll have 10 tantalizing clues of what AlphaGo was thinking at a point in gmaespacetime.

Much thanks to Mr. Feenberg, and the American Go E-Journal, for bringing such thought-provoking pieces right to me with my morning coffee!

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