What do you get when you cross the world’s oldest game with the newest form of currency? A bitcoin go tournament, such as the ones being organized online every week at Bitcoingo.io. “Bitcoins are an ideal currency for an international game like go,” founder Steven Pine told the EJ. “It allows students and teachers to connect and transact without concern for currency exchanges or waiting on a check or wire transfer to clear. The same is true for tournaments. I think the currency has lots of potential to transform the go community in many positive ways.”
Anyone can sign up, enter a tournament and begin playing on Bitcoin’s own Python/mySQL-based server. Komi is 6.5 points, and each player starts with 15 minutes; there are five 30-second overtime periods. Territory counting is used but no full rule set has been formally adopted. A tournament win earns the victor at least one point, depending on how many points their opponent has. A new tournaments starts, and the old one finishes, at midnight each Saturday. The self-paired “most points” format favors active competitors, so if you plan to play to win, you may need a comfy chair. The winner of the February 10 tournament had 78 points.
Bitcoins are notoriously unstable – last week it was discovered that as much as 5% of the total bitcoin money supply had been stolen from a prominent exchange without detection several years ago; the exchange declared bankruptcy. (NY Times 2/25/14) If you plan to convert your winnings to real-world money you may face a challenge. The weekly pot has been 6,000,000 “satoshis” but before you start planning your retirement, you should know that it breaks down to about $40 depending on the bitcoin’s daily value relative to the USD. (On 3/1/14 one bitcoin was valued at $556.85 on Coindesk, which monitors exchanges, down more than ten percent from just ten days before.) “Although the ‘satoshi’ – the smallest fraction of a bitcoin that can be transacted, currently .00000001th of a bit coin — is not well-known, we decided to use it as a base unit to drive home the point that bitcoins are easily divisible and can facilitate micro payments,” Pine said. “Some services talk about ‘millibits,’ but we thought it would be more fun for people to win like 1,000,000 satoshis.” Pine and cofounder Jonathan Hales are underwriting the prizes themselves, hoping that tournament and teaching fees will make the site revenue positive.
If you check it out, bear in mind that it’s a work in progress. Traffic is very low; a private room on an established server would probably bring in more users. But if you enjoy checking out new servers, Steven and Jonathan will appreciate your visit!
- Roy Laird
In “a nice little follow-up” to the recent New Jersey Open, organizer Rick Mott reports that “We got 22 new members and 34 renewals, for a total of 56 memberships out of 135 total attendees.” Of those, Mott notes that “almost half – 26 — were youth memberships.”
photo by John Pinkerton
“We are making good progress toward bringing a group of Cuban go players to this year’s U.S. Go Congress,” (Cuban Delegation Invited to US Go Congress 1/20/2014 EJ) reports Bob Gilman, who has been organizing the project. Three Cuban players have accepted the invitation to attend, and fundraising for the project is nearly complete. “Go has been the bridge for us to learn about many cultures, places, and especially good people, for whom friendship and respect are most important values,” says Rafael Alberto Torres Miranda 2D (at left in photo), one of the invitees and President of the Academia Cubana de Go. The other players invited are Carlos Alberto Perez Palacio 5D and Roilan de la Torre Marrero 5D. The Cubans have their passports now and are working with the Cuban Sports Ministry to obtain US visas.
The visit will return the hospitality the Academia extended to a group of US players who played there in February 2013. Because the Cubans cannot afford the travel costs themselves, Gilman, working through the American Go Foundation, has been raising money to sponsor the visit. There is a brief video on the project here. “We estimate we will need about $6,000,” says Gilman, “and we are nearly there, but still need some additional donations.” Those interested in supporting the project can make out a check to the American Go Foundation (with “CC2014” in the memo field); include your email address so that Gilman can acknowledge donations as they are received. Send checks to: Robert D. Gilman, P.O. Box 40020, Albuquerque, NM 87196-0020. “I will hold them uncashed until the Cubans have their visas, probably in April. At that point I’ll inform contributors and send the checks on to the AGF for cashing.” For more details on the project, email email@example.com.
photo by Andrew Okun
Lee Sedol did not need this kiss for luck from his daughter before the first game of his historic jubango with Gu Li, but perhaps it carried over to the second, where he was fortunate to come from behind. Five out of six of you who ventured into the scary world of no multiple choice did not need luck either, correctly identifying the other pro in last week’s photo (left). “Easy.” comments Brian Kirby,” That’s Cho Hanseung (Hansung) 9P. He’s the current Kuksu, recently beating out Lee Sedol to defend his title. Mr. Cho doesn’t get as much press as Mr. Sedol, but he actually became pro the same year (1995).” Congratulations to Dong Wei of Austin, Texas, our winner this week, selected at random from those answering correctly.
THIS WEEK’S QUIZ: Congratulations to Paul Mathews and Rick Mott for their wildly successful 55th New Jersey Open, attracting a record 125 players March 1-2 in Princeton (including 22 new members and 34 renewals). The oldest continuous tournament in the US (second oldest is the Maryland Open: the 41st is coming up on May 24-25; see you there!), the NJO gathered go players from all over the East Coast. An informal but 99 44/100% accurate poll of this year’s attendees taken by your quizmaster confirmed the answer to this week’s question: of all those playing in this year’s New Jersey Open, one player held the record for the earliest NJ Open appearance. Did he play in his first NJO in 1973, 1975, 1977 or 1986? Click here to submit your answer; bonus points if you name the player correctly.