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Fan Hui 2P: “AlphaGo is a new Lee Changho”

AGA news - Wed, 27/07/2016 - 23:00

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

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Team Relay Go the “Next Big Thing”?

AGA news - Wed, 27/07/2016 - 14:09

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

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Michael Redmond 9P on Pro Pair Go Tsumego 3 (Answer)

AGA news - Wed, 27/07/2016 - 05:01

download SGF file

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.

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Tennis/Soccer Congress Alert

AGA news - Tue, 26/07/2016 - 18:49

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 journal@usgo.org
photo: Garlock and Phil Straus introduce go to the gridiron at the 2015 Go Congress 

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Michael Redmond 9P on Pro Pair Go Tsumego 3

AGA news - Tue, 26/07/2016 - 05:01

download SGF file

Presented here is the 3rd 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 Kono Rin 9P. Michael gives a solution hint for 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.

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New from Kiseido: “300 Joseki Problems”; “Close Encounters with the Middle Game” & Discounted Slate & Shell Stones

AGA news - Mon, 25/07/2016 - 23:23

“300 Joseki Problems”: The final installment of “Graded Go Problems for Dan Players,” Kiseido’s popular seven-volume dan players’ series, is now available. Aimed primarily at 3-dan to 7-dan players, “300 Joseki Problems” – a continuation of Volume 3 of the series — is divided into two sections, each featuring 150 problems. The first section analyzes local joseki problems, allowing the reader to expand their understanding of local patterns. The second section takes the reader on to the next level, presenting whole-board joseki problems from real professional games, where the global situation must be taken into account.

At times, the correct move is not a standard joseki move, but an innovative move, requiring the reader to “think outside the box.” Consequently, readers will not only gain joseki knowledge, but will gain a real understanding of what joseki means, and how it can be applied to unique positions that might arise in real games. Note that even though the problems in this book are rated as high as 7-dan, Kiseido says the book is actually suitable for players 1-dan and above; even if the correct answer is hard to find, simply studying the answers to get exposure to new ideas and joseki innovations is enough to improve your game.

“Close Encounters with the Middle Game”: The game of go is often decided in the middle game. Players strong at the opening can gain an early advantage. Players with precise endgame skills can gain points to finish the game. But excelling at the middle game is the surest way to victory. And what better way to improve middle game expertise than to learn from the best? Michiel Eijkhout’s “Close Encounters with the Middle Game” presents 32 crucial middle-game positions that arose in top professional games. Each position is analyzed in detail, explaining how the players were thinking during the middle game, highlighting the techniques needed to gain an advantage during middle-game fighting. If you’ve ever been confused by professional moves, wondering about alternatives – what moves were good, bad, or difficult to judge – you’ll want to check out this “entertaining journey through the realm of professional go.”

Slate and Shell Stones: Kiseido reports that slate and shell stones are becoming more and more difficult to come by due to a tremendous increase in demand and go players willing to pay premium prices. Fortunately, Kiseido has managed to obtain a small supply of “Jitsuyo grade” stones, and is offering them at a discounted price. Click here for details and to order.
- Brian Kirby

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Go Spotting: “Hell on Wheels”

AGA news - Mon, 25/07/2016 - 23:21

As previously reported, go was spotted in “Hell on Wheels” Season 5, Episode 10, titled “61 Degrees,” between minutes 43 and 45. Here’s the screenshot, thanks to Taylor Litteral.  

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European Go Congress 2016 Gets Under Way in Saint Petersburg

AGA news - Mon, 25/07/2016 - 23:18

The 60th European Go Congress got under way on July 23rd in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Congress is being held at the Hotel Azimut, a couple of kilometres south of the historic centre of the city. 456 players took part in the first round, including seven Europeans with pro status. Among the guests are professional players including Cho Hye-Yeon 9p, Shao Weigang 9p, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9p, Muraoka Shigeyuki 9p, Ohashi Hirofumi 6p and many others.

In addition to many tournaments, Congress organizers have prepared some special events. On July 25 Google DeepMind representatives will give an update on AlphaGo, on July 27 Cho Hye-Yeon will take on Zen AI and two chess Grandmasters will clash in a go battle.

Traditionally the first days of the EGC are marked by the Pandanet Go European Team Tournament finals. Team Ukraine, led by recently-minted European pro Artem Kachanovskyi, prevailed over Team Russia 3-1 in the finals, with a sensational victory by Andrij Kravec over Alexandre Dinerchtein (photo at left), sealing the championship. Russia took second place, France 3rd and Romania 4th.

- Daria Koshkina, with additional reporting from the EGC 2016 site; photos: EGC 60 opening ceremony (right); Dinerchtein vs Kravec

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60th European Go Congress in Saint Petersburg

European Go Federation - Mon, 25/07/2016 - 12:05
The 60th European Go Congress got under way on 23rd July in Saint Petersburg. 456 players took part in round one.
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Ukraine win the Pandanet Go European Team Championship

European Go Federation - Mon, 25/07/2016 - 11:54
Pandanet Go European Team Championship, with over-the-board finals played at the European Go Congress in St Petersburg, Russia, was won by Ukraine.
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Michael Redmond 9P on Pro Pair Go Tsumego 2 (Answer)

AGA news - Mon, 25/07/2016 - 02:26

download SGF file

Michael Redmond 9P is graciously providing all E-Journal readers with a set of tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament. Of course, these problems are quite tough, but nevertheless entertaining to everyone, especially because Michael will later provide each solution.

In this tsumego contest, each pair has up to 10 minutes to answer each problem, but only the first 5 pairs can answer. The race to answer first makes these problems highly challenging. After signalling having an answer, a pair must play each move within 5 seconds. The pair team plays Black’s moves, while the composer plays White’s, which allows the composers to show their favorite variation for White.

Michael gives the background for this tsumego from Oba Junya 7P, who is well known for his pro level tsumego problems:

This tsumego is not as difficult as it looks, as there is only one tesuji that jumps to mind for Black, and White 2 is forced, making the first 3 moves fairly easy to find. In fact, Ke Jie 9p slapped down the first 3 moves almost immediately. However, there is a very effective blind spot after that, which tripped some pros.

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2016 Samsung Cup Prelim: World Division More Diverse and Competitive

AGA news - Sun, 24/07/2016 - 14:02

Twelve players from 11 countries competed in the Samsung Cup’s World Division among the 19-division preliminary in Seoul, Korea on July 20. Israel’s Ali Jabarin 1P defeated Slovakia’s Pavol Lisy 1P to earn a seat at the upcoming 21st edition of the Samsung. The first round, officially known as the Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance World Masters Baduk Championship, will be on September 6-8 in a double-elimination format. North America’s Eric Lui 1P (US) and Manuel Velasco 6D (Canada) both lost in the first round. See chart at right for the World Division’s full results.

In the division semi-final on July 19, China won 19 of 22 critical matchups against Korea, and accordingly became a huge winner with 14 spots from the prelim. Complete prelim winners: Byun Sangil, Kang Seungmin, Cheong Tae-sang (Korea); Tan Xiao, Tong Mengcheng, Li Qincheng, Guo Wenchao, Fan Tingyu, Liao Xingwen, Xia Chenkun, Fan Yunruo, Cai Jing, Huang Yunsong, Tuo Jiaxi, Yu Bin (‘Senior Division’), Lu Jia, Rui Naiwei (‘Women Division’) (China); Ida Atsushi (Japan); Ali Jabarin (Israel).
by Edward Zhang 

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Pandanet AGA City League Finals One Week Away

AGA news - Sun, 24/07/2016 - 14:00

In one week the Pandanet AGA City League Finals will be played in Boston, MA at the U.S. Go Congress. Canwa Vancouver 1 will take on Greater Washington for the championship. Canwa Vancouver won the second year of the tournament. Greater Washington has been in the finals before. All games will be broadcast on Pandanet in the AGA City League room at 3pm EST.

Your lineup for the finals will be:
Board 1: Hanchen Zhang vs Zirui Tim Song
Board 2: Ryan Li vs Eric Lui
Board 3: Bill Lin vs Yuan Zhou

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2016 Go Congress: A Brief Introduction to Boston

AGA news - Sat, 23/07/2016 - 13:25

by Chialing Chan

The 2016 U.S. Go Congress begins in just a week. It will take place on the main campus of Boston University, which is located near the heart of Boston and along the Charles River. Boston is a fun and beautiful city during the summer: blue sky, Boston Harbor Islands, cool ocean breeze, good food, and beautiful people. It’s a vibrant city with about 152,000 college students. And it’s home to many innovative companies and institutes. Boston is also steeped in history. This was where the Boston Tea Party took place (some believe it’s the reason why we drink coffee today) and the first place in the United States to have a subway transportation system. The city was named after Boston, Lincolnshire, England, the origin of several prominent colonists. The original people of the area were the Massachusett, after whom the state is named.

Go players who use the traditional day off on Wednesday to explore the city might enjoy dimsum in Chinatown, a walk around Boston Common and the Public Garden, a lunch at the Faneuil Hall, a ferry ride to one of the Boston Harbor Islands, a dinner at the North End, and/or drinks in Cambridge. Alternatively, you might enjoy a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts and an afternoon tea inside the Boston Library (at Copley Square) with its gorgeous paintings and architecture. For kids, the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science are always the big hits. And of course, there are always the duck boats. See you soon!

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Michael Redmond 9P on Pro Pair Go Tsumego 2

AGA news - Fri, 22/07/2016 - 00:53

download SGF file

Michael Redmond 9P is graciously providing all E-Journal readers with a set of tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament. Of course, these problems are quite tough, but nevertheless entertaining to everyone, especially because Michael will later provide each solution.

In this tsumego contest, each pair has up to 10 minutes to answer each problem, but only the first 5 pairs can answer. The race to answer first makes these problems highly challenging. After signalling having an answer, a pair must play each move within 5 seconds. The pair team plays Black’s moves, while the composer plays White’s, which allows the composers to show their favorite variation for White.

Michael mentions that the author of this tsumego, Oba Junya 7P, is well known for his pro level tsumego problems.

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Yang Shuang 2P to Give DC-area Players a Preview of Go Congress

AGA news - Thu, 21/07/2016 - 23:00

Metro Washington-area go players can get a taste of the upcoming US Go Congress next Monday, July 25 when Chinese pro Yang Shuang 2P — who will be teaching at the Congress in Boston — will play Josh Lee 6D at the NoVA Go Club, followed by a game analysis. The game will start at 7:30 pm at the club, which meets at St. George’s Church in Arlington at the corner of Fairfax and Oakland (ring the bell or call the cell phone number posted on the door). In other local news, a Back to School Special tournament is scheduled for September 10, the Richmond (VA) Go Club is back and will be having a fall tournament on October 15 and the Pumpkin Classic will be held October 29. Email garrett.p.smith@comcast.net for more details.

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Two Chess Grandmasters to Clash in Go Match at EGC

AGA news - Thu, 21/07/2016 - 19:00
The 2016 European Go Congress, which starts tomorrow in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, features many special events. One of them is a go/chess match between two chess Grandmasters. In one corner is Alexander Morozevich (right), three-time champion of the Chess Olympiad and two-time Russian Champion. He achieved 3k on KGS and played at some recent Russian tournaments. He started playing go as a hobby and enjoys studying and practicing. His opponent is a Swedish chess Grandmaster Tiger Hillarp Persson, also a two-time champion of his native country, and a winner of several individual bronze medals in the Chess Olympiad. He started playing go in 2011 and reached 1 dan in 2015. He believes that learning the principles of go can improve skills for all chess players. The match is scheduled for July 27 and will include two go and two chess games with reviews (and one additional match in case of a draw) and a simul with both Grandmasters. Organizers hope the event helps go to captivate more chess-lovers. Click here for more information.
- Daria Koshkina; photo from EGC 2016 website
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Cotsen Open Registration Opens

AGA news - Thu, 21/07/2016 - 17:00

Registration for this year’s Cotsen Open is now live; click here now to reserve your spot. The 2016 Cotsen Open will be held on the weekend of October 22-23 at the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles, with the support of the Korean Consulate and the KCCLA. The tournament will feature “all of the things that you’ve come to expect,” organizers report, “including roving masseuses, free lunches, gorgeous trophies, a game between Yilun Yang 7p and another top pro, and thousands of dollars in prizes. This is a tournament you won’t want to miss!”

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What Go Players Can Learn from Track and Field

AGA news - Thu, 21/07/2016 - 00:19

John Zombro, a life time Track and Field athlete and coach recently attended the Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR and wrote up some of the things he learned from the character, philosophies and performance of the athletes. E-Journal photographer Phil Straus thought this list “is excellent for serious go players, as well for potential Olympic athletes” and sent along some illustrative photos. 

Intensity: When Joe Kovacs placed second in the shot put, and secured his place on the team to Rio, it was an excellent example of intensity. The shot put requires the athlete to concentrate all his/her power into less than a second. Kovacs finished fourth in 2012 and needed a breakthrough throw to make the team. The intensity of his place-garnering throw rocked the stadium as loudly as his roar, and the crowd’s applause.

Aggression: Sometimes in life, and in sport, we need to be aggressive. There is no event where this is more true than in the 100 meters, and when Justin Gatlin toed the line for the final, it was all about aggression. Athletes learn to turn this on before an event, and turn it off soon afterward, but in the heat of battle, well, it’s all about the fight. Gatlin won the 100 going away in a true show of aggression.

Confidence: Not to be confused with arrogance, confidence is that trait exemplified when an athlete refuses to have doubts, trusts his/her training, and is resolute to fully utilize talent and give a maximum effort. There were many examples of this at the trials, but none better than Emma Coburn in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Coburn, easily the class of the field and a Rio medal contender, exuded confidence before the start and throughout the race.

Humility: Bernard Lagat dropped out of the men’s 10,000 meters on a hot evening, unable to stay with leader Galen Rupp at the 7400 meter mark. At 41 years of age, Lagat, a champion many times over at 1500/mile and 5000m, just humbly commented that he could not stay with the leaders and was determined to come back in the 5000 and make yet another Olympic team. To the surprise of some, but not to others (including this author), when the pack exploded for the finish over the 5000’s last lap, Lagat took the lead in the homestretch and impressed us all.

Poise: Brenda Martinez was in contention for a medal in the women’s 800m, when, on the final turn, her stride collided with that of Alysia Montano, and her chances of making the 800 squad were dashed. She did not blame Montano, and instead said the collision was a “blessing in disguise.” She stated “The track doesn’t care about your feelings, you’ve just got to move forward”. She did just that in the 1500m final, gathering herself to take the third and final spot on the team to Rio in a photo-finish.

Focus: Molly Huddle, winner of both the women’s 5000m and 10,000m, in similar fashion, gave us a lesson in focus. She won both races by leading from the gun and then gradually pulling away from the field. Her ability to concentrate is only matched by her talent and work ethic in training.

Patience: Chaunte Lowe, the American record holder in the women’s high jump, a veteran at 32 years of age and mother of 3, convincingly won the women’s high jump. After a rather unsuccessful 2015, she patiently put in the training, and ruled the vertical leap. “I’m not quite done yet”, she said.

Execution: Sometimes you just have to execute. Have a race plan and follow it, but also see what develops and react appropriately. Allyson Felix executed in the women’s 400m, displaying a homestretch gear that no one else could summon, and going 49.68 in the process. Still recovering from a severely sprained ankle from a training injury in April, Felix stated that she knew she had to be patient and use her sprinter’s speed in the final 100m, regardless of how her ankle felt or what the other runners were doing. Always a class act, she attributed her victory to her coach, physical therapist, chiropractor, and massage therapist. Executing her race plan effectively “executed” all competitors.

Celebration: Occasionally we see athletes who deliver phenomenal performances but are never satisfied. “If only I’d trained harder, done this or that, or the weather was blank,” has been said a few times. But there is also something to be said for living in the moment. Sam Kendricks, in winning the men’s pole vault with a jump of (5.91m) 19’-4.5”, was jubilant in his victory. He took the microphone and thanked the athletes, the coaches, the spectators, and really shared the joy in his accomplishment. Kendricks was a graceful champion and captured the spirit of the trials.

Appreciation: In this modern world, we sometimes lose track of those human qualities mentioned above. We have so many distractions in our connected, electronic, social media-driven world. However, I can say for certain that those Olympic ideals of striving to go higher, farther, faster, and to do it with honor and respect, were alive and well in Eugene and they are pulsating in our Olympians. Go USA!

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Go Spotting: Pokemon Go Go

AGA news - Wed, 20/07/2016 - 23:18

Pokemon Go Go: Thanks to Matt Lecin and Ramon Mercado for sending this in.

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