James Kerwin 1P, the first Westerner to become a professional player at the Nihon Ki-in, has retired as of 31 March. A disciple of the late Iwamoto Kaoru 9P, Kerwin became professional 1-dan on February 14, 1978. The following year he won the 1-dan section of the Kisei tournament. Although he went back to the US to teach a couple of years later, Kerwin had retained his affiliation with the Nihon Ki-in. “I was informed that they now have a mandatory retirement rule, so I obliged,” Kerwin tells the E-Journal. “While I have retired from the Nihon Ki-in, I have not retired from go.”
“I have the deepest gratitude to the Nihon Ki-in for training me in the game I love so much and for accepting me as one of them,” Kerwin said in a note accompanying his official retirement letter. “During the years I lived in Japan I gained the greatest respect for the Japanese people and a love of their culture and art. I came to Japan because I could not reach my potential as a go player in my own country. When I returned to the United States, I wanted to help advance the level of teaching in the United States so other players could reach their potential without living abroad. Even today American players cannot reach their full potential here, but they can come much closer. I am pleased that I could contribute to that advance in a small way, and the Nihon Ki-in made that possible. I must also say the many efforts the Nihon Ki-in has made to assist Western go players are extraordinary.”
Three other players retired on the same day (which is the end of the financial year in Japan). They included Haruyama Isamu 9P, known in the West for his frequent instruction tours and for co-authoring a classic Ishi Press/Kiseido book Basic Techniques of Go.
- John Power; photo courtesy Nihon Ki-in
Steve Colburn has posted a short (2:43m) video of Chang Hao 9p’s comments on his recent game with Andy Liu (Game Commentary: Chang Hao 9P – Andy Liu 1P 3/23/2013 EJ) at the ACGA Spring Expo. “I wish I had gotten Andy as well but he was too quick,” says Colburn. “Andy first commented that ‘this was the most terrifying game I’ve ever played.” He also notes that “One missed translation from (Chang Hao’s) speech is ‘I would like to see more American go players in international tournaments in the future.” The ACGA held this event March 23-24 at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. Chang Hao’s translator was Yi Tong. photo: Chang Hao (left), Yi Tong and Andy Liu (right)
The British Online League’s fifth season opened on March 22. Eighteen teams of three players each, loosely organized geographically, will compete in three divisions through the end of the year in the “British Room” on KGS. The league was established in October 2009 to encourage interaction between players in different areas of the country and online play among members of the British Go Association (BGA), though only team captains need be members. There is a prize for the winning team in each division, funded from entry fees. The first division winner, which last season was Edinburgh, also holds the GoGoD Shield and each player in that team wins a GoGoD disk as part of their prize. The league is organized by John Collins on behalf of the BGA.
- Tony Collman, Correspondent for the E-Journal, based on reports on the BGA website
Leading go publishers are releasing a number of exciting new books that already seem destined to be classics in the field. Go Seigen’s 1-1 Point Modern Opening Strategy has just been published by Slate & Shell, based on a manuscript that had been thought lost for years. “Go’s deep but straightforward analysis of the power of the 1-1 point opening may well revolutionize opening theory,” says S&S. Adding to their legendary “Get Strong” series, Kiseido is offering Get Strong at Gote, which “explores the subtle strength of refusing to take sente.” In a related volume, Kiseido is re-releasing The Art of Aji Keshi, long out of print but back by popular demand “for players who want to master the ability of eliminating absolutely all play in a given situation.” From Yutopian comes a pair of books for players looking to make the jump to the next level. Making Bad Shape and All About Heaviness are “encyclopedic references no serious go player will want to be without,” promises Yutopian. Finally, SmartGo Books is releasing four brand-new books by the prolific 9-dan professional Michael Redmond — How To Die In Gote, The Joy Of Being Thick, The Wrong Direction and 21 Kyu in 21 Days – in 14 different apps and online platforms. A 50% discount is being offered on all the books above in a special 1-day offer that expires at midnight on April 1.
- David Stevenson
Paris is lovely in the springtime and especially so for go players, with the 41th Paris International Go Tournament taking place this weekend at the Lycée Louis Le Grand. With over 200 players are already registered, the 3-day tournament is one of the largest go events in Europe and is set for March 30 through April 1; click here for details and to register. Fans can also follow top-board action on KGS and on EuroGoTV.
Registration is still open for this weekend’s KGS 2013 Meijin tournament qualifier, which is once again sponsored by SmartGo. The February qualifier featured “many exciting games and drew more than 350 observers,” reports KGS admin Akane Negishi. The single-elimination qualifier will be held March 30-31 on an Asian/European daytime schedule (Round 1 starts at 6a EDT/3a PDT). Click here for details and to register; deadline is March 30 10:03a (GMT).
“A good program for playing go on Mac is Goban,” (Your Move/Readers Write: Mac Go? 3/25/2013) suggests Porter Howland. “It also works very well as a stand-alone .sgf reader, and I believe it can be used to play online. Goban and its underlying game engine are both open source and distributed freely under the GNU General Public License. Currently, the GNU Go engine is not the strongest; newer engines implement recently discovered algorithms that are more efficient. For example, the Many Faces of Go game engine by David Fotland.”
“For a real beginner, you can’t do much better than Anders Kierulf’s Go Kifu, for iPad (about $10),” writes David Erbach. “For desktop machines, Goban has the gnugo engine behind it, with a very nice interface. It’s plenty strong for a program, but doesn’t have Kifu’s tutorial mode, so it’s not quite as nice as a teaching tool.”
In addition to GNU Go, Ke Lu suggests PANDA-glGo; they’re both available on the IGS Pandanet site. Peter St. John flagged Wikipedia’s listof computer go playing programs and of course there’s always the AGA website’s go software page.
Yesterday, in the last remaining game of the Top 8 league, Noel Mitchell secured a win against Claas Roever to force a play-off for second and third place and, more importantly, the opportunity to challenge Roman Pszonka for the Championship. After a break for food, Noel and Claas moved straight into the play-off game. Noel was again victorious by a mid-game resignation. The dates for the first two Championship will be announced in the near future.
The go9dan.com game this Saturday between Lee Sedol 9P and Gansheng Shi 1P has been postponed “while we move go9dan’s main server to Hong Kong this weekend,” reports Michael Simon. The match will likely be rescheduled for Saturday, April 13 at 10p. Lee is 7-0 in the AGA-Europe Pro vs. Sedol 10-Game Series.
“The Spring Go Expo has something for everyone,” said organizer Michael Fodera as he announced the opening of the 2013 Spring Go Expo at Harvard University’s Student Organization Center at Hillel last weekend.
And so it did. Spread out across four connected areas in a student lounge, the Expo featured exciting performances, thoughtful presentations from a scholarly perspective and an exclusive 15-minute segment of the upcoming documentary film The Surrounding Game. The event was organized by The American Collegiate Go Association (ACGA) and the Harvard University Go Club and sponsored by the Ing Chang-ki Weiqi Association.
And for those who wanted it, there was plenty “real go,” with a self-paired tournament, plenty of space for casual play and simultaneous play with top players ranging from Ing Cup winner Chang Hao 9P to America’s newly minted pros Andy Liu 1P and Gangsheng Shi 1P. Narumi Osawa 4P, a Japanese pro currently touring the US, and US-based Chinese 1P Stephanie Yin also made generous use of their time, joining the others in simultaneous play and instruction. Mid-level players also had the opportunity to play Chinese National University Champion John Xiao and American 7-dan Ben Lockhart. The first round of simuls began at 9a on Saturday.
“Many go events focus on tournament play, but we also wanted to include teaching, and exposure to other aspects of Asian life,” Fodera continued. “Go is considered one of the ‘Four Accomplishments’ in China, so let’s learn more about the others,” he said, yielding the stage to Shin Yi-yang, an accomplished player of the qin. Meanwhile, calligraphers from The Chinese Culture Connection demonstrated their art, and drummers from The Rhode Island Kung Fu Club chased a large dragon throughout the space as attendees enjoyed a free lunch. While self-paired and casual games continued, filmmakers Cole Pruitt and Will Lockhart presented a 15-minute of their exciting documentary scheduled for release later this year. After a lecture by Prof. Elywn Berlekamp on “Coupon Go,” Liu played an exhibition game against Hao, losing by only 3.5 points.
On Sunday, while younger players competed in a Youth Tournament, more than 50 participants played and recorded games that were then analyzed in small groups by the professionals. Peter Schumer reprised his college go course talk from this year’s International Go Symposium. (click here to view Schumer’s Symposium talk), and Thomas Wolf described his work studying “The Mathematics of Seki.” Pruitt, Lockhart, Fodera and all the ACGA organizers can take pride in a job in a job well done and extended grateful thanks to the Shanghai Ing Foundation, especially its director, Lu Wen Zhen, and the Secretary General, Ni Yaoliang, who traveled from Shanghai to attend the event.
- report/photos by Roy Laird; collage by Chris Garlock
In an ironic showdown between the computer and ‘The Computer’, computer go program Crazy Stone defeated Ishida Yoshio 9P on March 20 at the sixth annual Computer Go UEC Cup in Japan. Ishida, 64, was nicknamed ‘The Computer’ in his prime, because of the accuracy of his counting and endgame skills. Rémi Coulum’s program took just four stones against the former Honinbo champion and won by 2.5 points. After the game, Ishida said he thought Crazy Stone was a “genius,” evincing special admiration for the program’s “calmness” and “flexibility.” Takao Shinji 9P also offered words of praise, calling one of the program’s moves “the kind of move a human would overlook.” UEC chairperson Takeshi Ito expressed his hope that the UEC Cup will continue to “function as a place where program developers can meet face-to-face and make technological changes,” adding that “we should never forget the human being using the programs to play the game.” Rather than seeing computer go advancement as another competition, Takeshi said he believes computer go program technology “should be useful for and able to enrich the hearts of human beings.” Coulom and Crazy Stone also won the 6th Computer Go UEC Cup a week earlier, defeating the defending champion, Zen. For game records and more information about the Ishida-Crazy Stone match, click here.
- Annalia S. Linnan, based on a longer report on Go Game Guru
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for The Surrounding Game documentary team. They launched an online “collaborative game,” premiered an extended preview of the film at last weekend’s well-attended Spring Go Expo in Boston and kicked off a campaign to raise $30,000 to finish their film. Director Will Lockhart is especially excited about the collaborative game, saying that “You can go to the game and vote for your move, and at the end of the day the votes are tallied and one move is played per day! I think it should lead to a very interesting game.” An interesting thing to consider, says Lockhart, is “what level of play is reached when each move is decided by democratic vote?” The fundraiser aims to raise the caliber and potential impact of the The Surrounding Game “by hiring a professional editor and paying for legitimate distribution,” Lockhart explains. With less than a month to go, they’ve raised almost $6,000 thus far; click here to see who’s contributed.