Lee Sedol 9P, the longtime #1-ranked player in Korea, has shocked the go world by announcing in a recent interview that he would “…definitely retire and move overseas within three years.”
Lee, 29 years old, is still at the top level of competition, and will probably be able to compete at that level for another four or five years. But the decorated pro says he wants to end his professional playing career at its height, rather than facing a possible decline.
“I’m going to quit while I’m still at the top,” said Lee in his recent interview, “I can still compete for a few more years, but what can I do after that? Competing and being at the top is an important part of who I am, as a fighter and a player.”
Lee has ambitious plans for his retirement as well, however, planning to teach and promote go abroad.
“I want to make go as popular as chess,” he explained.
For American players, at least, this may be good news – since Lee reportedly views the United States as the best place to expand the game.
The U.S. holds another appeal for Lee as well – his wife and young daughter have just moved to Canada for his daughter’s education.
After almost seven hours of intense competition, Xuyu Xiang 7D (at left in photo) won the 2013 Phoenix Chinese Week (PCW) Go Open on February 10 in Phoenix, AZ. Held on the Chinese New Year’s Day at the Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix, this was the ninth year for the PCW Open. Eighteen go players ranging from 15k to 7D competed in four divisions “and celebrated the Year of the Snake,” reports organizer Quan Li. “We had some young kids as well as a senior player close to 70 years old.” The Open attracted many spectators, Li reports, and winners were presented with specially-designed medals featuring a ying-yang logo made of titanium. “Every player enjoyed the games and friendship with other players,” Li adds, “We will meet again in the Year of the Horse.”
Results: Xuyu Xiang 7D was undefeated to win 1st place in Division A (high dan); Jason Lin 5D won 2nd place. Joshua Simmons 2D — also with straight wins – took 1st place in Division B (low dan & high kyu), Bill Gundberg 1k won 2nd place, Eric Lin 2D and Jeffrey Luo 2k shared 3rd place. Jared Hogrefe 5k, Richard Hardy 5k and Demir Zoroglu 4k won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively in Division C (mid kyu). Shane Edey, Denis Liu and Chiu Ly won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in Division D (low kyu), respectively. Note that Denis and Chiu are 11-year-old kids.
photo: Xuyu Xiang (l) playing Jason Lin; photo by Quan Li
The North American Go Convention continues tonight as professional go players Myungwan Kim 9P and Joanne Missingham 6P (at right, playing Pair Go; click here for the game record) give lectures, play simuls or provide game reviews from 7-10p in Parsippany, NJ. The action shifts south tomorrow, moving to McLean, VA (8200 Greensboro Drive, Suite 900) and then to GMU in Arlington for the weekend (3351 Fairfax Dr.)
Results from the NAGC Days Inn Cup New York Metro Open: Open Division (6d and above): 1st: Ruxu Cao 7d; 2nd: Ruinan Wang 7d and Zeyu Xu 7d (tie). Expert Division (3d-5d): 1st: Zhihong Ma 4d; 2nd: Justin Ching 3d; 3rd: Willis Huang 3d. Proficient Division (1k-2d): 1st: Xinyu Zhou 1d; 2nd: David Glekel 2d; 3rd: Yunxiu Zhang 1k. Intermediate Division (12k-2k): 1st: Dan Ambrose 4k; 2nd: Barbara Huang 7k; 3rd: Bab Crites 12k. Novice Division (13k and below): 1st: Sarah Crites 28k; 2nd: Eric Weiss 17k; 3rd: James-Lee Meredith 18k. There were 33 players in the Dan and 1k Division, 16 players in the Kyu Division, for a total of 49 players. There were 17 players in the Blitz Go tournament, and eight in the Pair Go tournament.
Click here for the Dan Division Cross Tab and the Kyu Division Cross Tab.
- Yue Zhang, Tournament Director; photo by Liang Yu
by Gabriel Benmergui
In my last column (The Spirit of Play: “What can I do to improve?” 12/31/2012 EJ) I discussed players who reach moderately high levels of play with little effort, especially regarding problem solving. Since those players often have a big effect on others, I think it would be valuable to delve deeper into the matter.
I find it damaging when I hear a strong player say “I got to X-Dan with little study. If you only play games and review you can get to X-Dan like me.” Such cases seem to prove that effort is a waste of time, but they’re really damaging because they discourage players from putting in the necessary work to improve.
The reality is that naturally strong players are quite rare. For each player that rather effortlessly reaches a moderately high level of play, there are thousands that do not. The “system” of just playing and reviewing simply doesn’t work for the vast majority of players. And despite their rapid improvement, these players are not really the clear success cases they seem; without proper effort they’re not going to reach the highest level they can achieve.
In the end, natural skill doesn’t really matter. It’s just not something you can control. What you can control is the effort and work you put into improving. Natural skill has a limit that effort does not have. We live in an age where one of the most renowned players of all time, Lee Changho 9P, fell extremely short in skill when compared to his teachers and his classmates, but through an immense amount of hard work Lee attained a place at the top of the world.
My Advice: For amateur players, go should first and foremost be about enjoyment. Do what pleases you most. However, if you want to improve, be ready to put some effort into it. Self-study, lessons, and reviewing your games will all help you get better. And when a naturally strong player crosses your path, learn what you can from them but ignore any advice that seems to offer an easy path to improvement. Slack training will never be better than proper study. But don’t take my word for it; here’s Lee Changho’s #1 tip to get stronger: “Solve life and death problems!”
Gabriel Benmergui lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentinian Champion in 2011 and 2012, he has studied go in Korea and now runs the Kaya.gs Go Server. Edited by Chris Garlock; photo by John Pinkerton
February 16: Columbus, OH
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GoGameGuru, the online go “hub” founded in 2010 by Australians David Ormerod, An Younggil 8P and Jingning Xue, started with a bang – literally. Ormerod and Xue were among the 469 passengers flying from Singapore to Sydney when one of the engines exploded four minutes into the flight. The captain was credited with averting what could have been one of the worst air disasters in history. In the wake of this narrow escape, Ormerod reassessed his life priorities, and dedicated himself to bringing go to the West, with the help of his two friends. “More than anything else, Western go needs a steady stream of new players,” Ormerod told the EJ. The result, GoGameGuru (GGG), is a rapidly-expanding nexus of useful information from the ground up, as well as premium services and products for everyone, especially new and intermediate players. A growing collection of essays such as “Thinking Big in Go” and “5 Tips for Dealing with Unexpected Moves” is available, along with problems, game analysis, extensive news coverage of important tournaments and events, and a weekly newsletter claiming more than 5,000 subscribers. GGG has a related Scoop.it account, where visitors and and specifically tailored search algorithms find and suggest related content, and account owners can easily distribute stuff and grow their communities of interest..
Part of GoGameGuru’s idea is to also operate a successful business. “If GGG can be financially viable, we’ll have more time and resources to introduce go to
more people,” says Ormerod. “If we achieve our goal, the market for go products and services will grow, making a better business environment for everyone.” Last summer, GGG established a partnership with Korea’s BadukTV, making 24/7 go TV available in the US. A subscription also includes access to translated lectures. More recently, GGG has opened an online store, featuring affordable and premium goods. All equipment ships for free, and to support American Go, and GGG will donate 10% of the proceeds from any sale to the AGA (when you use this link). When GGG says “premium,” they’re not kidding – the finest board available will set you back a cool $100,000. Personally, I’m not sure I need to own that one (some more reasonable options also look very nice), but I’d love to play a game on it some time. Use this link to do your shopping and support the AGA at the same time!
- Roy Laird
The AGA has just launched its Pair Go Facebook page. Calling it “a work in progress,” Rachel Small is collecting Pair Go photos from over the years to include on the page, and encourages others to share their photos as well. She also plans to stream photos live from Pair Go events. “Like” it to get Pair Go news, and post on the wall to let others know if you’re looking for a partner. This is the first time that the AGA has made use of online social networking to promote go, and Small notes that it’s appropriate that Pair Go is leading the way, “as it is an inherently social variation of the game.” Photo: Rachel Small with her Panda Net staffer partner at the Pair Go Friendship Match at the Tokyo Metropolitan Edmont Hotel in November 2012; photo by Steve Colburn.
“There is a persistent problem with the thinking behind many go articles (The Spirit of Play: “I’m Stuck” 10/29/2012 EJ, for example),” writes Terry Benson. “Everyone eventually gets stuck at some level and can’t get higher. Their game might change, but it doesn’t get better. Whatever rank they are will be their high water mark. That’s go and that’s life. There are limits in our brains which we can test but not break.
“So anyone who plays only because they are ‘getting better’ sooner or later will stop playing. Hopefully, before they give up, they’ll realize that go is a great game with many types of puzzles to solve and a wonderful way to connect to other people. They’ll switch from ‘I have to get better’ to playing for the pure enjoyment of stones, wood, patterns, and the thrills of the contest.
“What we need in this country — and indeed in the world — are millions of people playing go the way millions play tennis or golf or run. Most of them will be duffers; 35 handicap golfers, 9-minute milers, and, in go, 25 kyus. And their level of play will seem horrid to ‘serious’ players. But they are playing and they should be encouraged to play simply for the joy of playing. If they are having fun in the confusion of 25 kyu – leave them alone, especially if they’re kids! We know how often a won game gets away, even from stronger players. In some ways the game is even more fun at 25 kyu because literally anything can happen.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get better or trying to learn something new. There are levels of play that some people will find more satisfying than others. But improvement is a short term rationale. It’s far better to fall in love with the game.”
Benson, a 1-dan, has been playing go for 52 years and has served as president of the American Go Association, Managing Editor of the American Go Journal and is currently President of the American Go Foundation. He directed the video/webcast of the International Go Symposium 2012, where he gave a talk on promotion of the game.
The North American Go Convention continues on Sunday, February 10. Cut-off time is 8:45A for the first round. “Drive safe” urges organizer Edward Zhang. Highlights include 3-4 rated games in the Open, awards for day-trippers 4-win trophies and 3-Win certificate), the Blitz Go Final, Pair Go Final and the Award Ceremony. Four pros are on hand: Myungwan Kim 9P, Joanne Missingham 6P, Andy Liu 1P and Stephanie Yin 1P. Click here for photos from Day One or here for more photos on Facebook.
Round 1: zhaonian-chen-xuzeyu
Round 2: Cao-Ruxu-chen-zhaonian
Round 3: wang-jun-chen-zhaonian
Round 4: zhaonian chen-wang ruinan
Are you enrolled in a go club at school? If so, this is your chance to challenge other go clubs from all over North America. Registration is now open for the American Go Honor Society’s (AGHS) 14th annual School Team Tournament. In March, go clubs from the United States, Canada, and Mexico will compete for $3,000 in prizes, with some for every club. Which club will take home the glory of being North America’s strongest go club? Register from now to March 1st to take your shot at being the best. Gather your team mates and play in various divisions ranging from Novice to Varsity level. Teams must be composed of three people who are in high school or below and are all younger than 20. Each member of each team must be enrolled in the same school or learning institution, and each school/learning institution can enter a maximum of 3 teams for the tournament. For returning teams, there have been a few important changes in the rules this year: check them out and register on our website: Aghs.cc. The deadline to sign up is March 1st, and the tournament will be held on KGS on March 16 and 23, with rounds at 1 and 4 pm Eastern Time. - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor