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In Memoriam: Roger P. Hjulstrom

Tuesday February 20, 2018

Roger P. Hjulstrom passed away on February 13 after a brief illness. He was 62. A self-taught go player and early AGA member,2018.02.19_Roger P. Hjulstrom Hjulstrom (right) enjoyed sharing his love of the game, and taught hundreds of people how to play over the course of decades. He kept the score sheets of tournaments that he organized on a shelf next to the dining table, along with many go books. He also kept a stash of extra chairs to provide additional seating for go gatherings at his house.

In the early days of computer go, Hjulstrom wrote his own go-playing program, and his interest in go was only heightened by the AlphaGo phenomenon. He continued to play in person weekly, and online against computers, improving his playing strength.

He once told a story about how he had invited several Chinese go players from nearby Virginia Tech, for one of the many go get-togethers in his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. The players were from different parts of China, and at one point began discussing the correct way to make dumplings. Soon, Roger’s kitchen was filled with flying flour and excited people sharing their own methods for the ancient arts, translated to a distinctly human, and warm meeting of minds and hearts.

The family will have a service in Massachusetts near his childhood home.

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The Power Report (2): Ida keeps lead in Honinbo League despite loss

Tuesday February 20, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Xie wins LG Cup: The best-of-three final of the 22nd LG Cup was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo in early February. This is a Korean-sponsored tournament, but the finalists were Iyama Yuta of Japan and Xier Erhao of China, so the sponsors were probably happy to see the game staged overseas. The Nihon Ki-in stepped forward because a Japanese representative had made an international final for the first time since Cho U in 2005 (the 9th LG Cup, which Cho won). Japanese fans are keen to see international success, so staging the tournament made sense for the Nihon Ki-in. Letting Iyama play on home ground might also help him. Xie Erhao, who is just 19, was virtually unknown here, so expectations were high that Iyama would score his first success in a major international tournament. However, Xie is a member of the top group of young players in China, where he is best known for reaching the semifinals of an international tournament, the Bailing Cup, when he was 14. In fighting ability, he turned out to be more than a match for Iyama. In the first game, played on February 5, Xie (W) scored a convincing win, securing a resignation after 180 moves. In the second game, played on February 7, Iyama was doing badly, but he managed to pull off an upset win by half a point. However, in the third game, played on February 8, Xie displayed precise reading and excellent positional judgment and won by resignation after 226 moves. This is Xie’s first international title. First prize is 300,000,000 won (about $280,000).

Park wins New Year’s Cup: The sixth CCTV New Year’s Cup, a tournament held by a Chinese TV station to celebrate the Chinese New Year, was held in Beijing on February 5 to 7 (actually a little before the Chinese New Year, which came on February 16 this year, but CCTV wanted to telecast the games before the winter Olympics started). This is an irregular knockout tournament for the top players from China, Korea, and Japan. Ke Jie represented China, Park Junghwan Korea, and Ichiriki Ryo Japan. The Japanese representative should have been Iyama Yuta, but he was busy with the LG final. The selection of the player challenging Iyama in the Kisei title match to take his place could be taken as de facto recognition of Ichiriki’s standing as Japan’s current number two. In these three-player knockout tournaments, the players draw lots for the initial pairing, in which two of them play each other; the winner then plays the third player; the winner of that game then meets the winner of the first game in the final.
In the first game, Park (white) beat Ichiriki by resignation after 196 moves. The latter then played Ke; taking black, Ichiriki had a good game, but Ke managed to pull off an upset, winning by 2.5 points. In the final, Park (white) beat Ke by resignation after 184 moves. Park’s victory came after four successive wins by China. I also read on the Net that this win enable Park to displace Ke as the world’s number one in a popular ranking system.
Btw, the report in Go Weekly mentioned that, thanks to his match with AlphaGo at the Future of Go summit last year, Ke Jie became well known to the Chinese public. As a result, he received an award as the top sportsman of the year, beating our world champions in sports like table tennis. Ke commented that his followers on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, increased nearly one hundredfold, to just under four million.

Ida keeps lead in Honinbo League despite loss: After five rounds in the 73rd Honinbo League, Ida Atsushi 8P, the unsuccessful challenger from four years ago, seems to have a good chance of getting another crack at Iyama Yuta, also known as Honinbo Monyu. Ironically, he has held on to the sole lead despite losing his latest game. In the final game of the fourth round, Ida beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P by 2.5 points; this took his score to 4-0, and he was the only undefeated player. In the fifth round, Ida lost to Yo Seiki, but his nearest rival, Ko Iso 8P, also lost his fifth-round game, so Ida remained one point clear of the field. In another interesting game in the same round, league newcomer Shibano Toramaru 7P beat Kobayashi Satoru 9P; this improved his score to 3-2, so he now has a good chance of keeping his place in the league despite his bad start (two losses in the opening three rounds). Results since my last report are given below.
(Jan. 25) Ida (B) beat Kobayashi Satoru by 2.5 points.
(Feb. 1) Shibano Toramaru (B) bear Kobayashi Satoru by resig.
(Feb. 8) Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Ida by resig.
(Feb. 15) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Ko Iso by resig.

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Categories: Japan,Main Page
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Yuan Zhou sweeps DC Chinese Lunar New Year tourney

Monday February 19, 2018

Forty five players participated in the 11th annual Chinese Lunar New Year tournament on February 10th. The event was held2018.02.19_Ching-Sung Chin(l)-yuan-zhou-khalsa-clny for the first time at the National Go Center in Washington DC with 2018.02.19_dc-screenshot_stream_room_camoverall first place going to Yuan Zhou 7D with a 4-0 record. Josh Lee 6D was second at 3-1.

Nathan Epstein has been building up the broadcasting capabilities at the National Go Center and was joined in the broadcast room by local AGA Pro, Eric Lui 1P, for live streaming of all rounds on Twitch. They were joined with remote live commentary by Sichen Zhong, Michael Fodera, Stephen Hu, and Robert Tirak.

Other winners this year were:
3D-4D division – Frederick Bao 4D (1st), Bryan Kim 4D and Yangqing Sun 3D (2nd)
1D-2D division – Quinn Baranoski 2D (1st), Ryan Hunter 2D and Chang Choi 1D (2nd)
1K-5K division – Patrick Sun 5K (1st), Kathy Qiu 3K and Mike Lash 4K (2nd)
6K-8K division – Sarah Crites 6K (1s2018.02.19_Ching-Sung Chin(l) Hank Chao (r) IMG_5133t), Bob Crites 6K and Joon Lee 6K (2nd)
9K-12K division – Alvin Pee 12K (1st), Raymond Luo 10K (2nd)
13K-19K division – Qidi Xu 15K (1st), Julian Turim 15K (2nd)
20K+ division – Antonina Perez-Lopez 20K (1st), Ethan Tung 22K and Justin Wang 30K (2nd)

“A special thanks to our sponsors for this tournament who have donated great trophies and prizes each year,” said Gurujeet Khalsa. Dr. Yeni Wong, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), Culture Center of TECRO, and Financial Accounting Tax Specialists, Inc. as well as the organizers: Great Falls Go Club, (Dr. Ching-Sung Chin) and Hai Hua Community Center (Mr. Hank Chao).

photos: bottom left: Ching-Sung Chin (left), Khalsa and Hank Chao (right); top left: Twitch stream room; top right: Ching-Sung Chin, Yuan Zhou and Khalsa. 

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AlphaGo vs. Alphago; Game 16: “Unusual and different”

Monday February 19, 2018

This game features the mini Chinese opening, and “It’s a fighting game and gets exciting pretty quick,” says Michael Redmond 9p2018.02.16 AlphaGo16 in his commentary on the AlphaGo self-play game. “It’s unusual and different.”
“Thanks so much for continuing the AlphaGo 50 Self-Played-Game Series!” said commenter dontbtme. “It has a very unique flavor while still displaying diverse openings, plus the players being equally matched, the tension rarely drops till the very end.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and see below for the sgf commentary. To support this content, please consider joining or renewing your membership in the American Go Association; click here for details.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.

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The Power Report (1): Murakawa to challenge for Judan; Ueno wins Women’s Kisei; Yashiro to challenge for Women’s Meijin title

Monday February 19, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.02.19_Murakawa-56jyudan0_1-2

Murakawa to challenge for Judan: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 56th Judan title was held at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka on January 25. Murakawa Daisuke 8P (right) of the Kansai Kiin, playing white, beat Shida Tatsuya 7P of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in by resignation. Murakawa, who won the 62nd Oza title in 2014, will make his first challenge for the Judan title. Shida missed his chance to make his first top-seven title challenge. The best-of-five with Iyama Yuta will start on March 6.

Iyama defends Kisei title:  The second game of the 42nd Kisei title match was held at the Hachinohe Hotel in Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, on January 25 and 26. After a solid opening, a difficult fight started. Unlike the first game, in which Ichiriki had some chances, Iyama (left), playing black, kept the initiative throughout and secured a resignation 2018.02.19_Iyama-42kisei4_10after 171 moves. This win may have been a little disheartening for Ichiriki, who had now lost 11 games in a row to Iyama (all title games, including the NHK Cup final). The third game was held at the Olive Bay Hotel in Nishiumi City, Nagasaki Prefecture, on January 31 and February 1. The venue is a little unusual: it is a luxury hotel that was originally built as a guest house for the Oshima Shipbuilding Group and is located right next to a shipbuilding yard. This game was marked by complicated fighting among multiple unstable groups that spread from the top through the centre to the bottom. Perhaps the key move was a brilliant sabaki (settling a group) move with which Iyama (white) foiled a fierce attack by Ichiriki (below right); this led to a counterattack by Iyama. In the desperate fighting that followed, Iyama’s sharper play enabled him to seize the initiative. Ichiriki resigned after White 238. He now faced his first 2018.02.19_Ichiriki-42kisei4_11kadoban (a game that can lose a series).

   The usual pattern in a best-of-seven is to alternate breaks of one week and two weeks. So far, however, in this match games were being played once a week. The reason was to free up some time for both players to represent Japan in international tournaments (see reports below). Both players failed in these tournaments, so as far as psychological aftereffects were concerned, conditions were perhaps even. The fourth game was played at the Ofunato Citizens Culture Hall in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture, on 2018.02.19_Xie left, Iyama right-22lg3_2February 15 and 16. Once again, Ichiriki (white) was unable to get an advantage in the middle game, so he staked the game on a large-scale counterstrategy. However, Iyama calmly parried his attack, even letting him bring a dead group back to life, since he could secure a safe territorial lead anyway. Ichiriki continued to go all out, but his play was unreasonable and he had to resign after Iyama killed a large group.

   This was a very disappointing series for Ichiriki. In his first title match with Iyama, the 42nd Tengen at the end of 2016, he had at least won a game, but now he had been shut out in three successive title matches. Becoming challenger for three titles in a row is actually an impressive achievement, but it sets you up for some rough treatment at the hands of the grand slam champion. For Iyama, this was his sixth Kisei title in a row, the second-best run in this title after Kobayashi Koichi (who won the 10th to 17th titles). He had now maintained his grand slam for four months (since winning back the Meiijin title on October 17 last year). This is his 49th title, which puts him in sole fourth place, behind Cho Chikun (74), Sakata Eio (64), and Kobayashi Koichi (60). He is also sitting on a winning streak of 14 games in title matches, so he may challenge his personal record of 18 successive title-match wins. The Kisei prize is 45 million yen (about $416,000). The age of Iyama continues.

Ueno wins Women’s Ki2018.02.19_Yashiro-30fmeijin0_1-2sei: The second game of the 21st DoCoMo Cup Women’s Kisei best-of-three title match was held in the Ryusei studio at the Nihon Ki-in on January 29. Taking black, Ueno Asami 2D, the challenger, forced Xie Yimin to resign after 253 moves. This was her second win, so she dethroned the champion and won her first title at the age of 16 years three months. This set a new record in this title, beating Xie’s 20 years two months, but not threatening the overall record for women’s titles—Fujisawa Rina’s winning the Women’s Aizu Central Hospital Cup (now called the Hollyhock Cup) at 15 years nine months. Ueno’s prize is 5,000,000 yen (about $46,000).

Yashiro to challenge for Women’s Meijin title: The play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina for the 30th Women’s Honinbo title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on February 1. Playing white, Yashiro Kumiko 6P (left) beat Izawa Akino 4P by resignation after 200 moves. Yashiro, who is 41, will be making her first challenge for this title. She won the 24th and 25th Women’s Honinbo Titles in 2005 and 2006. The best-of-five match starts on February 28.

Tomorrow: Xie wins LG Cup; Park wins New Year’s Cup; Ida keeps lead in Honinbo League despite loss

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Problem of the Week

Middle Game Joseki

Black to play