News from the American Go Association

December 12, 2005
Volume 5, #107


YOUR MOVE: Organizing A Tourney; Go Equipment I: Go Equipment II
HARD TIMES AT THE GOBAN: Succeeding at Failure
2005.12.12.05 Pro Game Kobayashi-Konishi.sgf

ZHOU WINS IN CHI: Will Zhou 4d took top honors in the Chicago Winter Tournament on December 3. "As is often the case," said TD Bob Barber, "among the winners were students of our resident Pro, Huang Liping: Vivian Zhang and Will, who was only 3d at the Tacoma Congress, but that was way back in August." Barber added "We were joined this time by several members of the Kalamazoo, MI club, sporting their black "Got Aji?" t-shirts." 30 players par ticipated.
       Winner's report: 1st Place High Dan: Will Zhou 4d; 1st Place Low Dan: Thomas Capranica 1d; 1st Place Low Kyu: David Grenier 7k; 2nd Place Low Kyu: Rich Brown 3k; 1st Place High Kyu: Vivian Zhang 26k.

11-YEAR-OLD RICKY ZHAO TOPS IN PHILLY: Eleven-year-old Zhongxia "Ricky" Zhao of Cherry Hill, NJ went undefeated in all four of his games to win the grand prize of $200.00 in the December 4 Philadelphia Fall Open, co-hosted by the Philadelphia Baduk Association and the Penn Go Society. His final match was an intense 3-stone handicap game against Ho Won Yoon 3d that was eventually won on time. The tournament drew 30 participants, including 10 dan-level players. "Given that it snowed the evening before, initially we thought no one would be able to make it," reports organizer Peter Nassar, "but when Tournament Director Chuck Robbins appear ed, we knew everything was going to be okay. We packed the place to capacity, and signed up 12 new AGA members and 3 renewed memberships to boot!" Co-organizers for the tournament were Peter Nassar, Matt Bengtson, and Sa Hun Hong; Chuck Robbins was the TD.
       Winner's report: In the A Division (1 kyu and stronger), Ricky Zhao placed first (4-0), An Mu placed second (3-1), Ho Won Yoon placed third (3-1), and Ahn Suk placed fourth (2-2). In the B Division (2 kyu to beginner), Nam Tran placed first (4-0), Craig Brown placed second (4-0), Andy Chen placed third (3-1), and Kenny Kim placed fourth (3-1). Division prizes were drawn from registration fees and also sponsored by Mr. An Mu (watches) and Slate and Shell (Go Books).

VICTOR & VICTORIA LI VICTORIOUS IN PAIR GO TOURNEY: Victoria Li 18k and Victor Li 14k won the Te wo Tsunaide Pair Go T ournament in Denver on December 3. Jasmine Sailing was the Tournament Organizer and Bruce Young was Organizational Assistant; the Pairings Director was Tim Rand and David Weiss the Pairings Assistant. Cherie Sailing did registration.
       Awards report: 1st place: Victoria Li 18k and Victor Li 14k; 2nd place: Jessica Lin 7k and Bill Manka 2k; Fighting Spirit: Katherine Lin 10k and Kellin Pelrine 7k; Most in Sync Pair: Jasmine Sailing 8k and Kent Evenson 3k.

OZA DISCOUNT DEADLINE TODAY: Today is the deadline for guaranteed reduced rates for lodging at the Fiesta Casino in Las Vegas for the Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament in January. "If you're planning to come, now is the time to sign up!" says organizer Ray Kukol.

KONG AND ZHOU REACH CHANG-KI CUP FINALS: Kong Jie 7P, who won last year's inaugural event, will face Zhou Heyang 9P in the finals of the Chang-Ki Cup in China. The Cup honors Ing Foundation founder Ing Chang-Ki. To commemorate Ing, the tournament starts each year on his birthday, October 23rd. It has one of the highest purses among Chinese pro tournaments, awarding the winner about $50,000 US, and is known as the "small Ing" to distinguish it from the international Ing Cup that is held every fourth year. Both Kong and Zhou lost one game to their opponents, Zhou Ruiyang 3P and Xie He 6P respectively, in the best of three semi-final matches.

KOBAYASHI WINS "STRONGEST WOMAN" IN JAPAN: Kobayashi Izumi 6P, daughter of well-known Kobayashi Koichi 9P, granddaughter of Kitani Minoru 9P, and wife of Cho U 9P, defeated Konishi Kazuko 8P to win the Japanese Strongest Woman (Saikyo) Tournament for the first time. This victory completes a Grand Slam for Kobayashi, t hat is, she has now won each of the four major women's tournaments in Japan: the Kisei (two times, in 1998 and 1999), the Meijin (three times, in 2001, 2003, and 2004), the Honinbo (held for three terms in 2001-2003), and the Strongest Woman. She is the first player ever to achieve this. You can see pictures at  We have attached an SGF file of her Strongest Woman game against Konishi, courtesy of the site.

KOBAYASHI SATORU TOP WINNER IN JAPAN: Although he hasn't won a single title this year, Kobayashi Satoru 9P is at the top of the list of game winners in Japan in 2005, with 44 wins and 14 losses for a 76% success rate. The current top title holder, Cho U 9P, is fifth on the list with 38 wins and 23 losses for a 62% rate; it obviously matters which games you win. Kobayashi was the challenger against Cho in the Meijin this year, but lost 3-4. Kobayashi did have the satisfaction of eliminating Cho from the current fight for the NEC Cup, defeating him in a quarterfinal match by 3.5 points.

REDMOND LOSES ONE: Michael Redmond 9P was defeated by Otake Hideo 9P in a preliminary round of the 31st Kisei, reports John Power on the Nihon Kiin's home page. Native Californian Redmond went to Japan as a teenager and has risen to the highest level in the Nihon Kiin.

MORE TREASURE: The second edition of the famous Treasure Chest Enigma by Nakayama Noriyuki is now available from Slate & Shell. You can check out sample pages and order it at In our recent review of the first edition (12/9 EJ) we neglected to note that the translators were John Powers and Richard Dolen.

ISRAELI GO CONGRESS RETURNS: The 2nd Israeli Go Congress and Annual Championship is coming up December 22-24 in Rosh Ha'Ayin, Israel, reports Israeli Go Association President Shavit Fragman. Organized by the Mind Go Club, a chapter of AGA, the competition will select two champions as well as featuring go teaching workshops, 9x9 competitions and special attention for youth players. Details and registration at or email

HEARING GUO: Guo Juan 5P is now offering audio go lessons online, where you can listen to her comments and watch variations being played out. The system has just been launched and there are several free sample games available. "Any suggestions will be most welcome!" Guo Juan tells the EJ.

2005 YEARBOOK UPDATE: The 2005 American Go Yearbook will be going to press later this month and should be out in early January. The Yearbook features a selection of the best of the E-Journal's columns, reviews, games and more, along with a CD including every EJ and game from the year. To ensure that you receive your copy, join the AGA now or make sure your existing membership is up-to-date:

YOUR MOVE: Readers Write

ORGANIZING A TOURNEY: "Are there any go tournaments coming up around St. Louis, Missouri" writes Steve Borthick. "If not, could anyone possibly consider holding a go tournament around here?"
Your best bet is to email Sam Zimmerman at and get a list of players/emails in your area. If interest can be drummed up on having a tournament someone is usually willing to di rect.

GO EQUIPMENT I: "In response to Anton Ninno's question, 'Why is it so hard to buy a decent go set?' (11/28 EJ), here in Austin, Texas, one can buy quality go boards, stones and stone bowls at Great Hall Games" {}writes Dennis Sustare. "They also have an outstanding assortment of books on go. Perhaps the AGA could maintain an online list of such stores at locations throughout the US, so interested parties could browse in their own home towns. Of course, every town with an active go community should be so fortunate to have a store like Great Hall Games!"

GO EQUIPMENT II: "If you live near or in a big city, their Chinatown might be a good place to look for quality boards," suggests Joe Maia. "Many years ago I purchased my 2-inch table board from a retailer in Chinatown in Philadelphia, PA. They carried go products from Ishi Press, as well as go products imported from the Far East. I believe the store was called the 'Chinese Cultural and Arts Center" on 10th street, just south of Race Street. I've also visited a number of other stores in Philadelphia's Chinatown - some of them carry basic quality stones and boards, as well as go books imported from the Far East. I imagine that Chinatowns in other cities would be the same."

By Peter Schumer 3k
       What happens on the surface is just a dim reflection of the deeper planning going on invisibly below. This is what I tell my students about the nature of a good go game where the actual game record is a mere shadow of the carefully worked out threats and counter-threats, plans and counter-plans, attacks, defenses and myriad variations that never actually surface.
       A few months ago a Japanese friend told me that she thought there was an old go board somewhere at Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto. A month or so passed and I really couldn't remember if she had said Daitokuji or Daikaku-ji or Daigo-ji or some other similar-sounding revered temple ground. In the meantime I made several trips to Daitoku-ji, a prominent set of Zen temples of the Rinzai sect whose sprawling grounds in the northwest of Kyoto include 24 main temples originating in the year 1319. On earlier trips I visited some of the most famous subtemples including Daisen-in with its revered rock garden and Koto-in with its bamboo grove and lovely moss garden. But there seemed to be no mention of go.
       A couple weeks ago I visited a few more of Daitoku-ji's subtemples including one called Ryogen-in. Built in 1502, this temple is fairly well-known for an elegant entry gate, an inner rock garden acclaimed as the smallest Zen garden in Japan, and an older rock and sand garden d esigned by Soami during the Muromachi Period in the 13th Century. But what leapt out to me was a faded wooden placard listing a golden lacquer goban among the temple's treasures. Even more intriguingly, the goban was used in a match played between the great shoguns Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu sometime in the 1590's. I had never read about this go board anywhere and knew if I could just get a glimpse of it, maybe even surreptitiously snap a quick picture, I'd have a great coup for the E-Journal.
       "Absolutely not" -- or the Japanese equivalent -- was the response from the woman at the entry gate when I asked whether I could see the board. Asking again, when a more senior person took over at the ticket window, I was told that it was not being shown now. If not now, then perhaps next week, next month, next year? Well... the question was as well-deflected as a duffer's kosumi and I realized my line of questioning was futile .
       Back at my office the next day, I had Kawata-san, one of the helpful and efficient Japanese office workers, call the temple and ask about the go board. I hoped she could explain that I was a college professor teaching foreign students about this very game and that I was extremely keen on getting to see their proud treasure. Perhaps with her native Japanese and command of the nuances of making polite requests, things would work out. I checked back at the office several times, but each time Kawata-san said that there was no answer.
       Finally, she said that she had gotten through and discussed the go board with them. "But you cannot see it," she said. "Why not?" "Because it's been stolen!" Apparently when the temple staff did an inventory recently, the board could not be found. They assume that a thief has taken it; what a terrible shame!
      &nb sp;My discussions with the people at the temple were just another example of superficial exchanges masking what is often unsaid, the hidden knowledge beyond our conversation, just as the patterns of a go game are shadows of the thoughts that guide the stones. And even though my little adventure seemed at first to have left me empty-handed, I nevertheless came away with this story of a real "traveling go board."

HARD TIMES AT THE GOBAN: Succeeding at Failure
By Joel Turnipseed 4k
      The little Panda Egg dialog box popped up. "You have been promoted to 4k." took long enough. But it's progress. Isn't it? This game is enough to drive you nuts. Or to a vacation, which as much as anything probably accounts for my finally making progress. I had just returned from three weeks in Greece with my wife and daughter and thought I was getting close even before we left. I took some tesuji books with me and read them on sun-bleached plazas and on the beach while the salt dried on my skin. With the bright Mediterranean light, it seemed like I was seeing things with new eyes.
      On our way back to Minneapolis, we stopped in New York City to see Terry Benson and his wife Kathy. After a nice dinner and a few beers, Terry and I set out the goban and played a two-stone game. Even under-handicapped against an experienced shodan and despite several exceptionally bad moves, it was close. Until I died. So, confidence set in and a week or two later I'm an IGS 4k after two very long years stuck at 5k.
      After failing spectacularly at my famous Shodan Challenge three years ago in Houston - I swore I'd be shodan by the 2004 Congress in Rochester and managed to barely make it from 5k to 4k -- I felt like go had gotten the best of me. This defeat was piled on top of other failures, incl uding not finishing a next book and - well, you don't need a tiresome recital of my failures. Trust me, they are many, including the fact that I still owe someone a beer for failing to make shodan.
      But's a hard-to-shake fascination, isn't it? Perhaps the feeling that you're always on the verge of getting permanently better -- or irrevocably worse - with each move is part of its allure. It's got some analogical potential, that.
      Then again, I always suspect bullshit when it comes to analogies and parables. This Shodan Challenge itself started as a kind of bullshit, which isn't to criticize its origins (or parables): life is frequently a very elaborate process of bullshitting. When Terry provoked me into the taisha joseki, that was a kind of small-scale bullshit and I bit bigtime. If my Shodan Challenge turned out to be even bigger bullshit - well, at least I was playing the game.
   ;    Now we're all in this together, all fifty crazy 2006 Challengers, wondering if we'll ever know enough. But there's no destination here. Just process. Like life (damn you, analogies!). You know twice as much as the guy next to you? Great. You know twenty of 10,000 things and he knows ten. It's all a matter of paying attention, possessing a degree of intelligence, and carrying on with a joy for the game. You'll never know enough-but that's no reason to quit.
      As to failure? There's no vacation from that. As Beckett admonished us: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." Heh, now there's a challenge.
      So I'll see you at the Oza, Challengers. And at the Go Congress in Asheville. We'll spend some hours banging our heads against the goban together and toss back a drink in celebration of our failures. Which we just may, some day, come to count among our successes.


December 17: Arlington, VA
Holiday Helper
Allan Abramson 703-684-7676

December 17: Davis, CA
Davis/Sacramento Quarterly Tournament
Fred Hopkins 916-548-8068

December 18: Iowa City, IA
All-Iowa Go Tournament
Duncan H. Brown 641-472-7066

December 22-24: Matnas Lev Afek, Israel
2nd Israeli Go Congress and Annual Championship
Shavit Fragman

January 7-8: San Francisco, CA
14th Annual Jiang Zhu Jiu Goe Tournament
Ernest Brown 415-641-1452

January 14-15: New York, NY
The 3rd Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament
Roy Laird 917-817-7080

January 14-15: Las Vegas, NV
The 3rd Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament
Ray Kukol 702-616-8360

January 14-16: Evanston, IL
7th Annual Wint er Workshop with Yilun Yang
Mark Rubenstein 847-869-6020

January 15: Somerville, MA
MGA Winter Handicap Tournament
Zack Grossbart 617-497-1232

Published by the American Go Association
Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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