News from the American Go Association

December 19, 2005
Volume 5, #109

26 DAYS TO OZA '06
YOUR MOVE: Got Yearbook? More On The One That Got Away; More On Go Equipment; Missing Janice
ASK THE PRO: How to Play White in Handicap Games
ATTACHED FILE: 2005.12.19 Pro Game, Luo-Choi,

D'ANDREA EDGES ROBBINS IN PRINCETON: Nick D'Andrea narrowly edged out Chuck Robbins in the December 11 Princeton Fall Self-Paired tournament. Though there were no formal prizes, D'Andrea of the Penn Go Society, played 7 games to Robbins 6, an impressive performance considering that tournament veteran Robbins holds the records for most games of the year (97) as well as the cumulative record for 1991-2005 (956). The tourney drew 21 players ranging from 4d to 33k, who played 37 rated games. "Three new members joined the AGA," reports organizer Rick Mott. Best winning percentages (75% or better) went to Marc Palmer 1d, Cory Rim 1d, Len Baum 4k, and Sudhir Vel 8k. Most improved was Doug Proll, winding up at -27 from his previous rating of -32.8.

26 DAYS TO OZA '06: Excitement is building for the upcoming Third Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament January 14-15, 2006 in New York City and Las Vegas. Hundreds of go players of all strengths from across the country are expected to turn out for what may well be the largest fields of the year. Get event and registration details now and see who's already signed up at

INVESTING IN GO'S FUTURE: "We just got the starter kit today! Without your help, our club would not have been possible." "This has been such a success that the school is offering me some more resources." "Our school's new Go Club will be off to a fantastic start!" Over the last two years the American Go Foundation (AGF) has sent out $32,000 worth of boards, stones, demo boards, books, Way To Go booklets, and small grants to over 300 programs in schools, clubs, and community centers around the country. This year the charitable arm of American go provided $4,700 in scholarships and $2,300 in subsidies for the two AGA-run US Youth Go Camps. The AGF also distributes free copies of Yasuda sensei's Go As Communication to teachers, supplements teacher pay, matches funds for books, and accepts tax-deductible donations to fund local go promotion. "American players who realize the value of the game and w ant to see it grow are the key," says AGF President Terry Benson. "We appeal to players to give what they can so we can keep going and do more." For details:

YAMASHITA & KONO IN TENGEN DEAD HEAT: Yamashita Keigo 9P came back to tie up his defense of the Tengen title against Kono Rin 7P at 2-2, after losing two games in a row in the best-of-five match. The final game will be on December 20th. After losing to Hane Naoki 9P as the challenger in 2003, Yamashita defeated Hane to take the title for the first time in 2004. Still in his twenties, Kono is competing in his first title match.

IT'S LEE V. LUO IN SAMSUNG CUP FINAL: The finals of the international Samsung Cup will be Lee Changho 9P of Korea against Luo Xihe 9P of China. Both players won their semi-finals matches by a score of 2-1, Lee over Hu Yaoyu 8P of China and Luo Xihe 9P over Choi Cheolhan 9P of Korea. Macelee reports on the site that Luo's third game with Choi was a remarkable event. A long capturing race ended in a triple ko, which is extremely rare, especially in pro games. Even more amazing is that Luo decided to give up the triple ko, letting twenty-six black stones escape and losing twenty-three of his own, playing elsewhere for compensation. It turned out to be a good decision since he won the game by 7.5 points. None of the pros watching the game had considered the possibility of just abandoning the ko fight, which could have resulted in a drawn game, if neither player was willing to giv e way. Tournament officials were talking about having to arrange a lightning game to settle who would be in the finals, when Luo startled everyone. We have attached an SGF file of the game for your enjoyment; the triple ko comes at move 245.
CHINESE TEEN DOMINATES WOMEN'S TEAM MATCH: Teenager Wang Xiangyun 1P of China proved unbeatable in the first round of the 4th Jeongganjang Cup. The remarkable teenager, playing in her first international match, won all four games, defeating Shinkai Hiroko 5P of Japan, Kim Eunsun 2P of Korea, Mannami Kana 3P of Japan, and Lee Daehyeoi 3P of Korea. The second session of this match between five-member women's teams from Japan, China, and Korea got underway on Sunday. In the first game of the second session, Wang Xiangyun defeated Osawa Narumi 3P of Japan, leaving only two more players on the Japanese team and three on the Korean. You can find pictures of Wang at  While things look good for the Chinese, the Koreans have Park Jieun 6P, a top player who once defea ted Rui Naiwei 9P in a ten-game match in reserve, and the Japanese still have one of their top title winners, Chinen Kaori 4P. Rui Naiwei herself is on the Chinese team, though she may not get to play. The Chinese team won last year, and the Koreans were victorious the first two years, with Park Jieun and Rui Naiwei, playing for Korea in 2003, doing the honors of being the last player standing.
GU LI AND LIU SHIZHEN IN CHINESE NEC FINALS: Gu Li 7P, who holds four titles currently in China, including the Mingren and the Tianyuan and considered the number one player there, defeated Zhou Heyang 9P to reach the finals of the Chinese NEC Cup against Liu Shizhen 6P, who beat Xie He 6P. Gu is also doing well in his defense of his Mingren title against Yu Bin 9P, winning the first two games last week in the best-of-five match. Yu defeated Luo Xihe 9P (see above) to become the challenger.

HALF-PRICE SALE ON MASTERGO: The creator of MasterGo is offering a special half-price New Year sale: $50 instead of the usual $100 cost. The software for studying joseki and fuseki includes tens of thousands of professional games. Available at for delivery in early January.

A YEAR OF GO: The 2006 Nihon Ki-in Ukiyo-e Calendar is now available at  This year's calendar contains six ukiyo-e (Japanese wood block prints) by Eizan, Tsukimaro and Chikanobu, among others. The $22 calendar is six pages plus a cover page and includes one print in its approximate original size featured for two months of the year. The cover shows these prints in post-card size. Supplies are limited. Thanks to Anton Ninno of the Syracuse Go Club for the tip.

JANICE KIM RETURNS: We're very pleased to welcome Janice Kim 3P back to the E-Journal today as a regular columnist in "Ask a Pro." Her dispatches from "Life in B-League" - which began back in the quarterly American Go Journal -- were always among our most popular columns, and many readers have asked after her in recent years. "A lot of people write me with questions," Janice says. "I often try to answer at length and thought perhaps other people might be interested." Author of the award-winning, best-selling go series "Learn to Play Go," Janice Kim was the 1984 Fuji Women's Champion, won 2nd place in the 1985 World Youth Championship and 3rd in the 1994 EBS Cup. She's now a columnist with Hikaru no Go in Shonen Jump magazine. Got a question for the Pro? Email it to us at today! All questions are welcome, though we can't promise that every one will be answered.

TREVANIAN DEAD AT 74: Rodney Whitaker, better-known by his pen-name Trevanian, has died at 74 from long-standing health problems. His novel Shibumi features Nicholai Hel, who is raised by a Japanese go master and becomes an assassin. "Genius, mystic, master of language and culture," reads the back of Shubumi, "Hel's secret is his determination to attain a rare kind of personal excellence, a state of effortless perfection... shibumi." Constructed like a game of go, the novel's sections are titled Fuseki, Sabaki, Seki, Uttegae, Shicho, and Tsuru no Sugomori. As noted on Sensei's Library, "This book is worth a read, especially for go players. In addition to the previously mentioned chapter titles, concepts such as aji keshi, ko, furikawari, hane, kaketsugi, nozuki, yosu-miru (and) kikashi are adopted to other endeavors." Whitaker was chairman of the radio, television and film department at the University of Texas when he wrote his first two books as James Bond spoofs. He wrote under at least five pseudonyms and the New York Times reports that "his 10 known published books sold more than 5 million copies and were translated into at least 14 languages."

YOUR MOVE: Readers Write

GOT YEARBOOK? "Rumor has it there's a year book available for 2005," writes Morrsarian Palmer. "What's it take to get one, if indeed it does exist?"
The 2005 American Go Yearbook and CD is about to go to press and is expected out in January. The selection of the best of the year's E-Journals is bigger, better and completely redesigned and is free to all Full members of the American Go Association. To be assured of getting your free copy, join now or make sure your membership is current. More info at

MORE ON THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: "I have a slight bit more info concerning the 'traveling go board' at Ryogen-in described by Peter Schumer (The One That Got Away, 12/12 EJ)," reports go writer and translator Richard Dolen. "When I went there last May to visit the board, it was also missing, and I managed to extract some of the story from one of the attendants, who also revealed that it had subsequently been recovered. While she didn't tell me any more details -- whether it was voluntarily surrendered, intercepted at an attempted sale, or what -- it would be fascinating to know the rest of the story. Apparently the board is still in the hands of the police, with no forthcoming estimate of when or if it would be returned to the temple compound. I will try to find out more about it, but my experience with this kind of story is that the more interesting it is, the less chance that the details will be released. It could be that the relatives of the thief wish to save their family from embarrassment, or perhaps the officials of Ryogen-in might not wish to expose their negligence or the police their possible bungling of some detail of the investigation. The public usually only finds out when two rival newspapers get hold of the story. When the one with less information leaks it, the other paper feels released from its promise of silence and in fact has to outdo the rogue paper with a more detailed story. Or we may simply have to wait for the next Nakayama essay." Dolen also noted that we misspelled the name of his fellow Treasure Chest Enigma translator John Power; we apologize most abjectly for the error.

MORE ON GO EQUIPMENT: "Here in Seattle, WA, Shiga's (4306 University Way NE, 206-633-2400) imports gobans, stones, bowls, and a small selection of go books," writes Aaron Fox. "Also, in Portland, OR, Powell's Books (available online at has a fairly large collection of go books. I was just there last week, and there were four shelves of a large bookshelf full, including some hard to find out of print titles." Adds Tom Hodges, "We have found go boards and stones at reasonable prices at Korean grocery stores. The last purchase was for $17. You do have to look closely at the stones. Sometimes they are stones that are small for the full sized board. If your town has a sizeable Korean immigrant community, then check out their stores for go equipment and even for leads to local clubs."

MISSING JANICE: "You failed to mention (Victor & Victoria Li Victorious In Pair Go Tourney 12/12 EJ) that Janice Kim 3P served as technical advisor for the Te wo Tsunaide Pair Go Tournament," writes Steve Shapland.

ASK THE PRO: How to Play White in Handicap Games
By Janice Kim 3P
     "Are there any books that show how to fight against handicap stones?" wonders a frustrated handicap-giver. "'Kage's Secret Chronicles of Handicap Go' doesn't mention anything about White's winning strategies against handicap stones."
     There isn't a lot of material available from White's point of view for handicap play, but you may be able to read books on handicap go and try to think of it from White's perspective. Books on star-point joseki will be useful for handling the handicap stones in the opening, and books on life and death will help not only in this area -- Black stones often get into trouble when you are surrounding and attacking, and White stones will need to make life in Black-controlled area in handicap games -- but in your general reading ability. I recommend Star Point Joseki (Yutopian), or the later volumes of Graded Go Problems for Beginners (Kiseido).
     Having played more handicap games as White than any other type of game, the strategy I adopt as White involves these elements:
     Usually I don't make any major changes to my game; you don't have to try to trick your opponent or do things that "don't work". Often because my stones are working just a little bit more efficiently than my opponent's, I can make up the gap without doing anything special. A key to this, which is the same for even go, is that you have to try to maintain sente, that is, to keep your opponent answering you, and try not to answer your opponent if you can help it. If you can play first in an area and take 20 points, and your opponent answers you and gets 10, or if your opponent makes a move and you can think Well I don't really have to answer that, I can play another move and make 10 points, you've basically made up a two-stone handicap.
     One idea specific to handicap go is that you have to slow it down and localize it a bit. The longer the game -- that is, the more moves -- the more chance there is for White's superior ability to have an effect. With that in mind I avoid large-scale josekis or situations that are settled quickly, and try to spread my stones out around the board involving Black on many different fronts. It's important to stay out and in front, avoiding situations where you are sealed in, and surround Black when you can. You can often do this by using moves that are more dynamic, choosing knight's moves and large knight's moves, rather than diagonals or straight extending. Usually the further apart your stones are while maintaining connectivity, the more efficient they are for surrounding; the trouble is staying connected, but often in handicap games Black lacks the ability to take advantage of weaker connections, so your stones can do more while staying out of tro uble.
     Particularly in lower handicap games, White can often play relatively safely in the opening and middle game, not trying to win it right there, and win in the endgame, just making up the point difference at the very end. You may want to look at the book Endgame (Ishi Press) for this, it's difficult study, but very worthwhile.
     Another idea is to play a game with reverse komi. That is, give Black some point compensation rather than handicap stones. You can try giving 7 points of reverse komi for each handicap stone you would ordinarily give and see how that works, adjusting as necessary.
Author of the award-winning, best-selling go series "Learn to Play Go," Janice Kim was the 1984 Fuji Women's Champion, won 2nd place in the 1985 World Youth Championship and 3rd in the 1994 EBS Cup. She's now a columnist with Hikaru no Go in Shonen Jump magazine. Got a question for the Pro? Email it to us at today! All questions are welcome, though we can't promise that every one will be answered.


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 Winter 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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