News from the American Go Association

January 2, 2006
Volume 7, #1

THE TRAVELING BOARD: The London Open Go Congress
ASK THE PRO: How To Study Go, Part 1
ATTACHED FILE: 2006.01.02 Pro Game, Lee-Lee, go4go.sgf

HIKARU TO PLAY AT HOTEL PENN OZA RECEPTION: "Hikaru Shindou, the young ne'er-do-well turned go master, will play at the New York reception for the Third Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament," reports organizer Roy Laird. The reception will be held at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Friday, January 13th and begins at 6P with hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and music by Japanese jazz guitarist Daisuke Abe. Then, at 8P, players can attend the first North American showing of the English-dubbed version of Hikaru No Go, the story that created a new generation of go players in Japan. There's still room on the sign-up list for the reception and screening, but only 100 people can attend, so register now to guarantee your spot! If you are already registered, but did not sign up for the reception, send an e-mail to Go to for more information about the biggest tournament in North America, and go to for more information about Hikaru No Go.

2005 AGA'S BIGGEST YEAR YET: 2005 went out with a bang as membership in the American Go Association hit a new record high with 2,112 members in December, capping a three-month run of increases. Virtually every membership category saw increases that set new records: the 1,637 Full members are the most ever. Youth membership achieved a new record with 454 members, and the 132 AGA chapters also set a new record. As previously reported, two new Life members also joined during the month, bringing the total to 37, also a record. For information on the benefits of membership, go to

CHANGHO AND SEDOL IN THE KUKSU: Lee Sedol 9P defeated Yun Hyunseok 8P by resignation to win the loser's section of the 49th Kuksu in Korea and now faces Lee Changho 9P in the finals of the tournament to determine the challenger for title holder Choi Cheolhan 9P. Changho won the first game of the best-of three match, which we have attached for your enjoyment, courtesy of the site. Changho has won this title eight times, holding it for five years in a row in the 1990s. He was also the challenger against title holder Choi Cheolhan 9P in 2004 and 2005. Sedol has never even been the challenger in this "National Championship" title, which is famous for having been won by Rui Naiwei 9P in 1999, the first time an "open" -- that is, not restricted to women -- pro title had ever been won by a woman.

JAPANESE TEENAGER TO MEET CHINA'S #1: The Japanese teenager, Iyama Yuta 7P, who amazed the go world back in October by defeating Kobayashi Satoru 9P to win the Agon Cup, will be playing a one game match with China's number one player Gu Li 7P in the Japan-China Agon Cup on January 10th. This international match and the corresponding national matches are sponsored by a Buddhist sect. The up-and-coming Iyama also took second place in the Shinjin O Tournament (King of the New Stars) in Japan in 2005.
RUI TAKES OVER IN WORLD WOMEN'S TEAM MATCH: When we last reported on the international team match between five-member women's teams from Korea, China, and Japan, Chinen Kaori 4P of Japan had just won her second game, defeating Fan Weijing 1P of China. Chinen then went on to defeat Lee Yeongsin 4P of Korea, leaving Korea with only one player, Park Jieun 6P. Chinen's next opponent was Rui Naiwei 9P, playing for China. Rui won by resignation, leaving the Japanese with only one player still standing, Koyama Terumi 5P, and ending the second phase of the contest. The third and final stage will begin in mid-January in Shanghai, China, with Rui pitted against Park, who defeated Rui a couple of years ago in a ten game match. The Chinese are still benefiting from the dramatic start of teenager Wang Xiangyun 1P, who defeated five opponents, and have a significant edge in the match, since th ere are two other Chinese players waiting in case Rui stumbles, Xu Ying 5P and Ye Gui 5P, while the Japanese and Koreans have only one player each left.
NEW TOURNAMENT MATCHES CHINA AGAINST TAIWAN: The 1st Yayi Cup was held just before Christmas, involving five member teams from mainland China and Taiwan. In this match all the team members played three games. The Chinese team, composed of Yu Bin 9P, Zhou Heyang 9P, Wang Lei 8P, Huang Yizhong 6P, and Wang Xi 5P, was much stronger, winning the match by a score of 13-2. Yu, Huang, and Wang won all three of their games. The Taiwan team was Zhou Junxun 9P, Lin Zhihan 7P, Xiao Zhenghao 5P, Chen Shien 5P, and Xia Daming 4P. Only Zhou and Lin managed to win a game, though Lin lost to Yu Bin by only a half point.
SHONEN JUMP PREVIEW: The new issue of SHONEN JUMP, the manga monthly, features the latest installment in Janice Kim's "Getting Go" column. This issue, February 2006, she discusses some of the younger international stars in Go. And in the Hikaru no Go manga, Hikaru continues his pursuits as an insei - even with the ghost of Sai by his side, he's finding the competition tougher than he'd expected. The issue hits newsstands January 3.

WHERE'S VOL. 6?: Sharp-eyed readers will notice that EJ numbering jumped from 2005's Volume 5 to 2006's Volume 7; that's because this is actually our seventh year of publication (we began in 2000) and when we began using the new issue numbering system last year we mistakenly called it Volume 5 when it should have been Volume 6. We apologize for the confusion.

THE TRAVELING BOARD: The London Open Go Congress
by Ron White 3k
        The London Open Go Congress is held annually on the last four days of the year in London. This year's 32nd annual Congress, organized by the British Go Association, was attended by nearly 140 players, including this lone American and many from across Europe. In fact, visitors from other countries outnumbered U.K. players, of which I was officially one, since I am currently living - and playing go -- in Reading, which is about 40 miles west of London. During the eight-game tournament, I played with players from Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Netherlands and even a player from the U.K.
        The Congress took place at the International Student House (ISH), which also offered optional accommodations ranging from a single room (my choice) to dormitory style living. There was even a restaurant on-site where we could grab a quick meal between games. The ISH is located near the heart of London and within easy walking distance of Madame Tussaud's, the Oxford Street shopping district, and London's West End. Not that we had much time for sightseeing.
       Tournament games were evenly spaced over the four days. Except for the first day, when the first game started in the afternoon, there was a tournament game in the morning and another in the afternoon. Each player got 90 minutes of playing time plus overtime of 20 moves in 5 minutes. Although I thought this amount of time was far more than I could use at my level of play, I discovered that it isn't that long after all, when both my opponent and I ended up in overtime during my very first game. After losing that game because of an oversight due to time pressure, I vowed to pace myself better and that was indeed the last game in which I had to play in overtime.
        My single U.K. opponent turned out to be Michael Culver, a well respected TV and movie actor, now retired. I would like to say I recognized him, or at least his name, but it was only after our game that someone told me who he was and that he had been in one of the Star Wars movies. As a weak AGA 3k, I entered as a 4k since I'd been told the European ratings are about a stone stronger than the AGA ratings. I ended up wining just two of my games so I am probably only a 5k here and hope to now receive an official BGA rating.
       There were also evening activities: a Pair Go tournament, a lightning tournament, and a 9x9 tournament. There was also game analysis by the attending pro, Yuki Shigeno, a table full of go books for sale, and of course lots of casual games. On the last evening, New Year's Eve, a group of almost 40 of us trekked over to a nearby Chinese/Thai restaurant. They had been warned we were coming and had two long tables ready for us. The restaurant staff seemed somewhat overwhelmed by the size of our group, but we did eventually have a very tasty meal and a good time.
       Since I was staying on at ISH until Sunday, I was in London for midnight on New Years Eve. Did go see the fireworks? Join the crowd in Trafalgar Square? No, at midnight I was leaning over a go board contemplating how to save that group in the corner. Maybe I'll make it to the fireworks next year.

ASK THE PRO: How To Study Go, Part 1
by Janice Kim 3P
"Since I live in a country where go is a very very small phenomenon where can I find space to improve?" writes Zilli Nicolo from Italy. "How can I make myself a program or a schedule on how to reach my goal?"
       It isn't easy improving one's go when you are pioneering it in your area, but here are some suggestions that even players with more developed go communities may find useful.
       If you have access to the Internet, these days you can pretty much follow for free the same course of study as professional go students with access to go libraries. There are several places where you can find collections of professional go games. I just did a quick search and downloaded Go Game Assistant, which is shareware but you should probably register it and pay the fee of $29 if you use it a lot, I imagine there are other places too where you will be able to get game records for free. Then you'll want to find some life and death (tsumego) problems online, I found collections at, and there may be others as well.
       Here's how I would suggest you study. First off, I think that most people study in a way that isn't too effective, because they do it backwards: they click through game records, and put stones down when they are solving life and death problems. You'll want to do exactly the opposite: when you study game records, print them out and put the stones down on the board, and when you're doing life and death problems, just look at the problem and try to solve it in your head.
        A good starting schedule for a serious student would be to spend an hour or two a day with a methodical program of game records and tsumego problems, in a time ratio of about 2 or 3 to 1. First, decide what your first section of game records will be. Good ones to start would be game records of Go Seigen v. Kitani Minoru, or you can pick something like Sakata Eio's games, or Honinbo title matches, whatever catches your interest. You may find at first it can take you more than an hour to go over a game record, but that's okay. When you go over a game record, try to guess what the players are thinking, and see how each move looks and how you would describe it -- "I'll bet he's behind in territory so he's going to invade or reduce that area -- oh, so he went for the reduction, he made a one-point cap play to that stone on the third line." At the end of the game you can try to think of a title, something that describes the theme of t he game, and make some notes about the game on the record. Here's an example of one I did: "1984 12/20 1st Kisei title match between Takemiya and Kobayashi. The End Came Too Fast. Moves 81-87 looked like a really skillful way of handling a weak group. In this game Black seemed to wait too long to do something about White's center framework, so White got too much..."
        In those days we didn't have game recording software to print from so I re-recorded games I took from books on my own recording paper by hand; it took longer but I think I derived additional benefits. Either way, you'll end up making your own book of games you've studied that you can return to again and again, perhaps seeing something new each time. Notice you don't need to read any game commentary to learn this way, and it's probably better not to, as even "mistakes" and sub-optimal moves at this level contain go thinking and skill we can learn from, it's more important what you see, not what someone else does.
       Life and death problems are important because they help us learn to read and visualize in our heads -- so it follows that trying different moves by putting stones down so you can just see if they work can only be of limited use. Every game is different so there's not very much point in learning any one particular problem -- the key is to train your mind so you can read out any situation. Sometimes you hear people say that they got a life and death problem "wrong" -- this implies that they guessed at a solution without being really sure, and then looked at the answer and it didn't match. You should find problems that you can be absolutely sure you understand completely without ever looking at the answer, which means they will be "rated" considerably lower than what our "ranks" are, but never mind. Pros study 10 kyu problems all the time, the point is to get to the point where you can just see stones instantly arranging themselves in yo ur mind's eye, not to solve a difficult problem that will never actually occur in a game. Difficult problems can be useful in that you challenge yourself to visualize a long or complex sequence, but if it's too hard for you to do it in your head, there's no point in just getting the answer. We used to say as insei that you couldn't move on to the next problem until you would stake your life on your answer, so you can see why I always smile a little bit when I hear someone say they got a problem wrong. If you have trouble, take more time, or do easier problems, but try to stay very focused and be confident in what you read. This is difficult and unnecessary to do for long periods, which is why you want to spend a lot more time on game record study than on your tsumego study.
      Part 2 will run in this Friday's Member's Edition, when Janice will explain how to play to improve and what role rank plays. 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.

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Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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