News from the American Go Association

February 6, 2006
Volume 7, #12

Luo Xihe: A Rising Star in China
GO REVIEW: Dictionary of Basic Joseki, Volumes 1 & 2
THE EMPTY BOARD: Learning to Read
ASK THE PRO: How To Know When to Play for Territory or Thickness (Part 1)
ATTACHED FILE(S): 2006.02.06 Fujitsu Rnd3 Bd1 Jiang-EKim; 2006.02.06 Women's Myeongin, Cho-Rui, go4go

YANG TO FACE JIANG IN FUJITSU FINAL: Hui Ren Yang 1P will face Mingjiu Jiang 9P in the Fujitsu Qualifier Final, reports TD Jeff Shaevel. Jiang beat Zhi Yuan (Andy) Lui and Edward Kim in Rounds 2 and 3 last weekend, while Yang defeated Moon Chong Kim and Jong Hoon Lee. Attached is the game file from the Jiang-Kim game. "The final round will be played on KGS this Saturday, February 11 at 7PM Eastern US time," says Shaevel. Observers are welcome, as always; over 400 watched the games last weekend.

2006 N.A. OZA RESULTS POSTED ONLINE: While the 2006 Toyota/Denso North American Oza Tournament is now a pleasant memory for hundreds o f North American players, now they can relive those memories -- and others can satisfy their curiosity -- by going to where the final report is now available, reports AGA webmaster Roy Laird. Popular highlights include a collection of photos and the "numbered lists", or complete results, from New York at and from Las Vegas at "Even if you didn't make it, have a look and you'll realize why you need to be there next time in 2008!" says Laird.

YAMASHITA 2-0 IN KISEI: Yamashita Keigo 9P is now 2-0 in the title match with current Kisei Hane Naoki 9P in Japan. Hane took this title away from Yamashi ta in 2004 and Yamashita missed being the challenger in 2005. But now he has fought his way back to the challenger's slot and seems determined to regain the title, winning the first two games in the best-of-seven match. Last year Hane defeated Yuki Satoshi 9P to hold on to the title for a second year. Although he was the challenger once for the Meijin, once for the Gosei, twice for the Tengen and twice for the Oza, the Kisei, which is considered the number one title, is the only one of the big seven Japanese titles Yamashita has actually won.

RUI NAIWEI WINS WOMEN'S MYEONGIN: Rui Naiwei 9P has successfully defended her Women's Myeongin (Japanese: Meijin) title in Korea, defeating Cho Hyeyeon 4P, who currently holds the Women's Kuksu title, 2-1. We have attached an SGF file of the final game of the title match for your enjoyment, courtesy of the site. Cho had a hard fight to get into the title m atch, losing to Lee Hajin 1P in the first round and then managing to beat her by only a half point when they later met in the losers' section. Cho then defeated Park Jieun 6P to become the challenger. Cho and Park have each held this title once, but this is Rui's fifth time to hold it.

CHOI CHEOLHAN PULLS EVEN WITH LEE CHANGHO IN KUKSU: Choi Cheolhan 9P came back to take the second game in the best-of-five title match against challenger Lee Changho 9P tying the match at 1-1. Both games were won by Black by resignation. Changho defeated Lee Sedol 9P 2-0 in the best-of-three match to become the challenger for this title for the third year in a row. So far he has not been able to wrest this title that he has held eight times from Choi, who took it from Changho in 2004 and is trying for a threepeat.

REDMOND ONE WIN FROM MAKING O ZA FINAL: The final preliminary tournament to determine the twelve participants in the 54th Japanese Oza is well under way. Michael Redmond 9P, the Nihon Kiin member who hails from California, won his first game against Yuki Satoshi 9P, and now a victory over Takei Takashi 6P will put him in the final group. Their match is scheduled for February 9th. The teenage phenom Iyama Yuta 7P, who won the Japanese Agon title recently, has won a position in the final round, defeating two 9Ps to get there: Ogaki Yusaku and Ishida Akira. Another player often mentioned in the E-Journal, Sakai Hideyuki 7P, the former Amateur World Champion who is a member of the Kansai Kiin, also needs only one more victory to get into the battle for the challenger's role; his opponent will be Mizokami Tomochika 8P, who defeated Takemiya Masaki 9P in his first game. Already in are Sonoda Yuichi 9P, Rin Kaiho 9P, Kataoka Satoshi 9P, and Mimura Tomoyasu 9P. The Oza is one of the big seven titles in Japan. The winner's prize is about $125,000.00 US.

PROFESSIONALLY SPEAKING: Luo Xihe: A Rising Star in China
by Ronghao Chen and William Cobb
      To become well-known among Western go players, an Asian pro has to do noteworthy things for an extended period of time. As a result, Westerners tend to be much less familiar with pros on the rise who have not yet made it to the top. A good example is Luo Xihe 9P of China. As reported in recent issues of the E-Journal, Luo has astounded go fans by defeating one of the best-known Asian players, Lee Changho 9P, to win the Samsung Cup, one of the most prestigious international titles. Not only is Luo the first non-Korean ever to beat Lee in an international title match, he also defeated several other top Koreans along the way, including Lee Sedol 9P, who has done well enough in recent years to be fairly well-known, and Choi Cheolhan 9P, who has taken several Korean titles away from Lee.
      At twenty-eight, Luo is older than many of the new stars of world go. He started off with a bang, gaining pro status in 1978 at the age of eleven and challenging for the Chinese Mingren as a teenager. He also won the Chinese New Pro Cup before he was twenty. But Luo was a little too fond of the good life to reach the highest levels: a bit plump, he even acquired the nickname of "Little Pig" and became very accomplished at computer games. But everything seemed to change two years ago when he married Liang Yadi, a Chinese 2P. Giving up both smoking and drinking, Luo made it to the semi-finals in the Chinese Mingren last summer, and is currently in the quarter-finals in the Chinese Tianyuan.
      The big news is the international title, of course. The Chinese have not done well at all in international tournaments. They've never won the Chunla n Cup, have managed to win the Fujitsu only once in eighteen editions, the LG Cup just once in nine iterations, and so on. Chang Hao 9P, who is only a year older than Luo but has been among the top Chinese pros for several years, made a huge splash by being the first Chinese ever to win the prestigious Ing Cup last year. And now Luo has won the Samsung. An SGF file of the final game of the title match was attached to the January 16, 2006 E-Journal. This game involved what is becoming a trademark of Luo's play-an extended ko fight. In fact, he seems to be acquiring a new nickname: the King of Ko. In one of his earlier games in the Samsung, he won by abandoning a triple ko, a virtually unheard of tactic that astonished the watching pros. An SGF file of that game was attached to the December 19, 2005 E-Journal. While we will certainly be hearing more of Luo now, the E-Journal plans to profile other up-and-coming players who may be the stars of the future. Pictures and a sketch of Luo's career can be found at
      Ronghao Chen is Special Overseas Reporter for The World of Weiqi, the bi-weekly go magazine published in Beijing, China.

GO REVIEW: Dictionary of Basic Joseki, Volumes 1 & 2
By Fujisawa Shuko 9P
Published by Slate and Shell:
Reviewed by Joel Turnipseed 4k
      If I can attribute anything to my recent move from 5k to 4k, it has to be my study of tesuji, since that's about all I've studied in the last year. I've never been very good at reading professional games (thrilling, yes, but inscrutable and nothing but trouble when I try to use it in my own play). Joseki? Don't hurt me like that. Kiseido's Get Strong at Go, Volume 6: Get Strong at Tesuji and Mastering the Basics, Volume 3: Making Good Shape (a kind of anti-tesuji/tesuji book wrapped up in one) on the other hand, have been crowding my desk and briefbag for six months.
      The thing about tesuji is this: learning tesuji can help you figure out the right move in all the rest of the stages of go. Need to take sente back, but not sure about when to let go and play elsewhere? Ah, now that you know how to make that connection--you can. Confused about how to respond to a move in the corner? You know you have a forcing move that is going to get you life--or your opponent in big trouble from overplay. And how do you know these moves exist? As William James said when asked whether he believed in baptism: "Madame, I've seen it done!" At least, that is, if you've been studying your tesuji.
      I'm now thrilled to say I've added two new tesuji volumes to my collection, both excellent. Fujisawa Shuko's tesuji dictionaries -- Tesuji for Attacking (V1) & Tesuji for Defending (V2) -- are elegantly structured, broken down into strategic concepts such as "pressing down," "spoiling shape," "taking sente," and "linking up." Each tesuji is illustrated with right and wrong moves spelled out and explained in light of the principle at hand. I can say with some authority that a lot of recognition took place when studying these chapters, an unhappiness tinged with hope that I won't make that mistake again (or at least, not very many more times).
      So, if you're getting ready for a big tournament, or hoping, like me, to someday break through to shodan, these should be essential volumes in your library. With more than 500 pages and hundreds of tesuji to pore over, you will not only develop new moves and avoid some really embarrassing old ones but you'll begin to see the moves that you don't need to make. .. yet. As Jim Kerwin 1P, once told me, "Every unnecessary move you make is like one handicap stone." Shuko's dictionaries have become an essential guide to necessary and unnecessary moves for me, and a little ease to my continuing Hard Times at the Goban.
      Reviews of go resources appear every week in the Member's Edition: subscribe now at

THE EMPTY BOARD: Learning to Read
By William Cobb
      Being able to read quickly and accurately is an essential skill for playing go well, especially in Internet games that tend to be fast. Even in regular tournaments, it can be a major problem in fighting and in life and death situations if you have to keep checking your analysis to be confident that you have seen the possible sequences correct ly.
      It's common wisdom that the best way to improve your reading skill is to work on life and death problems regularly, preferably a few every day, but I am not alone in finding it hard to develop the discipline to do that for more than a few days at a time. So I am accustomed to having to re-read sequences repeatedly during games, and if they are the least bit complicated, lack confidence that I have read them correctly. Imagine my surprise, then, at the recent Oza when I suddenly realized that I was reading out life and death problems quickly and with complete confidence. It was only at the end of the first day that I realized that something weird had happened. How could I have suddenly become good at something I had always struggled with? Then it dawned on me: I have become addicted to the new puzzle craze Sudoku, and I work several puzzles every day, in ink and without making little penciled notes about possibilities. I can look at a string of arbitrarily arranged numbers and see which ones are missing immediately. And that's reading! So I can now recommend Sudoku as a possible solution for go players who need to improve their reading skill, but can't find the time or interest to do life and death problems regularly.
The Empty Board #48; Past columns are archived at

ASK THE PRO: How To Know When to Play for Territory or Thickness (Part 1)
by Janice Kim 3P
      "How do you know when it is better to play for territory instead of thickness?" writes Kirk Martinez. "How do you compare the almost countable value of the corner territory against the uncountable value of a thick move elsewhere on the board?"
      That's a question that's hard for even the strongest play ers, and in answering this question for ourselves, we may need to reframe it.
      Because go looks like a spatial game -- we play stones on particular points, and we try to surround area -- we tend to think of all go questions as spatial ones - where exactly should we play and what space are we trying to surround? But there's another way to think about go -- as a game played in time, not space.
      What in the heck do I mean by that?
      Many times students ask about a particular situation, or I see them focusing on one part of the board, usually around where their opponents have just played. They think about the next move as a kind of snapshot: "I'll play here, and the board will look like this, and that will be a good or bad position for me." So we're sorting through all these snapshots, desperately trying to match the current position to a pattern recognition databa se or some kind of proverb we have stored in memory, and it's hard, because there are a gazillion different little pictures and none of them are exactly alike (save one, but that's another story I'll tell you about later if you remind me). But the stones aren't all different just because they're in different places; actually the stones are all exactly the same. What if you really only have one stone, and all those snapshots aren't a gazillion different pictures, but just one picture of that one stone that zings around like a deranged PacMan?
      And what in the heck do I mean by that?
      When Jujo Jiang 9P was visiting in New York many years ago, we used to have a lot of fun where he would play endless games, giving even the high dan players enormous handicaps and just demolishing them. Periodically just for fun he would shout "Atari!" and his opponent would scramble to connect, even when not actually i n atari. Jujo never took more than a few seconds to move, except for just once, when his opponent played a move and Jujo looked at him in astonishment and said, "That's sente!" He must have played 10,000 moves during his visit, and only once did someone play a move that he thought was necessary to answer. But his opponents answered every move without fail, atari or no, because Jujo was really good at making his moves look like sente.
      Sometimes I tell students not to answer and they say, "That's easy for you to say. I'm only (insert level here), so I'll get into big trouble if I don't answer." The truth is that you can't afford to answer, especially the weaker you are. There's only so much up for grabs on the board; if every time I get somewhere first and take 10 points, you answer me and get 5, the game becomes very simple. In those handicap games Jujo was playing, in the simuls that pros play at the Congress, there's very little readin g or analyzing going on: the pro just plays in an important place and moves on, literally and figuratively. We don't have to know where the last move was; we've really only got one stone, zinging around the board, hoping to grab points first.
      In handicap games grabbing the big moves is easy to spot, but how does this apply to even games, or high-level games where both players understand Cho Chi-hoon's Theory of Mutual Destruction, or as I call it, the Great Game of Chicken?
      Part 2 will appear in this Friday's Member's Edition; sign up now at
      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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