News from the American Go Association

February 26, 2007
Volume 8, #16

YOUR MOVE: Of Yearbooks And Beginners; Play More, Stay Sharp; Warm Welcome For A Youngster; Go Master Makes '06 10 Best; Guam Go?; Confucius' Worthy Study; Advances In Computer Go

MATTHEW BURRALL TOPS SOCAL YOUTH QUALIFIER: Matthew Burrall 7d topped the February 24 Southern California Regional U.S. Youth Championship qualifier and children's handicap tournament. Eighteen youth players participated in the event, which was sponsored by the Orange County Go Club.
       WINNER'S REPORT: U.S. Youth Championship qualifier, Senior Division: 1st: Matthew Burrall 7d; 2nd: Cherry Shen 5d. Junior Division: 1st: Calvin Sun 6d; 2nd: Christopher Kiguchi 4d. Children's handicap tournament, upper kyu division: 1st: Andrew Lu; 2nd: Jerry Shen; 3rd: Curtis Huang. Lower kyu division: 1st: Frank Yi; 2nd: Michael Chao; 3rd: Mitchell Wang.

SARASOTA FENG YUN GO WORKSHOP A "GREAT SUCCESS": The first-ever Sarasota go workshop, conducted by 9 dan professional Feng Yun, was a great success, reports Dan Moise. "For two full days, Saturday and Sunday, February 17 and 18, Feng Yun played and reviewed simultaneous games, discussed opening problems, reviewed a professional game, answered questions, and through it all evoked lots of laughter," says Moise. "The participants enjoyed Feng Yun's positive spirit, her helpfulness, her energy, and her great sense of humor." Moise organized the workshop, with help from Larry Rabinowitz and Shannon Moore, whose 14-year-old daughter Coral was the youngest participant at the workshop. There were fourteen participants in all from throughout Florida, ranging in strength from about 9 kyu to 2 dan and in age from the teens well into the 60s. "The members of the relatively young Sarasota Go Club hope this will become a regular event," Moise adds.

DC UPDATES: Yuan Zhou 8d's next monthly lesson will be on March 2nd, and the ongoing team match with Rockville will resume on March 9th, reports DC organizer Hal Small. To have a game reviewed at the Yuan Zhou lesson, the charge is $12 per game ($6 per player) at GWGC, in the basement (room 15) of the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church, 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda. Starting time 8:30. The March 9 team match starts at 8P at the Rockville site. Haskell Small,

BIG APPLE TOURNEY SUNDAY: Registration are being accepted now for the New York Go Center's next monthly rating tournament this Sunday, March 4. The $15 registration fee will include donut snacks for breakfast, pizza for lunch and a prize for anyone who completes all four rounds and wins at least three games. The EJ will simulcast the top two boards on the KGS Go Server. Chuck Robbins will direct, using his WinTD software; time controls will be "Fischer timing." Registration will be cut off at at 60. "We've had as many as 56 at recent past events," report organizers, "so register now to assure yourself a spot." Send an e-mail to with your name, AGA ID# and AGA rank or estimated playing strength. This is an AGA rated tournament so AGA membership or rating fee is required. "Take this opportunity to check out the new improved Center," organizers urge. "Can't figure out what went wrong in that joseki last round? Look it up in our new library! See the biggest public collection of English language go materials in North America. We've got more than 70 books, as well as over 100 back issues of Go World, The American Go Journal and other publications." The Center Bookstore is now open for business, "with dozens of English titles you won't find anywhere else in New York." Coupon and yearly members get a 15% discount. Plus, "We're wireless! Log on between rounds to check your e-mail, or to watch the top boards -- we'll be broadcasting them live."

SMARTGO ENHANCES FREE VERSION: SmartGo now turns into a free Viewer when the 15-day trial period expires, reports SmartGo's Anders Kierulf "Even though functions like Save and Print are disabled in Viewer mode, you can still play 9x9 games against the computer, or use the professional library for joseki matching in 5,000 games," says Kierulf. "And it's perfect for replaying SGF games from the e-Journal." SmartGo 2.6 also reduces the download size (now just 12 MB), launches significantly faster, and works well on Windows Vista. Check it out at

KISEIDO OFFERS NEW BOOK IN "MASTERING THE BASICS" SERIES: Kiseido has published a new volume in its Mastering the Basics series. The Basics of Go Strategy focuses on the importance of aji, the use of forcing moves, and sabaki. Available from

YAMASHITA SWEEPS KISEI 4-0: Yamashita Keigo 9P completed an impressive defense of his Kisei title by beating Kobayashi Satoru 9P 4-0 and taking all four games by resignation. This is Yamashita's third win of this title, which he first won in 2003. It was also Kobayashi's third unsuccessful challenge for the Kisei. Kobayashi did take the title from Cho Chikun 9P in 1995, but lost it back to Cho the following year. Yamashita also holds the Oza title, which he took from Cho U 9P last year.

MANNAMI TIES UP JAPANESE WOMEN'S KISEI: Mannami Kana 3P and current Women's Kisei took the second game to tie up her title match with challenger Umezawa Yukari 5P. Umezawa won the first game by a half point and Mannami won the second by two and a half. The decisive third game is scheduled for this Wednesday. Mannami took the title from Chinen Kaori 4P last year, having lost it to Chinen the previous year. This is Umezawa's first challenge for a title.

KATO TAKES FIRST GAME IN JAPANESE WOMEN'S MEIJIN: Challenger Kato Keiko 5P won the first game in her title match with Aoki Kikuyo 8P and current Women's Meijin by six and a half points. The second game in the best-of-three-game match is set for Wednesday. Aoki has held this title five times, first in 1990. Kato has yet to win a title.

AITKEN WINS OXFORD TOURNAMENT: Sam Aitken 3d of Leamington took first place in the Oxford Tournament in Britain for his first win of an open event. Alistair Wall 4d of Wanstead was second, losing to Aitken in the last round, and William Brooks 3d of Cambridge tied for third with Jim Clare 2d of Reading. There were 69 participants.

LATEST ON CURRENT PRO SCENE: The latest article in the Agora Black & White series by Lee HongReal on discusses recent developments on the international level among pros, focusing on the rise of a Chinese challenge to the Korean dominance of international go. Lee also speculates on the possible causes of the superiority of Korean and Chinese players over the Japanese. You can read it here:

PUSHING MIND SPORTS IN UK: British Go Association Vice-President and Education Officer Peter Wendes is organizing a petition to the British Prime Minister "to Require all Government Departments to give Mind Sports such as Chess and Go equivalent status with physical sports." The petition - signed by almost 200 so far - says that "Mind sports bring great benefits in terms of personal development, social interaction and improved attitudes to learning, and are accessible to all members of society" and is online at but you must be a British citizen or resident to sign. No word yet on similar petitions in the US or other countries.

"ONE-ARMED BANDIT" STRENGTHENS COMPUTER GO: "Two Hungarian scientists have now come up with an algorithm that helps computers pick the right move in Go," reported Andras Gergely in a February 21 Reuters wire story. "On a nine by nine board we are not far from reaching the level of a professional Go player," Levente Kocsis of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences' computing lab SZTAKI told Reuters. Kocsis and his colleague Csaba Szepesvari use an algorithm that helps computers focus on the most promising moves, using an analogy with slot machines in a casino. "Punters will find that certain one-armed bandits in a casino appear to pay more on average than others, but an intelligent player should also try machines that have so far paid less in case they are hiding a jackpot,"Kocsis said. "Go software using a similar method, called UCT, does not have to scan all possible outcomes of a game and they can quickly find the best mix of scenarios to check," Gergeley reported. "On 9x9, Monte-Carlo playout combined with UCT search does play significantly better than previous methods," SmartGo programmer Anders Kierulf tells the EJ. "Those programs might have reached amateur dan-level strength, but there's no indication that they're close to professional strength yet. Extending the method to 19x19 seems hard." Read the full Reuters story at  Other related links include:
Thanks to the many EJ readers who spotted this report and passed it along; go news can always be reported to us at

RIGHT RESULT, WRONG TEAM: Kong Jie 7P is Chinese, not Japanese, as reported in the 2/13 EJ (Lee Changho Triumphs In Nongshim Final). The last Japanese player in the Nongshim was Yoda Norimoto 9P, just like last year, but this time he went down in the first game of the third round to Park Yeonghun 9P of Korea. Park then lost to Kong Jie 7P, which left two Chinese and Lee Changho 9P. Lee beat them both, the last one, Gu Li 9P, by only 2.5 points, in a dramatic finish to a great tournament.

RENEW NOW AND SAVE BIG! Renew now for two years or more and save! For a limited time, a 2-year AGA membership is just $50 ($10 off the usual $60 cost); save $5 for each additional year: 3 years for $75 ($15 savings), 4 years for $100 ($20 savings) or 5 years for $125 ($25 savings). It's a double savings: you save money and so does the AGA, so we can all concentrate on the game we love! Less mailing, more go, it's win-win for all! Click here now to save:

YOUR MOVE: Readers Write

OF YEARBOOKS AND BEGINNERS: "Is there still a printed version of the American Go Journal sent by mail?" wonders Austin Slominski. "Also, does the E- Journal have beginner-friendly info? I'm only about 21k." The popular annual American Go Yearbook, a 100-page selection of material from the E-Journal (which includes all EJ material and games from 2006) is at the printer now and is expected to be in the mail soon. And look for a new EJ series for beginners soon from longtime contributor James Kerwin 1P.

PLAY MORE, STAY SHARP: "Most people recognize the need and benefits of physical exercise for their well being but perhaps fail to do so when it comes to mental exercise," former AGA President Robert A. McCallister recently wrote to his local paper in Winchester, VA. "An article in the September 2003 issue of the American Contract Bridge League's (ACBL) Bulletin, titled Brain Booster refers to an article in The New England Journal of Medicine that discusses the value of various leisure activities in reducing the risk of dementia. The article cites some work done by a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine who studied the activities of 469 seniors and found a 74% reduced risk of Alzheimer's for those who played board games, such as 'chess and checkers' four or more days a week as compared with those who played weekly, less or never. Ed Lasker, a world class chess master, played a simultaneous match against 10 college students at age 93. Kaoru Iwamoto, a Japanese champion of the Oriental game of go, was still playing, teaching and touring foreign lands to promote the game at age 94. These people, friends of mine, perhaps serve as a good example of the value of board games. As I am 85 the subject of stay sharp has some interest."

WARM WELCOME FOR A YOUNGSTER: "My son is 8 and (after watching) Hikuru No Go he wanted to start playing go," writes a new AGA member's mother. "We made a paper go board with the stones (made of) beans and popcorn kernels. To our shock, this didn't deter him and he played diligently. Two weeks ago, we went to Great Hall Games and purchased a travel go set, a standard board, and some training boards, along with the bowls. He's only been playing about 3 weeks. (He) is a student, in third grade. The woman (at Great Hall Games) told us we should stop by when the Austin Go Club was meeting. To my stunned shock, two of the top players taught him each for an hour, and were so gracious and so nice and he loved it so much that my husband and I were sold on how much this would benefit him. He was invited by his mentors to come to the UT Go Club. I was incredibly impressed at how everyone went out of their way to welcome him."

GO MASTER MAKES '06 10 BEST: "Looking at the current issue of Film Comment, I noticed that two of the four editors rated The Go Master in their 10 Best Films of 2006," reports Bob Barber (The film was panned in the EJ review last year).

GUAM GO? "Can you tell me of any go association or clubs in Guam?" wonders future Guam resident Bruce Yang. We're not aware of any go clubs in Guam; if anyone knows of any, email us at See below for locating go clubs quickly online, including a world go map.

CONFUCIUS' WORTHY STUDY: "I read a book on (Confucius)," writes Brian Eckels ("Confusing Confucius, 2/19 EJ), "and it said he considered go a worthy study due to the fact that it could allow your mind to focus only on the board. A good go player knows that when you play go, you shouldn't play to win, you should play for the love of the game."

ADVANCES IN COMPUTER GO: The researchers in this article ("One-Armed Bandit" Strengthens Computer Go," 2/23 EJ Member's Edition) and 'Computers Catching Up' in Volume 8 #7 are both using Reinforcement Learning," writes Sal Gionfriddo. "This idea has been around for years in psychology and has been in use in computer science since the 1980s. These articles do not contain notice of any breakthrough in the field, but show that researchers are beginning to apply the correct tools for the job. It has a much better change of succeeding because it does not need to investigate as many nodes in the move tree and it reinforces ones that have been successful in the past. Another advantage it has is that no expert knowledge is required. A failure of many current go programs is their focus on joseki and fuseki libraries and heuristics. Unfortunately no one is an expert in go. Pros are very strong, but even they will admit that they know relatively little about the game. You will notice that the successes in both articles refer to a 9x9 board. This is because even Reinforcement Learning methods need to keep track of an enormous amount of states and the 19x19 board greatly increases the amount of information to be tracked. I believe that this avenue of exploration will provide us with interesting results but it will have to be combined with other approaches to lead to any significant results on the 19x19 board."


March 4: New York, NY
New York Go Center Monthly Rating Tournament
Chuck Robbins 212.223.0342

March 17-18: Seattle, WA
USYGC Regional Tournament
This is one of three in the Western Region
Gordon Castanza 253.853.4831
Jon Boley 206.545.1424

March 17: Tempe, AZ
Arizona Go rating tournament
1 pm at ASU
Bill Gundberg 480.429.0300

March 18: Catonsville, MD
UMBC Spring Thing
Start your Spring Break off right!
Todd Blatt 443.392.6822

March 18: New York, NY
Master Player Lecture Seres at The New York Go Center
US Champion Andy Liu
Roy Laird 212.223.0342

March 20: Tempe, AZ
Arizona Go rating tournament
7 pm at ASU
Bill Gundberg 480.429.0300

March 23-25: Ann Arbor, MI
James Kerwin Workshop
Eric Jankowski 734.417.5547

March 24-25: San Francisco, CA
SF Go Club Spring tournament and World Youth Go Championship qualifier
Registration for the WYGC must be received by Mar. 17
Steve Burrall 916.688.2858

March 24: Raleigh, NC
Spring Fuseki
Owen Chen 919.531.9234

March 25: Sunnyvale, CA
11th Jujo Jiang Cup Youth Goe Tournament
Mingjiu Jiang 650.969.2857
Joe Lee 408.255.5117

Locate go clubs worldwide at

PLAYERS WANTED: Monument, CO: Anyone in the area of Monument, Colorado willing to start a go club, or just someone to play against. Also anyone who has any ideas on where to host a go club. Please contact (2/26)

WANTED: Go-playing Chinese-speaking English-speaking China Guide. I am looking for one person who will travel through China with me, exploring China and playing go. I will pay expenses but no salary. Please email (2/26)

FOR SALE: 6 go books, all in great condition. Janice Kim's Learn to Play Go,Volumes 1-5, and Elementary Go Series Vol.2, 38 Basic Joseki. Retails ~$90, sellingfor $50. Email at (2/26)

PLAYERS WANTED: Roanoke, VA: Starting club in Roanoke VA and looking for players in my area. Please contact or call 540-297-1344 (1/29)

FOR SALE: 7 go books, all in excellent condition, $122.25 retail, just $80 for all (I pay shipping UPS ground). Contemporary Go Terms, Mastering the Basics, Making Good Shape and more. Email for full list. (1/29)

SELL IT, BUY IT OR TRADE IT HERE with nearly 10,000 go-players worldwide! Classified ads are FREE and run for 4 weeks; email your ad to us now at

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Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb

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American Go Association
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American Go Association P.O. Box 397 Old Chelsea Station New York, NY 10113-0397