World Go News from The American Go Association


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September 22, 2008; Volume 9, #50

KIRSCHNER & HERRERO TO HELP REF AT WMSG: Chris Kirschner of the United States and Eduardo Lopez Herrero of Argentina have been appointed deputy chief referees for the upcoming World Mind Sports Games (WMSG) go tournaments, the WMSG Organization Committee announced on September 16. Kirschner and Herrero will work with chief referee Wang Runan of China and a group of 30 international referees. "I am pleased and grateful that Chris and Eduardo accepted this difficult job," said Thomas Hsiang, tournament director for the event, "We will be trying out the new WMSG2008 Go Rules in these tournaments for the first time ever. The referees therefore must not only be highly competent technically, but also have the demeanor to face and resolve amicably the difficult questions that might come up. I am confident that Chris and Eduardo will do the job well." Click here for the updated new rules. 

AGA PUSHES GO FOR NAT'L GAMES DAY: The American Go Association has asked the American Library Association (ALA) to add go to their upcoming National Games Day on November 15. "The purpose is to encourage libraries to provide time and space for game clubs," AGAPresident Allan Abramson tells the E-Journal. "We have asked the ALA to include go in the list of activities they send to local libraries, butwhether or not go is officially included, go organizers are free to ask local libraries to include us." Click here for details.

U.S. MIND SPORT GEAR GOES ON SALE: A limited supply of U.S. World Mind Sports Games t-shirts, polo shirts, tote bags and caps are now on sale. "This is the same custom-designed logo the team will wear in Beijing, except for the words ‘US-AGA TEAM'" reports Roy Laird. The offer is available only on the AGA website, and Laird warns that "Supplies are limited; when they're gone, they're gone! Wear the American team's logo with pride and show the world that you support our team in this historic event." Photo by Roy Laird

TROPICAL STORM DOESN'T DETER GUO JUAN FANS: In the soggy wake of Tropical Storm Hanna, undaunted by heavy rains, 16 participants in the second North Carolina Guo Juan Workshop listened and learned as Guo Juan 5P lectured and provided detailed reviews of each participant's games. When the workshop -- held on September 6 and 7 in Hillsborough, NC -- was finished, "Hanna was a dim memory, the sun was shining brightly, and each participant felt stronger, more knowledgeable and more deeply interested in this wonderful game," reports Bob Bacon. Click here for photos. Photo courtesy Bob Bacon

NY OPEN SET FOR MID-OCTOBER: The New York Go Center will host the New York Open on October 11-12 in New York City. The 5-round tournament is AGA-rated; the top finisher of the Open Section will receive at least $300, and other prizes include cash, books, stones and boards. The entrance fee is $30 but you can save $5 by pre-registering by October 1st: send your name, AGA number and playing strength to

'08 SHODAN CHALLENGE WINNERS ANNOUNCED: Bart Lipofsky 5k and Ellen Willard 8k successfully met their 2008 Shodan Challenge goals in their respective brackets, report Challenge Coordinators Lee Huynh and Laura Kolb. The Challenge winners receive prizes from Slate & Shell.

PLAYERS SOUGHT FOR WORLD STUDENT OZA: There's still time to register for the qualifying tournament for the World Student Oza, the de facto world university championship. Sponsored by Japanese publisher Nikkei Newspaper, this tournament brings representatives from universities in Asia, Europe and the Americas together for top-level competition. The deadline to register for the North American qualifying tournament for the World Student Oza is October 19. "Three people have registered so far," reports AGA Tournament Coordinator Phil Waldron, "two American, one Canadian." General criteria are residency -- not necessarily citizenship --in North America, under the age of 30, and enrollment in a full-time university program, as well as a minimum AGA rating of 5.0 or its foreign equivalent," click here for details.

SMARTGO TOUCH FOR IPHONE & IPOD RELEASED: SmartGo touch (right) for the iPhone and iPod touch has been released and is available in the App Store. "You can now carry thousands of go games and problems in your pocket and study go on the go," Anders Kierulf tells the E-Journal. "SmartGo touch makes it easy to find games played by your favorite players as well as problems at the right level of difficulty." SmartGo touch includes more than 6000 professional games by over 500 players, including 370 games by Honinbo Shusaku, 750 games by Go Seigen, and 900 games by Takemiya Masaki, and more than 2000 go problems at all levels of difficulty. "SmartGo touch is ideal to record and replay your own games," Kierulf notes. "Use the standard iPhone gestures to zoom in, or enter moves accurately directly on the 19x19 board thanks to a magnifying glass and crosshairs. Play out alternate sequences, delete and insert moves, mark positions with hotspots, and edit the game info. Email the completed game record to yourself and your opponent." For a limited time, the introductory price is just $9.99. Click here for screenshots and more information.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We forgot to update the subject line for the Special Edition of the E-Journal sent out Sunday night, which was not a re-send of last week's EJ, but included updates on this weekend's Cotsen Open in Los Angeles (left) and the German Championship, as well as recent tournaments in Chicago, New York City and the European Championship for Students and the latest from the Meijin in Japan. As a bonus for all our readers, we included several games from the Cotsen, including Yilun Yang's comments on Jang Bi's 3rd-round game against Juyong Koh and Yang's pro-pro game against Chao Da Yuan 9P. Our apologies for any confusion. Photo by Tony Lau

CORRECTIONSOn Defending Titles: Jang Bi 9d, who won the Cotsen in 2007 and 2008, could not have "Successfully defend(ed) his title for the second straight year" this year, notes a sharp-eyed reader. "He has only won twice; if he had won three times it would be correct." Clean Up Your Act: "You really need to clean up (ERASE) the kibitzing on commented games," writes Greg Rosenblatt. "They detract from the value. The noise makes it much harder to find the points where commentary is made. I'd rather not waste my time looking at such sgfs if they're going to be filled with (crap)." We've gotten letters on both sides of this issue; some folks agree with Greg and other like the kibitzes because they provide a flavor of the game audience. What's your opinion? Click here to vote. Phil, Not Brian: In last week's EJ, the photo of Allan Abramson and Mark Rubenstein was taken by Phil Straus, not Brian Allen. Updated Ratings: Matthew Burrall, Calvin Sun and Zhongxia (Ricky) Zhao are all 7d, not 6d (U.S. Team Readying For WMSG). We apologize for the errors.

GO CALENDAR: Menlo Park, Boulder & Pittsburgh
September 27: Menlo Park, CABay Area Go Players Association Monthly AGA Ratings Tournament
Roger Schrag 510.501.2701

September 27: Boulder, CO: Rocky Mountain Fall Go Tournament
David Weiss 303.328.4728

September 27: Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh Fall Tournament
Kim Salamony 412.965.9372

NEW PROS SURFACE IN SHINJIN-O: Because the Japanese Shinjin-O, or King of the New Stars, tournament is restricted to players under 26 years old and under the rank of 7P, it provides a chance for new faces to surface in the professional community. Last year, Iyama Yuta 8P won, but he was already famous for winning a title at the age of sixteen. John Power reports in his column on the Nihon Kiin home page that this year the finals of the 3rd Shinjin-O will be between Uchida Shuhei (left) 2P of the Nihon Kiin and Ha Yeong-il (above) 4P of the Kansai Kiin. Uchida is still in his teens and Ha is twenty-three. Neither has won a title so far. In the first game of the best-of-three-game match, on September 11th, Uchida won by 8.5 points.

ROMANIA FIELDS TEAM OF 8 AT WMSG: Eight top players from Romania will compete in the World Mind Sport Games. The Romanian team includes Catalin Taranu Nihon Kiin 5P player and the 2008 European Champion; Cristian Pop 7d, who took 4th place in the 2007 World Amateur Go Championships (WAGC) and has won many national titles in Romania; Cornel Burzo 6d, a frequent competitor in U.S. tournaments and 5th-place winner in the 2008 (these four players were part of the 2006 European Championship team); 14-year-old Mihai Serban 4d was the under-12 European Champion in 2005; 16-year-old Laura Avram 2d is the 2007 Women's National Champion and took 4th place in the 2008 European Championship Mixed Pairs (with Lucian Corlan) and 3rd place at this year's Women European Championship 2008; Irina Suciu 1d is a former National Championship winner in the '90s who now lives in France. - reported by Marilena Bara, Romanian Correspondent for the E-Journal

OTTAWA TOURNEY CELEBRATES 80-YEAR CANADA-JAPAN RELATIONSHIP: The annual Embassy Cup Go Open Tournament is scheduled for November 16 in Ottawa, Canada. This year's 3-round tournament celebrates the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between Japan and Canada. Registration is free but space is limited - only the first 60 players will be accepted - so pre-registration must be received before November 15: contact Charles Chang at 613-722-0603 or email The tournament is organized by the Ottawa Chinese Go Club.

GO ONLINE: Equipment Discounts And Bargains
by Roy Laird

If you need go equipment, your shopping just got easier and cheaper, with the addition of two new sources to the AGA Vendor Page. While the American Go Foundation offers the best discounts in their online store, these are only available to teachers who will use the equipment in school, after-school or community teaching programs. Chess-n-Games carries an extensive supply of go boards, sets, and clocks, as well as the only wooden stones we've ever seen. As a "proud partner of the AGA," they will give any AGA member 10% off; just call their 800 number and give your AGA membership number to claim your discount. Another new option is Ming Zhou Oriental Imports, offering Asian furniture, decorative items, and much more, including a whole section of equipment for go, mah-jongg and paigow, a Chinese betting game similar to dominos. With wooden boards at $5/ea., wooden bowls $9, a 19x19 magnetic set for $8.75 and so on, their prices are hard to beat. There's a $100 minimum for "members" only (membership is free), purchased from any of more than twenty categories -- everything from furniture and jewelry to wind chimes, "feng shui" and decorative water fountains. You can even make money selling their stuff yourself: when you set up your account, look closely at the bottom and you'll see that you can become an "affiliate." To do so, you'll set up your own account and link at the Mingh Zhou site, then put that link on your website, in your e-mails, however you'd like to promote your new business. You will receive 5% of whatever the people who click through your link sell. It's one-stop shopping for every Sinophile, and especially for clubs and teachers, it's a real money saver! Special thanks to Boris Bernadsky of The New York Center for spotting this one. The AGF is certifying new programs now, so apply if you're interested, but even if you just need some good entry-level playing equipment for yourself, you've got some attractive new options.

GO QUIZ: Ratings Poll Results 
     Not surprisingly, our Ratings Poll generated a lot of response. As always, I really enjoy reading your feedback, candid remarks and insightful comments. While this was by no means a scientific poll, our readership is international, and the results provide some interesting and useful data. 
     The overwhelming majority of you - 67% -- said that AGA ratings should be generally consistent with ratings around the world, but it is also important that they be stable and internally consistent; 23% say that AGA ratings should be stable and not impacted by other nation's systems. If we were to match our system to other countries, it's no contest, 81% prefer the Europeans while just 19% say the Japanese. On the question of how our ratings compare to the Europeans, 71% say the Europeans are between one and 1.5 stones stronger, while 20% say it's 2 stones. Almost half of you (45%) say the AGA ratings are one rank stronger than the Japanese, while 34% say they're more than a rank stronger. One of the most fascinating stats is that 39% of you expressed "no opinion" on having your ratings being dropped 1 to 1.5 points; a 6-point majority - 34% -- said you disagree or disagree strongly with such a drop, while 28% said you agree or strongly agree.
     All very interesting, but what do these stats tell us? Here are some tentative conclusions. First, folks have extraordinary respect and faith in the AGA's rating system; whether or not you're completely satisfied with where it sits on some ideal scale, you like its operation. "The AGA rating system is the most accurate and stable system I have ever seen" commented one respondent, summing up the views of many. Beneath the apparent willingness of many of you to ratchet our system down were a number of folks suggesting that "Since we are "weaker' than some and ‘stronger' than others, perhaps we are right." Of course, we also had the brand-new shodans who did not relish losing that milestone. I particularly liked "I've been 3 dan for four years and it would be hard to explain to all my non-go-playing friends how I suddenly became a 2 dan - it is hard enough to explain anything about go to them at all." The strongest support for the idea tended to come from strong players wanting their rank to be respected, with a few folks complaining that amateur 8 dans and 9 dans were embarrassing on an international amateur scene that tops out at 7d. On the clear choice of the European ratings over Japan, I suspect that it's simply our comfort with a similar statistical rating system. Internet ratings were lauded by some but fiercely denounced by others. "Under no circumstances should any server's rating be the common currency - they are a joke," said one. That seems a bit strong, and ignores the huge advantages server ratings have in terms of amount of data and international exchange, but the question comes down to what is being measured and as one respondent noted, "discrepancies between online and real world ratings can be large in either direction - any serious national rating system must be based soley on tournament results." 
     Finally, I think the poll results indicate that while many have felt that rating inflation is a problem, incremental adjustments will not be welcome. We have tended to believe that wholesale downranking would be met by screams of horror, but, at least from this poll, it seems that if this issue is to be addressed, folks would prefer that it be a one time adjustment, instead of some mysterious "in the box" machinations. Interesting stuff; stay tuned!. THIS WEEK'S QUIZ: Which player holds the Nihon Kiin record for most wins? Is it Sakata Eio, Cho Chikun, Rin Kaiho or Kobayashi Koichi? Click here to send us your choice, plus your usual welcome comments. 
- Keith Arnold

SELL IT, BUY IT OR TRADE IT HERE with nearly 13,000 go-players worldwide! Classified ads are FREE and run for 4 weeks; email your ad to us now at

GO CLASS IN VA: Go Class/Club at The Boys and Girls Club in Manassas, VA every Wed at 6:30P during the school year starting on Sept 17, 2008. Open to kids age 6-18, no experience needed. Click here for facility/membership information, contact Mike for go class/club specifics. (9/15)

FOR SALE: One set of 6.0 mm shell & slate stones circa 1940-50s in very good condition, $80. Two 1.6 cm Japanese katsura folding boards in like-new condition in original boxes, $45 each.Pair of medium-size Japanese chestnut bowls in excellent condition, $50. Buyer pays UPS shipping. Contact Anton at: (9/8)

FOR SALE: EVA foam go sets; include EVA foam go board (reversible 19 x 19 in one side and 9x9 in backside). Also included are 180 + 180 EVA foam go stones.Total cost of the set is US 9.40 + freight (from Brazil); good discounts for more than 5 sets.
Contact Roberto Petresco at (9/8)

HELP WANTED: Help create a tradition of public, in-person games in the United States. Users, testers, designers, and developers are needed for a new open-source web site dedicated to promoting Go in the United States. Click here for details. (9/1)

GO PLAYERS WANTED: Dallas, TX: Any rank welcome; will meet in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Area. If interested, email or (9/1)

GO PLAYERS WANTED: Wellington, OH: Starting a go club, all players, all levels welcome. Want to save on gas? We can meet online as well. Anyone interested please e-mail Joe at (9/1)

PLAYERS WANTED: Reno / Lake Tahoe area. Contact Fred Hopkins 916-548-8068 or (8/18)

PLAYERS WANTED: Dallas/Fort Worth area: Finding interest level for a regular get-together or Go club that meets Tuesday nights in Bedford. Beginners welcome. Please contact Jeremy at for more information. (8/18)

FOR SALE: Japanese 1.5cm folding board, $40. Two Japanese 1.8cm folding boards, $50. Pair of Japanese medium-size chestnut bowls, $50. Set of very old, Japanese, 4.5mm shell & slate stones in chestnut bowls, $85. Buyer pays shipping. The boards and bowls are all in very good, gently used condition. Some of the antique shell stones are chipped, as should be expected for their age, but they are quite usable and very unique. You just can't buy new stones like these anymore. Contact Anton at (8/18)

Published by the American Go Association
Managing Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Bill Cobb
Professionals: Yilun Yang 7P; Alexandr Dinerchtein 3P; Fan Hui 2P
Contributors: Paul Barchilon (Youth Editor); Lawrence Ku (U.S. West Coast Reporter); Brian Allen (U.S. West Coast Photographer); Keith Arnold (Go Quiz); Peter Dijkema (Dutch/European Correspondent); Marilena Bara (Romania/European Correspondent); Ian Davis (Ireland Correspondent); Jens Henker (Korea Correspondent)
Columnists: James Kerwin 1P; Kazunari Furuyama; Rob van Zeijst; Roy Laird; Peter Shotwell
Translations: Chris Donner (Japan); Bob McGuigan (Japan); Matt Luce (China)

Text material published in the AMERICAN GO E JOURNAL may be reproduced by any recipient: please credit the AGEJ as the source. PLEASE NOTE that commented game record files MAY NOT BE published, re-distributed, or made available on the web without the explicit written permission of the Editor of the E-Journal. Please direct inquiries to

Articles appearing in the E-Journal represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the American Go Association.

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