American Go E-Journal

School Team Tourney – Registration Open

Friday February 5, 2016

SchoolTeamTournamentThe 2016 American Go Honor Society School Team Tournament (SST), North America’s premier K-12 team go tournament, will be held on the weekend of April 2-3 on KGS. All public or private institutions in the US, Canada and Mexico, from kindergarten to high school, are allowed to form teams of three to compete. Contrary to the previous tradition of hosting the event over two weekends, this year’s SST will take place during only one; there will be 2 rounds on each day, with the first starting at 9 AM PST (12 PM EST) and the second at 1 PM PST (4 PM PST). “Great prizes -including full scholarships to the AGA Summer Go Camp – are provided for the top places of each rank division, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to play together with your classmates and fight for glory,” says AGHS Promotion Head Stephen Hu. Tournament rules are posted on the AGHS website, and the registration form can be found here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Announcement and image by Stephen Hu.
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Waxler, Rice, Top Portland Chess and Go Tourney

Monday February 1, 2016

unspecifiedOlin Waxler, in go, and Caden Rice, in chess, took top honors at a three school chess and go tourney in Portland, OR on Jan. 16, reports organizer Peter Freedman.  Nineteen children participated, 8 playing go and 11 playing chess. Waxler, of Beverly Cleary Elementary, had a 3-0 record - taking  first place in go for the third consecutive tournament. In second was Mason Bonner, Irvington, 2-1;  Third, Oliver Kuerbis, Irvington, 1 ½ -1 ½ (one game was judged a tie by the tournament director). Caden Rice, Richmond, took the first place trophy in chess, with Dylan Nakaji, Richmond, taking second and Ai Rose, Richmond, taking 3rd.  “Richmond continues its dominance in chess, and no one seems able to beat Olin in go. Irvington continues to show well in go,” adds Freedman. To add to the festivities, kids received snack packs of black and white mm’s as a door prize. – Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Peter Freedman.

Chinese Professionals React to the Historic AlphaGo Win

Friday January 29, 2016

 The following is translated by Jennie Shen 2P from a WeiqiTV video2016.01.29_Fan-Hui

Liuxing 7p: before the games, what were you expecting?
FanHui 2p: I was thinking about how to torture/destroy the program, and see how many handicap stones I could give to it.
Liuxing 2p: if you play AlphaGo again, do you have confidence?”
FanHui 2p: I can’t tell you this, it’s a secret. but I can tell you how I felt when I was beaten up by AlphaGo. The first game, I wanted to play a peaceful game, but AlphaGo played an endgame tesuji, I found out I didn’t have a chance. The second game, I was thinking, maybe AlphaGo is just good at endgame, so I should fight. I got a good result after the avalanche joseki, but screwed up at the lower right corner… So, later, I realized, well, humans have emotions, the emotions will effect the game a lot, but this guy (AlphaGo) doesn’t have emotions, nothing affects it, it won’t make mistakes. The 3rd and 4th game, I was already completely destroyed mentally, no confidence at all. Lots of people asked me these questions: were you in bad shape? is this your full strength? some people even asked if I was sandbagging? here’s what I want to say: for humans playing Go, lots of things matter, like emotions, mentality, we can’t play our full strength. I tried my best…but it’s really really painful every time when I lost to Alphago. I felt like the world was turned upside down, it’s ridiculous.”
Shiyue 9p: When I saw the news yesterday, I couldn’t believe it was true. But the 5 games impressed me a lot, I think AlphaGo has pro level, but still there’s a distance from top pros. I don’t know how does machine study by itself, but I know it studies and improves, I think it won’t be easy for Lee Sedol in March. To us pros, we can learn from the program. If the program gets to top level, I will try different moves to play it, programs are tools, depends on how we use these tools. Some people think Go is culture, it’s mysterious, they don’t want to see AI beats human, some people think we can see a bigger picture and the depth of Go with program’s help. It’s our choice.
If AI beats humans, what does this mean to us?
LiZhe 6p: if AI beats human, maybe in March, maybe within a year, it will change the human Go world. We need to face these big changes. For example, as the competition Go weakens, people might focus more on the culture of Go. In the future, AI will help us to learn Go skills, people will start to think about what Go brings to us? Go will become a way of communication.
Kejie 9p : The 5 games were not that impressive, but the scary part is, AI improves. I use to think AI can never beat human, at least it won’t happen within 10 years. but this is unbelievable. When I was looking at the games, I didn’t know which is human, which is machine, I can’t tell the difference, AlphaGo has very good sense of balance. I think Lee Sedol will win the match in March. I really want to play Alphago, not just me, all the active Chinese pros want to play it. I have confidence to win now, but it’s hard to say later. I will still play Go even if AI beats human in the future.
Check out Myungwan Kim 9Ps January 28 commentary on the AlphaGo-Fan Hui games on the AGA YouTube channel.

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Myungwan Kim 9P to Analyze Fan Hui-AlphaGo games this Friday

Thursday January 28, 2016

Myungwan Kim 9P will analyze the Fan Hui-AlphaGo games on the AGA YouTube and TwitchTV channels this Friday at 9p EST (6p PST). And for the first time, the broadcast will be simulcast on weiqitv.com in China. Yesterday’s news2016.01.28_nature-cover that Google’s go-playing AI, AlphaGo, had swept Fan Hui 2P 5-0 rocketed around the world, receiving international coverage including write-ups in the New York Times, Bloomberg News, the BBC, Wall 2016.01.28_myungwan-kimStreet Journal, MIT Technology Review, Wired, NPR and blowing up on the AGA’s  Facebook and Twitter feeds.

“I was shocked at how Alphago played,” Kim (left) told the E-Journal. “It played like a human professional. I am sad that this computer program might beat me, but I don’t think it can beat Lee Sedol. I will tell you why in my commentary.” Google DeepMind, the British artificial intelligence company which developed AlphaGo, has issued a challenge to Lee Sedol 9P from South Korea, the top player in the world for much of the last 10 years, to play a 5-game, million-dollar match in March. Andrew Jackson will host the livestream broadcast.

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Game Over? AlphaGo Beats Pro 5-0 in Major AI Advance 

Wednesday January 27, 2016

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In a stunning development, the AlphaGo computer program has swept European Go Champion and Chinese professional Fan Hui 2P 5-0, the first time that a go professional has lost such a match. “This signifies a major step forward in one of the great challenges in the development of artificial intelligence – that of game-playing,” said the British Go Association, which released the news on January 27, based on findings reported in the scientific journal Nature this week (click here for the video, here for Nature’s editorial, Digital intuition and here for Go players react to computer defeat). NOTE: This story was posted at 1p EST on Wednesday, January 27; be sure to get the latest breaking go news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

“AlphaGo’s strength is truly impressive!” said Hajin Lee, Secretary General of the International Go Federation and a Korean go professional herself. “Go has always been thought of as the ultimate challenge to game-playing artificial intelligence,” added Thomas Hsiang, Secretary General of the International Mind Sport Association and Vice President of International Go Federation. “This is exciting news, but bittersweet at the same time,” said American Go Association president Andy Okun. “I think we go players have taken some pride in the fact that we could beat the best computers. Now we’re down to Lee Sedol fighting for us.”

2016.01.27_hui-fanGoogle DeepMind, the British artificial intelligence company which developed AlphaGo, has issued a challenge to Lee Sedol 9P from South Korea, the top player in the world for much of the last 10 years, to play a 5-game, million-dollar in March. “I have played through the five games between AlphaGo and Fan Hui,” said Hsiang. “AlphaGo was clearly the stronger player. The next challenge against Lee Sedol will be much harder.” While Hajin Lee agreed, saying “I still doubt that it’s strong enough to play the world’s top pros,” she added “but maybe it becomes stronger when it faces a stronger opponent.” Fan Hui (left) is a naturalized French 2-dan professional go player originally from China. European Champion in 2014 and 2015, Fan is also a 6-time winner in Paris as well as Amsterdam.

Just as the Kasparov/Deep Blue match did not signal the end of chess between humans, “so the development of AlphaGo does not signal the end of playing go between humans,” the BGA pointed out. “Computers have changed the way that players study and play chess (see this 2012 Wired article), and we expect something similar to occur in the field of go, but not necessarily as assistance during play. It has been recognised for a long time that achievements in game-playing have contributed to developments in other areas, with the game of go being the pinnacle of perfect knowledge games.”  Added Okun, “go has for thousands of years been a contest between humans and a struggle of humans against their own limits, and it will remain so. We still cycle in the Tour de France, even though we’ve invented the motorcycle.”

The BGA noted that that achievements in game-playing technology have contributed to developments in other areas. The previous major breakthrough in computer go, the introduction of Monte-Carlo tree search, led to corresponding advances in many other areas.

Last year, the Facebook AI Research team also started creating an AI that can learn to play go and earlier today Mark Zuckerberg reported on Facebook that “We’re getting close, and in the past six months we’ve built an AI that can make moves in as fast as 0.1 seconds and still be as good as previous systems that took years to build. Our AI combines a search-based approach that models every possible move as the game progresses along with a pattern matching system built by our computer vision team.”

In a related story, computer scientist John Tromp last week revealed the number of legal go positions, “weighing in at 9*19=171 digits.” Read more here.

Game 1 of the AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui 2P match appears above right. Click below for the match’s remaining game records:
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 2
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 3
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 4
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 5

Update (11:44pm 1/27): Myungwan Kim 9P will analyze the games played between Fan Hui and AlphaGo during a live stream on the AGA YouTube Channel and TwitchTV this Friday; more details will be posted at 7a EST.

 

Players Wanted for Chunlan Cup Online Playoffs

Wednesday January 27, 2016

The AGA has received a request to send a professional player to China for the 11th Chunlan Cup Selections March 25-28. Opening ceremony is on March 25th. This is the first section of the tournament and players will participate in the other sections if they advance on a date TBA. Airfare, food and lodging will be covered by the organizers. In addition, the minimum prize, for those who lose in the first round, is $2,000 pre-tax. The online play-offs will take place on the weekend of Feb. 20-21 on KGS. Eligibility: US/Canadian citizen, professional player, must meet AGA/CGA eligibility requirements. Must be able to play in the online tournament. Interested players should respond with their names, best form of contact, and KGS IDs before Feb. 10th. If there are multiple interested players, an online play-off will be held. Please send email responses and questions to cherry.shen@usgo.org

Jasiek Releases “Positional Judgement 2 – Dynamics”

Wednesday January 27, 2016

Robert Jasiek has released his 12th book, “Positional Judgement 2 – Dynamics.” Targeted at players 5 kyu to 5 dan, the book focused on “the 2016.01.27_PositionalJudgement_2_Cover_smalldynamic aspects of the middle game (influence, aji, fights etc.) and the related positional judgement with theory and examples,” says Jasiek. “While territory characterises peaceful positions, our assessment of dynamic positions includes reductions, aji, potential, influence, thickness and fights. The general theory applying to these concepts raises the quality of our middle game and enables our very profound positional judgement.” 276 pp., EUR 26.50 (book), EUR 13.25 (PDF). Click here for sample pages, a review, and all of Jasiek’s books.

U.S. Rep Sought for Bailing Cup

Tuesday January 26, 2016

Online play-offs to determine the U.S. rep to the 3rd Bailing Cup will take place on the weekend of February 6-7 on KGS. The AGA has received a request to send an amateur player to Beijing, China (China Qiyuan) for the 3rd Bailing Cup in March 11-15th. All expenses (travel, lodging, local transportation, and food) will be afforded by players. Players will compete in one of 48 pools and will qualify for the major competition if they take the top place in their assigned pool.

Eligibility: US/Canadian citizen, must meet AGA/CGA eligibility requirements. Must be able to play in the online tournament* and the major tournament sections if player advances. Interested players should email their names, best form of contact, and KGS IDs to cherry.shen@usgo.org before January, 31st. If there are multiple interested players, an online play-off will be held. Dates for the first, second and third rounds are June 28th to July 2nd. The fourth round will be held August 25th to 30th and the final competition will be September 20th to 22th and December 14th to 17th

*Note: This selection tournament applies to amateurs only.  Any professional players may directly register with Bailing Cup and participate in the preliminary round.
- Cherry Shen

Amateur Pair Go report

Sunday January 24, 2016

Korean pair Jeon Yujin-Song Hongsuk won the 26th International Amateur Pair Go Champion in Tokyo held December2016.01.24_pair-go2 5-6 at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont. Amy Wang 4D and Danny Ko 7D represented the United States. It was the second time the two had represented the US. “Amy represented in 2013 and I represented in 2014, so we pretty much knew the drill,” says Ko.

There were 32 teams including 12 Japanese pairs. “We drew a difficult first round match-up and fell to one of the strong Japanese pairs (7 Dan male and 6 Dan female) on Saturday morning (Dec 5). The game was somewhat competitive but we fell behind after a mid-game fight and lost about 10 points.”

2016.01.24_pair-go1After the first round, players and guests prepared for the goodwill game wearing national costumes. “Amy and I decided to wear ‘old western’ costumes. It was a great chance to meet other players and guests. I paired with a 6 Dan Japanese lady and played against Hajin Lee 3P and a Japanese 6-dan male player (left). It was my first time to play Hajin although we have been good friends for many years.”

“Sunday morning, we played Indonesia in the second round. We led the game with comfortable margin and won the game by resignation,” Ko told the E-Journal. “We drew the one of Japanese pairs (7-dan male and 5-dan female) again in the third round. The game was very competitive and both teams had many chances throughout the game. We pretty much lost the game at the last fight and lost about 5 points.”

In the 4th and 5th rounds, the US team played Mongolia and Finland. winning both games in less than 100 moves by resignation. Their 3-2 result  resulted in 16th place for the US. “The result was a little disappointing since we were hoping to win four games,” says Ko. “But we played very competitively against two Japanese pairs so it was not a bad performance. Click here for complete results.

 

The Power Report: Judan challenger: Iyama or Yo; Meijin League Update; Lead shared in Honinbo League; Women’s Meijin League concludes; Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense

Thursday January 21, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2016.01.21_40kisei1_4

Judan challenger: Iyama or Yo: The new tournament year at the Nihon Ki-in got off to a good start on January 7. Most of the interest focused on the semifinals of the 54th Judan tournament. The Judan is the only top-seven title Iyama Yuta doesn’t hold; if he becomes the challenger, he has a chance of achieving a simultaneous grand slam. In his semifinal, Iyama (B) beat Imamura Toshiya 9P by resignation. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Ida Atsushi will be Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in. In his semifinal, Yo’s opponent, Shida Tatsuya 7P (B), forfeited the game because of an illegal move when he recaptured a ko immediately, without making a ko threat. (To be precise, Yo’s ko threat was a ko capture in a position that was a double ko; Shida, who was in his last minute of byo-yomi, should have captured the other ko.) Last year Yo lost the play-off to decide the Oza challenger to Iyama, so he will be seeking revenge. This chance comes on January 21.

Meijin League Update: The first game of the second round of the 41st Meijin League was played on January 7. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Hane2016.01.21_meijin-league Naoki 9P by resignation. At this point, Ko, on 2-0, took the provisional lead. On January 11, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and joined Ko in the provisional lead.

Lead shared in Honinbo League: The first game in the fourth round of the 71st Honinbo League was played on January 7, with Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points. On January 14, Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Motoki 2016.01.21_honinbo-leagueKatsuya 7P by resig. This was Motoki’s first loss, so he now shares the lead with Yo; both are on 3-1. Takao also has only one loss, so he has a chance of joining them in the lead.

Women’s Meijin League concludes: The final round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League was held on January 7. Aoki Kikuyo 8P had already won the league in the fifth round, but she won her final game as well to finish with a perfect score. Results: Aoki (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 3P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Mannami Nao 3P by 2.5 points. The title match with Xie Yimin will start in March.2016.01.21_womens-meijin

Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense: The first game of the 40th Kisei title match was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in the city of Aizu-wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture on January 14 and 15. The defending champion Iyama Yuta (aged 26) drew white in the nigiri to decide the colors. The challenger Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (aged 37) made a positive start, playing aggressively in the opening. The game was decided by a ko fight in which Yamashita sacrificed a group in order to win a ko started after White invaded a black position. Iyama took the lead in this exchange and hung on for a win, rebuffing some do-or-die attacks by Black. Yamashita resigned after 202 moves. The second game will be played on January 28 and 29.