American Go E-Journal

WAGC Short Takes: Yuan Zhou on Tygem & the U.S. Pro System; Nihon Ki-in Teams up with Cho U on New Go App; In the Gardens of the Guangzhou Chess Institute; A Glimpse of James Davies

Tuesday May 15, 2012

Yuan Zhou on Tygem & the U.S. Pro System: Yuan Zhou 7d warmed up for his World Amateur Go Championship appearance by playing on the Tygem server, where he told the E-Journal that “It was very easy and fast to get good games.” Heading into his fifth-round game against the UK’s Samuel Aitkin 4d, Zhou said he was pleased with his 3-1 record thus far, noting that his fourth-round win against Seizoh Nakazono 8d was the first time in WAGC history that the US had prevailed over Japan. He’s excited about the new American pro system now in development and looking forward to competing in the pro qualifier at the Maryland Open at the end of the month. “It’s so important for the future of American go,” Zhou said, “it will give hope to young American players that a go career is possible.”

Nihon Ki-in Teams up with Cho U on New Go App: Colorful cats, dogs and frogs danced on Taro Matsuo’s iPad as the Go World editor enthusiastically showed off the Nihon Kiin’s playful go app developed with top pro Cho U 9P. The new app features cute cartoon animals that guide a beginner through learning the fundamentals of go in a “fun and accessible way,” Matsuo said. Now available in the iTunes app store in Japanese (search for Nihon Ki-in or go), the hope is to release an English-language version later this year. The app joins other Nihon Ki-in apps including its tsume-go (life and death) app; IgoFree, for playing go in-person on an iPad, and e-publications including Go World, Go Weekly (featuring playable game records), and more than ten go books, “with two more due out next month,” Matsuo says proudly.

In the Gardens of the Guangzhou Chess Institute: Clouds of dragonflies flitted above us as we took in the view from the garden atop the Guangzhou Chess Institute. A waterfall burbled merrily nearby, giving a measure of relief from the oppressive heat. Built for the 2010 edition of the Asian Games, the Institute is a spectacular venue for go, chess and Chinese Chess events near scenic Baiyun Mountain, and includes two major playing halls, rooms for players and officials to stay in, and study rooms, as well as lush gardens and an impressive museum dedicated to the three games. The museum celebrates the Chinese origins of go, and the key figures in that history, from Ming emperor Yao, who legend says had it invented for his son, to Wu Qingyuan, known to the west as Go Seigen, the prodigy who triumphed so spectacularly in Japan, became one of the best players of all time and, with Kitani Minoru, broke away from the traditional opening patterns to develop modern go. Other Chinese go giants like Chen Zude, Nie Weiping and Gu Li are also highlighted, although all the museum text is in Chinese, leaving the western vistor to puzzle out things like the player’s names on the historical games on the walls (shown here by So Yokoku 8P). An exhibition of English-language panels covering much the same material were produced for the WAGC main playing area and perhaps will be displayed in the museum. The exhibits of boards, pieces and carved wood panels in the cool and shadowy museum are inviting in Guangzhou’s heat, but so too are the whisper of the breeze in the bamboo and rustle of the twisted pines in the Institute’s gardens, as the player’s stones click steadily along like cicadas in the trees.

A Glimpse of James Davies: James Davies does not flaunt his encyclopedic knowledge of the game of go, its history and players. It’s not his style. The author of elegant Ishi classics like An Introduction to GO, 38 Basic Joseki and Attack and Defense, who’s covering the WAGC for Ranka Online, Davies drifts about the playing area, seemingly aimlessly, keenly watching and listening, jotting down the occasional note, asking a quiet question or two of players exiting the playing area. Over six feet tall with a perfectly-trimmed bushy mustache that hides his expression but not the hint of a twinkle in his eyes, and always impeccably attired in a sports coat regardless of the oppressive heat, Davies’ comprehensive round-by-round reports and provide a keen eye for the telling detail, the way one player places his stones, the demeanor of another, the positional status of each game Davies turns his attention to. In another life, perhaps, the Baltimore native might have been a sportcaster, the kind with the true fan’s appreciation of the game and a gift for the sharp-eyed observation, dryly delivered.

- Chris Garlock; photos by John Pinkerton

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