American Go E-Journal

Standing Room Only for Young AGA Professionals

Sunday July 31, 2016

Eric LuiSunday afternoon at the U.S. Go Congress featured an unusual line-up; three homegrown American professionals conducted game reviews in Boston University’s George Sherman Union. The newest pro, Eric Lui (right), a 1 dan professional as of January this year, is soft-spoken but the room full of players hung on his every word. “Who thinks black is better? Raise your hand,” asked Lui, who was reviewing a game for Ken Koester 1d. They were discussing a sequence in the corner, ending with a liberty race in the top left. “So, it seems like Black has too many liberties [so white can’t live],” explained Lui.

Andy LiuAt the same time, Andy Liu (left), 1 dan professional, was lecturing to a room so packed that many couldn’t even get in the door. “The key to being stronger is you must, at all costs, avoid playing in the ‘red’ (or low-percentage) areas,” he told the audience, sprawled on the floor and spilling out the door. Although he was  reviewing his recent game with Lee Sedol from the Ing Cup, Liu seemed more focused on explaining the paradigm shift in measuring playing strength with the success of AlphaGo. Each point on the board has a probability distribution of how good a move it is. In the opening, most of the moves are green (i.e., having normal distributions), particularly on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th lines. You shouldn’t spend a lot of time on the opening, Liu advised, “Don’t sweat it… Don’t try to look for outliers when there are none.” Instead you should spend time when the distribution is skewed: when one move is green, and all the rest are red. How do you know what Calvin Sunareas are red and green? It’s not that easy, according to Liu. He doesn’t know and no pro does. Their play isn’t perfect. That’s why AlphaGo is so exciting; it sees these distributions. “AlphaGo has called humanity out,” Liu said, saying that now top professionals are being forced to become stronger.

Calvin Sun, 1 dan professional (right), followed his young colleagues at 3pm. His fans, sitting in the front row, were multitasking by listening and watching games on KGS. Sun, reviewing a game, spoke quietly, “This is pretty good for you. It’s joseki but nowadays white doesn’t really play this because black gets sente.” His review, targeted at 1 kyu – 3 dan players, involved discussion of different joseki variations and when to not follow the joseki.
- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress  

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