American Go E-Journal

“Blindfold Go”: A Game Recorder’s Perspective

Wednesday August 3, 2016

by Dennis Wheeler2016.08.03-blindfold-bao-IMG_0508

Monday was the usual non-stop super busy day for the E-Journal staff, with morning rounds from 9a-1p, evening rounds from 7p-11p and the usual “stuff as assigned” in between. For many years I’ve been one of the handful of top-board game recorders at the morning US Open Masters games, but this year we have a crew of five recorders, so I’ve been managing the recording team, which is great, but to be honest I was missing game recording. So when I was asked to be the game recorder for the Blind Go exhibition match Monday afternoon between Bao Yun 7d and Eric Lui 1p (apparently I have established a reputation for being good at it, especially after a Chinese article was published last year), I was both thrilled and honored. Bao Yun is famous for setting the world record for playing and winning five simultaneous games while blindfolded.

As experienced as I am at recording games, I’ve never had to call out the move coordinates to the players before. Turns out it’s not as easy as you might think. Game recording is easy — you just click the mouse in the same location that the players place a stone, but for this game I had to carefully check the coordinates, recheck to be sure and then check once more to be absolutely certain before calling them out so that Bao Yun, sitting next to me with a bright blue blindfold, could consider his move.

2016.08.03_blindfold-go-IMG_0510It felt to me like Eric Lui had a strategy in mind to try and trip up Bao Yun. It was quite impressive to be sitting at the same table with them both, Bao Yun blindfolded and with his back to us. He’d call out the coordinates of the move he wanted to play, and I’d place it on the board for Eric. Eric would play his move, and I’d call out the coordinates for Bao Yun. I also pressed the clock for Bao Yun and would occasionally call out the remaining time. Of course, the Ing clocks called out the time once we got into byo-yomi. Impressively, the game went all the way to counting, including filling all the dame.

I couldn’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for Bao Yun to keep all those coordinates in his head for a full game, and I was especially worried about a “misclick” if I gave him the wrong coordinates, which I did once. Bao was of course expecting the actual move, so he adjusted easily enough after I said “oops.”

Mingjiu Jiang 7p was across the large open room giving a blow by blow commentary for a good size audience of Go Congress attendees, but far enough away that he was out of our earshot. In the end, Eric managed to win by a small margin. Though apparently we forgot to announce the ruleset to be used, which sparked a brief discussion as to the exact score, though the one point difference would not have changed the result. Black won by 5.5 by AGA counting. Click here to download the game record.

Special thanks to both Peter Armenia and Peter Gousios for helping relay and verifying the coordinates for my fading hearing in the loud open room.
- photos by Chris Garlock