American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Iyama sweeps Meijin League; Iyama’s winning streak ends; Ichiriki maintains lead in Kisei S League; AlphaGo book recommendation

Monday August 7, 2017

Iyama sweeps Meijin League: The final round of the 42nd Meijin League was held on August 3. The challenger had already been decided in the previous round, so the “grand finale” of the league may have been lacking in drama, but for the players hovering between demotion and retaining their league places, there would have been plenty of suspense in the day’s play.2017.08.07_iyama-42gosei
In his final game, Iyama Yuta was matched against Yo Seiki 7P, who needed to beat him to retain his place. As it turned out, Iyama demonstrated overwhelming strength in their game and won easily, so he finished with a perfect 8-0 record and Yo, who scored 3-5, will have to start over again in the final preliminary round. Iyama finished three points clear of the field. Usually the margin is just one point or, occasionally two; I can’t recall anyone else winning by three points. What’s more, he had already established this lead in the second-last round. Iyama is really head and shoulders ahead of other players in Japan. What is striking in the Meijin League chart is how little the status quo changed: the new players are out and there’s only one change in the placings from 1 to 6.
The first game of the match with Takao Shinji Meijin will be played on August 30 and 31.
Final-round results: Iyama (B) beat Yo by resig.; Cho U 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig.; Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. Players to drop out are Hane, Sakai, and Yo.

Iyama’s winning streak ends: In a game in the Agon Kiriyama Cup played on July 31, Iyama Yuta lost by 1.5 points to Yamada Kimio 9P (B) so his winning streak came to an end on 16.

Ichiriki maintains lead in Kisei S League: One game in the S League of the 62nd Kisei tournament was played on August 3. Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig. That took Ichiriki to 4-0 and continued the sole lead he has enjoyed since the second round. In the fifth and final round he will play Kono Rin, who, on 2-1, is the only other player still in the running. League ranks will affect the outcome, as 2017.07.30_invisible-coverthere is no play-off in the Kisei leagues. If Kono beats Yamashita Keigo in this round, then beats Ichiriki in the final round, then, as the number one player, he will win the league. At this point, Cho U also has only one loss―he is also on 2-1―but, at #5, he is outranked by both Kono and Ichiriki (#4).

AlphaGo book recommendation: In a recent edition of the E-Journal (“Invisible” collects 78 AlphaGo games), there appeared a notice about the publication of “Invisible,” the first book devoted to the games between the AI program AlphaGo and human players. I would like to recommend the book. Its core is the 60-game winning streak set up by AlphaGo, playing as Master, but it also includes other games played at the Go Summit in China. I had the opportunity to proofread about half of these games before publication and it was a real pleasure. Apart from the extraordinary interest of the games themselves, I enjoyed the lucid and instructive presentation by the author, Antti Tormanen. The layout is excellent and the commentaries are clear and accessible. They focus on the innovations of AlphaGo and its dramatic divergences from established professional theory. To look at it another way, these elements of the games constitute the contributions AlphaGo can make to go theory, though it may be a while before its theoretical advances can be fully digested by mere mortals. This book makes a good start in print to that process. In passing, here are two points, among others, that struck me. Very early in the game, AlphaGo plays moves based on its ability to calculate. For example, it plays reducing moves or makes sacrifices that it’s difficult to see human players emulating―they can imitate the moves, but can they make calculations extending to the end of the game while still in the opening? Secondly, it has no ego: it’s content to win by one point and sees no need to crush the opponent. Here, perhaps, humans may not wish to emulate it.
A pdf version of Invisible is available online here or email for details on the hardcover version.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report