American Go E-Journal » 2017 » December

Go miscellany Year End Edition (2 of 3)

Tuesday December 12, 2017

Being a collection of interesting items – in no particular order – that have landed in our in-box in recent months but never 2017.12.10_Haikyo-The Modern Ruins of Japanmade it into the E-Journal.

Modern ruins of Japan: A floor-style goban and bowls on the couch. From the book Haikyo: The Modern Ruins of Japan, by Shane Thoms.
- David Matson

The Stone of Kannon: A friend recommended the book, The Stone of Kannon, by O. A. Bushnell, to me a couple of weeks ago. The book tells the story of the first Japanese contract laborers who were imported in 1868 to work on sugar plantations in Hawaii. This was the first year of the Meiji reign and there was a lot of turbulence in Japan. Go is mentioned a number of times, but it is not a major aspect of the book. Go is present in many scenes both in Japan and on the ship sailing to Hawaii. There is a sub-plot about a retired prostitute who announced on the first day at sea that she was going to choose a husband before they landed in Hawaii. It is described starting on page 201. “O-Miya’s search for a husband worthy of her helped to lighten those long hours – and gave gamblers endless reasons for laying bets…she did not lack suitors. They surrounded her day and night, paying court. They played Go with her, at which she was very proficient, and hanafuda, at which she excelled…” The story focusses on a group that worked the Wailuku Plantation and Sugar Mill. It describes locations that are still in Wailuku and locations where the Maui Go Club has met. We made it the official book of the Maui Go Club. There is a longer version this story on our website.
- Danny Topp


Elite Mind Games Day 2 report

Monday December 11, 2017

In today’s IMSA Elite Mind Games team competitions for both men and women, China drew North America, Korea drew Europe,2017.12.11_Mingjiu-KeJie and Taipei drew Japan.  China and Korea easily defeated their opponents to win 4-0; the suspense was with the closely matched games between Taipei and Japan.  For men, the top two Taiwanese players Wang Yuan-Jyun and Chen Shih-Yuan defeated Japan’s new stars Shibano Toramaru and Mutsuura Yuta.  For women, much attention was focused on the match between Joanne Missingham (Hei Jia-Jia) and the multiple title winner Fujisawa Rina (granddaughter of Fujisawa Shuko).  The game lasted over five hours, with Rina finally prevailing over the seemingly rusty Joanne.  The other game featured two shodans, the 15-year old Yang Tzu-Hsuan and the 17-year old Nyu Eiko, both having reached major title challenges this year in their countries.  Eiko, daughter of multi-time world xiangqi champion Zhao Guorong and Go 5p Niu Lili who is famous for 2017.12.11-IEMG logohave written Go Seigen’s books for the past 20+ years, calmly won over Tzu-Hsuan in their first of many anticipated matches to come.

For readers who are not familiar with the IMSA Elite Mind Games, this event is a replacement of the previous SportAccord World Mind Games held from 2011 to 2014.  A unique feature of these events is their strong involvement of Western players.  Not only is the prize fund spread out to all players, the format of play, which does not use simple knock-outs, also allows the Western players to play many games with the top pros from Asia, thus allowing valuable training experience for the former.  In today’s IMSA Executive Meeting, it was announced that IEMG will be continued for at least another two years.  In addition, new events are being developed, aiming to hopefully reach three IMSA events per year by 2019.

-   Thomas Hsiang; photo: Mingjiu Jiang (left) vs. Ke Jie


Go miscellany Year End Edition (1 of 3)

Monday December 11, 2017

Being a collection of interesting items – in no particular order – that have landed in our in-box in recent months but never 2017.12.11-legend-5-rings-l5c05_ide_tadaji_artmade it into the E-Journal.

Legend of the Five Rings: Fantasy Flight Games publishes a card game called “Legend of the Five Rings” which takes inspiration from Japanese, Chinese, and Korean history and legend. A short story posted to FFG’s website contains an image of a gentleman engaged in an interesting game of go while holding a white stone correctly. The short story, itself, contains a discussion between two characters about Shogi, with a passing comment that one prefers the “purity” of go.
- Joe Marino

Atari origins: “Started in 1972, Atari was named by one of its founders, Nolan Bushnell, for a move in the ancient Asian game of Go. ‘Atari was what you said to your opponent if you put their stones in jeopardy, kind of like check in chess,’ Mr. Bushnell explained in an interview. ‘I just thought it was a cool word and a cool name.’ From Atari (Remember It?), a New Console With Old Games, in The New York Times 11/24/2017
Bushnell gave the keynote address at the 2012 Go Congress.
- Ted Terpstra

Can A.I. Be Taught to Explain Itself? As machine learning becomes more powerful, the field’s researchers increasingly find themselves unable to account for what their algorithms know — or how they know it.
- From The New York Times, 11/21/2017


IMSA Elite Mind Games 2017 edition underway in China

Sunday December 10, 2017

The second version of the IMSA Elite Mind Games (IEMG) is underway in Huai’an City, Jiangsu Province, China. The event 2017.12.10_Ke Jie taking the players' vowruns December 9-16, and features 72 male and 62 female top athletes from five sports — Bridge, Chess, Draughts, Go, and Xiangqi — competing for medals and the boasting right as world champions. In addition, a total prize pot of €900,000 will be distributed to the participants.

The Go tournament’s first day started shortly after lunch and did not all end until six hours later.  In the men’s team, China drew Korea to feature the clash of four superstars from these two teams – Ke Jie (at right, taking the Player’s Vow), Tang Weixing, Park Jeong-Hwan, and Shin Jin-Seo.  Shin played white against Tang and used a clever sacrifice to build a big moyo and scored the first win of the day. Ke, on the other hand, fought brilliantly with Park to force the team score to 1-1.  On the women’s side, the North American team played against Europe.  Sarah Yu from Canada and Wan Chen from US both lost by resignation to Natalia Kovaleva from Russia and Manja Marz from Germany. The North American team is now likely to fall to the last place.  All other matches had expected results: for men, Japan over Europe, Taipei over North American; for women, China over Taipei, and Korea over Japan – all with 2-0 score.

Tomorrow, for both men and women teams, America will play vs China, Europe vs Korea, and Taipei vs. Japan.

2017.12.10_IEMG'17 openingThe Mind Games launched on Saturday with a grand opening ceremony (left) at the Great People’s Hall of Huai’an. In addition to the same five sports as last year, the Chinese National Guandan Championship will be held at the same venue. Guandan is a traditional Chinese card game which was showcased as a demo sport in 2016.  The International Federation of Card Games (FCG) will also run an international tournament in Huai’an as a parallel event.

In Go, IEMG will have five medal competitions: men’s and women’s team play, men’s and women’s individual blitz play, and pair go. Six countries/regions are represented: China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, USA (joined by Canada), and EU (joined by non-EU European countries). The all-star casts include: from China, Yu Zhiying, Lu Minquan, Ke Jie, and Tang Weixing; from Japan, Fujisawa Rina, Nyu Eiko, Shibano Toramaru, and Matsuura Yuta; from Korea, Oh Yu-Jin, Choi Jeong, Park Jeong-Hwan, and Shin Jinseo; from US-Canada, Sarah Yu, Wan Chen, Mingjiu Jiang, and Ziyang Hu; from EU, Natalia Kovaleva, Manja Marz, Ilya Shikshin, and Mateusz Surma.
- report/photos by Thomas Hsiang

Categories: China,Main Page

Record turnout at San Diego Go Club winter soiree

Sunday December 10, 2017

Setting an all-time record, more than 50 people attended the San Diego Go Club’s “winter” soiree at club president Ted 2017.12.10_san-diego-DSCN4777Terpstra’s home on Sunday, December 3. The quarterly event, which features AGA-rated games and pizzas has become a southern California go fixture for the last seven years. The soiree enables go enthusiasts from the several go clubs in southern California to play self-paired games and socialize in a pleasant surrounding. Players aged 7 to over 70, ranging from beginners to professionals came to 2017.12.10_san-diego-DSCN4781 2play, hailing from Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, UCSD, North County Go Club, San Diego east county, the Chinese bookstore in San Diego and the regulars from the San Diego Go Club. People started coming at 11:30 a.m. and some stayed until 8:30 p.m. analyzing games.

Free pizza, thanks to the AGA rewards program, cake (thanks to a donation) and beverages (thanks to the president) were served to all who stayed to socialize at 5 p.m.

Best quote of the day: “The president needs to buy a larger house.”

photos by Ted Terpstra


Prevailing over drum ensemble, Trevor Morris tops Boston Winter Open

Sunday December 10, 2017

Nearly three dozen players — 32 to be exact — ranging in strength from beginner to 6d, made their way to the Stratton Student Center at MIT to participate in the Boston Winter Open on December 2. The tournament was divided into two divisions, a 12 person Open Division with dan players playing even games, and a 20 person Handicap Division with kyu players playing handicap – 2 games.

Open Division players competed for cash prizes and our winners were: 1st place Trevor Morris, 6d (4-0), 2nd place David Cho, 5d (3-1), and 3rd place Qingbo Zhang, 5d (3-1).

Handicap Division prizes were awarded to those with 4-0 and 3-1 records. Our winners were: Adam Prescott, 9k (4-0), Jin Greene, 12k (3-1), Eva Casey, 5k (3-1), Michael Scudder, 2k (3-1), and Matt Clarke, 2k (3-1).

This tournament was made particularly unique due to the surprising addition of live music starting in the middle of the third round. The source turned out to be a Senegalese Drum Ensemble participating in MIT’s World Music Day in the auditorium beneath the playing area. In investigating the event, we discovered it would last through our final round and were kindly given a box of ear plugs. We also confirmed the hypothesis that go tournaments and drums do not go well together (in case you were wondering). Fortunately our players are awesome and seemed mostly amused. We will try to be more aware of adjacent events for future tournaments.
Neil Ritter


Thanks to everyone for coming and to the MIT Go club and the MGA for organizing!



AlphaGo Zero-AlphaGo Master: A similar “taste” but things turn sour quickly

Friday December 8, 2017

“AG Zero and the Ke Jie version sort of resemble each other, in the way that they play around the 3-3 invasions, and there’s a 2017.12.08_ag-ag-zero-master-3‘taste’ to their play that’s quite similar,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his third commentary on the AG Zero games. “That said, the Ke Jie version tends to jump into fights more quickly and that’s very exciting, but in the Zero version, there’s a lot of hidden reading, like we saw in Game 2. Just as Master did against human players, Zero is controlling the game to a much greater degree, and a lot of the reading is not actually coming out on the board.”

“In this game, Master has black again and will be playing a lot of moves towards the center,” Redmond says. “So there are lot of stones floating around in the center of the board and looking kind of neat. I think Master had a good opening in this game and then there’s one move I really don’t like, that’s really the turning point of the game. And just like when I’m playing a formidable player, I find that just one move can turn things very sour quite quickly.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and see below for the sgf commentary. To support this content, please consider joining or renewing your membership in the American Go Association; click here for details.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.



Google’s AlphaZero destroys highest-rated chess engine in 100-game match

Thursday December 7, 2017

Chess changed forever today. And maybe the rest of the world did, too.2017.12.07_alphazero-stockfish

A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against the top Go player, the artificial-intelligence program AlphaZero has obliterated the highest-rated chess engine.

Stockfish, which for most top players is their go-to preparation tool, and which won the 2016 TCEC Championship and the 2017 Computer Chess Championship, didn’t stand a chance. AlphaZero won the closed-door, 100-game match with 28 wins, 72 draws, and zero losses.

Oh, and it took AlphaZero only four hours to “learn” chess. Sorry humans, you had a good run.

That’s right — the programmers of AlphaZero, housed within the DeepMind division of Google, had it use a type of “machine learning,” specifically reinforcement learning. Put more plainly, AlphaZero was not “taught” the game in the traditional sense. That means no opening book, no endgame tables, and apparently no complicated algorithms dissecting minute differences 2017.12.07_michael-adams-demis-hassabisbetween center pawns and side pawns.

This would be akin to a robot being given access to thousands of metal bits and parts, but no knowledge of a combustion engine, then it experiments numerous times with every combination possible until it builds a Ferrari. That’s all in less time that it takes to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The program had four hours to play itself many, many times, thereby becoming its own teacher.

“It’s a remarkable achievement, even if we should have expected it after AlphaGo,” GM Garry Kasparov told “It approaches the ‘Type B,’ human-like approach to machine chess dreamt of by Claude Shannon and Alan Turing instead of brute force.”

You can read the full paper here. GM Peter Heine Nielsen said that “After reading the paper but especially seeing the games I thought, well, I always wondered how it would be if a superior species landed on earth and showed us how they play chess. I feel now I know.”

After the Stockfish match, AlphaZero then “trained” for only two hours and then beat the best Shogi-playing computer program “Elmo.”

“[This is] actual artificial intelligence,” said Nielsen. “It goes from having something that’s relevant to chess to something that’s gonna win Nobel Prizes or even bigger than Nobel Prizes. I think it’s basically cool for us that they also decided to do four hours on chess because we get a lot of knowledge. We feel it’s a great day for chess but of course it goes so much further.”

Excerpted from Mike Klein’s December 6 report on photo: Deepmind’s Demis Hassabis (right) playing with Michael Adams at the ProBiz event at Google Headquarters London just a few days ago. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/


AlphaGo doc now available to rent or buy

Wednesday December 6, 2017

“AlphaGo,” the 2016 documentary about the historic AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match, is now available on the Google “Play” store for2017.12.06_alphaGo-movie rental and purchase.
“AlphaGo” chronicles a journey from the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind, to Seoul, where a legendary go master faces an unproven AI challenger. As the drama unfolds, questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What will it teach us about humanity?

“This is such a beautiful telling of this historic moment,” comments Ben Murdoch on the site. “An intimate and at times tense portrayal of a milestone moment in AI history. Captivating!” says Marek Barwiński.


Danny Ko takes over from Roy Schmidt as AGA Treasurer

Wednesday December 6, 2017

After nearly seven years as Treasurer for the American Go Association, Roy Schmidt (right) has passed the ledgers to Daniel Daehyuk2017.12.06_Roy-Schmidt Ko.

Both urge anyone sending paper correspondence — especially membership forms and checks — to use the new address: Treasurer, AGA, PO Box 3678, Gardena, CA  90247.

“Organizers, if you have a supply of membership forms printed for use at 2017.12.06_Daniel-Daehyuk-KOyour next tournament, you can still use them,” says Ko (left), “but make sure to mail them to the new address to avoid a delay in rating your event.  Revised forms are already available on the AGA website for download.

“If tournament participants see organizers using a form with the Portland address at the bottom, ask if they are aware of the change of address, and point them to the AGA website for current contact information,” Ko adds.

Schmidt began playing go in Taiwan in the mid 1970s. “I became an honorary life member of the Taiwan Go Association as appreciation for a translation of the Ing rules.  In 1976 I was the referee for a Telex match between Taiwan and the USA using Ing rules for the first time internationally. Keeping it in the family, I married a go friend’s sister.” After years of organizing local clubs and tournaments back in the States, Bob Barber nominated Schmidt for the AGA Board.  After four years on the board he took a break and then returned as Treasurer. “Back to local now, I am directing a tournament in Portland in January,” Schmidt says.

Danny Ko learned go at the age of five from his parents in Korea and started actively playing at the age of 15 at local go clubs in his hometown. “After finishing the mandatory military service in Korea, I moved to the US in 1998 for my college education.  Since then I have casually played go in local Korean Go clubs in the LA area. In 2006, I have joined American Go Association (AGA) and started playing at AGA tournaments. After playing in numerous domestic and international events for many years, I have decided to contribute to the American go community in different way.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have had such dedicated, responsible and diligent volunteers take on the critical role of Treasurer,” said AGA president Andy Okun. “Both deserve the thanks and appreciation of every AGA member, to which I add my own, along with best wishes for Roy and anticipation of great work in the future with Danny.”