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Beginner at 80, Still Playing at 90

Sunday July 10, 2016

Yuriko at TournamentYuriko Miyake came later than usual to the Seattle Go Center on Tuesday, June 21, because it was her birthday — her 90th.  Yuriko also came late to playing go — she only started playing about 10 years ago.  She first started by playing Pair Go with her husband Kinju Miyake, one of the founding directors of the Seattle Go Center.   After her husband died in 2008, she became more serious about go, both as a mental discipline and as a way to keep in touch with go playing friends.  She is now a regular on Tuesday afternoons, where she plays with a group that mostly speaks Japanese, but also includes players whose first language is English or French.

A calm and resourceful woman, Yuriko moved with her husband and family from Sapporo, Japan to Sitka, Alaska in 1957, two years before Alaska statehood. Her husband Kinju was a forester for Alaska Lumber and Pulp. They later moved to Oregon, and then retired to the Seattle area.  She is now a double digit kyu player who is within handicapping range of many of the Go Center players.  She also plays teaching games with beginners, giving them nine stones. She studies go books, and comes to many of the Center’s tournaments.  A reliable volunteer, she helps keep the Go Center organized, and helps at outreach events such as the Center’s table at the Bon Odori festival.  We are very proud of Yuriko, and think she is an excellent example for our younger beginners who are only 60 or 70 years old.
Report and photo by Brian Allen, Seattle Go Center Manager. 

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Your Move/Readers Write: Pokemon Go?! Senior Invitation in Sunnyvale

Tuesday July 19, 2016

Pokemon Go?! “I thought I was into real go but they stole the name!! How disappointed was I?” writes Ted Terpstra after2016.07.18_pokemanGo reading about Pokémon Go in The New York Times recently .

Senior Invitation in Sunnyvale: “I would like to encourage go players 50 and older to meet at the Sunnyvale, CA, Senior Center on Thursdays between 2:30pm and 5:30pm,” writes Jean DeMaiffe, responding to our Beginner at 80, Still Playing at 90 7/10 EJ post. “The Senior Center chess players have graciously agreed to share their playing room with us. For now, I am providing two go sets plus a few books, all of which are stored with the chess players’ equipment.” Although DeMaiffe, who’s taught beginners for years, says she won’t always be able to attend, “if a go player contacts me in advance, I will happily make an effort to attend any particular meeting.” Reach her at 408-930-5888 or jean@dougandjean.com.
UPDATE (7/29): This invitation has been retracted due to circumstance beyond DeMaiffe’s control; we regret any inconvenience.

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Euro Go Congress Updates: Zen Defeats Top Pro Cho Hye-Yeon 9P; 2017 Congress Confirmed for Turkey; Morozevich Bests Hillarp Persson in Go/Chess Match

Thursday July 28, 2016

Zen Defeats Top Pro Cho Hye-Yeon 9P: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 became another historic date in the rapidly-2016.07.28_Cho Hyeyeon 9p vs Zendeveloping history of computer go. Cho Hye-Yeon 9P, one of the strongest female players in the world, lost to the go playing program Zen in a two-stone handicap game. Unlike AlphaGo, which only a select few have had the chance to play, Zen bots can be easily found at KGS go server and have been seen in many computer go tournaments. Cho Hye-Yeon tried to play an active fighting style against Zen but the program calmly brought in the 1.5-point win. Click here for a video of the Cho Hye-Yeon game and her comments.

2016.07.28_egc-turkey2017 Congress Confirmed for Turkey: Next year’s European Go Congress will go ahead as planned in Cappadocia, Turkey, despite concerns in the wake of recent attacks, the attempted coup and its aftermath. Turkish representatives received support from other countries’ representatives at the July 26 European Go Federation meeting, so it was decided not to change the location of the venue, a UNESCO world heritage site and beautiful historical place. Those interested can click here for info or to register. photo: Turkey’s Kerem Karaerkek registers go players for the 2017 EGC

Morozevich Bests Hillarp Persson in Go/Chess Match: The Go/chess match between Alexander Morozevich and 2016.07.28_go-chess-egcTiger Hillarp Persson was the spotlight of yesterday’s EGC program, with live coverage on the official Russian Go federation YouTube channel. The chess games were commented by Grandmaster Vladimir Fedoseev and the go games by Wu Hao 2P (China) and Alexander Dinerchtein 3P. Alexander Morozevich lost only the last go game and won the match 3-1. After the match he gave a chess simul where he lost only one game, to a German FIDE master Mike Stolz (2319 chess rating, 7kyu in go). Alexander Georgiev, several-time Draughts world champion, came to see the match and play the simul. He is a beginner at go too but plans to study the game.
- Daria Koshkina, E-Journal Correspondent for the 2016 European Go Congress

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Steam moving ahead with first go client

Saturday April 2, 2016

Steam, the largest distribution platform for online games, is moving ahead with its first-ever go client. Developed by Hart Laboratories, Ancient Go was approved on March 15 through a process called Steam Greenlight, which uses community support to select games for distribution. Although a release date is forthcoming, once available Ancient Go will provide players with another digital arena in which to test their mettle. 2016.04.02_Steam Greenlight  Ancient Go
Coming on the heels of the AlphaGo – Lee Sedol series, the timing of Ancient Go’s introduction is fortuitous. Online interest in go spiked despite Lee Sedol’s 1:4 performance against AlphaGo. In Reddit’s r/baduk, members noted a 20% increase in subscribers, which grew to over 10,000 users. The Online-Go Server also noted a surge of new players. Comments left on the Ancient Go Greenlight site were enthusiastic about the new go client, which will run on Steam’s proprietary distribution system.
2016.04.02_ancient-go-preview_3DBoardBuilt on the Unreal 4 Engine, Ancient Go is visually appealing. The goban and stones are rendered well, and its interface is striking for its minimalism – perhaps even too much so. There is no window for chat and no time display is evident in the game demonstration. While the Unreal 4 Engine supports 3D graphics, there are no plans to extend 3D presentation beyond the tutorial section, at least through the initial release. Games will still be played in two dimensions. “The priority [for Ancient Go] is to be beginner friendly, rather than being feature full. The goal is “to draw in new players instead of compete with existing servers,” notes Christopher Hart, Ancient Go’s developer, who also mentioned that the client will emphasize “quick play on smaller boards.”
There are still many unknowns about Ancient Go and several potential drawbacks. Chief among these is the lack of SGF 2016.04.02_ancient-go-preview_Tutorialsupport which, although standard on all other clients, evidently did not make the “feature full” cut for the first release. Ancient Go will also only be available on Steam’s Windows-compatible platform, not its Linux or Mac OS X versions. At this time there is no information about the quality of Ancient Go’s AI. The developer has also not announced any plans to introduce life and death problems or community forum features to the client. How all of this will affect the Steam community’s response to Ancient Go is yet to be seen.
Bearing all of this in mind, the release of Ancient Go will still be cause for excitement. Steam, which is owned by the Valve Corporation, boasts some 125 million accounts and has proven a versatile platform for online gaming. Extending go to this platform is sure to introduce more people to the game, and if even only a small fraction of these develops a deeper interest in go, I think the effort will have been worthwhile. Ancient Go should prove a welcome addition to the online go community.
- Daniel Acheson
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Report from the 9th annual NOVA Chinese Lunar New Year Tourney

Thursday March 3, 2016

The 9th annual NOVA Chinese Lunar New Year tournament was held on Saturday, 27 Feb, at George Mason University’s Law School in 2016.03.04_nova-new-yearArlington VA. Forty-seven players participated, ranging from 6 dan to 30 Kyu. Click here to see a photo album from the tournament.
In the main tournament, the winners were:
First place: Yuan Wang, 3D (3-1); Kabe Chin, 2D (3-1); Xiaoxhan Zhang, 1D (3-1); Jeremy Young, 3K (4-0); Anderson Barreal, 8K (4-0); Dierdre Golash, 11K (4-0); Christopher Harzer, 13K (4-0); Antonina Perez-Lopez, 20K (3-1); and Timothy Koh, 22K and Sid Suh, 30K (tied at 4-0)
Second place: Justin Teng, 6D (3-1); Yunlong Zheng, 2D (2-2); Mohan Sud, 1D and John Wang, 1D (tie at 2-2); Joey Phoon, 5K (3-1); Patrick Sun, 6K (3-1); Brandon Sloane, 11K (3-1); Sean Lin, 15K and Benjamin Lin, 18K (tied at 3-1); Ethan Tung, 21K and Adam Wang, 21K (tied at 2-2); Andrew Chen, 30K and Anne Shen, 30K (tied at 2-2)
As usual, a side tournament for beginners was played in the afternoon. Six players participated: Julian T won all five games, and Andrew W won four of five to come in second.
- report/photo by Allan Abramson
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The Power Report, Special Edition: Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp/Meijin match

Thursday September 10, 2015

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2015.09.06_Meijin-Iyama-Takao-review-1st-game

Last week, as Tokyo correspondent for the American Go E-Journal, I was invited to attend some special events held in connection with the Nihon Ki-in Summer Camp and the Meijin title match (at right). Here is my report.

Teaching Game: This year’s summer camp, which has become an annual event at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, was held for two weeks, from Friday, August 21, to Thursday, September 3. The camp had a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with 16 players of both sexes from 13 countries taking part and go ranks ranging from around 3-dan to double-digit kyu. One point that struck me was that, besides the Western countries you might expect, there were also participants from places like Hong Kong, China, and Singapore where there’s no shortage of local instructors. Word-of-mouth on this event must be good.

There was a full program, with morning and afternoon sessions every day. The 
program included sessions studying life-and-death and tesuji problems, lectures and simuls by professionals, goodwill matches with Japanese amateurs, and also a league tournament. A repeat participant, Michael Webster of England, was taken on as an intern at the Nihon Ki-in beforehand to help plan the camp; he also selected the life-and-death problems, including problems of various levels to cater for everyone. All the participants I got to speak to were happy with what they called a very enjoyable camp. The double-digit kyu-player referred to above told me that he was actually a virtual beginner but that he had a great time at the camp and that his motivation was now very high.


2015.09.09_NHK-Redmond-game-commentary.jpgThe event I was invited to attend was a teaching game played from 
noon to about two o’clock on Wednesday, September 2. This game was a reward for the winner of the camp league, who was Tyler Oyakawa 3D of the US. The professional was Fujisawa Rina 3P, holder of the Women’s Honinbo title and, at just 16, the great hope of women’s go in Japan.  Coincidentally, another American did a simultaneous public commentary in the same room: this was Michael Redmond 9P, who was assisted by his charming elder daughter Emi, who is about 1-dan amateur. Emi speaks three languages, Japanese, Chinese, and English; she is in her final year at Sophia University (Jochi) in Tokyo, and she is also interested in helping to spread go. The game, on three stones, was a relatively peaceful one because, for the most part, Rina did not, in Michael’s words (in conversation later), “play wildly, as I would have done.” If the handicap is correct, the pro can expect to catch up in the endgame, and this seemed to be Rina’s strategy; she ended up getting a good lead, however, leading Tyler to resign.

I found the commentary very instructive and so asked Michael to write it up f
or the E-Journal. He cheerfully complied, so you can click on his commentary here. After having the bright idea of making this request, I just sat back and enjoyed the game instead of taking notes. Just for the record, the Nihon Ki-in is also holding a winter camp this year, but it is of a different nature. It is open to go educators and instructors from the ASEAN countries, seven of which have go associations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The camp will be mainly concerned with teaching and propagation methods.

Clash of the Honorary Meijins: In the afternoon on Wednesday, we were all invited to attend a special event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Asahi Meijin title and starting at 3:30. This was a public game between the only two players to have qualified as Honorary Meijin, Cho Chikun and Kobayashi Koichi. Kobayashi has already assumed the title, as he turned 60 three years ago, but Cho Chikun is 59, so it’s not yet official for him. The criterion is winning the title five times in a row or ten times overall. Cho won the 5th to 9th titles, thus qualifying one way, then almost qualifying the other when he won the 21st to 24th titles. Kobayashi won the 10th title, then had a long run lasting from the 13th to the 19th.

2015.09.09_NHK-pro-game-commentary-600x450.jpgThis game was played in the Wisteria Room of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, informally known as just the Chinzanso, where the Meijin title match between Iyama Yuta and Takao Shinji was due to start the following day. The main commentator was 24th Honinbo Shuho, otherwise known as Ishida Yoshio 9P, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, among others. Prominent Meijins of the past in the audience, such as Otake Hideo, Rin Kaiho, Takemiya Masaki, and the incumbent, Iyama Yuta, were also called up on stage for their comments. Several people commented on how serious both Cho and Kobayashi seemed about the game. (As is usual with these public games, there were playing on the same stage as the commentary, but in theory the players are too absorbed in the game to pay attention to what is being said. That’s the theory, anyway.) In the past, these two were great rivals, especially in the 80s. Cho achieved success earlier and has outstripped Kobayashi (74 titles to 59); however, Kobayashi wrested his big titles, the Kisei and the Meijin, from the hands of Cho. The biggest regret of Kobayashi’s career is undoubtedly three successive Honinbo challenges rebuffed by Cho. Cho and Kobayashi hold the record for the most games between two players, at 129. We didn’t get an up-to-date breakdown at the public commentary, but someone did say that it was 63 wins each a couple of years ago (by the way, this game does not count, as it was unofficial).

As usual with these two, the game was a good contest and entertained the stan
ding-room-only audience. Takemiya commented: “The game is so fierce you’d think there was a big prize at stake. Each one thinks, this is the one player I don’t want to lose to.” Iyama also expressed admiration for their fighting spirit. The highlight of the game was an attack on a weak group launched by Kobayashi (White) on move 108. Everyone thought Cho was in trouble, but he came up with a clever counter that linked up his weak group at the cost of a two-stone sacrifice. At this point, Cho was ahead, but Kobayashi pulled off an upset in the endgame while Cho was in byo-yomi. Kobayashi ended up winning by 1.5 points.After the game–Kobayashi: “Black 109 was the kind of move you expect from Cho.” Cho: “Next year I can call myself Honorary Meijin, but forget about this honorary stuff. I’m going to become the real Meijin.”

Actually the game review was the most entertaining part of the event. Cho is 
a compulsive joker; you rarely hear a straight line from him. On the stage, he was like a runaway train. Poor Ishida in particular was the butt of his humor, with comments like, “I may play badly sometimes, but not badly enough to lose to Ishida.” Cho’s fellow pros take his humor in their stride, and Ishida kept trying to review the game with Kobayashi although drowned out by Cho. A number of times, Cho said to the audience: “Do you have any idea what those guys are going on about? I don’t.“   He also reproached Ishida with not giving his clever move at 109 adequate appreciation at the time, so he was certainly listening to the public commentary.

The eve party: In Japan, there’s a strong tradition of holding parties on the eve of major events. There’s a special word for it, “zenyasai” or “night-before festival.” The tradition is honored in go, and these parties are big events (about 240 people attended on Wednesday), especially for games played away from the major cities. They are like showcases for the local go community. The summer camp group was also invited to the eve party held from 6 pm. on the 2nd. Persons in attendance ranged from the heavies of the go world to ordinary go fans who apply by postcard for invitations.

At the party there were the usual speeches and, of more interest, short speeches by the players expressing their resolve for the match. Takao: “This year my results have been bad and I have a minus record. I hear it’s the first time ever the Meijin challenger has had a minus record, so I have set an unprecedented record. Just between you and me, it’s because I have staked everything on the Meijin title, so at present things are proceeding according to my scenario. I also have a scenario for after this, but it’s a secret. It’s not so often in a lifetime that you get to play a best-of-seven, so this is a valuable period for me. It’s important for me.” Iyama’s reply: “I don’t know what kind of scenario Takao Sensei is writing, but the Meijin is a special title. This title alone I can’t hand over.”        

Among the guests appearing on stage was Michael Redmond, who, assisted by Osawa Narumi 4P, did a public commentary on the game on Friday afternoon. On Thursday morning, the summer-camp participants were invited to watch the start of the game in the playing room.

photos courtesy Tom Urasoe, Nihon Ki-in Overseas Dept. 

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Go Congress Provides Teachers & TDs with Chance to Learn

Wednesday August 5, 2015

Both the AGA Teacher Certification and the Tournament Director Workshops kicked off Monday afternoon. This is the third year for the Teacher2015.08.04_go-volunteer-DSC_0040-001 Certification, consisting of four 2-hour sessions, which have been a great success. Nearly two dozen participants showed up for the first session Monday afternoon, which was about learning to teach go to an absolute beginner. Later sessions will focus on teaching DDK, SDK players, and one-on-one teaching.

Chris Kirschner conscripted a volunteer from the campus staff at St Thomas University, where the Congress is being held. Interested but somewhat mystified, Diane Kruger, Associate Dean of Finance and operations, College of Education, Leadership and Counseling, stood at the demo board while Kirschner demonstrated how to teach someone to play go for the very first time. He was quite entertaining and encouraging and fielded questions from the audience about various teaching methods. Before the session was over, not only had his volunteer learned some of the basics of the game, but she was eagerly requesting contact info from everyone to continue learning and also to share with the rest of her faculty staff.

This is the first year for the TD Workshop, and actual certifications will not be granted at the end of the four 1-hour sessions, as the format is still evolving. Topics will cover pairing, reporting, and organizing for your own local tournament. To encourage new TDs, the AGA will provide mentoring help from established AGA TDs as they start their first tournaments. A number of experienced go teachers and tournaments have been enlisted to share their knowledge and mentor interested members for both workshops. A schedule of events was included in Congress welcome packets. Myung Wan Kim will be teaching Thursday 1 to 3 — “Mathematical end games”, that is, counting — and “After school programs” on Saturday 1 to 3. Kirschner and Maeda will be teaching the “one on one” session on Friday.
- Dennis Wheeler; photo: volunteer Diane Kruger observing an Open Masters game Tuesday with AGA president Andy Okun; photo by Chris Garlock

 

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Gotham Go Group’s Steph Oppenheim Dies

Sunday June 14, 2015

Gotham Go Group member Steph Oppenheim died Wednesday, reports Peter Armenia. Oppenheim (right) had been fighting cancer for over two years2015.06.14_Steph Oppenheim “He was always one of our most enthusiastic players and promoters of the game,” says Armenia. “He was always willing to teach beginners, and he spent a good deal of time helping teach go to students in local schools. He will be missed, but we are happy to have watched him beat the predictions of his doctors by over a year. And he made the most of that year.”
There will be a funeral at 11:15 on Monday, June 15 at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 W 76 St, with refreshments and food afterwards.
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Evanston Go Club Bounces Back

Sunday February 22, 2015

After a long period of low attendance, things are looking up for the Evanston Go Club. “The new location has sparked a lot of interest” says club215.02.22_evanston-go-clubpresident Mark Rubenstein. “We started meeting at the new Starbucks in downtown Evanston (IL), and the response has been fantastic. Customers are showing an interest in the game, and we’re teaching more beginners than ever! This week I was setting up a board and stones at an empty table. I went to get my opponent, and when I returned I saw that two college students had sat down at the board and started playing Go Moku. They didn’t even know about the club!” Check out the club’s website for more information.
photo by Mark Rubenstein

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San Diego Hosts Winter Go Soiree, Wins Points

Tuesday January 13, 2015

The San Diego Go Club started out the New Year with more than 30 players gathering on January 3 at its Winter Go Soiree at club president Ted2015.01.13_SanDiego Terpstra’s home. The event featured an 8-player simultaneous exhibition with Jong-Hoon Na, a 7-dan professional from the Korean Baduk Association. “Those not fortunate enough to get to play the pro played AGA-rated games,” Terpstra reports. Pizza and beverages were served after the simul for those interested in socializing. “It was a wonderful mix of players from beginners to 5-dans, from 10-year-olds to 70+-year-old, all enjoying the world’s oldest continuously played game,” said Terpstra. This was one of the first events to occur under the new AGA chapter rewards program (AGA Institutes New Chapter Rewards Program 12/31/14), in which chapters will be rewarded with points for new members and rated games played.
photo by Ted Terpstra 

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