Ted Terpstra of the San Diego Go Club topped a field of 8 at the December 7-8 go section of the 2013 Las Vegas MindSports event. Sponsored by MindSports International, the event included other “brain” games such as chess, Scrabble, Magic: The Gathering and various miniature war-games. Runners-up in the 4-round go competition were locals Michael Wanek (LV Go Club) in second place and Jun-Suk Kim (LV Go Club) placed third; the three medal winners split a nearly $200 prize pot. During breaks, players were allowed to watch the other games at MindSports, watch sports in the Sports Book, or gamble at the gaming tables. “The event coincided with the National Finals Rodeo,” reports local organizer Chris Tettamanti, “and in the Venetian Hotel venue, there were plenty of places to buy authentic Western wear and cowboy gear. photo courtesy Chris Tettamanti
American Go E-Journal » Search Results » brain
Wednesday December 11, 2013
Monday December 9, 2013
“I taught go to 371 classroom teachers in 12 states last year,” Georgette Yakman (right) told the E-Journal over lunch recently on New York’s Upper West Side before heading home to Vermont. She had attended a math education conference to promote ST∑@M, the framework for integrated instruction she began to develop in 2006 (YOUTH GO: Improving School Scores 11/19/2007 EJ). ST∑@M has become a full time occupation, with certified educators and programs throughout the US and as far away as South Korea, where ST∑@M is now a part of the standard national curriculum for K-12 public schools. “When I help a school begin to apply the ST∑@M framework, I start with a two-day workshop,” she said. “I spend about two or three hours of that time teaching them go. It’s a perfect medium that pulls together science, technology and engineering concepts in a mathematical context – you need math skills to figure out who won – while also presenting challenges in the realm of the arts. The game itself has a kind of aesthetic; players need language arts to learn by studying and analyzing games; and go players can further enrich their connection to the game through the fine arts, understanding its context in history social studies and ethics and so on.” ST∑@M is a further evolution of the STEM framework, which encourages educators to blend lessons from the fields of science, technology, engineering and math into integrated lessons in project-based learning applications. Yakman contends they didn’t go far enough. “Without the language arts, how will students communicate with each other to build projects? Without the liberal and fine arts, how will they appreciate and express the context and meaning of what they’re doing? What good is an architect who builds ugly or non-user friendly buildings, or a scientist that can’t explain what he’s doing? I use go for interdisciplinary learning, because it offers a fluid blend of technical and human-related (left and right-brained) skills, and is a natural way of progressing all types of intellectual development.” photo: Yakman delivering acceptance speech for NCTC’s STEM Teacher of the Year 2009
- Roy Laird
Friday November 29, 2013
The Beckley Foundation, a British organization for consciousness and drug policy research, is appealing for passionate go players who have experience with psychedelic drugs to take part in research on LSD. Volunteers will participate in a scientific experiment using the latest brain-imaging technology to investigate changes in cerebral circulation and connectivity during go play after taking either a dose of the hallucinogenic drug or a placebo. The date and location have not yet been fixed, but the study is expected to take place in the new year, either at the organisation’s headquarters at Beckley Park, Oxford or in London. The Beckley Foundation was established in 1998 by Amanda Feilding and is “dedicated to improving national and global drug policies, through research that increases understanding of the health, social and fiscal implications of drug policy, and the development of new evidence-based and rational approaches“. The late Albert Hofmann (right), who first synthesized LSD and was the first human to experience its effects, was the founding member of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board. Possession and supply of LSD are generally prohibited by UK criminal law, but use for scientific research, as in this case, can be licensed by the Home Office – essentially the UK’s interior ministry. The Foundation received government approval for the study in March 2013 and this is the first time permission has been granted to use LSD in scientific research since it was outlawed. Click here to download flyer with full details.
Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the EJ. Photo: Albert Hofmann in 2006, at the age of 100, during a discussion, “on Beauty” at the Zürich Helmhaus, courtesy of wikipedia.
Wednesday May 29, 2013
The article asked professional mathematicians what got them started in math. ”There is no better way to train your brain, said one respondent, than the game [of] Go.”
Can you tell who is ahead in the go position that the article displays? (Assume Black to play and a komi of 6.5.) The full article appears here. Thanks to Chris Sira for sending the link.
Sunday February 10, 2013
“There is a persistent problem with the thinking behind many go articles (The Spirit of Play: “I’m Stuck” 10/29/2012 EJ, for example),” writes Terry Benson. “Everyone eventually gets stuck at some level and can’t get higher. Their game might change, but it doesn’t get better. Whatever rank they are will be their high water mark. That’s go and that’s life. There are limits in our brains which we can test but not break.
“So anyone who plays only because they are ‘getting better’ sooner or later will stop playing. Hopefully, before they give up, they’ll realize that go is a great game with many types of puzzles to solve and a wonderful way to connect to other people. They’ll switch from ‘I have to get better’ to playing for the pure enjoyment of stones, wood, patterns, and the thrills of the contest.
“What we need in this country — and indeed in the world — are millions of people playing go the way millions play tennis or golf or run. Most of them will be duffers; 35 handicap golfers, 9-minute milers, and, in go, 25 kyus. And their level of play will seem horrid to ‘serious’ players. But they are playing and they should be encouraged to play simply for the joy of playing. If they are having fun in the confusion of 25 kyu – leave them alone, especially if they’re kids! We know how often a won game gets away, even from stronger players. In some ways the game is even more fun at 25 kyu because literally anything can happen.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get better or trying to learn something new. There are levels of play that some people will find more satisfying than others. But improvement is a short term rationale. It’s far better to fall in love with the game.”
Benson, a 1-dan, has been playing go for 52 years and has served as president of the American Go Association, Managing Editor of the American Go Journal and is currently President of the American Go Foundation. He directed the video/webcast of the International Go Symposium 2012, where he gave a talk on promotion of the game.
Wednesday January 2, 2013
Although I agree with most of the article on how to improve (The Spirit of Play: “What can I do to improve?” 12/31 EJ), I must — tongue firmly in cheek — object to the statement that solving go problems is ‘boring’.
When I was a student at the Korean Baduk Association, the protocol for solving a problem was that you had to be willing to stake your life that your answer was complete and correct. ‘Complete’ is key, as you definitely didn’t want to scramble for a reply if an alternate move in some sequence was suggested; the executioner may have itchy fingers. Solving problems to this day remains a high-octane, nail-biting affair for me, especially if it’s not much of a reading challenge, so tempting then to omit steadying the nerves and triple-checking. You can hold yourself to a higher standard when practicing, and everybody loses sometimes so the pressure is off when playing, so you might think it’s the actual competition that is the tedious part of go…”
Last (well, not really) thoughts. They don’t call the experts ‘practitioners’ for nothing. Janice’s brain cross-references with two suggested reads: The Little Book of Talent, questions-answered-from-real-world-not-author-agenda-practical-really-works tips for improvement in any endeavor, and the science fiction novel Ender’s Game, almost required reading on the American Cultural Experience syllabus. Spoiler alert the entire premise is this idea of thing-itself-is-a small detail or afterthought, the lead-up to the game, not during the game, is where the winner is decided.
- Janice Kim 3P; photo: Kim playing primary schoochildren at the Shuang Huayuan campus of the Beijing Chaoyang Fangcaodi International school on December 17; photo by Chris Garlock
Tuesday November 27, 2012
The 2012 International Go Symposium in Black Mountain, North Carolina attracted leading scholars and researchers from around the world for two days of presentations and discussions on the many aspects of the game of go. Dozens of hours of footage have now been edited down and posted online to accompany the conference papers. This 3-part series covers highlights of Symposium presentations by teachers, scientists, historians and anthropologists.
Games may be a major key to learning, suggested keynote speaker Nolan Bushnell (right) at the 2012 International Go Symposium, August 4-5, 2012. The entrepreneurial wizard behind products as diverse as Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, Bushnell is now applying principles such as “thalamic engagement” and “spaced repetition” to develop Brainrush, a game-based learning app that aims to help students learn all kinds of material more effectively. Mexican Go Assoiation President Israel Rodriguez offered some interesting speculations on the nature of the barriers to developing a go culture. Yet go is a superb medium for growth and development, as Dr. Roy Laird – a clinical social worker who manages treatment programs for The Children’s Aid Society in New York City and former President of the American Go Association – explores in his talk “Play Go And Grow,” about the unique aspects of go that favor positive development, and some interesting recent research on go and the brain. While go is popular in Asian communities and has developed a growing base among Caucasians in the West, its presence is very limited in other Western cultures. In Playing Under and Pushing Through the Stones, Roxanna Duntley-Matos, a member of the Western Michigan University School of Social Work faculty, describes how she used go as a tool for “emancipatory education” with the Ann Arbor Hispanic community, promoting leadership, camaraderie and success among a marginalized minority. At the upper end of the learning spectrum, Peter Schumer described a for-credit course on go that he has taught at Middlebury College for years, offering tips on everything from curriculum development to teaching style. In “How Rules, Terms and Attitude Help or Hinder the Game,”, American Go Foundation (AGF) President and AGA Rules Committee Chairman Terry Benson (left) urges a rethinking of what it means to “play go,” and what we teach. Peter Freedman, an experienced go teacher from the Portland area, looked beyond simply teaching children the game to how to help them develop a lifelong love for go, while go teacher Siddhartha Avila’s Mexican school is committed to teaching through the arts. On a practical level, AGF VP Paul Barchilon outlined some of the many ways that the AGF can help aspiring organizers in the US. Laura Martinez ended the go teacher’s panel, and the conference, by unveiling the winners of The Second International Go Art Contest.
The AGA and the 2012 US Go Congress are extremely grateful to the International Go Federation for financial support that made this event possible, and to the American Go Foundation for additional support. All presentations can be found at the Symposium’s YouTube channel. In addition, links to all the videos and to associated papers, links and contact information be found at the Symposium website. NEXT WEEK: Historians and anthropologists at the Symposium.
Monday November 26, 2012
by Gabriel Benmergui
We have all had this experience in our own games. Right from the fuseki, the game looked to be in your favor, you have the fights in control and the lead is obvious and solid. Then it happens. The self-atari, the missed sequence, the time-pressure mistake. That you could so easily have avoided the mistake only deepens your dissatisfaction and regret.
I can’t tell you how to prevent these mistakes, which even happen to professional players. But there is something you can do about what happens next. The emotional turmoil after such a mistake often causes more losses than the blunder itself. When you’re in control of a game your brain moves like a train. Straight. Direct. Unstoppable. When the blunder happens, it’s like getting derailed. It feels like a total disaster and can cause a great shock. Our sense of the balance of the game gets skewed by nostalgia for the position before the mistake, we get angry and then we play badly.
How many games have you seen where even after a mistake the player who blundered was still winning, but lost perspective, control, and the game? This is about emotional control. It is of utmost importance not to get upset. Controlling your emotions is hard, but is absolutely necessary if you want to win more games. Your resolve must stay steady, and you must always look for the best way to play. You will notice that professionals and ex-inseis have a formidable control over their emotions. The pro system quickly disposes those who don’t handle their emotions well, providing evidence that emotional control counts for a lot more than we may think.
My advice: In any kind of emotional rush during the game, whether due to a mistake or even excitement, I recommend taking a break, even for as little as thirty seconds. The purpose of the break is simply to calm your emotions, control them, get them back in check. It’s just too dangerous to continue playing a game when your perception is blurred by heightened emotions.
Gabriel Benmergui lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentinian Champion in 2011 and 2012, he has studied go in Korea and now runs the Kaya.gs Go Server. photo by Chris Garlock
Thursday November 15, 2012
by Dr. Roy Laird
At Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, three out of every four students qualify for free lunch, but when it comes to spirit, support and pure brain power, some of them have plenty of resources. In fact, as we learn in Brooklyn Castle, the award-winning new documentary from Kelly Dellamaggiore, IS 318 is home to some of the strongest young chess players in the country; the school’s teams have brought home nearly 30 national championships. As a longtime proponent of go in the schools, I found the film to be an inspiring reminder of what mind sports can do for kids. Brooklyn Castle follows five members of the 2009-2010 team, each with their own goal. Rochelle Ballantyne wants to be the first African-American female Master level (ELO 2000) player (11/18 update: she made it, with a new rating of 2057 following the recent World Youth Chess Championship in Maribor, Slovenia). Patrick Johnston, on the other hand, just wants a positive result so he can raise his ranking out of the 400s. (Spoiler alert: chess seems to help him with some attention issues he had in earlier grades; he emerges from middle school as an honor student.) As the students pursue their dreams, we are reminded that behind every dream is a team. With support from the school’s budget, fundraising efforts and help from foundations such as Chess-In-The-Schools, school staff go far beyond the call of duty, for instance taking 57 players of all levels to the National Championship in Dallas. That’s 57 potentially life-altering experiences right there. Chess-loving children apply from far and wide because they know that all sixth grade students are required to take at least one period of chess per week; in seventh and eighth grade it becomes an elective, but students can schedule up to seven periods of chess per week. We also meet the players’ families and see the crucial role their support plays. The team’s toughest opponent turns out to be a succession of budget cuts that threatens to take them out of a national competition they know they can win. Hurry if you want to see it in theaters, although the low-tech sound and video quality may be better suited for a smaller screen. You can also read about the school at length in How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.
Brooklyn Castle – in theaters now — vividly highlights the benefits of school-based mind sports programs. (Post-film progress report: As reported in The New York Times earlier this year, five players from IS 318 achieved the equivalent of a college baseball team winning the World Series, becoming the first middle school team to win the National High School Championship!) Go is also a wonderful arena for this kind of growth and development, in some ways even better than chess. If you’re thinking of starting a go program in your community, The American Go Foundation can help you with free equipment, matching funds, mentoring and much more – you’ll be surprised how easy it can be, and how rewarding for teacher and student alike.
- Laird, a former President of the American Go Association, currently serves on the Board of the American Go Foundation and manages school-based mental health clinics for The Children’s Aid Society in New York City.
Sunday August 26, 2012
Go is the first example of “5 things your brain does better than a computer,” a recent post on the Mother Nature Network blog. “There are still a few activities that are too complex for a computer to bash its binary way through,” writes Shea Gunther. “In those realms, humans still reign. But don’t get too comfortable; computers are getting faster and smarter by the year.” Gunther notes that “There are more than 10 times more scenarios in Go than there are atoms in the observable universe. Computers are good at handling big numbers, but that’s just ridiculous. What’s more likely is that humans will get better at designing computer programs that more closely replicate the human brain and its thought processes. But when that happens and the machines take over, I don’t think we’ll be all that concerned about losing a game of Go to a computer.” By the way, the other four things your brain does better than a computer? Solve crossword puzzles, play Starcraft, create art, and write. Thanks to Richard Moseson for passing this article along.
- photo by Marcus Yeagley