American Go E-Journal » Search Results » brain

Dumb Cluck? 9×9 Go Reportedly Solved

Tuesday April 1, 2014

A team of researchers at the University of Brightloch have announced that 9×9 go has been solved. Inspired by recent improvements in computer play by Montecarlo algorithms, they hypothesized that “If a computer can play at random andplay good games, what prevents a more powerful device (like a brain) to do something similar?”

So the researchers picked a team of 100,000 chickens and taught them to play go. “It was hard in the beginning, but once a few knew how to play they started teaching others,” they report. “After a couple months all were playing as 30k players and we set them loose in a field filled with 9×9 go boards and bowls with stones. Also some grain and water.”

A month later the chickens were gone, and the same position was repeated on every 9×9 board: perfect play, with white winning by 0.5 points with 7.5 komi. The chickens had also left a note. It said “So long, and thanks for all the grain.”
- based on a report on Nordic Go Academy by RBERENGUEL; thanks to Go Game Guru, which posted it on their Facebook page

Categories: World
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Go Spotting: Top Mind-Bending Games

Sunday February 16, 2014

Go makes the top slot in Top 10 Mind-bending Strategy Games on the How Stuff Works website. “It’s perhaps no coincidence that the most mind-bending of all strategy games is also the oldest,” writes John Kelly. Kelly also reports that “Japanese neurosurgeon Kaneko Mitsuo has studied the effect that playing Go has on older adults, noting that “Randomized trials by the U.S. National Institutes of Health have shown that playing certain types of games — though not a mental health cure — can keep the brain healthy.”
Thanks to Aaron Murg of Bethesda, MD for passing this along! A 15-kyu AGA member, Aaron says “I enjoy waking up each morning to find an E-Journal waiting to be read.”

Categories: Go Spotting
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The Go Quiz Returns!

Saturday February 8, 2014

by Keith Arnold, HKA
I am delighted to have been asked to return as AGA Quizmaster and look forward to bringing you a whole new batch of weekly brain-teasers that will test your knowledge of the go world and its fascinating history. I will be ably assisted by quiz veteran Phil Waldron 6 dan and Daniel Chou 6 dan; if you notice clever questions of a new style, they will deserve the credit, while all errors (and unfortunate puns) will remain my responsibility.  Please remember to submit your answers on or before Thursday each week. Let the games begin!

Since we’re in a self-referential mood, let’s make our first effort close to home: How many books are in Keith Arnold’s go library?  For the purpose of this question, all languages are allowed, including duplicates as long as they are materially different (translations, revised editions with different covers) as opposed to the deranged “doubles” of an obsessed collector.  Our E-Journal editor – who interviewed me at my home some years ago — will be as surprised as I am that the number of go books finally exceeds my voluminous collection of books regarding the War Between the States. Is the number 600-700, 700-800, 800-900 or more than 900?  Click here to make your guess and, as always, feel free to include your comments, rude or otherwise, as we do award extra points for clever responses. photo: Arnold at the 2012 US Go Congress; photo by Phil Straus

Categories: Go Quiz
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Research Offers a New Look at Go Players’ Brains

Thursday February 6, 2014

A research collaboration in Seoul has revealed new information about the cognitive requirements of playing go and the effects that it may have on the brain. A team compared a group of expert go players with a group of beginners and published the results in the journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience”. The work revealed several differences between the brains of the beginner and the expert. The experts had increased volume in certain areas of the brain, decreased volume in others, greater interconnectivity between certain regions and differences in the overall brain structure. A correlation between the magnitude of the effect and the number of years of go training suggests that these differences are not simply the result of a predisposition of these people to continue playing go. Rather, the difference in brain structure can be explained by the the fact that the brain rewires itself to meet new skill requirements. This phenomenon, known as neuroplasticity, has been observed before in chess players. The areas of the brain in which the experts outmatched the novices are associated with visuospatial processing and emotional regulation in decision making, among others. This suggests that these skills are important in go. Thus, it appears that long-term go training can enhance these and other skills and can indeed be used as a tool for brain development. The complete article is available here. The literature search section links to many other fascinating studies as well. There are several related articles. Click here for one that discusses similar specific physical changes in the brain and reaches similar conclusions. The EJ covered this article at length in 2010 here.
- Ben Gale, Korean Correspondent for the E-Journal
Categories: World
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Mind-Mapper Tony Buzan Takes a Turn at the Go Board

Monday January 27, 2014

Tony Buzan, the inventor of mind-mapping and author of numerous books on enhancing the power of the brain, has made his debut appearance at a go tournament at the age of 71. The man once named by Forbes Magazine alongside Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher and Michail Gorbachev as one of the world’s top five international lecturers played in round one of the annual Maidenhead Go Tournament, held January 18 at Hitachi’s European Headquarters in Maidenhead, south-east England, after seeing publicity about the tourney in his local newspaper, the Maidenhead Advertiser.

He entered with a nominal grade of 10k, but it seems this may have been wishful thinking as opponent Colin Maclennan of Twickenham Go Club, with a thick grade of 10k, won by a large margin. Maclennan says, “In our game it soon became apparent that I was building a huge moyo that he allowed me to turn into territory.  He then invaded with little hope of life. In the end I won by over 100 points.”

It appears that Buzan has long wanted to find the time to learn to play go well, though it is hardly surprising, with his prodigious output and many speaking and other commitments, that he has not so far been able to put in the many hours required to master the game. British Go Association VP Tony Atkins says Buzan approached the Association some twenty years ago, enquiring about learning at the time when manytime British and European Champion Matthew Macfadyen 6d was actively teaching. He added, “I still have fond memories of a festival of the brain that [Buzan] organized at the Royal Albert Hall some years ago, which we were privileged to teach go at”. Atkins organizes the go competition in the Mind Sports Olympiad (see Taylor Wins Gold at London’s Mind Sports Olympiad, EJ 8/28/13), which Buzan co-founded.

However, the novice promised tournament organizer Iain Attwell that he will be attending some of Maidenhead Go Club‘s Friday evening meets in the future. If he does, he will be in good hands: the club and tournament, sponsored by Hitachi,  grew out of the Furze Platt School go club which Attwell founded some twenty-five years ago with fellow teacher France Ellul who had taught him to play, and the school produced every single Under-16 and Under-18 British Youth Champion for a number of years. Attwell described his guest as “a very nice gentleman”, and expressed hopes that Buzan will be as good as his word.

In a surprise finish, Toby Manning 2d of Leicester this year stole the tournament from British Championship Challenger Andrew Simons 4d of Cambridge in the third and final round. Click here for full results.

Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal; photo courtesy of  Buzan’s mindmappingsoftware blog.

New Go Mag Tries to Bridge Print, Online Formats

Thursday December 12, 2013

Imagine sitting at your go board, playing through a game from a printed game commentary. You come to a point where you need further explanation, scan the QR code into your Smartphone, and go online for a tutorial. Or jump online to play the game with the aid of your laptop or tablet. Whichever works best for you, Cooper Stevenson wants to help you enjoy the beauty of the game with his new magazine, Formation. “I want to engage the initial spark people have when they first appreciate the game and carry them all the way to expert levels,” Stevenson told the EJ in a recent interview. “Learning go should feel like a journey through a scenic valley, discovering new treasures along the way.” The inaugural issue includes coverage of a merger to create a potentially major new server, the latest scientific evidence that go actually produces physical changes in the brain, and move-by-move commentary by Go Seigen on a classic encounter with Kitani from 1957. Stevenson adapted Jim Z. Yu’s translation, also available as the first of ten games and several other game analyses in the free download, “Go on Go: The Analyzed Games of Go Seigen.”

By porting instructional material online, Stevenson hopes to make it easier for players to learn, especially those new to the game. “When I was learning from printed books, the diagrams were too hard to read,” Stevenson said. “I wanted to give authors a better way to communicate their ideas to their readers.” Formation will be available in print and online. The print version will have a spiral binding so as to lie flat next to the goban. QR links will enable players to step through a variation, get the answer to a problem, and so on. “The key is delivering the best content respective to the medium by which it is delivered,” Stevenson said. “The online site will have current news because digital media are more timely. The print medium will have more in-depth stories and features from the world of go. The reader can take their time absorbing the content, as a copy is always on the coffee table, ready for a good read.”  Subscriptions to the print version will be available soon at the website.

Formation is looking for volunteer proofreaders, interesting games, and authors. If you have an idea for future content, contact editor@formationmag.com.

Terpstra Tops Las Vegas MindSports Go Event

Wednesday December 11, 2013

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

Categories: U.S./North America
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From STEM to ST∑@M®, Teaching Go Along the Way

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 

 

Go Spotting: Turn on, Tune in, and Play Go

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.

Categories: Go Spotting
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Go Spotting: Go Builds Math Skills

Wednesday May 29, 2013

A recent article on the Business Insider website extols the mathematical benefits of the game of go, which is the 6th of 13 Things That You Can Do To Make Your Child A Genius At Math.

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.

Categories: Go Spotting
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