American Go E-Journal » Columns

Redmond Reviews: Michael Redmond 9P vs Rin Kaiho 9P

Monday March 12, 2018

As a young player, Michael Redmond was in the legendary Rin Kaiho’s study group –where Rin’s wife served them all a meal 2018.03.11_redmond-rin-goseibefore they commenced playing go –) but in this week’s video game commentary, Redmond faces Rin in a Gosei tournament game, Redmond’s first tournament game of the year. “It was an unusual chance to get to play against such a famous player so early,” says Redmond, “and very special, as well.” Chris Garlock of the AGA E-Journal hosts; click here for the video.

“It’s amazing how one small mistake in midgame can make the difference between a white collapse and white advantage,” says Keldor314. “Go is just scary that way.”

“Another great review, thanks,” says Ewen Pearson. “Just joined the AGA. Are there SGFs for all of Michael Redmond’s reviews on If so where are they?” Click here for all the Redmond Reviews.



AlphaGo Zero vs. Master; Game 7: The magic show

Monday March 5, 2018

AG Zero comes up with a new variation to handle Master’s shimari, “and then there’s a bit of a magic show, in which Zero does 2018.03.02_Zero-Master_007all sorts of stuff inside Master’s moyo,” says Michael Redmond 9P in his commentary. “It’s pretty hard to believe.”

“The relaxed and fun atmosphere (Redmond and Garlock) have when doing these reviews is great,” says Rory Mitchell. “It keeps things light amidst all the intense thinking required, and ultimately makes these videos very rewatchable.” Adds GerSHAK, “Absolutely BEAUTIFUL game to watch. Loved the post-game summary of white’s most exciting moves, too.”

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.



AlphaGo Zero vs. Master; Game 6: Don’t worry, play tenuki

Sunday February 25, 2018

AG Zero is back, this time “with a big group that looks like it’s about to die, just floating around in the middle of Master’s moyo”2018.02.25_AG-Zero-Master6 says Michael Redmond 9P in his commentary. “But Zero doesn’t seem to be worried, because it plays away and does all sorts of stuff.”

“Master vs Zero with Zero on black are especially great games,” enthuses viewer Stefan Kaitschick. “Master getting beaten with the common sense moves, while Zero does what it pleases, is something of a horror show.” Adds agazmenlyfzsys, “Alphago zero is just from another dimension.”

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.



The Power Report (3): Meijin League; Marriage between go players; Kido Prizes; Iyama wins Shusai Prize; Promotions

Wednesday February 21, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Meijin League: 
The first game in the third round of the 43rd Meijin League was played on February 1. Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P. Astonishingly, Yo has beaten Takao ten times to just one loss. With the third round almost completed, the only undefeated players are Cho U 9P and Shibano Toramaru; both of them have already had a bye, so their scores are 2-0. Recent results follow.
(Jan. 25) Cho U 9P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo by resig.
(Feb. 1) Yo Seiki (W) beat Takao Shinji by resig.
(Feb. 8) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig.
(Feb. 15) Shibano Toramaru (W) beat Yamashita by 2.5 points.

Marriage between go players: Go Weekly reported that Mannami Nao 3P (age 32) married Ida Atsushi 8P (age 23) on February 12. Ida is a member of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in; Mannami is going to move to Nagoya. Mannami said: “I want to support Ida 8-dan and look after our household.” It seems she plans to follow the lead of Kobayashi Izumi in subordinating her own career to her husband’s. In her case, it may involve some financial loss, as in recent years she has been the most popular woman professional for commentating jobs etc. at go events.

Kido Prizes: The 51st Kido Prizes were announced in the latest issue of Go Weekly. Winners were as follows:
Most Outstanding Player: Iyama Yuta
Outstanding Player: Ichiriki Ryo
New Stars: Mutsuura Yuta (for winning the Agon Kiriyama Cup), Shibano Toramaru (for winning the Ryusei title)
Woman’s Prize: Fujisawa Rina
International Prize: Iyama Yuta
Most wins: Shibano Toramaru (53)
Best winning percentage: Kyo Kagen 7P (80.3%)
Most successive wins: Iyama Yuta, Shibano Toramaru: 16
Most games played: Shibano Toramaru
The most interesting point here is the appearance of three women in the top ten (five in the top 20, 11 in the top 52). In part, this reflects the fact that players like Xie Yimin and Fujisawa Rina do fairly well against male players, but another factor is the increase in the number of women’s titles. This has also led to a big increase in the prize money available (see list below): the two newest women’s tournaments, the Hollyhock Cup, previously known as the Aizu Central Hospital Cup, and the Senko Cup actually having the most prize money. The former, which has completed four terms, is worth 7,000,000 yen to the winner, and the latter, held twice so far, is worth 8,000,000 yen.

Here are some statistics for 2017.
Most wins

  1. Shibano Toramaru: 53 wins, 13 losses
  2. Kyo Kagen: 45-11
  3. Ichiriki Ryo: 44-20
  4. Iyama Yuta: 42-12
  5. (Ms) Fujisawa Rina: 40-23
  6. Shida Tatsuya 7P: 38-11; Mutsuura Yuta 7P: 38-12
  7. Motoki Katsuya 8P: 36-14
  8. (Ms) Xie Yimin: 34-22
  9. (Ms) Mukai Chiaki 5P: 33-18
  10. Cho U: 30-14; (Ms) Ueno Asami 1P: 30-15; Yamashita Keigo: 30-22
  11. (Ms) Nyu Eiko: 27-23

Best winning percentage

  1. Kyo Kagen: 80.36%
  2. Shibano Toramaru: 80.3%
  3. Iyama Yuta: 77.78%

Most successive wins

  1. Iyama Yuta, Shibano Toramaru: 16
  2. Takei Takashi 7P, Mutsuura Yuta: 13

Most prize money won

  1. Iyama Yuta: \159,814,000 (about $1,480,000)
  2. Ichiriki Ryo: \25,237,300
  3. Takao Shinji: \24,595,000
  4. Fujisawa Rina: \24,049,700
  5. Yamashita Keigo: \21,807,300
  6. Kono Rin: \21,713,400
  7. Motoki Katsuya: \20,977,400
  8. Xie Yimin: \20,472,400
  9. Shiba Toramaru: \18,908,700
  10. Mutsuura Yuta: \16,996,200

Iyama wins Shusai Prize: The 55th Shusai Prize, which honors the outstanding player of the previous year, was awarded to Iyama Yuta. This prize usually goes to the player who wins the top Kido prize; Iyama has received it six times in a row (matching the record of Kobayashi Koichi) and seven times overall (behind Cho Chikun’s nine).

The automatic promotions based on prize money won in 2017 were announced recently in Go Weekly. Details follow.
To 2-dan: Ueno Asami Torii Yuta
To 3-dan: Koike Yoshihiro, Yokotsuka Riki
To 4-dan: Tanaka Nobuyuki, Koyama Kuya
To 5-dan: Tsuruta Kazushi, Adachi Toshimasa
To 6-dan: Son Makoto, Numadate Sakiya
To 7-dan: Shiraishi Yuichi
There has also been one promotion by the cumulative-wins system.
To 8-dan: Ri Ishu (150 wins, as of Jan 19)


AlphaGo vs. Alphago; Game 16: “Unusual and different”

Monday February 19, 2018

This game features the mini Chinese opening, and “It’s a fighting game and gets exciting pretty quick,” says Michael Redmond 9p2018.02.16 AlphaGo16 in his commentary on the AlphaGo self-play game. “It’s unusual and different.”
“Thanks so much for continuing the AlphaGo 50 Self-Played-Game Series!” said commenter dontbtme. “It has a very unique flavor while still displaying diverse openings, plus the players being equally matched, the tension rarely drops till the very end.”

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.



The Power Report (1): Murakawa to challenge for Judan; Ueno wins Women’s Kisei; Yashiro to challenge for Women’s Meijin title

Monday February 19, 2018

by John Power, special Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2018.02.19_Murakawa-56jyudan0_1-2

Murakawa to challenge for Judan: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 56th Judan title was held at the Kansai Ki-in in Osaka on January 25. Murakawa Daisuke 8P (right) of the Kansai Kiin, playing white, beat Shida Tatsuya 7P of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in by resignation. Murakawa, who won the 62nd Oza title in 2014, will make his first challenge for the Judan title. Shida missed his chance to make his first top-seven title challenge. The best-of-five with Iyama Yuta will start on March 6.

Iyama defends Kisei title:  The second game of the 42nd Kisei title match was held at the Hachinohe Hotel in Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, on January 25 and 26. After a solid opening, a difficult fight started. Unlike the first game, in which Ichiriki had some chances, Iyama (left), playing black, kept the initiative throughout and secured a resignation 2018.02.19_Iyama-42kisei4_10after 171 moves. This win may have been a little disheartening for Ichiriki, who had now lost 11 games in a row to Iyama (all title games, including the NHK Cup final). The third game was held at the Olive Bay Hotel in Nishiumi City, Nagasaki Prefecture, on January 31 and February 1. The venue is a little unusual: it is a luxury hotel that was originally built as a guest house for the Oshima Shipbuilding Group and is located right next to a shipbuilding yard. This game was marked by complicated fighting among multiple unstable groups that spread from the top through the centre to the bottom. Perhaps the key move was a brilliant sabaki (settling a group) move with which Iyama (white) foiled a fierce attack by Ichiriki (below right); this led to a counterattack by Iyama. In the desperate fighting that followed, Iyama’s sharper play enabled him to seize the initiative. Ichiriki resigned after White 238. He now faced his first 2018.02.19_Ichiriki-42kisei4_11kadoban (a game that can lose a series).

   The usual pattern in a best-of-seven is to alternate breaks of one week and two weeks. So far, however, in this match games were being played once a week. The reason was to free up some time for both players to represent Japan in international tournaments (see reports below). Both players failed in these tournaments, so as far as psychological aftereffects were concerned, conditions were perhaps even. The fourth game was played at the Ofunato Citizens Culture Hall in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture, on 2018.02.19_Xie left, Iyama right-22lg3_2February 15 and 16. Once again, Ichiriki (white) was unable to get an advantage in the middle game, so he staked the game on a large-scale counterstrategy. However, Iyama calmly parried his attack, even letting him bring a dead group back to life, since he could secure a safe territorial lead anyway. Ichiriki continued to go all out, but his play was unreasonable and he had to resign after Iyama killed a large group.

   This was a very disappointing series for Ichiriki. In his first title match with Iyama, the 42nd Tengen at the end of 2016, he had at least won a game, but now he had been shut out in three successive title matches. Becoming challenger for three titles in a row is actually an impressive achievement, but it sets you up for some rough treatment at the hands of the grand slam champion. For Iyama, this was his sixth Kisei title in a row, the second-best run in this title after Kobayashi Koichi (who won the 10th to 17th titles). He had now maintained his grand slam for four months (since winning back the Meiijin title on October 17 last year). This is his 49th title, which puts him in sole fourth place, behind Cho Chikun (74), Sakata Eio (64), and Kobayashi Koichi (60). He is also sitting on a winning streak of 14 games in title matches, so he may challenge his personal record of 18 successive title-match wins. The Kisei prize is 45 million yen (about $416,000). The age of Iyama continues.

Ueno wins Women’s Ki2018.02.19_Yashiro-30fmeijin0_1-2sei: The second game of the 21st DoCoMo Cup Women’s Kisei best-of-three title match was held in the Ryusei studio at the Nihon Ki-in on January 29. Taking black, Ueno Asami 2D, the challenger, forced Xie Yimin to resign after 253 moves. This was her second win, so she dethroned the champion and won her first title at the age of 16 years three months. This set a new record in this title, beating Xie’s 20 years two months, but not threatening the overall record for women’s titles—Fujisawa Rina’s winning the Women’s Aizu Central Hospital Cup (now called the Hollyhock Cup) at 15 years nine months. Ueno’s prize is 5,000,000 yen (about $46,000).

Yashiro to challenge for Women’s Meijin title: The play-off to decide the challenger to Fujisawa Rina for the 30th Women’s Honinbo title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on February 1. Playing white, Yashiro Kumiko 6P (left) beat Izawa Akino 4P by resignation after 200 moves. Yashiro, who is 41, will be making her first challenge for this title. She won the 24th and 25th Women’s Honinbo Titles in 2005 and 2006. The best-of-five match starts on February 28.

Tomorrow: Xie wins LG Cup; Park wins New Year’s Cup; Ida keeps lead in Honinbo League despite loss


AlphaGo Zero-AlphaGo Master #5: Strange and wild stuff happening

Sunday February 11, 2018

“There’s some strange stuff in this game, especially in the early part of the game,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his fifth 2018.02.09_zero-master-game5commentary on the AG Zero games. “Then later on things get really exciting, as Zero does some amazing stuff inside Master’s moyo. The sequence that Zero uses to reduce the moyo is quite spectacular.”

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.



Redmond Reviews: Michael Redmond 9P vs Kuwabara Shun 1P

Saturday February 3, 2018

Michael Redmond’s video game commentaries return with an exciting game by Redmond against Kuwabara Shun 1P in the 2018.02.03 RedmondReviewsecond round of the Kisei First Tournament. “We get into the avalance joseki and Kuwabara springs a new variation on me and then it gets really messy in the middle game,” says Redmond, hosted by Chris Garlock of the AGA E-Journal. It’s a human-human game, “So there are mistakes,” Redmond laughs. “It’s pretty exciting.” Click here for the video.




Power Report: Ueno makes good start in Women’s Kisei; 73rd Honinbo League; 43rd Meijin League; Obituary: Shiraishi Yutaka

Wednesday January 31, 2018

Ueno makes good start in Women’s Kisei: The challenger to Xie Yimin for the 21st Women’s Kisei title is a new face: 2018.01.31_21fkisei1_05Ueno Asami 1P (right), a 16-year-old who became a professional in 2016. She is the second woman 1-dan to challenge for this title recently (the other was Nyu Eiko 1P, who lost 1-2 to Xie last year). Ueno had a good year last year, scoring 30 wins to 15 losses; this challenge will raise her profile. The first game was played at the Hotel Sun Life Garden in Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, on January 19. Taking white, Ueno showed that she was not overawed by the occasion or her opponent, the most successful woman player ever in Japan. She was ready to mix it up in scrappy fighting with Xi and secured the lead with a move that took Xie by surprise. The latter did her best to upset Ueno’s lead, but was thwarted by accurate and feisty play by the challenger. Xie resigned after White 186. The next game will be played on January 29.

73rd Honinbo League: On 3-0, Ida Atsushi 8P has the sole lead in the league. His game against Kobayashi Satoru 9P will be the final game in the fourth round. Ko Iso, on 3-1, is in provisional second place. Results since my last report, are given below.
(Dec. 21) Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig.
(Jan. 11) Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resig.; Shibano Toramaru 9P (B) beat Yo Seiki 9P by resig.
(Jan. 18) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig.

43rd Meijin League: The following games have been played in the Meijin League since our last report. The league leader will be the winner of the final game in the second round, between Cho U and Yamashita Keigo, as he will go to 2-0. Everyone else has lost at least one game.
(Dec. 21) Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by 2.5 points.
(Jan. 11) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.
(Jan. 18) Ko Iso 8P (W) beat Yo Seiki 7P by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig.

To 2-dan: Nyu Eiko (30 wins, as of December 22)
To 8-dan: Ri Ishu (150 wins, as of January 19)

Obituary: Shiraishi Yutaka
Shiraishi Yutaka, one of the leading players at the Kansai Ki-in, died of a squamous cell cancer of the right upper lobe of the lung on December 10. Shiraishi was born in Ehime Prefecture on January 14, 1941. A disciple of Sekiyama Riichi 9P, he became a professional in 1956 and reached 9-dan in 1973. He won the 9-dan section of the Kisei tournament in 1976 and 1981, won the Pro-Ama Tournament in 1981, and the 37th Kansai Ki-in Number One Position tournament in 1993. He played three times each in the Meijin and Honinbo tournaments. He retired in 2012.


The Power Report: People’s Honor Awards confirmed for Iyama and Habu; Lee Sedol wins World Meijin; Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense

Friday January 26, 2018

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

People’s Honor Awards confirmed for Iyama and Habu: At a cabinet meeting held on January 5, it was officially decided to give People’s Honor Awards to go player Iyama Yuta and shogi player Habu Yoshiharu in recognition of two unprecedented achievements. In Iyama’s case, it was getting a grand slam of the top seven titles for the second time; in Habu’s case, it was qualifying for lifetime titles in all the top seven titles (equivalent to an honorary title in go). As I mentioned in my final report for last year, it was announced that the government was “considering” making these awards, so it has now been confirmed. The awards will be given by the prime minister, Abe Shinzo, in a ceremony at the prime minister’s official residence on February 13. (By the way, so far Iyama has qualified for three honorary titles, the Kisei, Honinbo, and Gosei.)

Lee Sedol wins World Meijin: On January 8 and 9, the Dongjun Pharmaceutical Co. Cup: 5th World Mingren Tournament was held at the Yongji Qiyuan in Baoshan in Yunnan Province. Baoshan is a town very close to the Myanmar border and is famous for its go stones. The Yongji Qiyuan (= Ki-in) is an eight-storey building erected in 2016, so go must be prospering in this area. This is an invitational tournament, pitting the holders of the Meijin (= Mingren in Chinese and Myeongin in Korean) against each other. Iyama Yuta Meijin represented Japan and Lian Xiao Mingren China, but the Korean Myeongin title has been discontinued, so the Korean Baduk Association chose Lee Sedol as its representative. Lee repaid the faith shown in him by winning the mini-tournament.

 The tournament followed the usual “irregular” format for a three-player knockout. After drawing lots, Iyama and Lian were paired to play in the opening round on January 8. Taking white, Lian won this game by resignation. Iyama then played Lee in the second round; taking black, Lee won by resignation, so Iyama took third place. In the final, played on the 10th, Lee beat Lian (Go Weekly does not give the details) and took the first prize of 500,000 yuan (about $31,000). The Legend Pair Go tournament was held as a parallel event. This was won by the Korean pair of Yun Yongmin 3P and Suh Bongsoo 9P. The Japanese pair of Yoshida Mika 8P and Otake Hideo 9P came second.2018.01.26_42kisei1_5

Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense: As usual, the honor of starting the official tournament program in Japan fell to the players competing for the Kisei title, though they beat two women players by just a day. The challenger for the 43rd Kisei title is Ichiriki Ryo 7P, who is making his fourth challenge for a top-seven title. The only way to win one of these titles is to overcome Iyama Yuta, as he holds all of them. So far, Ichiriki has been unsuccessful; his best effort was in the 42nd Tengen title match in 2016, when he won the second game, but he has had no luck since, losing the next two games here, and suffering whitewashes in the 65th Oza and the 43rd Tengen title matches at the end of last year. Since he also lost the final of last year’s NHK Cup (the 64th), that gave him nine successive losses to Iyama. Still, his becoming the challenger for three successive titles shows that he is one of the top players in Japan.

   The top-three title matches, with their eight-hour time allowances spread over two days, are a different world from the other title matches, so such a match represents a new challenge but also a new opportunity. Ichiriki also had a break of seven weeks to prepare, though he may have been distracted by university exams in January.

   The first game was played at the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo on January 18 and 19, with Otake Hideo, Hon. Gosei, acting as referee. Ichiriki drew black in the nigiri. In the opening, Iyama went for territory and Ichiriki set up a large moyo. As usual these days, there were some moves influenced by AI go-playing programs, such as a 3-3 invasion by White on move six and a shoulder hit against the lower stone in a knight’s-move corner enclosure by Black with move 13. As usual with top-level games, the play was too complex for an amateur such as myself to follow. To summarize briefly, White invaded Black’s moyo with White 40. He came under severe attack but managed to settle his group in sente, so he was able to expand his territorial moyo at the top. At this point, Iyama had the lead. Ichiriki successfully invaded the top territory and perhaps took over the lead here. However, he later played a move that, in the words of the Go Weekly reporter, “lacked subtlety.” Actually, the three-page report in the go newspaper is a little hard to understand. The headlines on the second and the third pages read, “Iyama’s tenacious upset” and “Ichiriki misses his winning chance” respectively, but they are not concretely explained in the text. That’s why I wrote “perhaps” above. It seems that Ichiriki missed the best move in a center fight that concluded the game. The Yomiuri Newspaper commentator So Yokoku 9P identified Black 203 as “the final losing move.” Black resigned after move 240.

   After the game, Iyama commented: “I thought that if Black played correctly in the center the game was no good for me. It was a tough game, but I was lucky.” Ichiriki: “I didn’t know what was correct in the center. I made mistakes in delicate positions that were fatal.” The next game will be played on January 25 and 26.

Tomorrow: Ueno makes good start in Women’s Kisei; 73rd Honinbo League; Obituary: Shiraishi Yutaka