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The Power Report: Iyama sweeps Meijin League; Iyama’s winning streak ends; Ichiriki maintains lead in Kisei S League; AlphaGo book recommendation

Monday August 7, 2017

Iyama sweeps Meijin League: The final round of the 42nd Meijin League was held on August 3. The challenger had already been decided in the previous round, so the “grand finale” of the league may have been lacking in drama, but for the players hovering between demotion and retaining their league places, there would have been plenty of suspense in the day’s play.2017.08.07_iyama-42gosei
In his final game, Iyama Yuta was matched against Yo Seiki 7P, who needed to beat him to retain his place. As it turned out, Iyama demonstrated overwhelming strength in their game and won easily, so he finished with a perfect 8-0 record and Yo, who scored 3-5, will have to start over again in the final preliminary round. Iyama finished three points clear of the field. Usually the margin is just one point or, occasionally two; I can’t recall anyone else winning by three points. What’s more, he had already established this lead in the second-last round. Iyama is really head and shoulders ahead of other players in Japan. What is striking in the Meijin League chart is how little the status quo changed: the new players are out and there’s only one change in the placings from 1 to 6.
The first game of the match with Takao Shinji Meijin will be played on August 30 and 31.
Final-round results: Iyama (B) beat Yo by resig.; Cho U 9P (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig.; Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. Players to drop out are Hane, Sakai, and Yo.

Iyama’s winning streak ends: In a game in the Agon Kiriyama Cup played on July 31, Iyama Yuta lost by 1.5 points to Yamada Kimio 9P (B) so his winning streak came to an end on 16.

Ichiriki maintains lead in Kisei S League: One game in the S League of the 62nd Kisei tournament was played on August 3. Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig. That took Ichiriki to 4-0 and continued the sole lead he has enjoyed since the second round. In the fifth and final round he will play Kono Rin, who, on 2-1, is the only other player still in the running. League ranks will affect the outcome, as 2017.07.30_invisible-coverthere is no play-off in the Kisei leagues. If Kono beats Yamashita Keigo in this round, then beats Ichiriki in the final round, then, as the number one player, he will win the league. At this point, Cho U also has only one loss―he is also on 2-1―but, at #5, he is outranked by both Kono and Ichiriki (#4).

AlphaGo book recommendation: In a recent edition of the E-Journal (“Invisible” collects 78 AlphaGo games), there appeared a notice about the publication of “Invisible,” the first book devoted to the games between the AI program AlphaGo and human players. I would like to recommend the book. Its core is the 60-game winning streak set up by AlphaGo, playing as Master, but it also includes other games played at the Go Summit in China. I had the opportunity to proofread about half of these games before publication and it was a real pleasure. Apart from the extraordinary interest of the games themselves, I enjoyed the lucid and instructive presentation by the author, Antti Tormanen. The layout is excellent and the commentaries are clear and accessible. They focus on the innovations of AlphaGo and its dramatic divergences from established professional theory. To look at it another way, these elements of the games constitute the contributions AlphaGo can make to go theory, though it may be a while before its theoretical advances can be fully digested by mere mortals. This book makes a good start in print to that process. In passing, here are two points, among others, that struck me. Very early in the game, AlphaGo plays moves based on its ability to calculate. For example, it plays reducing moves or makes sacrifices that it’s difficult to see human players emulating―they can imitate the moves, but can they make calculations extending to the end of the game while still in the opening? Secondly, it has no ego: it’s content to win by one point and sees no need to crush the opponent. Here, perhaps, humans may not wish to emulate it.
A pdf version of Invisible is available online here or email info@hebsacker-verlag.de for details on the hardcover version.

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AlphaGo-AlphaGo Game 4: Reminders of Go Seigen, escalating trades and semeais, and a final ko

Friday August 4, 2017

“With this game I get to talk about some moves in AlphaGo’s opening that remind me of the great player Go Seigen,” says Michael Redmond 9p 2017.08.04_alphago-alphago-game4in his game commentary on AlphaGo-AlphaGo Game 4. “The territory is very close throughout the game, while fighting in the center gradually escalates with trades and semeais to be calculated and discarded, and even during a final ko to kill a huge Black group, the correct variations leads to a half point difference.”

Click here for Redmond’s nearly 90-minute video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and follow along with the sgf below, which as usual includes extra variations.

The video is produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson.

[link]

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AlphaGo-AlphaGo Game 3: Three 3-3 invasions, a big moyo and a fight that fills the center of the board

Thursday August 3, 2017

This exciting game features an astonishing three invasions at the 3-3 point, prompting Michael Redmond 9p to note that “This version of AlphaGo 2017.08.03_AlphaGo vs. Alphago Game 3will invade here at any time when there is no urgent fighting going on. AlphaGo played an early invasion at the 3-3 in just two of the 60 Master series games, but that was shocking, as it defied the common knowledge of pros that such an early invasion should be bad. In this 50-game series AlphaGo played an early 3-3 invasion about 40 times.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and follow along with the sgf below, which as usual includes extra variations.

“Black plays a big moyo game, and then chases an eyeless White group into Black’s moyo, to start a fight that fills the center of the board,” adds Redmond.

The video is produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson.

[link]

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AlphaGo-AlphaGo Game 2; Fighting throughout, a surprising sacrifice, a final huge ko

Wednesday August 2, 2017

“In this game AlphaGo shows great flexibility in the early stages, and also its ability to calculate extremely complicated fights later in the game,” 2017.08.02_AlphaGo vs. Alphago2says Michael Redmond 9P in his commentary on Game 2 in the AlphaGo-AlphaGo self-played series. Click here for his video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and follow along with the sgf below, which includes the extra variations Redmond refers to in the video. “Against Black’s sanrensei, White plays two unusual moves at 10 and 16 to create a unique opening,” says Redmond. “As the fighting starts, White makes a surprising sacrifice, abandoning a group to take the offensive in the center. Fighting continues throughout the game to climax in a final huge ko.” The video is produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson.

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Redmond’s AlphaGo-AlphaGo commentaries launched

Tuesday August 1, 2017

In the first in a new series of AlphaGo video commentaries, Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, reviews Game 1 of the amazing AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo selfplay games. The 50-game series was published by Deepmind after AlphaGo’s victory over 2017.08.01_AlphaGo vs. Alphago with Michael Redmond 9p Game 1world champion Ke Jie 9p in May 2017. Games 2-4 will be released this week, leading up to this year’s U.S. Go Congress in San Diego, which starts on Saturday.

“In the Master series earlier this year, AlphaGo first showed its big shimaris, and often played to dominate the center of the board in the early opening, using its famous shoulder hits to do so,” says Redmond. The Master version “had an early advantage in almost all of the games,” Redmond says, “and I was impressed with its ability to simplify complicated middle game positions and bring the game to an early outcome. Less convincing was the way Master handled complicated joseki. It also had a disturbing habit of losing several points in the endgame to win by the smallest possible margin.”

“With this new self-played series,” says Redmond, “I wanted to see how these traits had survived AlphaGo’s evolution; five months is a long period of time for a self-teaching AI. The exciting news is that Alphago has changed dramatically.” Click here, to find out how in the video commentary and see below for Redmond’s extensively commented sgf file. The videos are produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson; sgf editing support by Myron Souris.

 

[link]

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The Power Report: Iyama defends Gosei title, becomes Meijin challenger, extends winning streak

Tuesday August 1, 2017

Iyama defends Gosei title, becomes Meijin challenger, extends winning streak: Last week Iyama Yuta extended a winning streak2017.08.02_Iyama (L) defends Gosei he started on April 13 to 16 games. That indicates that this report won’t include any Iyama failures.
The second game of the 42nd Gosei title match was held in the Miyajima Hotel Makoto in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, on July 19. Taking black, Iyama played “steadily” and secured a resignation after 145 moves. “Steadily” was the word used by the Go Weekly reporter, but to me the game seemed very complicated. In a kind of trade, Iyama gave up a large group for the chance to attack and eventually kill a big group and a small one. Having lost the first two games, Yamashita Keigo, the challenger, was now faced with a kadoban.
The third game was played at the Hotel Nikko Kumamoto in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, on July 25. Playing white, Iyama forced Yamashita to resign after 206 moves and defended his title with straight wins. This was another game in which fierce fighting started early and spilled all over the board. Yamashita pushed Iyama hard but was unable to prevail. This is Iyama’s sixth successive Gosei title, equally the Gosei record set by Otake Hideo and Kobayashi Koichi,  and his 45th overall. First prize is 8,000,000 yen (at 110.63 yen to the dollar, about $72,313).
2017.08.02_meijin42_league12On July 28, Iyama met Murakawa Daisuke in the eighth round of the 42nd Meijin League (left). The game was played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka. Iyama had won all his games so far and was leading the league on 6-0. On 4-2, Murakawa was the only other player still in the running with Iyama, but he needed to win his final two games and not only beat Iyama himself, but also have him lose to Yo Seiki in the final round. If that happened, the two would meet in a play-off to decide the challenger. That turned out to be just a dream. Taking black, Murakawa played positively, launching a surprise attack on Iyama early in the game. He seemed to have good momentum in the middle game, but Iyama found a chink in his armor and forced him to resign after 146 moves.2017.08.02_Kobayashi Satoru wins Fume killer
Since losing the Meijin title to Takao Shinji about eight months ago, Iyama has done everything right, defending his other six tiles without being put under severe pressure. He can now aim at securing his second grand slam, which would be a first in board games in Japan.
Unlike the other rounds, all the games in the final round of the Meijin League are played on the same day, which is August 3 this year. This is to heighten the drama and to encourage fan interest―“If A beats B, and C loses to D, etc.”―but this year the only suspense will be whether or not Iyama finishes the league with a clean slate. The first game of the title match will be played on August 30 and 31.

Kobayashi Satoru wins Masters’ Cup: The final of the 7th Fume-killer Igo Masters Cup was held in the TV studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on July 22. After a long (266 moves) and fierce fight, Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Cho Chikun, Hon. Meijin, by half a point. Kobayashi (right) won this title for the second time after a gap of four years. It is sponsored by an insecticide company and first prize is five million yen. This title is open to players 50 and older who have won a top-seven title. Other senior players who have done well in the prize-money-winning list take part in a qualifying tournament for seats in the main tournament. The time allowance is one hour, with the last five minutes allotted to byo-yomi. There was a standing-room-only crowd at a public commentary given in the large hall on the second floor of the Nihon Ki-in.

2017.08.02_Shibano ToramaruShibano wins first title: One of the brightest prospects at the Nihon Ki-in is Shibano Toramaru 3P (left). Commentators have been impressed by his individualistic style and flair for fighting. Shibano won a seat in the final of the 26th Ryusei Cup, where he was matched against another young star, Yo Seiki 7P (Yu Cheng-ch’i) of the Kansai Ki-in. Playing black, Shibano won the game by resignation. He set a couple of speed records. At 17 years eight months, he became the youngest player to win the Ryusei title, breaking the record Ichiriki Ryo set last year of 19 years one month. Second, he was the fastest to win a title in which all professionals could participate, winning the Ryusei two years 11 months after become a professional. Iyama Yuta set the previous record when he won the 12th Agon Kiriyama Cup three years six months after becoming a pro. This victory also earned Shibano promotion to 7-dan (as of August 1). This set another record, as he was the fastest to 7-dan; the previous record was set by Sakai Hideyuki, who made it in three years four months.

Promotion
To 5-dan: Terayama Rei (70 wins, as of July 28)

Interesting stats: Some interesting players are featuring in the statistical contests this year. Below is the picture as of the end of July.
Most wins
1. Shibano Toramaru: 30 wins 6 losses
2. Ichiriki Ryo 29-8
3. Fujisawa Rina: 27-13
4. Iyama Yuta 26-7
5. Kyo Kagen 4P: 24-5
6. Otake Yu 1P: 21-6; Mutsuura Yuta 3P: 21-9; Mukai Chiaki 5P: 21-10
9. Terayama Rei 5P: 20-7; Motoki Katsuya 8P: 20-8; Xie (Hsieh) Yimin: 20-12; Yamashita Keigo: 20-13
One point of interest is the presence of three female players in the top 12. They are probably getting a bit of a boost from the recent proliferation of women’s titles.

Successive wins
Iyama Yuta: 16 (hasn’t lost a game since April 13).
Shibano Toramaru also had a wining streak of 16 games that came to an end during July.

Correction: In my account of the Senko Cup in my last report, I forgot to mention the location of the venue for the semifinals and finals. They were held at the Akekure inn in the town of Higashi Omi in Shiga Prefecture.

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Redmond Reviews: Kobayashi Koichi 9P v.Michael Redmond 9P

Saturday July 29, 2017

“I have Black in this Meijin A-League game against the legendary Kobayashi Koichi 9P,” says Michael Redmond 9P in this detailed video commentary, 2017.07.29_Redmond's Reviews, Episode 6 Kobayashi Koichi 9P v. Michael Redmond 9Phosted by Chris Garlock of the AGA E-Journal. “I am surprised at my own unwillingness to play the moves that I am seeing in the self-played AlphaGo games. I believe that my intense study of Alphago has sharpened my reading skills and improved my positional judgement in the middle game.”

[link]

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Redmond Reviews: Michael Redmond 9P v. Matsumoto Takeshi 7P

Friday July 28, 2017

“This game is the final round of the Oza B section, and my opponent is Matsumoto Takeshi 7P,” says Michael Redmond 9P in this video 2017.07.28_Redmond's Reviews, Episode 5 Michael Redmond 9P v. Matsumoto Takeshi 7Pcommentary, hosted by Chris Garlock of the AGA E-Journal. “I had a good position in the middle game, but failed to fully make use of some aji in Black’s right side territory and fell behind in the final stages of the game.”

 

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More Redmond Reviews and a new AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo series

Tuesday July 25, 2017

More Redmond Reviews and a brand-new AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo series are coming soon. A brief video just released reveals that Michael Redmond 9P is2017.07.25_Redmond AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo update working on a new series of video commentaries with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock, focusing on the AlphaGo self-played games as well as recent tournament games by Redmond himself, that have been influenced by AlphaGo. “AlphaGo jumps into the middle game pretty quickly (and) the fighting in the middle game is amazing and there are a lot of moves that took me by surprise,” says Redmond. “Michael has been working incredibly hard to explain these incredibly complicated games so stay tuned and fasten your seatbelt!” Garlock added. The videos are being produced by Michael Wanek.

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The Power Report (3): Fujii Sota sets new record

Wednesday July 19, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal«Šû^‘΋ǂðU‚è•Ô‚é“¡ˆäŽl’i‚

Fujii Sota sets new record
In my report at the end of May, I took the liberty of writing about a shogi debutant who was making waves. First he set a record by becoming the youngest player, at 14 years two months, to qualify as a shogi professional. That earned him some attention in the media, but the attention became a media frenzy when he started playing games and didn’t lose. I wrote the previous report when he reached 19 successive wins, the seventh-best in shogi. On June 28, he matched the previous record of 28, set in 1987, then on June 29 he broke it, scoring his 29th win over the only other teenaged shogi professional, Masuda Yashiro 4P (aged 19), who won the King of the New Stars title last year. By this time, the media had become obsessed with Fujii. A hundred reporters turned up at the Shogi Hall to see the above-mentioned games start. Throughout the day (both games lasted over 11 hours), TV provided a stream of updates. The game was the lead-off item on news programs, even while it was still in progress and they switched to live coverage when it ended. The daytime “wide shows,” usually devoted to colorful crimes and scandals, hired shogi professionals to give commentaries. (Newspapers printed extras for both the 28th and 29th games. There were also two Net broadcasts, with a combined audience of 11 million.) It felt as if the whole nation shared the disappointment when Fujii finally suffered a loss in his 30th game.

è´ä?Å^ì°à‰élíiǙÇQÇVòAèüFujii’s success sparked a shogi boom, especially among young children, who flocked to join shogi classes. Go has never experienced coverage like this, and apparently it surpasses the media attention earned by Habu Yoshiharu’s Grand Slam on 1996 (as in go, a simultaneous grand slam has been achieved only once).

Fujii was born on July 19, 2002, so he turns 15 next month. The previous record for a debutant was 11 successive wins. Before Fujii go has the upper hand, with Hiroe Hiroyuki 9P winning his first 12 games in 1983 (he was 16). He is followed by Yoda Norimoto (aged 11) and Mizokami Tomochika 9P (aged 15), and Ida Atsushi 8P, all with 11 (they were all 1-dan, of course). By coincidence, Fujii’s new record of 29 successive wins is the same as the go record, set by Sakata Eio in 1963-64. The content is not the same, however. The average rank of Fujii’s opponents was 5.77 (by the way, the win over Habu Yoshiharu I mentioned in my previous report was not part of the streak; it may have been an unofficial game, but I can’t find it). Sakata’s opponents included the elite of the contemporary go world.

I’m not trying to carp about Fujii’s record. As a go player, I followed the Fujii saga with amazement and the purest envy. As far as I know, Iyama’s grand slam last year, garnered just a minute or two on the news.

Closing note: One program has a segment devoted to shogi terms that had passed into general speech and threw in a few go terms for good luck. Unfortunately, their diagram for “dame” (in the sense of worthless points) was completely wrong.

photo (top right): Fuji playing Kato Hifumi, at 77, the oldest active shogi player. First game of the winning streak. Kato retired around the time Fujii set his record. Out with the old, in with the new. He was the previous youngest shogi pro.

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