American Go E-Journal » Columns

The Power Report (2/4): League updates; Judan challenger

Monday January 21, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2019.01.20 Honinbo league

Honinbo League: The fourth round of the 74th Honinbo League has been completed. Instead of one player breaking clear, the position has become complicated, with four players sharing the lead. On January 7, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Anzai Nobuaki 7P by half a point. That improved Yamashita’s score to 2-2, so he is still in the running to win the league (he’s also helped by his number one ranking). Anzai goes to 0-4, so he looks unlikely to retain his league seat. However, the narrow margin shows that he is not being outclassed. In the second game, played on January 10, Yo Seiki 8P (B) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resig. Yo and Hane are now both on 3-1. The only undefeated player at this point was Ichiriki Ryo 8P, who was on 3-0. On January 17, he played Shibano Toramaru 7P; taking white, the latter beat him by resignation, so both went to 3-1. On the same day, Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resignation. Kono improved to 2-2, but Ko went down to 0-4. Ko also looks like losing his place, but being ranked number two gives him a slight advantage over Anzai.

Meijin League: Two games in the second round of the 44thMeijin League were played on January 10. Kono Rin 9P (B) beat2019.01.20 Meijin league Mutsuura Yuta 7P by resig. and Shibano Toramaru 7P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by 2.5 points. Two more games were played on January 17, and one of them could have a big effect on the league. Suzuki Shinji 7P (B) beat the favorite, Iyama Yuta, by half a point. In the other game, Son Makoto 7P (W) beat Hane Naoki 9P by resignation. On 2-0, Kono is the provisional leader.

 

 

Judan challenger: Murakawa or Takao: The first semifinal of the 57th Judan tournament was played on December 27, with Takao Shinji 9P (W) beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 2.5 points. The second was held on January 7. Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Onishi Ryuhei 4P by resig.
Tomorrow: Ueno makes good start in Women’s Kisei; Xie to challenge for Women’s Meijin

 

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The Power Report (1/4): Chen Yaoye wins 1st Tianfu Cup; Iyama makes good start in Kisei

Sunday January 20, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Chen Yaoye wins 1st Tianfu Cup: The semifinals of the 1st Tianfu Cup were held on December 21 and the best-of-three final on December 23, 25, and 26. In one semifinal, Chen Yaoye 9P of China (W) defeated Park Junghwan 9P of Korea by resig. In the other, Shin Jinseo 9P of Korea (B) beat Jiang Weijie 9P of China by resig. In the first game of the final, Chen (W) won by resig.; in the second, Shin (W) won by 2.5 points. In the deciding game, Chen (B) won by resig. Chen, who turned 29 on December 16, won his third international title; Shin missed the chance to take his first. First prize is 2,000,000 yuan (about $292,000).

Iyama makes good start in Kisei: The first game of the 43rd2019.01.20 Yamashita 1st move in Kisei Kisei best-of-seven title match was held at the familiar venue of the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo in Bunkyo Ward on January 10 and 11. It featured a familiar pairing: Yamashita Keigo challenging Iyama Yuta Kisei for the fourth time, including three times in a row from 2014 to 2016. Iyama has held this title for six years in a row; Yamashita (at right in photo, making the first move) has won it five times, including four years in a row. Besides that, Iyama has made one unsuccessful challenge and Yamashita has made unsuccessful challenges to Hane Naoki 9P and Cho U 9P.
Yamashita drew black in the nigiri. Yamashita started out by taking the lead in territory, then fell behind, and then upset Iyama’s lead. However, Yamashita apparently thought he was still behind, so he started a risky fight and perished. He resigned after 172 moves. If he had played more peacefully, he would have had a good chance of winning.
The second game will be played on January 21 and 22.

Tomorrow: League updates; Judan challenger

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Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 13: Redmond 9p v. Cho U 9p

Saturday January 19, 2019

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, takes a break from analyzing the AlphaGo self-played games2019.01.18_Redmond-ChoU2018-screengrab to review his own recent game against Cho U 9P. This game was played just a few days after Cho U became the Meijin and Redmond — who went into this game with a 2-2 record against Cho — says he can see 2019.01.18_Redmond-ChoU2018-screengrab2“how much studying with computer programs has changed Cho’s game.” Cho is “a very precise player,” Redmond says, which makes him very tough in the middle and endgame, but “even top professional players have a hard time assigning exact values to positions in the opening” and “the big change I saw in this game is that Cho seems much more confident in his opening, and knew exactly what the computer values were for the various positions in the opening.” Redmond also shares his own experiences with studying with a go AI.

These videos are made possible by the support of the American Go Association; please consider joining today!

Video produced by Michael Wanek & Andrew Jackson.

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 26: Using dead stones

Saturday January 12, 2019

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, continue their popular series with a review of the 26th 2019.01.12_AG-26-thumbnailgame of the AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo selfplay games. The 50-game series was published by Deepmind after AlphaGo’s victory over world champion Ke Jie 9p in May 2017.2019.01.12_AG-26-redmond-garlock

Black builds a large moyo and White occasionally drops a stone in, and they’re all dead, until they come back to life. “It’s not really clear what White’s trying to do, but eventually all of the dead stones get used a lot, which is the main story of this game” says Redmond. “Thank you so much for continuing this series!” posted Yi Sheng Siow. “I always get a big smile on my face when I see a new one of these pop up!” added Rory Mitchell. “I’m really looking forward to watching it right after I finish cooking supper!”

These videos are made possible by the support of the American Go Association; please consider joining today!

Video produced by Michael Wanek & Andrew Jackson.

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The Power Report (4 of 4): Honinbo League; 44th Meijin League; Fujisawa sets record

Saturday January 12, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2019.01.11_Honinbo League

Honinbo League: Two players share the lead in the 74th Honinbo League: Hane Naoki 9P, at 42 a veteran, and Ichiriki Ryo, aged 21. Both are on 3-0; they are not slated to play each other until the sixth round, in March. Recent results:
(Nov. 29) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
(Dec. 6) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 8P by resig.
(Dec. 13) Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Anzai Nobuaki 7P by resig.

44th Meijin League: The new Meijin League got off to a start on December 6 with the newest member, previous Meijin 2019.01.11_Meijin LeagueIyama Yuta, taking on one of the league newcomers. The first round has now been completed. Results to date:
(Dec. 6) Iyama Yuta (W) beat Mutsuura Yuta 7P by resig.
(Dec. 13) Yamashita Keigo 9P (B) beat Son Makoto 7P by resig.; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat Suzuki Shinji 7P by resig.
(Dec. 20) Kono Rin 8P (B) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig. This was Kono’s 800th win.

Fujisawa sets record: Fujisawa Rina (aged 20) set a new record for most wins by a woman player when she beat Suzuki Shinji 7P in Preliminary B of the 58th Judan tournament on December 24. This was her 42nd win in 2018, one more than the record set by Kobayashi Izumi 6P in 2001. Taking black, Fujisawa won by resignation. On the 27th, she won another game, so her final record was 43 wins to 23 losses. She tied for second place in the most-wins list with Ichiriki Ryo 8P, the highest a woman player has ever placed. (I plan to cover 2018 stats in my next report, which will also feature the first game of the Kisei title match.) Fujisawa’s comment: “I’m happy I was able to top my personal best of 40 wins. This year, my form improved in the latter part of the year and I was able to play above my strength.”

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To 3-dan: Sotoyanagi Sebun (40 wins, as of Dec. 7)

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The Power Report (3 of 4): Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final

Thursday January 10, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record: The fourth game of the 44th Tengen title match was held at the Hotel New 2019.01.10_44tengen5_1Awaji in Sumoto City, Hyogo Prefecture on December 10. Taking white, Yamashita Keigo 9P won by 2.5 points after 262 moves. Iyama attacked positively in the opening and secured an advantage, but Yamashita launched a do-or-die attack and pulled off an upset. The fifth game, the last big game of the year, was held at the Tokushima Grandvrio Hotel in 2019.01.10_tengen4 YamashitaTokushima City on December 19. At his peak, Iyama was often able to wrap a match up quickly, reducing the burden on himself of constant title defenses, but this was his third successive match to go the full distance. Yamashita drew black in the nigiri. Once again, Iyama took the lead in the opening, and this time the challenger’s attempt to stage an upset was unsuccessful. Yamashita resigned after 188 moves. After a hectic autumn/winter tournament season, Iyama ended the year in top form. He has now won the Tengen four years in a row, so he can aim at qualifying for the honorary title next year. This was his 43rd top-seven title, putting him in the sole lead ahead of Cho Chikun. It is his 54th title overall and maintains his quintuple crown. No one will bet against his chances of restoring his septuple crown in 2019. Cho Chikun had a comment: “He’s not even half my age. It’s a great honor for me to be overtaken by a fantastic player like Iyama.”

Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 22nd Women’s Kisei title was 2019.01.10_WKisei R Fujisawaheld in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in on December 10, and it featured yet another clash between Fujisawa Rina (right) and Xie Yimin. Taking white, the former won by resignation after 174 moves. This is the only women’s title Fujisawa has never won; in fact, it’s the first time she got past the second round (out of four) in the final knock-out section. The best-of-three title match with Ueno Asami will begin on January 17. Incidentally, this will be the first time Fujisawa (20) will face a younger opponent in a title match (Ueno is 17).

Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final: Korean players are doing their best to push back against the ascendancy of Chinese players in international tournament recently. The semifinals of the 12th Chunlan Cup were held in Zhejiang Province in China on December 17 and 19. Both featured Chinese-Korean pairings and both ended in narrow victories for the Korean side. Park Junghwan 9P (W) beat Ke Jie by half a point and Park Yonghyun 9P (B) beat Dang Yifei 9P by one and a half points. The final is scheduled for June.
Tomorrow: Honinbo League; 44thMeijin League; Fujisawa sets record

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The Power Report (2 of 4): Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title; Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win; Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup; Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off

Wednesday January 9, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2019.01.09_2018 WHon 4 Fujisawa

Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title: The fourth game in the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on December 5. Taking white, Fujisawa Rina forced a resignation after 224 moves and took the title from Xie Yimin with a 3-1 score. This is Fujisawa’s third concurrent title: she also holds the Hollyhock Cup and the Women’s Meijin. It is the third time she has won this title, and it is her ninth title. First prize is 5,500,000 yen (about $50,000). Xie is now without a title to her name for the first time in 11 years. Note: Michael Redmond was the referee for the match.

Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win: On December 6, Kobayashi Koichi (B) defeated Yoshihara Yukari 6P by resig. in 2019.01.09 Kobayashi 1400ththe preliminary round (called by the English name of “first tournament”) of the 44th Kisei tournament. This was his 1,400th win, making him the third Nihon Ki-in player to reach this landmark, after Cho Chikun and Rin Kaiho. His record is 1400 wins, 744 losses, 2 jigo; his winning percentage is 65.3, which is the best of the three. The 66-year-old Kobayashi took 51 years eight months to achieve this feat. Kobayashi: “Someone told me [I was close], but when the game started I forgot about it. Even though I have been playing such a long time, I am just as passionate as ever about go. I want to keep playing until I’m no longer physically able to.”

Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup: The SGW Cup Golden Mean Tournament is an unusual new tournament: it is open to 2019.01.09_sgw Rinplayers aged from 31 to 60 who have not won one of the top seven open tournaments or the Ryusei or Agon Kiriyama titles. The main section of the tournament, a four-round Swiss System for 16 players (who qualified in a preliminary tournament held on the Net) was held at the Nihon Ki-in on December 8 and 9. After three rounds, there were two players with three wins, Rin Kanketsu 8P and Anzai Nobuaki 7P, so their fourth-round clash became the “final.” Taking black, Rin won by resignation. First prize is 2 million yen (about $18,000). Having won this title, Rin “graduates” and can no longer play in it. However, it is not an official tournament, so results are not included in players’ lifetime tallies. Third place was taken by Cho Riyu 8P, who beat the oldest participant, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (aged 60), in the final round. According to “Go Weekly,” “golden mean” refers to solid players of a certain age who don’t have as many opportunities to play as the top players or young players, for whom there are many youth tournaments. Apparently this is the first time the Swiss System has been used for Japanese professionals. The participants may not have been the top players, but a big crowd of fans turned out for a public commentary by Cho Chikun.

Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off: The Agon-Kiriyama Cup 20th Japan-China Play-off was held at the Shaka-san Dai-Bodaiji Temple, the headquarters of the Agon sect of Buddhism in Kyoto, on December 9. The game was actually played in a teahouse in the 2019.01.09 JC Agon Gugrounds of the temple called the Snail Hermitage (Kagyu-an). It matched the holders of the Japanese and Chinese versions of the Agon Kiriyama Cups, Ichiriki Ryo 8P and Gu Jihao 9P. The 20-year-old Gu is not well known in Japan, but he is a member of the group of players born between 1995 and 2000 that now dominates Chinese go. He jumped from 5-dan to 9-dan in 2017 when he won the 22nd Samsung Cup. Gu drew black in the nigiri. Like most professional games these days, there were many signs of AI influence, but Gu’s 7th move was a diagonal move made popular in the 19th century by Honinbo Shusaku and known as “Shusaku’s kosumi.” At the time, Shusaku commented that no matter how much time passed, this would never become a bad move. It has now held up for over a century and a half. Gu said after the game that recently AI programs had often recommended this move. The game was marked by fierce fighting, with Ichiriki launching an aggressive double attack at the decisive point in the middle game. Gu was able to cope with it, so Ichiriki had to resign after 185 moves. China has now won this play-off 15 times to Japan’s five.
At the press conference after the game, Gu was asked how he used AI. His answer: “All professionals are using AI. In the national team, I am training with Fine Art every day. I also use AI after I go home. I don’t play games with AI. I have resigned myself to the difference in level.”
Tomorrow: Iyama defends Tengen, sets new record; Fujisawa to challenge for Women’s Kisei; Chunlan Cup: all-Korean final

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The Power Report (1 of 4): China dominates Nong Shim Cup; Iyama defends Oza, ties record; Ke wins Samsung Cup

Tuesday January 8, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

China dominates Nong Shim Cup: 
The second round of the 20th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Pusan near the end of November. In the opening round, held in Beijing in October, Japan got off to a good start when Shibano Toramaru won the first game, but then Fan Tingyu of China took over and won the remaining three games in the round. His good form continued in the second round and he took his winning streak to seven before it was terminated by Park Junghwan. Incidentally, Fan also won seven games in a row in the 18th Nong Shim Cup. His career started at the top: he became the world’s youngest-ever 9-dan when he was promoted for winning the 7th Ing cup in 2013 at the age of 16. Nong Shim results are given below.
Game 5 (Nov. 23). Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (B) beat Choe Cheolhan 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 6 (Nov. 24). Fan (W) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 7 (Nov. 25). Fan (W) beat Lee Sedol 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 8 (Nov. 26). Fan (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P (Japan) by resig.
Game 9 (Nov. 27). Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Fan by resig.2019.01.08_66oza5_1
The final round will be held in Shanghai from February 18 to 22. Japan and Korea are both down to their last player, but China still has four.

Iyama defends Oza, ties record:  The fourth game of the 66th Oza title match was held at the Ryugon inn in Minami Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture, on November 30. This game was a kadoban for the challenger, Ichiriki Ryo 8P, but he responded to the pressure with positive play from the opening on and succeeded in taking the lead. In byo-yomi, Ichiriki (black) was confronted with a position that looked like a crisis for him, but he managed to survive it and scored a win by 1.5 points.
The fifth game was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on December 13. Ichiriki drew black in the nigiri. Professional observers commented that Ichiriki seemed to have succumbed to the pressure, at least a little, as his play was not quite a freewheeling as in the previous games. Iyama forced him to resign after 186 moves. This is Iyama’s fourth Oza title in a row and his 53rd title overall, behind Cho Chikun on 74, Sakata Eio on 64, and Kobayashi Koichi on 60. He also tied a record held by Cho Chikun of winning 42 top-seven titles. That’s a very high percentage—79% of his titles, as compared to 57% for Cho. The latter reached this mark at the age of 50, which means that it took him 39 years. Iyama got there in 16 years. After the match, Iyama commented: “When I lost titles from my septuple crown, it didn’t upset me very much, but there were a lot of games in which the way I lost left me with regrets. Being able to get a good result here is important. When I started playing, Cho Sensei was someone I greatly admired, so it feels strange [to draw even with him]. It’s a record of patient accumulation, so I think I have done well.”
Ichiriki failed yet again in his fifth challenge to Iyama for a title. This was the first time he got so close, but that probably made the result all the more frustrating.

Ke wins Samsung Cup: The best-of-three final of the 23rd Samsung Cup was played in Korea in early December. It featured a clash between Ahn Kukhyun 8P of Korea, bidding to win his first international title, and Ke Jie 9P of China, who was hoping to pick up his sixth. In the first game, played on Dec. 3, Ahn Kukhyun (W) won by resig. In the second game (Dec. 4), Ke Jie (W) won by resig. In the decider, played on the following day, Ke (W) won by 5.5 points. He earns a prize of 300 million won (about $268,000). Apparently Ahn is now slated to do his military service. Depending on which arm of the military he’s in, the period is from 21 months to two years.

Tomorrow: Fujisawa takes Women’s Honinbo title; Kobayashi Koichi scores 1,400th win; Rin Kanketsu wins SGW Cup; Gu wins Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup play-off

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 25: The shoulder hit, with a twist

Sunday January 6, 2019

Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, resume their popular series with a review of the 25th game of the 2019.01.05_AG-AG-25-thumbnailamazing AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo selfplay games.

2019.01.05_AG-AG-25-screengrabBlack starts out with “a very human-looking opening,” reminiscent of the mini Chinese Opening, an AG shoulder hit (with a twist), followed (of course) by a 3-3 invasion, which prompts a discussion of which side to block. The game also features a sacrifice that isn’t and a dramatic — and confusing — ending involving multiple groups that may or may not be alive.

These videos are made possible by the support of the American Go Association; please consider joining  today!

Video produced by Michael Wanek & Andrew Jackson.

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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #12

Wednesday November 28, 2018

By Bill Cobb2018.11.26_empty-go-board-with-bowls-and-stones-bw-inverted

As in life, there is a color issue in go that has an impact on most players’ experience. The fact that Black plays first has an obvious effect. Most players, at least in the early years of playing, find it more comfortable to be Black in a game. It provides a certain comfort to feel like you are in control of the game for at least the first few moves. This preference is particularly evident in handicap games, especially high handicap games where the player with the black stones starts with an enormous advantage but feels like the white stones are invincible. No matter how isolated or surrounded by black stones, a white stone just seems inherently strong and dangerous. “The white stones never die” is a saying familiar to weaker players. I’m not sure that this ever goes away completely, though players who are especially successful with Black may feel differently. The fact that AlphaGo won slightly more often with White than with Black when playing itself makes many feel that part of the problem is that the komi has gotten to be too large. At any rate, this is not a real problem in enjoying the game, but it would be nice if we could at least sometimes in life try a policy of Black goes first.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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