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The Power Report (3): Kim wins TV Asia; Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match

Tuesday June 12, 2018

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

Kim wins TV Asia: The 30th TV Asia Cup was held at the Mayfield Hotel & Resort in Seoul from May 1 to 4. The tournament was won by Kim Ji-seok 9P of Korea; he beat last year’s winner, Na Hyeon 9P, also of Korea, in the final. Kim has long been one of the top players in Korea, but this is only his second international victory, following on his win in the 19thSamsung Cup in 2014. First prize is 2,500,00 yen (about $23,000).
Results follow (I don’t have full details for some of the games).
Round 1. (May 1) Kim Ji-seok 9P (Korea) beat Fan Yunruo 6P (China); Park Junghwan 9P (Korea) (B) beat Shida Tatsuya 7P (Japan) by resig.; (May 2) Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (W) beat Iyama Yuta 9P (Japan) by resig.
Round 2. (May 2) Kim beat Park; (May 3) Na Hyeon 8P (Korea) beat Fan.
Final (May 4) Kim (W) beat Na by 2.5 points.

Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match: The 73rd Honinbo 2018.06.12_73honninnbo2 Nijocastletitle match got off to a start in mid-May. Iyama Yuta, also known as Honinbo Monyu, has held the title for six years in a row. A successful defence will bring him level with Sakata Eio for the third best winning streak in this title (Cho Chikun won ten in a row and Takagawa Shukaku nine). Hoping to stand in Iyama’s way is the challenger, Yamashita Keigo, who held the title for two terms before losing it to Iyama. Yamashita has not won a top-seven title since 2012, which will give him added motivation. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, which led to the opening up of Japan to the world and the beginning of its rise to major-power status. This year some of the playing venues are being selected with that in mind. The first game was played at the Meirin Gakusha in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on May 15 and 16. 2018.06.12_73honinbo2 L Yamashita R IyamaHagi was the main city of the Choshu clan, one of the four “outside” clans (that is, not allied with Tokugawa Ieyasu when he founded the Tokugawa regime) that played a major role in bringing about the restoration. The Meirin Gakusha is an elementary school that was built on the site of a school for the children of clan leaders called Meirinkan. It is associated with some of the intellectual leaders of the restoration movement. The elementary school was closed four years ago, and the building became a tourist site, with historical displays and a museum.2018.06.12_73honinbo3 L Yamashita R Iyama
Yamashita drew black in the nigiri. The game featured complicated fighting from early on. Although Iyama played skillfully in rescuing some groups that had come under severe pressure, Yamashita used his attack to take a very small lead. He wavered a little in the endgame, but managed to hang on and score a half-point win. This loss put an end to Iyama’s winning streak in title matches of 17 games (he just failed to match his personal record of 18).
2018.06.12_73honinbo3b IyamaThe second game (above) was played in the Nijo Castle in Kyoto (Kyoto is one of the few Japanese cities laid out as a grid; Nijo, which runs from east to west, means Second Avenue). The castle was built in 1603 for the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu, and was used by shoguns visiting Kyoto. Moreover, the famous castle games were played at the Nijo Castle until 1626. The Honinbo title-match game was set up as a recreation of the castle games. It was played on May 23 and 24 in the main audience room. The mayor of Kyoto took the place of the shogun, sitting in an elevated part of the room where the shogun would sit. The players, dressed Japanese style, played in the lower part of the room. (Later in the game, they changed to suits and moved to an ordinary playing room.)
The game started out with Iyama (left), playing black, taking territory and Yamashita building a moyo. Initially, play was more peaceful than in the first game, but fierce fighting started as Iyama moved into White’s moyo. Iyama took the lead, putting so much pressure on Yamashita that he had to play riskily. Eventually, White lost a group and resigned after 171 moves.
The third game (middle right) was played in the former Japanese restaurant Kaneyu (left) in Noshiro City, Akita Prefecture on June 2, 3. The name of the venue may seem a little strange. It’s an historical building which formerly housed a Japanese restauran2018.06.12_73honinbo3 venue Kaneyut; when that went out of business, it was donated to Noshiro City, which uses it as a tourist attraction. (It has no connection with the Meiji Restoration, having been built in 1890 and rebuilt in its present form in 1937.) This game was played on a Saturday and a Sunday, which in one way might seem natural but is actually very unusual. Taking white, Iyama forced a resignation after 244 moves, so he now leads the match 2-1. The fourth game, which is scheduled for June 12 and 13, will be crucial for Yamashita. If Iyama wins, the match could be over very quickly, so Yamashita’s good start would go to waste.

Part 3 of 4; tomorrow:  Korea wins Tiantai Mountain Cup; Kyo wins Gratitude Cup; Kyo to challenge for Gosei; Xie to challenge for Hollyhock Cup

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The Power Report (2): Kisei S League starts; Xu of China wins Globis Cup; Yo keeps Honinbo seat; Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei

Monday June 11, 2018

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

Kisei S League starts: The S League of the 43rd Kisei tournament got off to a start on April 19, with all six members in action. This is a small league, so it’s important not to stumble at the beginning.
Results to date:
(April 19) Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.; Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 7P (B) beat Takao Shinji 9P by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Ichiriki Ryo 8P by resig.
(May 10) Kyo (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Yamashita (B) beat Kono by resig.2018.06.11_5globis Xu trophy
(May 24) Takao (W) beat Ichiriki by resig.
The last game above completed the second round. Yamashita and Kyo have made good starts with two wins each, but the previous challenger, Ichiriki, has got off to a disastrous start with two losses.

Xu of China wins Globis Cup: The 5th Globis Cup was held on the Tokyo campus of the Globis Management Graduate School from April 20 to 22. In the final (left), the 18-year-old Xu Jiayang 6P (right) of China beat the 19-year-old Shin Minjun 7P of Korea. Playing white, Xu won 2018.06.11_5globis final Xu R, Shin Lby 1.5 points. He earned a prize of 3,000,000 yen (about $27,700). The best results for the host country were the quarterfinal places earned by Fujisawa Rina 3P and Yo Chito 4P. Fujisawa picked up a win over Xie Ke 5P of China; taking black, she won by resignation. The 18-year-old Xie is a formidable player, having recently challenged (though unsuccessfully) for the Chinese Tianyuan title and having reached the best eight in the Chunlan Cup, so Fujisawa had reason to be pleased with her win. Actually this was her 50thwin as a 3-dan, so it earned her promotion to 4-dan. In the quarterfinals, she was eliminated by Shin Jinseo 8-dan, winner of the previous Globis Cup.

Yo keeps Honinbo seat: The second play-off to decide who would be the fourth player to retain his seat in the Honinbo League for the upcoming 74thterm was held on April 23. Taking white, Yo Seiki 7P beat Ida Atsushi by 1.5 points. This was Yo’s fourth Honinbo league but the first time he kept his place. Ida had started off with four straight wins and looked a good bet to become the challenger, but, including his two play-off games, he then lost five in a row. This is not often mentioned, but membership of a league will earn you enough in game fees, win or lose, to secure your livelihood for the year, so league seats are very valuable.

Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei: The 4th Japan-China Ryusei play-off was held in Beijing on April 29. Shibano Toramaru 7P (Japan) (W) beat Ke Jie 9P (China), at present the world’s number two, by resig. This is Japan’s first win in this play-off. Although the 18-year old Shibano is a rising star in Japan, probably not many fans expected him to win this game. It’s undoubtedly the biggest win of his career so far. Shibano’s results in April had not been very good. He commented: “I was not expecting much from this game. That may, on the contrary, have been good, as I was relaxed.” First prize was 3,000,000 yen (about $27,500).

Part 2 of 4; tomorrow: Kim wins TV Asia; Iyama takes lead in Honinbo title match

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The Power Report (1): Kobayashi Koichi receives decoration; Go Seigen Cup; Cho U retains sole lead in Meijin League

Sunday June 10, 2018

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

Kobayashi Koichi receives decoration: In the spring honors list, announced on April 28, Kobayashi Koichi became the 27th go player to receive a decoration from the Japanese government, being awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon. Aged 65, Kobayashi holds three honorary titles, the Kisei, Meijin, and Gosei. He was a late starter, not winning his first big-three title, the Meijin, until he was 33, but he went on to win 60 titles, including the Kisei eight years in a row, the Meijin seven years in a row, eight times in all, and the Gosei six years in a row, nine times in all. His only major failure was not winning the Honinbo title, despite challenging three years in a row.

Go Seigen Cup: The first Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen) Cup World Women’s Championship is a new tournament for woman players founded by Fuzhou City in Fujian Province in honor of its most famous son, at least in the go world. The rounds up to the final were held from April 26 to May 1. Twenty-eight players took part; of these eight were from Europe and American and they played a preliminary round, with the top four entering the main tournament. This was an irregular knock-out with five rounds, but with eight players seeded into the second round. The finalists are two Korean players, Kim Chaeyoung 3P and Choi Jeong 9P. The final will be held in July. Four Japanese players took part. Two reached the quarterfinals, but were eliminated there. However, Ueno Asami 2P will probably remember fondly her win against Rui Naiwei 9P.

Cho U retains sole lead in Meijin League: Some important games have been played in the 43rdMeijin League since my last report. The results are given below.
(April 16) Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. Yo raised his score to 2-3 and Murakawa dropped to 1-4.
(April 26) Takao Shinji 9P (W) beat Shibano Toramaru 7P by resig. This was Shibano’s first loss; he lost his chance of drawing level with the league leader, Cho U, who was in lone first place with 4-0. Two players followed him with just one loss: Shibano and Hane Naoki 9P, both on 3-1.
(May 3) Cho (B) beat Shibano by resig.; Kono Rin 9P (B) beat Yo by resig.
(May 10) Murakawa (B) beat Takao by 2.5 points.
(May 24) Hane (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. This game concluded the 6th(May) round. Cho U keeps the lead, on 5-0, with Hane in second place on 4-1. They are followed by two players on 3-2, Kono and Shibano. At present, it seems likely one of these four will be the challenger; the only other player theoretically still in the running is Yamashita on 2-3.

Part 1 of 4; tomorrow: Kisei S League starts; Xu of China wins Globis Cup; Yo keeps Honinbo seat; Shibano wins Japan-China Ryusei

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The Janice Kim Files: The good, the bad and the switcheroo

Sunday June 10, 2018

by Janice Kim 3p2018.04.08-janiceKim

Bill Cobb’s Philosophical Reflections on Go #6 reminded me of the time I asked my teacher Jeong Soo-hyun 9 dan, “Is this move good?”

“If you thought about it, it’s good,” was the reply.

Despite his chuckle, this isn’t just a funny mystical non-answer by a sage. It was much later, looking at Lee Chang-ho’s endgame books, that it occurred to me that you can’t say if a mov2018.06.01_janice-kim-examplee is good or bad without knowing the territory count. In fact, it can switch from good to bad in a way that’s easy to see.

Have a look at the example. We’ve heard that the clamp at ‘A’ is bad, because it loses sente. But what if there isn’t another place to use your sente? Say, there’s an even number of one-point gote moves left. Then the clamp is one point more than the hane at A, and it can be the one-point difference between winning and losing. Try to confirm this for yourself. Maybe I’m wrong.

I hope you have more of a life than I do, to find it earth-shattering on a personal level that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can’t be judged independently, but could depend on whether there is an even or odd number of endgame moves. No formula, guideline, proverb required though, you can just see it. While you’re playing. Reading about as complicated as two dance moves, which foot do you end on? A little taste of what it’s like to be on the cosmic stage and be a cat in a box, or an electron in an unknown location. Almost like when I took a few young Korean go professionals to see a Foucault’s pendulum, stomped my foot on the ground, and said, “The Earth is moving.” You should have seen their faces.

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 18: Complicated attack and defense

Sunday May 27, 2018

Game 18 of the AlphaGo self-played series “starts with a big fight on the right side but you won’t be sure which side is 2018.05.25_AG-Game18-thumbnailattacking and which side is defending,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his latest AlphaGo video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock. “It’s very complicated, and about a quarter of the board for each side dies.” “Another absolutely beautiful game and awesome review,” says viewer GerSHAK. “Excellent,” adds hippophile. “The game was surprisingly easy to follow for AG vs AG, good choice!”

[link]

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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #7

Monday May 21, 2018

by William Cobb2018.05.21_empty-go-board-blurred

“Blitz” games are an interesting phenomenon in the go world, often played at ten seconds per move. They do count as go games since they follow the rules of the game, but to me, they’re about as appealing as playing blindfolded (although I have heard of one guy  who plays amazing well blindfolded). Actually, blitz games are not that different from playing blindfolded. Although you can do a bit of analysis in a few seconds, you certainly can’t see most of what is going on in the game. Since you don’t have time to think, except in a very superficial way, there are inevitably a lot of bad moves, although I suspect a stronger player would usually beat a weaker one. And you can’t deny that such a game can generate a lot of excitement—sort of like a dog fight. So I can see why some people like to play blitz games. So-called trick moves should be very effective. However, it seems a way to create a lot of bad habits since the results would generally just be a function of luck, instead of superior understanding, strategy, and analysis. Trying to figure out what is happening and how to best counter your opponent’s moves is what makes go such an engrossing game. If you minimize that intellectual challenge, I would think the game would soon become boring. I suppose there are times when you are too tired to really play the game but would like to have something to do. Maybe the people who play blitz games are just exhausted or bored and looking for a little easy stimulation. Are there ever blitz tournaments? You could play a lot of rounds in a day.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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AlphaGo Zero vs. Master with Michael Redmond 9p: Game 9

Saturday May 19, 2018

After a brief hiatus, Michael Redmond 9p, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, returns with a review of the dramatic 2018.05.19_zero-master9ninth game of the AlphaGo Zero vs. Master series. “It’s a bit of an odd game 2018.05.19_zero-master9-redmond-garlockthat follows a pattern in these Master-Zero games,” says Redmond, “in which Master makes a big moyo and Zero takes all the territory, and in this game they really take this pattern to an extreme. Master’s got a huge moyo and it can score a big win if it can just make it into actual territory.” The game also features the large high shimari, which AlphaGo has made popular, as well as the early 3-3 invasion.

[link]

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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #6

Monday May 14, 2018

by William Cobb2018.05.14_empty-go-board-polar-coordinates

As go players, we cannot say whether playing the game is itself good or bad. We can only say whether particular moves in particular games are good or bad.  To make judgments of what’s “good” or “bad” you have to have a context which provides criteria for making such judgments. Sports in general are a good analogy for making this point clear. Not just any toss of the ball can be called good in baseball. So what about human actions in general? To make such judgments you must have a set of rules and in particular a clearly specified overall goal in which the rules are determined. Unfortunately, there is no general agreement about the ultimate goal of life. Insofar as that is the case some suggest we would be better off not judging good and bad. Of course, people often set certain goals and are then able to determine what’s good and bad in relation to those goals. But how can they be sure those goals are in fact “good”? In order to say a particular move in a go game is good you have to assume a view of the nature of the game. But to justify playing the game as a good thing you have to appeal to something outside the game. So a question is how to deal with people who show no interest in playing go. Just saying they should play because it’s fun or interesting doesn’t seem adequate somehow. We can try to find some value we do share with them and to convince them that playing go will promote that value. Japanese efforts to show that playing go can diminish the effects of dementia are an interesting example of this. The Japanese go community also believes that playing go can promote world peace; hard not to approve of that.  Another interesting example is some of the claims that are made about the value of teaching groups of children to play. Go is certainly a very special game. We’d like to say it makes you a better person.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

 

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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #5

Monday May 7, 2018

by William Cobb2018.04.07_empty-board-heat map-red

I hope at least some of my readers felt at least a slight twinge at the statement in the last Empty Board (#4): “the player’s ultimate goal, which is of course to win.” If you are talking about the making of decisions about good and bad moves, the criterion is how the move relates to the goal of winning (except in teaching games), but for many players, it is misleading to suggest that they play the game in order to win. Certainly there is a sense in which you are trying to win, but I don’t think I’m the only player who would say that some of my most enjoyable games have been losses. I like to play the game, not just win the game. If we are talking about why we play, it seems more accurate to say that we play to enjoy the amazing challenges of trying to find the best strategy and plays, which may or may not result in our winning. So there are two somewhat different senses in which good and bad come up in go:  1) does this play contribute to victory? and (2) am I enjoying playing this game? This distinction surely applies in life as well. In life, as in go, it’s fairly easy to answer the second question. In life, however, the first question is very difficult to answer with confidence. You decide to play go, so you have some sense of what you are doing and why, but you don’t decide to be born. Maybe if we had a chance to play the game of life more than once, we could figure out what it is all about. In the meantime I recommend trying to play go more often.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #4

Tuesday May 1, 2018

by William Cobb2018.05.02_empty-board-kaleidoscope

Decisions about good and bad moves have a big role in go. It’s often not that easy to determine, but a move either promotes or hinders the achievement of the player’s ultimate goal, which is of course to win.  Whether playing the game is good or bad is a different issue. To decide that you have to appeal to some goal independent of the game. This is a way in which go is not so much like life. Not because life situations are more complicated, but because the ultimate goal or purpose of life is much more difficult to determine. So deciding what is good and bad in life is much more difficult. As a result there is a lot of muddling through and a lot of just following along. That’s why in most cases we just don’t think about this very much. But if you want to be able to feel more confident about making decisions about good and bad in life, you will have to make an effort to determine what the goal of life is. Nevertheless, playing go can be very relaxing and comforting. It’s nice not to have to worry about what we are really up to.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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