American Go E-Journal » Columns

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.

 

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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.”

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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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The Power Report (2): Komatsu wins Samsung seat; Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; 42nd Kisei tournament; Yoda scores 1,100 wins

Tuesday July 18, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.07.18_Komatsu Hideki

Komatsu wins Samsung seat: The international preliminary tournament for the 22nd Samsung Cup was held in Korea from June 28 to July 3. Twenty-seven players from Japan took part in the various categories. The only successful player was Komatsu Hideki 9P (right), who scored five successive wins in the Senior division and gained a seat in the main tournament. He was also successful in the preliminary in 2012 and 2013. The main tournament begins on September 5. Seeded for Japan are Iyama Yuta and Yamashita Keigo.

2017.07.18_Rina wins SenkoFujisawa wins Senko Cup: The semifinals in the 2nd Senko Cup were played in Akekure (Dawn and Dusk), a high-class Japanese inn, on July 14. Xie Yimin (B) beat Nyu Eiko 1P by 4.5 points and Fujisawa Rina (W, left) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by 3.5 points. The final was played on July 16 at the same venue. Taking white, Fujisawa Rina made a blunder, but she fought on and recovered and in the end won by 2.5 points. She won this title for the first time and now has four women’s titles. Overall, she has now won six titles and is still only 18 (her birthday is on September 18).

42nd Kisei tournament: The first game in the third round of the S League was played on July 6. Cho U 9P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point. The other two games were played on July 13. Kono Rin 9P (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig. and Ichiriki Ryo 7P (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resig. After three rounds, Ichiriki, as the only undefeated player, has the sole lead. Two players are on 2-1: (in order of rank) Kono and Cho U. Yamashita and Murakawa are on 1-2 and So is on 0-3. In a game in the A League, played on June 29, Yoda Yorimoto (W) beat Kyo Kagen by 2.5 points (see next item). Kyo still has the provisional lead on 5-1, but he has the lowest rank, that is, equal 7th in an eight-player league. Yoda and Takao Shinji Meijin are tied on 4-1 and, being more highly ranked, are threats to Kyo. Cho Chikun on 4-2 is also theoretically in the running for first place.

Yoda scores 1,100 wins: The above win against Kyo was Yoda’s 1,100th as a pro. He has 572 losses, two jigos, two no-results. He is the 12th Nihon Ki-in player to reach this landmark, and his winning percentage of 65 is the 6th best. At 51 years four months, he is the third youngest, and, at 37 years two months, the 4th quickest.

Promotion
To 8-dan: Kanagawa Masaki (150 wins, as of June 20)

Tomorrow: Fujii Sota sets new record

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The Power Report (1): Iyama makes good start in Gosei defence; Fujisawa Rins wins Aizu Central Hospital Cup; 42nd Meijin League

Monday July 17, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.07.17_42gosei1_4

Iyama makes good start in Gosei defence: The first game of the 42nd Gosei best-of-five title match was held at the Matsushima Ichi-no-bo, a mixed Japanese- and Western-style hotel in Matsushima Town in Miyagi Prefecture on June 22. It was one of the events celebrating the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Kahoku Shinpo, a Sendai newspaper belonging to the Newspaper Go Federation, a group of regional newspapers that sponsor the tournament. Taking white, Iyama Yuta (right) held the initiative for much of the game and forced the challenger Yamashita Keigo 9P to resign after 190 moves. This is a good start to Iyama’s attempt to win his sixth successive Gosei title.
The second game will be held on July 19. The gap of four weeks was obviously left to fit in some Honinbo games; by finishing off that title match with straight wins, Iyama earned himself some valuable rest time (each two-day game takes four days when travel time is included).

Fujisawa Rins wins Aizu Central Hospital Cup: Fujisawa Rina 3-dan won the third game of the 4th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup title match to take the title for the second time. Winning it this year shows good timing, as the title has just switched to the challenger system. Fujisawa will meet a challenger in title match next year instead of starting out in the final knockout section of the tournament. The third game was held at the Nihon Ki-in headquarters in Tokyo on June 23. Xie Yimin drew black in the nigiri. Xie set up a large moyo, and when Fujisawa set out to reduce it, her invading group came under severe attack. This fight was so big that it decided the game. When Fujisawa cleverly made life for her group, Xie had to resign just 120 moves into the game. This match was a clash between the two players holding all the women’s titles. Xie held the Senko Cup, the Women’s Kisei, and this title, while Fujisawa held the Women’s Meijin and Honinbo titles. With this win, giving her three titles to Xie’s two, Fujisawa established herself as the top woman player.
Prize money for the women’ titles is: Senko Cup: 8,000,000 yen; Hollyhock Cup: 7,000,000; Women’s Honinbo: 5,500,000; Women’s Kisei: 5,000,000; Women’s Meijin: 3,500,000.

42nd Meijin League: In a game held on June 22, Cho U 9P (B) defeated Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 4.5 points. This took Cho’s score to 3-4; as he is ranked #4, his chances of retaining his league seat have improved. On July 10, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. and Yo Seiki 7P (B) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by resig. As he has a bye in the final rounds, Yamashita has finished his games; on 5-3 he is sure of retaining his place but has no chance of challenging. Yo has improved his score to 3-4, after starting with three losses; his last game is against Iyama Yuta – if he wins that, he has a chance of keeping his place. League leader is Iyama on 6-0, two wins clear of the field.
On July 6, Hane Naoki 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resignation. Hane is on 2-5, so this win may have come too late for him to retain his seat. Kono Rin is 3-4, so he has a better chance.

Tomorrow: Komatsu wins Samsung seat; Fujisawa wins Senko Cup; 42nd Kisei tournament; Yoda scores 1,100 wins

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Power Report: Iyama defends Honinbo title; 42nd Kisei S League; Yamashiro reaches 1,200 wins; Aizu Central Hospital final tied

Friday June 23, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.06.23_72honinbo4_2

Iyama defends Honinbo title: 
The fourth game of the 72nd Honinbo title match was played at the Sun Great Miyako culture hall in the town of Miyako, Fukuoka Prefecture on June 15 and 16. Taking white, Iyama Yuta (Honinbo Monyu) convincingly outplayed the challenger, Motoki Katsuya 8P, and secured a resignation after 204 moves. Iyama thus won the match 4-0 and defended his title. This is his sixth Honinbo title in a row. Iyama took the lead in the first fight of the game and fended off Motoki’s efforts to catch up. It was a disappointing series for Motoki, who still hasn’t picked up a win over Iyama in any tournament. After the game, Motoki commented; “I felt there was a gap between us. My task now is to try to narrow it as much as I can.” The commentator for the Mainichi Newspaper, Kobayashi Satoru 9P, commented: “This is the best Iyama has playd for several years.” You could say that Motoki was unlucky in running into Iyama in his title-match debut, but then it’s hard not to, with Iyama holding six of the seven big titles. One of the advantages of finishing off the series early for Iyama is that he’ll get extra rest time, though his next big game comes with less than a week’s break: his Gosei defence against Yamashiro Keigo starts on June 22.

42nd Kisei S League: Two games were played in the top Kisei league on June 15. Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo by resig,; Murakawa Daisuke 8P (B) beat So Yokoku 9P by resig. On 2-0, Ichiriki is the only undefeated player. Kono Rin 9P, Yamashita, Murakawa, and Cho U 9P are all on 1-1, and So Yokoku is on 0-2.

2017.06.23_Yamashiro vs FukuiYamashiro reaches 1,200 wins: Yet another player has reached the landmark of 1,200 wins. In a game in Preliminary B of the Ryusei tournament, played on June 12, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (formerly of the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in, but now affiliated with the Tokyo headquarters to make it easier to c2017.06.23_Xie wins game 2opy with his duties as vice president of the Nihon Ki-in) beat Fukui Masaaki 9P to score his 1,200th win. He has 616 losses and 7 jigos, for a winning percentage of 65.8. He is the eighth player to reach this landmark (four days after Yuki Satoshi); he is 58 years ten months, so it took him 45 years two months.

Aizu Central Hospital final tied: Two games in the best-of-three final of the 4th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup were held in mid-June at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Wakamatsu City. On June 16, Fujisawa Rina (B) won the first game by resignation, but in the second game, played two days later, Xie Yimin (right) fought back to win by 4.5 points. That makes a third game necessary; it will be played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on June 23.

Correction
“Hunglong” in my previous report was a mistake for “Huanglong.” I believe that a fussy spell-checker is responsible, but I should have caught it.

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