American Go E-Journal » Events/Tournaments

Go Congress Evening League Melds Self-Paired and Midnight Madness, Welcomes Local Players

Sunday July 31, 2016

While this year’s U.S. Go Congress in Boston includes many longtime traditional events like the U.S. Open, Lightning Go and pro lectures, it also offers some new events. The Evening League combines the community and competition of the Midnight Madness tournament and the flexibility of the Self-Paired. “The Evening League is all about fostering competitive spirit in a straightforward and transparent format,” says TD Andrew Hall (photo). Perhaps most important, this is the first year that the Go Congress is offering evening passes to enable local players who cannot attend during the day to have a chance to play some competitive rated games while the Congress is in town.IMG_0403

Imagine a ladder. The first night of the tournament (Sunday night beginning at 7p), players will be placed in positions from the top of the ladder to the bottom in the order they register for the tournament. During the tournament, players on the ladder challenge other players who occupy higher spots. If the challenger wins, they take the defeated opponent’s ladder position and everyone else moves down one spot. The tournament will be handicapped at handicap-2, all games will be rated, and results will be updated and projected real time during the evening rounds. These live TD-facilitated sessions, every evening from 7pm to midnight, are designed to give sense of physical place and the competitive spirit provided by a tournament, but players are not restricted to scheduled play. They may play games using tournament time settings with opponents anytime during the day, much as they did in the Self-Paired. Players record the results and the date and time of the game, and these results are input into the ladder every evening at 5pm in time for that evening’s ladder to be updated with the day’s results. That evening, players continue challenging and moving up (or down) the current ladder. Players do not need to play every evening; those who do not show up to an evening round are dropped from the ladder, but can join the ladder again when they want to play, and even challenge to reclaim their previous spot. Prizes may be won in the form of individual prizes inspired by the self-paired prizes of years past, but also through achievements that are attainable by multiple players.

The Evening League provides a structured opportunity for the local go community and Go Congress attendees to mingle and compete. “It’s king of the hill style; you play to climb the ladder and defend your space at the top!” says Hall.
- Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison for the E-Journal; photo: Hall shows off Evening League playing space in main playing area in Boston University’s George Sherman Union; photo by Chris Garlock

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Standing Room Only for Young AGA Professionals

Sunday July 31, 2016

Eric LuiSunday afternoon at the U.S. Go Congress featured an unusual line-up; three homegrown American professionals conducted game reviews in Boston University’s George Sherman Union. The newest pro, Eric Lui (right), a 1 dan professional as of January this year, is soft-spoken but the room full of players hung on his every word. “Who thinks black is better? Raise your hand,” asked Lui, who was reviewing a game for Ken Koester 1d. They were discussing a sequence in the corner, ending with a liberty race in the top left. “So, it seems like Black has too many liberties [so white can’t live],” explained Lui.

Andy LiuAt the same time, Andy Liu (left), 1 dan professional, was lecturing to a room so packed that many couldn’t even get in the door. “The key to being stronger is you must, at all costs, avoid playing in the ‘red’ (or low-percentage) areas,” he told the audience, sprawled on the floor and spilling out the door. Although he was  reviewing his recent game with Lee Sedol from the Ing Cup, Liu seemed more focused on explaining the paradigm shift in measuring playing strength with the success of AlphaGo. Each point on the board has a probability distribution of how good a move it is. In the opening, most of the moves are green (i.e., having normal distributions), particularly on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th lines. You shouldn’t spend a lot of time on the opening, Liu advised, “Don’t sweat it… Don’t try to look for outliers when there are none.” Instead you should spend time when the distribution is skewed: when one move is green, and all the rest are red. How do you know what Calvin Sunareas are red and green? It’s not that easy, according to Liu. He doesn’t know and no pro does. Their play isn’t perfect. That’s why AlphaGo is so exciting; it sees these distributions. “AlphaGo has called humanity out,” Liu said, saying that now top professionals are being forced to become stronger.

Calvin Sun, 1 dan professional (right), followed his young colleagues at 3pm. His fans, sitting in the front row, were multitasking by listening and watching games on KGS. Sun, reviewing a game, spoke quietly, “This is pretty good for you. It’s joseki but nowadays white doesn’t really play this because black gets sente.” His review, targeted at 1 kyu – 3 dan players, involved discussion of different joseki variations and when to not follow the joseki.
- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress  

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Why We Play: Alexandra Patz 13k, Lee Schumacher 1D

Sunday July 31, 2016

Alexandra Patz 13k
Age: 43Alexandra Patz
Lives in: New York, NY, originally from South Africa
Years playing go: 5 years, but learned almost 20 years ago and took a break
Favorite thing about go: Alexandra likes how stimulating go is for the brain. “Very engaging,” she explained. When asked if she plays other brain games, she says, “It’s really just go, I tried chess as I child, I never really liked it, I never learned bridge. I lived in Japan for a year, so I became interested in Japanese culture. And when I moved back to South Africa, I joined a go club there.” 2016.07.31_lee-schumacherShe’s also fascinated by AlphaGo, and the deep learning involved. “[Go] is an amazing community, too,” she adds, “Clever people.”

Lee Schumacher 1D
Years playing go: Since the age of 13
Lives in: California
Favorite thing about go: “The focus, the immersion.”

- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress  

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Canwa Vancouver 1 defeats Greater Washington 3-0 to win 2016 Pandanet City League

Sunday July 31, 2016

The Canwa 2016.07.30_city-league-champsVancouver 1 team prevailed in the finals of the Pandanet AGA City League, played Saturday in Boston, MA as the 2016 US Go Congress got underway. Vancouver — Hanchen Zhang, Bill Lin, Ryan Li 2016.07.30_city-league-greater-dcand captain Cathy Li  (photo at right) — swept 3-0, overcoming a strong challenge from the Greater Washington team (left; Zirui Tim Song, Eric Lui, Yuan Zhou and captain I-Han Lui) which has now challenged for the title the last two years. Board 1 was broadcast live on the AGA YouTube Channel with Hanchen Zhang 1p vs Zirui Tim Song 1p. Ryan Li defeated Eric Lui on Board 2 and Bill Lin defeated Yuan Zhou on Board 3. Photos of the event can be found on the AGA Facebook page.
- Steve Colburn, TD; photos by Todd Heidenreich

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Huge Audience Turns Out for AlphaGo Keynote at U.S. Go Congress

Saturday July 30, 2016

With over 600 signed up, this year’s U.S. Go Congress in Boston has the most registrants in the 32-year history of the2016.07.30_aja-huang event and it seemed as though just about every one of them was crowded into the main playing area in Boston University’s George Sherman Union Saturday night as AlphaGo’s Aja Huang 7d gave the keynote address, along with Fan Hui 2P. The audience was spellbound as the two gave a fascinating insider’s look at the two-year development of the AI program that decisively defeated Lee Sedol last March and attracted global attention to the game of go.

Huang (right) gave an overview of how AlphaGo started in 2014 as a 2-man project as he and David Silver worked to explore deep learning and reinforcement learning with computer go. (Click here to see the video of the keynote speech) The policy network trained by supervised learning was developed by Chris Maddison and the team realized significant improvement in the latter half of 2014 by combining the policy network into AlphaGo. While the details are fully explained in the team’s Nature paper, Huang shared personal stories like how Fan Hui was chosen to test the program. “I 2016.07.30_fan-huisaw him at a tournament in Dublin and the top Korean players were all going out to drink the night before the tournament but he said no, he couldn’t go because he had to prepare for the games, so I knew he was very serious,” Huang laughed.

Fan Hui (left) said that he almost missed the invitation to visit the DeepMind team in London because it seemed a bit odd and he thought “it might just be spam.” In fact, “when I heard it was Google, I assumed they would be hooking me up with something like Google Glass, so when I found out they just wanted me to play a computer program I was so relieved and thought Oh, this will be easy.” In perhaps the most poignant story of the evening, Fan Hui took the rapt audience through his five secret games with AlphaGo in Fall 2015, losing every game until at the end, “my game was crushed and I thought I now knew nothing about go.” Out of those defeats, however, Fan Hui discovered even greater depths, not just to go itself, but to his own fascination and love of the game. “What AlphaGo teaches us is that you can play anywhere,” he said, as the audience erupted in applause.

After their presentation, the two took questions from the audience, many of whom wanted to know things like when an 2016.07.30_alphago-team-awardAlphaGoBot on KGS will be available and whether a strong version of the program would be available in the near future for desktops or handhelds. Most were answered cryptically with “Under discussion,” but in response to a question about how strong AlphaGo is today, Huang — who had earlier showed a graph charting improvement of one rank a month — did say that it was possible that the program could now give a professional two stones, but that this has not yet been tested. He also said that commentaries will be released soon on all five AlphaGo-Lee Sedol games, as well as three games between AlphaGo v18 (the version that played Lee Sedol).

Longtime International Go Federation and American Go Association official Thomas Hsiang presented Huang and Fan with a special award from the International Go Federation to the AlphaGo team “in appreciation for its outstanding contribution towards the development and promotion of go.”
- Chris Garlock; photos by Phil Straus
Click here to see the complete video of the keynote speechRead more about AlphaGo here and check out all our AI posts here.

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Michael Redmond 9P on Pro Pair Go Tsumego 5 (Answer)

Saturday July 30, 2016

[link]

Presented here is the answer to the 5th tsumego from Michael Redmond 9P’s coverage of the challenging tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament.

The author of this tsumego is Ohashi Hirofumi 6P.

Michael adds some clarifications about the multiple correct variations for this problem:
Despite what I said in my comments about tsumego 3, in this 5th tsumego White has a number of choices for variations to get a direct ko. There are differences such as size of territory when White lives, and whether Black gets to play the outside connection in the process, which would be important in an actual game, but not in a tsumego. Such an abundance of correct variations is generally considered a flaw, but in my opinion the high level of difficulty and the beauty of some of the variations makes it a worthy tsumego anyway. I must add that all the choices are for White several moves into the correct answer, and since Black has only one correct sequence, by the strict rules of tsumego it is a valid problem.

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Pandanet City League Finals live!

Saturday July 30, 2016

pandalogo-4885cf7392ac5bc75a68d553b7287b04The Pandanet AGA City League Finals will be broadcast shortly on Pandanet at 3PM EST. Games will be in the Main Room under the accounts for AGACL1, AGACL2, and AGACL3. The matchups will be:

AGACL1: Hanchen Zhang vs Zirui Tim Song
AGACL2: Ryan Li vs Eric Lui
AGACL3: Bill Lin vs Yuan Zhou

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Michael Redmond 9P on Pro Pair Go Tsumego 5

Saturday July 30, 2016

[link]

Presented here is the 5th tsumego from Michael Redmond 9P’s coverage of the challenging tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament. Michael gives the detailed solution tomorrow.

The author of this tsumego is Ohashi Hirofumi 6P.

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US Go Congress Broadcast Schedule: Sat 7/30 & Sun 7/31

Friday July 29, 2016

In addition to broadcasting US Open Masters top-board games on KGS as usual, the E-Journal broadcasting team will 2016.07.29_kgsagain this year video stream the US Open Masters top board on both the AGA’s YouTube and Twitch channels (check out the video trailer here, both with live commentaries by professionals. Plus a couple extras as well…

Here’s the tentative line-up for this weekend’s broadcasts (plus a reminder of Saturday’s AlphaGo keynote), subject to change (we’ll keep you posted on Facebook and Twitter).

Saturday, 3:30P EST: AGA City League Finals
Pandanet
YouTube/Twitch: Jennie Shen 2P, with Andrew Jackson 4d2016.07.29_alphago

Saturday, 7p: Congress Opening Ceremony & Keynote Speeches by AlphaGo’s Aja Huang & Fan Hui 2P

Sunday morning, 9:30a EST: US Open Masters Game 1
KGS: Jenny Shen 2P, with Andrew Jackson 4d
YouTube/Twitch: Hajin Lee 3P, with Stephen Hu 6d

Sunday afternoon, 3:30p EST: Redmond Cup Game 12016.07.29_youtube
YouTube/Twitch: Jennie Shen 2p with Lionel Zhang 7d

Sunday evening, 7:30P EST: US Open Masters Game 2 
KGS: Feng Yun 9P, with Chris Garlock 3d
YouTube/Twitch: Hajin Lee 3P, with Stephen Hu 6d

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Michael Redmond 9P on Pro Pair Go Tsumego 4 (Answer)

Friday July 29, 2016

[link]

Presented here is the answer to the 4th tsumego from Michael Redmond 9P’s coverage of the challenging tsumego problems featured at the 2016 pro pair go tournament.

Michael mentions that the author of this tsumego, Oba Junya 7P, is well known for his pro level tsumego problems.

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