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Euro Go Congress Updates: Zen Defeats Top Pro Cho Hye-Yeon 9P; 2017 Congress Confirmed for Turkey; Morozevich Bests Hillarp Persson in Go/Chess Match

Thursday July 28, 2016

Zen Defeats Top Pro Cho Hye-Yeon 9P: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 became another historic date in the rapidly-2016.07.28_Cho Hyeyeon 9p vs Zendeveloping history of computer go. Cho Hye-Yeon 9P, one of the strongest female players in the world, lost to the go playing program Zen in a two-stone handicap game. Unlike AlphaGo, which only a select few have had the chance to play, Zen bots can be easily found at KGS go server and have been seen in many computer go tournaments. Cho Hye-Yeon tried to play an active fighting style against Zen but the program calmly brought in the 1.5-point win. Click here for a video of the Cho Hye-Yeon game and her comments.

2016.07.28_egc-turkey2017 Congress Confirmed for Turkey: Next year’s European Go Congress will go ahead as planned in Cappadocia, Turkey, despite concerns in the wake of recent attacks, the attempted coup and its aftermath. Turkish representatives received support from other countries’ representatives at the July 26 European Go Federation meeting, so it was decided not to change the location of the venue, a UNESCO world heritage site and beautiful historical place. Those interested can click here for info or to register. photo: Turkey’s Kerem Karaerkek registers go players for the 2017 EGC

Morozevich Bests Hillarp Persson in Go/Chess Match: The Go/chess match between Alexander Morozevich and 2016.07.28_go-chess-egcTiger Hillarp Persson was the spotlight of yesterday’s EGC program, with live coverage on the official Russian Go federation YouTube channel. The chess games were commented by Grandmaster Vladimir Fedoseev and the go games by Wu Hao 2P (China) and Alexander Dinerchtein 3P. Alexander Morozevich lost only the last go game and won the match 3-1. After the match he gave a chess simul where he lost only one game, to a German FIDE master Mike Stolz (2319 chess rating, 7kyu in go). Alexander Georgiev, several-time Draughts world champion, came to see the match and play the simul. He is a beginner at go too but plans to study the game.
- Daria Koshkina, E-Journal Correspondent for the 2016 European Go Congress

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European Team Championship – an Interview with Antoine Fenech

Wednesday July 27, 2016

The European Team Championship is the opening event in St Petersburg at the European Go Congress. The defending champions France had qualified alongside teams from Russia, Romania, and Ukraine. In the end they finished in third place this year, losing in the first round to Russia, drawing in the second with the eventual champions Ukraine, before beating Romania in the final round. Here we (Revue Francaise de Go) present an interview with Antoine Fenech (AF), the captain of the French team.

RFG : Hello Antoine. To begin with, can you explain the principle of the Pandanet European Go Team Championship.
AF : The championship was created 6 years ago. It was one of the first big events to take place on the internet. The participating countries are separated into 3 divisions, with a system of promotion and relegation spots; France has always been in the first division. In the first division, there are 10 teams and they play a match (4 games contested by different players) every month, normally on Tuesday evening, on Pandanet, who is sponsoring the competition with about 20,000 Euros a year. At the end of the season, the 4 best teams are invited to contest the finals at the opening of the European Congress.

RFG : Do France often reach the finals?
AF : We participated 4 times in 6 years. In the beginning, we did not have high hopes and thought more of avoiding relegation. But actually we found ourselves in the fight for the qualification spots and since then this became out goal … until finally we won the tournament last year.

RFG : What did this victory change for you?
AF: I think that it was a catalyst for Go in France. Thanks to this competition, we had an objective on the European ladder. In actual fact, to be (individual) champion of Europe, it was probably a little beyond the reach of Thomas Debarre, Tanguy Le Calvé, or Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia. But to become team champions, thanks to the support of Fan Hui, it was within reach.

RFG : So for this year’s final, what were your thoughts?
AF: We arrived in poorer shape than last year, since we were only fourth in the league. We played Russia at home in the first round, and we were probably too scared of them. This initial defeat compromised our chances for the title, but we realised in the end that we were not so far from contention, as Russia were beaten by Ukraine against whom we drew! Finally, it showed us that, even without Fan Hui, the title is within our reach, and that motivates us even more for next year, even if the qualification phase is always difficult.

RFG : When we look at the results, we see that France is rather alone amongst many countries from Eastern Europe. How can you explain this?
AF : We have a young team and an excellent team spirit. If we look at our neighbours Germany, they also have strong youth players (Krämer, Obenaus, Welticke…) but they still pick the older generation, and they switch between the first and second division. We were able to better integrate our young players (Tanguy Le Calvé, Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia, and now Denis Karadaban). I hope that we will have one or two more new players there in 2 or 3 years.

RFG : Now concerning your role as Captain, how do you choose the line up for the team for each round?
AF: It is very simple, I send an email to the team before each match to see who is available. From the players who respond favourably, I try to build the most competitive team. Our team is rather homogeneous, so the absence of a single player is rarely crippling. We also use the principle that a player who won his last game has the right to play again in the following match should he choose to.

RFG : Do you take into account the opponents, for example if a French player has very good results against a particular opponent?
AF : Of course! For example in the finals, Thomas Debarre was very sad after his two initial defeats. We could have changed the line up for the final game against Romania, but Thomas is always very motivated by his games against Catalin Ţaranu. So we chose to stick with the same team, and we took the point!

RFG : Between two seasons, are there departures and additions to the squad?
AF : In the first year, our team was experimental with many “old” players present. From this generation, only Frederic Donzet still played actively and continued to participate. Today, he is no longer playing in tournaments but is still part of the team, who has not seen any departures since the second year. We have also steadily integrated more and more young talents (Benjamin, Tanguy et Denis) as I have already said. We also had the support of Fan Hui, who became French and joined the team, in helping us become champions of Europe. This year, he had less free time and took a break from the competition. As we are not short of numbers, we keep the inactive players on the team if they want to restart playing. Evidently, we continue to bring aboard the young players who make 5-dan.

RFG : Do you see yourself continuing in the role of French Team Captain for a long time?
AF : As long as we keep up this team spirit, this motivation and this dynamic, and so long as the players haven’t had enough of me, I stay! It must be understood that we have quite a different mode of operation to the other countries, who often rely on a hardcore of 4 or 5 players. They share their winnings between a smaller group, but they always have to be available for each round. I think that our strength lies specifically in our ability to be a group of 7 or 8 players. In any case, as captain, it is like this that I want to continue to manage our team.

RFG : Thank you Antoine for making yourself available to our readers !
AF : Thank you !

Based on the original interview in Revue Francaise de Go.

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Fan Hui 2P: “AlphaGo is a new Lee Changho”

Wednesday July 27, 2016

Given AlphaGo’s dominant performance in last March’s match against Lee Sedol 9P it was no surprise that the July 26 2016.07.27_fan-huipresentation the the European Go Congress by Fan Hui 2P (right) on behalf of DeepMind attracted a huge audience. DeepMind’s Aja Huang is scheduled to present the keynote at the US Go Congress this Saturday and on July 24 tweeted that “We will soon be posting some special commentaries on the Lee Sedol games + for the first time ever some AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo games! Fan Hui will give more details in his speech in the EGC.”

Although many in the go community might have been devastated after the the AI program defeated Lee Sedol 4-1, Fan Hui said he feels quite the opposite. From his point of view AlphaGo is a perfect teacher who can educate not only about aspects of the game but psychology and spirituality as embodied in the saying that “Greed can’t win.” AlphaGo, said Fan Hui, strives to find the best move, and does not commit to any conventional patterns or ”good” or “bad” moves listed in books or shown by pros or teachers. Thus, AlphaGo dares to be free to play any move. 2016.07.27_alphago-unorthodox-moveMany players could have been jaded after studying the tangled mess of josekis, tesujis or hametes so Fan Hui suggested that AlphaGo helps to break free and simply enjoy trying to be the best. Fan Hui compared Alpha Go to Lee Changho, who is famous for not showing any emotion when he plays, just as AlphaGo does not attribute any emotional characteristics to the moves.

Fan Hui also showed some moves from AlphaGo’s games against itself. Some of the AI program’s moves can really challenge our go beliefs, he said, citing the unorthodox attachment at left. But AlphaGo rates this the best move here, which may mean the Chinese fuseki will not be the same in the future. Click here for the video of Fan Hui’s presentation.
- Daria Koshkina; photo by Michail Krylov

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European Go Congress 2016 Gets Under Way in Saint Petersburg

Monday July 25, 2016

The 60th European Go Congress got under way on July 23rd in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Congress is being held at the 2016.07.25_EGC-Opening ceremonyHotel Azimut, a couple of kilometres south of the historic centre of the city. 456 players took part in the first round, including seven Europeans with pro status. Among the guests are professional players including Cho Hye-Yeon 9p, Shao Weigang 9p, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9p, Muraoka Shigeyuki 9p, Ohashi Hirofumi 6p and many others.

In addition to many tournaments, Congress organizers have prepared some special 2016.07.25_EGC-Dinerchtein vs Kravecevents. On July 25 Google DeepMind representatives will give an update on AlphaGo, on July 27 Cho Hye-Yeon will take on Zen AI and two chess Grandmasters will clash in a go battle.

Traditionally the first days of the EGC are marked by the Pandanet Go European Team Tournament finals. Team Ukraine, led by recently-minted European pro Artem Kachanovskyi, prevailed over Team Russia 3-1 in the finals, with a sensational victory by Andrij Kravec over Alexandre Dinerchtein (photo at left), sealing the championship. Russia took second place, France 3rd and Romania 4th.

- Daria Koshkina, with additional reporting from the EGC 2016 site; photos: EGC 60 opening ceremony (right); Dinerchtein vs Kravec

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European Student Team Go Championship Welcomes Non-Euro Teams

Friday July 8, 2016

College student go teams are invited to participate in the upcoming European Student Team Go Championship, scheduled for September 8-9 in Petrozavodsk, Russia. The tournament is open so university teams from non-European countries can take part in the event. Details are available on the Russian Go Federation’s website; the Federation, along with the European Go Federation and the Russian Student Sport Union, are hosting the event. Students can also take part in Open Russian Student Go Championship September 10-11, while players who are not students can take part in the All-Russia Go tournament on those same dates.

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“A strange and very bitter feeling”: France’s Dai Junfu on his WAGC performance

Tuesday June 14, 2016

by Dai Junfu, France’s representative at the 2016 World Amateur Go Championships (WAGC).  2016.06.14_37wagc_Junfu-DAI

It is a strange and very bitter feeling. I finished in 9th place at the 37th WAGC, a very disappointing result. Before the tournament, many people close to me said that I had the level to take 3rd place, and with luck, that I could finish even higher on the podium. Even myself, I had the same illusion, because Satoshi Hiraoka, the representative of Japan and twice winner of the WAGC, had been defeated by players from Europe, but I had never lost against a European. In the end, my sense of pride and lack of practice cost me dearly.

I had quite a difficult draw, because at the end I had the third highest SOS despite my three defeats. Starting from the third round, my opponents where all higher than 6-dan, excepting the final round. After having beaten the USA’s Benjamin Lockhart (7-dan), I was drawn against the winner of the tournament, China’s Bai Baoxiang, in the 4th round. He is considered to be one of four titans of amateur go in China, and his level is at least 4 or 5 professional dan. He turned down many chances to become a professional because he makes a good living from the many amateur tournament in China which have high prize pools. I tried with everything, but he had a solid victory without leaving me the slightest chance. It was the first time in 10 years that I had the feeling of losing a game without creating any problems for my opponent. Very sad. For the 5th round, my opponent was the player from Hong Kong (6-dan). He took a lot of territory but was unable to resist my attacks. With 4 wins from 5, I regained my confidence and was on track for a podium finish.

The turning point came in the 6th round. After losing to Taiwan, Japan’s Satoshi was without any significant victory. I was convinced that I was bound to defeat him, and that he would undoubtably make some blunder and I would have an easy win. In the game, my play was completely unbalanced. I could not recognise myself. I started to wake up when he had almost enclosed his gigantic moyo. Despite my tesuji in his centre, contrary to my illusions, he responded well and I was lost. Later, Mr Satoshi lost by not more that 2.5 points against Bai Baoxing because of bad yose. Actually, he is very strong. If I had appreciated his level, then I would have played differently against him in my game! After this defeat, I had said goodbye to the podium.

Round 7, is the game against my old friend Cristian Pop (7-dan) from Romania. Cristian made his usual moyo but I brought the game under my control. Then, at the crucial junction, I played the losing move, an instinctive play without a second of reflexion. Cristian took advantage of a ko and a good threat to take back control of the game. The last round was against a Belgian player and I won easily. Thanks to my high SOS, I took the 9th place but it was really a mediocre result and I felt a little ashamed. After the championship, I had the impression that the level of amateur players had progressed globally. The European players also had very good results. Notably the Ukrainian Andrii Kravets took 4th place ahead of Japan.

Even if it was a disappointing tournament for me, I met many new friends from all around the world. Notably I established a good relationship with the administration of the IGF. I hope that I can contribute more to the development of Go in the world because of my ability with languages (Chinese, French, English and a little Japanese). I hope that I can train a little more so as not to drop down in level, and I hope to make a better result if I am able to represent France again.

Based on the original report in Revue Francaise de Go, which includes game records and pictures.

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AGA, AGF, KBA and EGF Share in Google’s AlphaGo Prize Money

Monday June 6, 2016

Making good on their promise to support both go and educational initiatives, the developers of AlphaGo Monday announced the division of the $1 million prize fund they won in March’s historic match with Lee Sedol 9p, including grants to both the American Go Association and the American Go Foundation.

“Pleased to confirm the recipients of the #AlphaGo $1m prize! @UNICEF_uk, @CodeClub, and the American, European and Korean Go associations,” tweeted DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis. “@theaga, EGF and KBA will use the #AlphaGo donation to raise awareness of Go worldwide and encourage participation especially at youth level.”

The biggest recipient, UNICEF UK, will receive $450,000 to support global education work including girls’ education and gender equality, while $100,000 will be granted to Code Club UK for the creation of more clubs around the world for children to learn to program. The go community grant is $150,000 each to European Go Federation, the Korea Baduk Association and the American go entities. The AGF will receive $60,000 and the AGA $90,000, DeepMind said.

“It has become clear that the AlphaGo match was the biggest promotional boost the game of go has received in many years, and most of the credit for that is due to DeepMind’s people and how hard they worked from the start to make sure the match gave the widest and most positive exposure possible to the game,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “The announcement of these grants shows they are continuing that good work. I am happy to express to them the thanks of our whole North American go community for the love and respect they have shown for the game.”

“Go is good for kids and the Google grant will help us reach and teach more of them. Broaden the base!” said AGF President Terry Benson.

AGA’s proposal to DeepMind was to use the AGA grant as the basis of a North American pro championship tournament over six years, and for AGF to use the grant to explore methods of more effectively spreading go in schools, said Okun.

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Wall Wins Bracknell

Monday May 23, 2016

Alistair Wall (2d Wanstead) won all his games to win the 38th Bracknell, the first time he has won the event. He beat 2016.05.24_wall-wins-bracknellChristian Scarff, Jim Clare and last year’s winner Des Cann. Also winning all three were Eric Hall (5k Swindon) and John Cassidy (8k Belgium). Among the 26 players taking part were Be Gei’s two very young daughters, playing their first game not among the family. Bournemouth won the team prize. As usual there was the fun selection of side events set by organiser Ian Marsh. The 13×13 was easy to judge as nobody entered and the Go puzzle competition was won by Peter Collins, the only player brave enough to enter. The caption competition was won by Neil Cleverly, Paul Barnard was best at paper folding and Tony Atkins made the best jumping frog.
- British Go Association website

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New version of StrasGo released

Thursday April 21, 2016

In the wake of AlphaGo’s match, the Go Club of Strasbourg, France has been busy promoting the game with its own teaching2016.04.20_Stras Go method. The Strasbourg Teaching Method has been used successfully for a long time, indeed it won the Iwamoto Award in 2001. They have created their own software (StrasGo), which is free of charge, to help beginners learn go through this approach. As of this month it now has an English language version. For the moment it is only available for Windows but a Mac version will be available later this year. The Strasbourg Teaching Method encompasses a three phase approach, which is widely used in the schools in their local region. Essentially these phases are: 1. Capture game on 9×9; 2. Strasbourg Rules on 9×9 or 13×13; 3. French (AGA) rules on 13×13.

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Mingyu Oh wins 2016 International Paris Go Tournament

Monday April 4, 2016

Mingyu Oh 7D won the 2016 Paris Go Tournament, held in Neuilly, Paris, France from March 26-28. 152 players competed2016.04.04-paris-tourney this year. This is the 44th edition of the event with 6 rounds and a first prize of €1000. It is the largest tournament in France and one of the major European tournaments. Mingyu Oh 7D (at left in photo) won the tournament undefeated and also recently won the Irish Confucius Cup from March 4-6. Jinwon Chae 6D took second place going 5-1 with his lone defeat to Mingyu. Thomas Debarre 6D of France placed 3rd, falling to Mingyu and Jinwon, as the highest placing European. Dai Janfu 8D of France placed 4th. Other familiar competitors attended the tournament including Cornel Burzo 6D and Cristian Pop. Next year’s tournament will be in April.
- edited by Howard Wong; with reporting by Alain Cano; photo by Jérémie Rocher

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