American Go E-Journal » Korea

Game Over? AlphaGo Beats Pro 5-0 in Major AI Advance 

Wednesday January 27, 2016

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In a stunning development, the AlphaGo computer program has swept European Go Champion and Chinese professional Fan Hui 2P 5-0, the first time that a go professional has lost such a match. “This signifies a major step forward in one of the great challenges in the development of artificial intelligence – that of game-playing,” said the British Go Association, which released the news on January 27, based on findings reported in the scientific journal Nature this week (click here for the video, here for Nature’s editorial, Digital intuition and here for Go players react to computer defeat). NOTE: This story was posted at 1p EST on Wednesday, January 27; be sure to get the latest breaking go news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

“AlphaGo’s strength is truly impressive!” said Hajin Lee, Secretary General of the International Go Federation and a Korean go professional herself. “Go has always been thought of as the ultimate challenge to game-playing artificial intelligence,” added Thomas Hsiang, Secretary General of the International Mind Sport Association and Vice President of International Go Federation. “This is exciting news, but bittersweet at the same time,” said American Go Association president Andy Okun. “I think we go players have taken some pride in the fact that we could beat the best computers. Now we’re down to Lee Sedol fighting for us.”

2016.01.27_hui-fanGoogle DeepMind, the British artificial intelligence company which developed AlphaGo, has issued a challenge to Lee Sedol 9P from South Korea, the top player in the world for much of the last 10 years, to play a 5-game, million-dollar in March. “I have played through the five games between AlphaGo and Fan Hui,” said Hsiang. “AlphaGo was clearly the stronger player. The next challenge against Lee Sedol will be much harder.” While Hajin Lee agreed, saying “I still doubt that it’s strong enough to play the world’s top pros,” she added “but maybe it becomes stronger when it faces a stronger opponent.” Fan Hui (left) is a naturalized French 2-dan professional go player originally from China. European Champion in 2014 and 2015, Fan is also a 6-time winner in Paris as well as Amsterdam.

Just as the Kasparov/Deep Blue match did not signal the end of chess between humans, “so the development of AlphaGo does not signal the end of playing go between humans,” the BGA pointed out. “Computers have changed the way that players study and play chess (see this 2012 Wired article), and we expect something similar to occur in the field of go, but not necessarily as assistance during play. It has been recognised for a long time that achievements in game-playing have contributed to developments in other areas, with the game of go being the pinnacle of perfect knowledge games.”  Added Okun, “go has for thousands of years been a contest between humans and a struggle of humans against their own limits, and it will remain so. We still cycle in the Tour de France, even though we’ve invented the motorcycle.”

The BGA noted that that achievements in game-playing technology have contributed to developments in other areas. The previous major breakthrough in computer go, the introduction of Monte-Carlo tree search, led to corresponding advances in many other areas.

Last year, the Facebook AI Research team also started creating an AI that can learn to play go and earlier today Mark Zuckerberg reported on Facebook that “We’re getting close, and in the past six months we’ve built an AI that can make moves in as fast as 0.1 seconds and still be as good as previous systems that took years to build. Our AI combines a search-based approach that models every possible move as the game progresses along with a pattern matching system built by our computer vision team.”

In a related story, computer scientist John Tromp last week revealed the number of legal go positions, “weighing in at 9*19=171 digits.” Read more here.

Game 1 of the AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui 2P match appears above right. Click below for the match’s remaining game records:
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 2
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 3
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 4
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 5

Update (11:44pm 1/27): Myungwan Kim 9P will analyze the games played between Fan Hui and AlphaGo during a live stream on the AGA YouTube Channel and TwitchTV this Friday; more details will be posted at 7a EST.

 

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Ke Jie Edges Lee Sedol by Half-Point to Win MLily Cup; AGA YouTube Coverage Draws Record Audience

Tuesday January 5, 2016

Ke Jie 9P edged out Lee Sedol 9P by the narrowest of margins — a half-point — to win the MLily Cup Monday night in a dramatic deciding fifth game that drew a record number of viewers to the AGA’s 2016.01.04_youtube-screencap2YouTube channel, where Myungwan Kim 9P and Andrew Jackson provided blow-by-blow commentary to a nailbiting audience that hit just over 14,000 at its peak, far surpassing the previous record of 400 viewers. The winner collected not just this year’s MLily international title and a purse of over $300,000, but bragging rights in the classic showdown between two go titans, one a seasoned veteran from Korea, the other a young rising star from China. The battle see-sawed back and forth, taking fans of both players on a wild ride, and went on until just past midnight on the West Coast, drawing intense attention worldwide — especially in Korea and China — and the AGA’s broadcasting efforts, anchored by Kim and Jackson, brought the match to a much broader gaming audience on YouTube and Twitch. A report on Myungwan Kim’s commentary was also featured in the Chosun news, helping to drive thousands of Korean viewers to the AGA’s YouTube channel as well. The coverage even inspired one viewer to donate to the AGA. “I had such a blast on the live MLily Cup Game moderated by Andrew Jackson with the Myungwan Kim 9p comments) that I just donated $50 to the org, this is truely awesome!” wrote Indigonauts. “This is amazing that I can watch a professional #baduk match in English now. Thanks @theaga,” added Christopher Annanie on Twitter. The AGA broadcast team also included Kevin Hwang, Peter Nelson, Steven Hu, Nick Sibicki, and more (we’ll update this more completely asap).
- Chris Garlock

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AGA to broadcast live commentary on MLily Cup finals this week

Monday December 28, 2015

The AGA will provide live game commentary this week on the upcoming MLily Cup finals between Lee Sedol 9P and Ke Jie 9P. The first game is tomorrow (2015.11.26_Ke-Jie-Lee-Sedol-MLily-Cup-t-150x150Tuesday), December 29; Myungwan Kim 9Ps commentary will begin at 9pm PST (midnight EST) on the AGA’s YouTube channel. Games 2 and 3 are scheduled for 12/30 and 1/1; if the best-of-five contest goes longer, games are scheduled for January 3 and 4, if necessary.

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Shin Jinseo bests fellow teen Kim Myounghun in Let’s Run Park Cup to win his first title

Friday December 25, 2015

Shin Jinseo 3p defeated Kim Myounghun 2p, posting a 2-1 record to win the 2015 Let’s Run Park Cup final on December 22, becoming a new 2015.12.25_Shin-Jinseo-Lets-Run-Park-Cup-1-300x200teen champion in Korea. The final featured a battle between two teenagers, the first time such young players had competed since 2003, in the Chunwon (Korean Tengen) final between Choi Cheolhan 9p and Won Seongjin 9p.
- excerpted from Younggil An’s report on Go Game Guru, which includes game records of all three games plus more photos.

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KPMC 2015: Keith Arnold Interviews Eric Lui

Tuesday December 22, 2015

This week we’re presenting extended coverage of the Korean World Amateur Championships (KPMC; click here for our winner’s report on December 8 and here for Eric Lui on Camaraderie and Pure Joy). Here’s Keith Arnold’s interview with Lui, which took place at last Sunday’s meeting of the Baltimore Go Club. The longtime local organizer has known Lui since he first began playing go.
photo: Lui reviewing his Round 5 KPMC game with Hong Kong (watch for the review in tomorrow’s EJ); photo by Keith Arnold. 

KA: First of all, Congratulations on the achievement (5-1; played for championship in final round); were you happy with your play 2015.12.22_eric-luioverall?
EL: Thank you. There were some good moments in my games, and I played about as well as I expected to, so on the whole I’m not dissatisfied.
KA: Can you give us a brief description of the tournament format and venue?
EL: The tournament was a 6-round Swiss, with 40 minutes basic time per player and 3 periods of 30 seconds byo yomi. Initially, the players were split into two groups by strength and then paired within the group. The tournament was held at Riverside Hotel in Seoul’s Gangnam district, a seemingly high-class place with fancy, luxurious dining halls, and a long, spacious hall that led to a separate large room for the playing area.
KA: You are known as a slow player, but is it possible that your experience in byo yomi helps you in a quicker game like this?
EL: I’d prefer to think of others as quick players. There is no room for slow players these days, especially in amateur go where time limits are very short. Speed is key and can be a major weapon. My play in byo yomi is far from ideal, but it seems that my opponents also felt the time pressure.
KA: How was the competition? Other than China, who was your toughest opponent?
EL: The player from Hong Kong was strong, and I also had a tough game against Ukraine.
KA: Do you get a chance to look at some of your opponents games’ to prepare for these events, or do you focus on making sure your own game is sharp?
EL: I didn’t know who would be coming, so I just tried to stay in good physical condition.
KA: How did you feel going into a championship game?
EL: I thought of Ben (Lockhart) last year and wondered if history was going to repeat itself (he went 5-0 before losing to Korea in the final). In fact, scarcely 90 minutes before the game, the Chinese player and I were seated at the same table, having lunch together. It felt a bit odd that we would soon be playing for the championship.
KA: In the final game you played mirror go for the first 14 moves, was that an effort to save time, or was it a particular strategy you worked on?
EL: I’ve been interested in mirror go for a while, yet I know little about it from limited practical experience. Actually, I think mirror go is a poor strategy for saving time, since you can’t just blindly copy your opponent’s moves. There is so much reading and strategic planning involved.
KA: Being 5-0 and dropping to 4th seems harsh; can you explain what hurt your SOS?
EL: It’s fair. This year, the Chinese and Korean players were a class above everyone else, although the young kid from Taiwan had very good chances to win against the Chinese player. My first two rounds were against Serbia and Slovakia, and they both ended up with (only) two wins. Those are the breaks, and there’s nothing to do about it.
KA: How does this compare to your 3rd place in the World Amateur Go Championships?
EL: Finishing third in the WAGC is by far my best achievement, yet my KPMC result is no less satisfying.
KA: You have really done well representing the U.S. Go is such a personal game; does representing your country put additional pressure on you, or is your internal competitive will all the motivation you need?
EL: My major goal for this tournament was to have a good time. In the U.S., we are always fighting for prizes, rating points, etc. and the stakes are much higher. Here, I just felt content to play games face-to-face. I wasn’t too concerned about my results.
KA: What do you feel are the strengths of your game right now? What are you most trying to work on?
EL: I feel confident in games with lots of direct fighting. The opening is probably my weakest part, so I’m concentrating on improving it by studying pro games.
KA: We have played together since you first began playing and I often brag that I taught you everything you know. Can you think of anything you actually learned from me?
EL: That it’s always possible to win against stronger players.
KA: Aside from winning games, what was your favorite part of the trip?
EL: Meeting the other players and organizers was by far the best part. Winning games was just a bonus.

TomorrowEric Lui’s commentary on his KPMC Round 5 game with Hong Kong.

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KPMC 2015: Eric Lui on Camaraderie and Pure Joy

Monday December 21, 2015

This week we’ll present extended coverage of the Korean World Amateur Championships (KPMC; click here for our winner’s report on December 8). Below you’ll find U.S. rep Eric Lui’s delightful reminiscence of the event, where he went undefeated for five rounds, losing only to champion China in the final (Ben Lockhart did the same thing last year, except his final round loss was to Korea). Tomorrow we will have a Q&A with Eric about the event, and finally we will present a brief review of his 5th round game against Hong Kong.

by Eric Lui, U.S. representative to the 2015 Korean World Amateur Championships2015.12.20_Eric-Lui-KPMC

It’s been nine years since I participated in the first Korea Prime Minister’s Cup. My memories of the occasion as a whole are dim at best, but I can still recall a few fragments of the extravagant outdoor opening ceremony, and the completely bonkers closing ceremony that had players and local Korean folk holding hands and running in circles around the plaza square into the night.

Turn the clock forward and it’s time for the 10th Korea Prime Minister’s Cup, held in Seoul’s Gangnam district. While the first KPMC was lavish in style and grand in execution, the 10th edition thrived on the strength of its organizers, a charismatic and multilingual group who couldn’t have been more welcoming. The genuine camaraderie among the players and organizers produced a truly festive atmosphere.

Before each round, music played from a large boombox at the front of the stage. In particular, a rousing rendition of Chicago’s hit song “If You Leave Me Now” put me in a whimsical mood before my important fifth-round match against the player from Hong Kong. If only Peter Cetera were there, he would finally be able to cite definitive proof to any naysayers who claim that his music has yet to reach an international audience. “You see?” He might say, pointing vigorously to a video feed. “I made it!”

The standout performer this time was Cristian Pop of Romania, who, in a first-round heavyweight clash, defeated Japan’s Dr. Shinichiro Osawa, a neurosurgeon and former teacher of the star player Ichiriki Ryo 7p. Pop would go on to finish 3rd. My last-round defeat at the hands of China’s top-rated amateur Hu Yuqing, the tournament winner, landed me in 4th place on SOS. Hu has terrorized the amateur go world for well over a decade, and, playing in his 6th (!) KPMC at the raw age of 34, shows no signs of slowing down.

The closing ceremony was well-attended with VIPs such as Seo Bongsoo 9p, chief referee, Kim Seungjun 9p, Lee Hajin 3p, secretary of IGF, and Martin Stiassny, president of EGF. The highlights featured a male performer, clad in headgear with a long wavy band attached to the brim, executing aerial cartwheels around a circle in a breathtaking display of athleticism and artistry, and a moving interpretation of Secret Garden’s iconic “Song from a Secret Garden” by a quartet on traditional Korean instruments including a vertical fiddle, a bamboo flute, and a long zither.

The next day was the traditional sightseeing day and the first snow of the season. Later that night, while walking in downtown Myeongdong, Seoul’s premier shopping district, clutching bags filled with cosmetics and various beauty products, it crossed my mind that in less than half a day, I would be on my way to the airport and this trip would become just a memory.

When we reached the end of the street, I looked back, shivering slightly in the freezing cold, and took it all in: the bright lights, buildings that seemed to touch the sky, hustle and bustle in a world I didn’t understand, and felt strangely at ease.

In that moment, I saw myself four days ago, sleep-deprived and slightly haggard upon arrival. I recalled the interesting conversations, laughter, and failed attempts at procuring more food. I thought of the first time I participated in this tournament, so eager and determined to prove something.

I felt pure joy at having had the opportunity to play in this tournament again, and a twinge of regret about all the pictures I had forgotten to take, yet I took solace knowing that others would not have done the same.

I remembered standing on an outdoor patio at Tokyo Narita Airport, watching from a distance as a plane barreled down the runway and took off into the sky, my hopes and dreams soaring with it, and I smiled inwardly as I realized how much there was to look forward to.

And then the moment was gone. I heard a voice, and a sudden gust of wind brought me back to earth. Following a few steps behind a small crowd into a donut shop, I rubbed my hands together in anticipation of warmth.

Tomorrowa Q&A with Eric about the 2015 KPMC.

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Korean Go News: Park Jeonghwan Defeats Cho Hanseung in Kuksu; Gyeongbuk Wins Cheonnam in Samdasu Amateur City League Cup

Monday December 21, 2015

Park Jeonghwan Defeats Cho Hanseung in Kuksu: The finalists in the 59th Kuksu — Park Jeonghwan and Cho Hanseung — are the 2015.12.21_park-jeonghwan-rightsame as last year and defending champion Park is looking to repeat the previous result as well. Park, playing White, forced Cho to resign after 178 moves. “Black had a lot of territory in the beginning, so it didn’t look good,” Park said in an interview, “but after the middle game White’s territory increased significantly, and I was fine.” The second round in the best-of-three match will be next year in January.

2015.12.21_samdasu-cupGyeongbuk Wins Samdasu Amateur City League Cup: The question of which city is the strongest in all of South Korea was decided on December 9th when the two finalist cities, Cheonnam and Gyeongbok, faced off in their final match in Jeju, South Korea. Kyeongbok defeated Kyeongnam on the 20th of November in the Baduk TV studios in Seoul to join Cheonnam in the finals. The tournament began with 12 different teams from different cities/regions in South Korea. Each team has four members who all face off; each team earns points by winning, and whichever team has more points by the end wins.  This way, the teams play out all four games, even if the first three people lose, the result of the last game can decide the whole match.   The Gyeongbuk team was comprised of Park Gangsu, Song Yesul, Park Yeongjin, Yi Cheolju and Park Seonggyun.
- Jonathan Hop

 

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China’s Yuqing Hu Wins Korean Prime Minister’s Cup; Europe’s Christian Pop is 3rd & U.S.’ Eric Lui is 4th

Tuesday December 8, 2015

China’s Yuqing Hu won the 10th Korean Prime Minister’s Cup (KPMC), held November 22-27 in Seoul. Hu (left) topped a field of 55 countries. Heesu2015.12.09_kpmc-winners Kim (right) of Korea was second, Christian Pop of Romania took third place, Eric Lui of the U.S. took 4th place with a 5-1 record, and Shinichiro Osawa of Japan was fifth. At 5-0, Lui played for the championship in round 6 against China with both players undefeated, the first time an American has played in the deciding game of an international tournament. This is the second time a Chinese player has won the KPMC; Korea has won seven times and Taiwan has won once. Complete results can be downloaded from the European Go Federation’s report.

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Gu Li Dominates Second Round of the Nongshim Cup

Saturday December 5, 2015

Choi Cheolhan 9P, the third player from Team Korea, defeated China’s Wu Guangya 6P (who stopped Ichiriki Ryo’s winning streak at the end of2015.12.05_Gu-Li-Nongshim-Cup-1 Round 1) and Japan’s Ida Atsushi 8P to get the second round of the Nongshim Cup underway November 27 to December 1 in Busan, Korea. Then Choi ran into Gu Li 9P (Team China), who took an early lead and never let go. Gu then beat Japan’s Kono Rin 9P and Korea’s Park Junghwan 9P to extend his winning streak to three. The final round will be played in Shanghai, China, where play resumes on March 1, 2016. Thanks to Gu Li’s dominating performance during this round, China still has three players – Gu Li 9P, Lian Xiao 7P and Ke Jie 9P, while Japan has two, Murakawa Daisuke 8P and Iyama Yuta 9P and Lee Sedol is the last man standing for Korea.
- Adapted from a report on Go Game Guru which includes game records and more photos.

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Lee Sedol 9P to face Ke Jie 9P in MLily Cup Final

Thursday November 26, 2015

Lee Sedol 9P (right) defeated Ahn Seongjun 6P and Ke Jie 9P (left) beat Park Younghun 9P in the semifinals of the second MLily Cup, played November 22-252015.11.26_Ke-Jie-Lee-Sedol-MLily-Cup-t-150x150 in Hefei, China. The Ke Jie-Park Younghun showdown — relayed live on the AGA’s YouTube channel with commentary by Myungwan Kim 9P — was one of the most interesting matches of the year.

Ke Jie is ranked #1 in China, is virtually undefeated as White in 2015 and proceeded to the final of the 2015 Samsung Cup in early November by defeating Lee Sedol. Meanwhile, Park Younghun is in his second heyday in 2015. He’s ranked #3 in Korea, and he proceeded to the final of 20th LG Cup by defeating Tuo Jiaxi 9p about only a week ago.

Lee Sedol is currently ranked #2 in Korea, and Ahn Seongjun is ranked #7. 

Click here for more analysis, photos, game records and game commentary by Younggil An 8P on Go Game Guru.

- Go Game Guru
Update (12/24): Ke is not, as originally reported, undefeated this year on white; in fact he has lost twice.

 

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