American Go E-Journal » Latin America

AGF sets up Cuban go development fund

Thursday June 1, 2017

by Roy Laird2017.06.01_cuba

What if a set of go equipment cost $2500? That’s the situation Cuban go players face today. The Cuban peso is worth about $.04, and no local game stores sell go equipment in Cuba, so to purchase a $100 go set on the Internet would cost 2500 pesos – when the average monthly income in Cuba is 750 pesos. In addition, shipments weighing over 1.5 kilograms require a surcharge of $10 US or 250 pesos per kilo.

Cuban Go Association president Rafael Torres estimates that there are as many as 2000 go players in Cuba, mostly playing on homemade sets or donations from abroad. Scarce equipment is the main thing holding back the Cuban go community, he said. In response, The American Go Foundation has established the AGF Cuban Go Development Fund, kicking it off by arranging to send small shipments of equipment to Havana and Camaguey, the two main Cuban go communities at present. Each site will receive ten “Club Classic” full size go sets from The AGF Store. In addition, Slate and Shell has generously agreed to kick in ten each each per site of their two Spanish language books, Como NO Jugar al Go by Yuan Zhou and Sube a Shodan by Rin Kaiho. “Helping the Cuban go playing community to grow is good for the US too,” said AGF president Terry Benson. “As our nearby neighbors develop, we can look forward to stronger international ties, more cultural exchange, and lots of friendly time over the go board.”  Click here to contribute to the Cuban Go Development Fund, then click on “Send special instructions to the seller and type “Cuban Go.” Tax deductible earmarked contributions to the fund are welcome, and will be applied to an equipment drive planned for later this year.
photo: Laird is at left front during the recent visit to Cuba

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Feast of “food for thought” at recent Conference on Mind Sports

Sunday May 21, 2017

by Dr. Roy Laird2017.05.21_CIDEMgroupphoto-laird

A fabulous feast of “food for thought,” the International Conference on Mind Sports in Camaguey, Cuba came to a successful close on May 5 after affording some 70 participants a chance to get to know enthusiasts of other sports. Mornings were devoted to lectures and presentations, with various events , friendship matches and exhibitions in the afternoon. In an indicator of the level of interest Cubans have in mind sports, the first day of the conference was televised.

Here’s a rundown of some of the interesting presentations.
ARE MIND SPORTS REALLY SPORTS? If you’ve ever told a sports fan about mind sports, you’ve probably heard a version of this question. International Mind Sports Association Secretary General Thomas Hsiang took on this question head-on in his opening remarks, reviewing the rigorous requirements for admission to IMSA. Noting that “there is no doubt that mind sports have a beneficial impact on players, especially children,” Hsiang concluded by saying “with educational benefits for the young and health benefits for the old, promotion of mind sports is a social responsibility.”
PROMOTING WEIQI IN CUBA: Dr. Zhang Wei, Director of the Confucius Institute in Havana, musing on why weiqi is not more widely known throughout the world, theorized that the lack of economic development and constant warfare in western Asia had interfered with cultural exchanges throughout history. He also expressed the hope that weiqi would grow in Cuba throughout the world because it is good for the moral fabric of society since “no bad person plays weiqi.”
THE FUTURE OF MIND SPORTS IN CUBA: Dr. Lazaro Bueno said that notables from Simon Bolivar to Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez have all spoken of the importance of mental competition and chess in particular. Dr. Bueno 2017.05.21_Pitarra-lairdalso unveiled plans for a large Mind Sports Complex to be built soon in Camaguey.
TEACHING CHESS IN PRESCHOOL: Columbus introduced chess to Cuba in 1492, and the subsequent history of chess in Cuba is filled with distinction. The Cuban school system has included chess in its curriculum since 1989, and at present chess is taught in more than 9000 primary schools and over 1000 high schools. Luis Enrique Perez Pena said chess is now being introduced to preschool children. With Cuban children starting at such a young age, the world may see another Capablanca before long.
PITARRA – INDIGENOUS OR UBIQUITOUS? Maria Cristina Quintanar Miranda from the Universidad Queretaro in Mexico gave an intriguing presentation, describing the evolution of Pitarra (right). Played only by indigenous Mexican tribes, she theorized that it had developed as an ancient folk tradition. However, it turns out that “Pitarra” is identical to Nine Men’s Morris, a game dating back to the Roman Empire and still played in Europe. Not only that, another attendee recognized the game from his childhood in Taiwan as “The Watermelon Game,” and it is played in Cuba as “Tres,” named after the central principle of lining up three pips in a row. Ms. Quintanar came to the conference with an interesting finding and left with an even more interesting question.
SPANISH SCRABBLE: A2017.05.21_play at cide conf Spanish version of Scrabble is a big seller in Latin America, and Mexico in particular, where it is so widely played that some Mexicans call it “Lexico.” Javier Guerrero, the head of the International Spanish Scrabble Federation (FISE), said that FISE aspires to IMSA membership, but since IMSA does not admit sports that involve any amount of luck Scrabble advocates have proposed a form of “duplicate Scrabble” in which each player would play against a computer programmed to assure randomization of moves. However, Scrabble faces an even bigger hurdle — IMSA does not admit mind sports that are copyrighted or trademarked.
UNDERSTANDING ASIAN THINKING THROUGH GO: Fernando Aguilar of Argentina is one of the strongest Latino go players and certainly among the best known, having scored upset victories against two Japanese 9Ps in the 2002 Toyota Denso Cup and having played in many international tournaments. Aguilar was not able to attend the conference, but submitted a paper entitled “Go As A Way to Understand Oriental Thinking” in which he identified five sets of contrasting concepts that are spelled out in detail in Sun Tzu’s classic “The Art of War,” noting that their meaning can be more deeply understood through the study of go. The strong player maintains a balance between Attack and Defense; Efficiency and Concentration of Forces; Transparency vs. Deception; Emptiness and Solidity; and “Chi” (potential) vs. “Li” (material gain).

Other speakers held forth on the importance of physical exercise and fitness if one is to play one’s best, the superiority of in-person game play over video and computer game, the social and cultural significance of dominos, and draughts (10×10 checkers) as a metaphor for life. The overarching theme that emerged, and with which participants surely agreed, was well stated by the Scrabble representative: “The family that plays together is a happy family.”

Dr. Laird, former president of the American Go Association, attended the conference, presenting on “Play Go and Grow.”

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Categories: Latin America
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Cuban Mind Sports Conference gets underway

Wednesday May 3, 2017

by Roy Laird
The first Cuban Mind Sports Conference got underway today (Wednesday) in Camaguey, the island’s second largest city, at the Santa Cecilia Conference Center in the Plaza de los Trabadores under the auspices of the University of Camaguey. Under the watchful gaze of several images of Che Guevara, seventy or so participants assembled for the kickoff. Dr. 2017.05.04_cuba-lairdLazaro Bueno, the principal organizer, introduced Thomas Hsiang, the Executive Director of the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA), which helped to sponsor the event. Dr. Hsiang explained the rigorous criteria for admission to IMSA, and reviewed recent developments such as the University-Industry Cooperative Program, through which anyone who achieves dan level in go is guaranteed a job. The university, where the program began, now partners with more than 30 local businesses. After a brief discussion of Chinese go, Dr. Hugo Beltre spoke about various orthopedic injuries he has treated in many mind sports competitors, possibly the first such presentation at a mind sports conference. After a lunch break, the afternoon was devoted to a Cuban – American informal friendship matchup, and a demonstration of contract bridge.
To this observer, Cuba seems to be a remarkably friendly and welcoming place. I am staying at a “Casa Familiar,” a very picturesque small hotel with seven rooms, a rooftop bar, and its own restaurant. Prices are almost embarrassingly low. My lovely room is only $40 per night, and I found a decent slice of pizza for about $.25. At the same time, there are surprising challenges. No Internet, and some wireless phone plans do not work here. You have to purchase a card and be in the right place to use it. But that adds to the charm – no Internet dishes, no cell towers, and forget about any chain restaurant you have ever heard of. There are two separate currencies, with similar denominations, but one is worth 25 times the other, so keeping them straight is important. Fortunately, the unfailingly honest and helpful Camagueyans were always eager to help. The streets, often barely wide enough for one car, twist and wind through the city, but the downtown area is small and easy to learn. Street traffic includes bicycles, pedicabs, horse-drawn carts, and a few cars now and then, many of them vintage autos from the 1950s. On a nighttime walk, I felt quite safe. Many buildings that seemed abandoned during the day turned out to be occupied, and the residents had thrown their doors and windows wide open. In many cases they could have reached out and shaken my hand as I passed without getting up. A group of perhaps 50 people had gathered in a side street, listening quietly as a middle-aged woman spoke passionately to them. When I passed by later on my way home, they were still there.
The conference continues tomorrow and Friday, and appears to be a harbinger of great things to come, in Camaguey and perhaps throughout Cuba. Dr. Bueno told us that the university plans to begin a serious program of research into the benefits of competitive games. Considering Cuba’s prominence in the world of chess, it seems likely that we can expect great things from our neighbor to the south. The next time there’s an event in Cuba, sign up if you can!

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Shogi meets go in Mexico City

Monday April 24, 2017

The Shogi and Go Meeting was held on March 25 in collaboration with Shogi Mexico, the Mexican Go Association and the 2017.04.24_mexico-shogiJapanese Embassy-located at one of the main avenues in Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma. The Japanese ambassador to Mexico, Akira Yamada, happens to be a passionate Shogi player, board member of the International Shogi Popularization Society and a go player too, and his support made this successful event possible.Mr. Yamada gave a presentation on “Shogi and Go in the Japanese Culture,” which was attended by more than 100 people followed by a beginner go workshop  given by Siddhartha Avila, the current Youth Coordinator for the MGA. The event also included a Shogi workshop for beginners by José Martínez, President of Shogi Mexico and a talk about Shogi and Anime by Yrvinn Campos, a Shogi Mexico organizer, there was a group of instructors2017.04.24_mexico-go of both disciplines who arranged free games for the newcomers, while existing players played simultaneous games and reviewed games.

“It was really great to see people from all ages at the meeting,” said Amaury Olivo, Shogi Mexico organizer. “The biggest impact we had was with the kids. I’d be really happy if among them we have a strong Shogi player in the future.”

Encouraged by the success of this event, the participating organizations  are ready to start a new collaboration between Mexico and Japan to promote go, Shogi and both cultures, with the support of the Nihon Kiin and the Nihon Shogi Renmei. There is a brief report and gallery in Spanish here. There’s an album of photos here.
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Mexico tapped to host first Latin American Go Congress

Wednesday April 19, 2017

logo-amgoMexico has been chosen as the host country for this year’s Ibero American Go Championship (CIG) the biggest go event in Latin American.  “Last year we launched the first Pandanet Go Latin American Team Championship (PGLATC) a 10-team league with teams formed of the top players of each participating country” reports Mexican Go Association’s president Emil García. The agreement with Pandanet is that the top two teams at the end of the league will get the chance to play an over the board final  at the CIG in Mexico- with travel expenses sponsored by Pandanet.  More information about the league can be found here.  “Our idea  is to make this a Latin American Go Congress, run both the CIG and the PGLATC final plus some activities with pro players for the participants, in the fashion of the US Go Congress or the European Go Congress,” adds García.

The event is planned to take place in Cancun, Mexico on October 13th-15th, 2017.  More information will be available soon on the Mexican Go Association’s new website.
- Siddhartha Avila, Latin American Correspondent for the E-Journal.

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New Mexican Go Program for Kids

Thursday January 5, 2017

DSC_0333“Now there are two elementary schools in México City where go is part of the curriculum,” reports Siddhartha Avila, Mexican Youth Go Coordinator. “Pipiolo elementary has had an active go program since 2008 when  Principal Marcela Zepeda first envisioned the educational benefits that go offers at early ages. All the top youth players in México have studied or study at her private K-6 school.” Now Colegio Serapio Rendón, is adding a program too. “I was contacted by Principals Gloria Pimentel and Dulce Pimentel,” says Avila,  “they were looking for an instructor to implement a serious go program at their K-6 private school.  We started with one hour a week for all grades, back in September. We ran a successful 13×13 tournament for 3rd to 6th graders on December 6th. The 1st Torneo Escolar de Go drew 34 students, playing 5 rounds. There was excellent coordination between the directors, teachers and staff; the schedule ran promptly, the students behaved well and played with great concentration.”   The school tournament ended with prizes for the top 7 places, as well as a fighting spirit prize. Everybody recieved  participation diplomas. “I’m glad we’ve found an activity where we can transmit love for knowledge, this helps kids’ development and critical thinking, their response to the game surpassed our expectations” says Gloria Pimentel.

“I want to thank Thomas Hsiang and the Nihon Kiin directors, pros and staff for their support so that I could take part at The North American Go Instructors’ Workshop last October in Tokyo,” says Avila. “The workshop encouraged us to fully implement go as a part of a school curriculum with a long term perspective at Colegio Serapio Rendón. With the connection between the Mexican Go Association, the Iwamoto North American Go Foundation, and the Nihon Kiin,  there is a perfect opportunity to build valuable networks and develop further go education projects. Winner’s report Torneo Escolar: 1st place: Saúl Alejo; 2nd place: Valeria González; 3rd place: Alejandro Vera; 4th place: Rodrigo García; 5th place: César Gael Muñoz; 6th place: Shapdi Bernal; 7th place: Ximena Mora; Fighting spirit: Ana Castro. – Paul Barchilon, EJ Youth Editor.  Photo by Siddhartha Avila

 

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Mark Your Calendar: 2017 Go Events

Thursday December 29, 2016

Cuba: As previously reported, Cuba will host a International Conference of Mind Sports in May 2017. For those interested 2016.12.28_-cuba_tourism_photo_of_a_streetin participating beyond just joining in on the competitions, the call for papers to present a workshop is open until January 31. In addition, I-Dared Travels has developed a program that includes the conference and three additional days for traveling and getting to know a bit of Eastern Cuba. Click here for details.

Australia: The third Australian Go Congress has been announced for September 28 through October 1, 2017 in Sydney. The Australian Go Championships will be the central event at the Congress. In addition, a one day ‘kyu’ tournament will enable younger players to take part and enjoy the experience of being part of a major international event. The organizing committee is also planning other events including Pair Go and Lightning Go, with details to be released in the coming months.

Also coming up in 2017: European Go Congress 2017, Canadian Open 2017, Osaka Go Camp/Japan Go Congress and the US Go Congress. More details here.

 

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Go at the Biblioteca de México

Sunday December 18, 2016

When Biblioteca de México La Ciudadela, one of the most iconic public libraries in México City, celebrated its 70th 2016.12.11_Biblioteca de México1anniversary on November 26, go was part of the festivities. In addition to a go exhibition where the public could get a glimpse of what the game is about — watch a video here  – there was a children’s tournament on December 4th, where 28 kids from 4 2016.12.11_Biblioteca de Méxicoto 12 years old played on 9×9 boards in a four round tournament. A special thanks goes to Karla Consuegra, Subdirector of Information Services at Biblioteca de México, who has played a great role in supporting implementing go activities at the public library.
Winners report, top 5:
1st- Lia Sánchez; 2nd- Syd Espinosa; 3rd- Livier Sánchez; 4th- Jazhiel Martínez; 5th- Fedra Alcántara

- Siddhartha Avila, Youth Coordinator, Mexican Go Association and Latin American correspondent for the E-Journal

 

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Categories: Latin America,Youth
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Chile Repeats as ORION Champion

Monday December 12, 2016

Chile won the Latin American ORION U18 Team Tournament for the second consecutive year. The tournament was played2016.12.11_orion-tourney on November 26-27 on the Online Go Server and drew 11 teams of three players each from Chile, México, Ecuador and Venezuela. This is the third edition of the annual event.

Results (top three places):
1. CHILE: Benjamín Mimiza, Matías Salinas, Fernando Gallardo
2. MÉXICO: Diego A. Luciano, Mateo Nava, Bruno Michaca
3. VENEZUELA: Abel Pérez, Angel Rengifo, Iverson Rosales
More info here.

- Siddhartha Avila, Latin American correspondent

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Perez Wins Latin American Youth Tourney

Wednesday December 7, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-12-07 at 5.36.40 PMAbel Perez, of Venezuela, took top honors  in the Liga youth tourney, held on OGS. The event is an annual tournament league for players under the age of 18 from all over Latin America. Liga started this year in April and concluded in November; 7 rounds were played each month. There were 24 players from Venezuela, México, Chile and Ecuador. Some games were reviewed by Ignacio Iglesis, a 2 dan go streamer for the Spanish speaking community, on his youtube channel Estudiando Go con Ini. The final matches in round 7 were very competitive as 4 countries had at least one player at the top boards, the winners were: 1st place- Abel Pérez, Venezuela; 2nd place: Leonardo Valdovinos, México; 3rd place: Benjamín Mimiza, Chile; 4th place: Joaquín Proaño, Ecuador; 5th place: Lilian Zavala, México.  See full results here.

“The dedication and motivation of the 3 chilean players that took part at the league inspired other kids to become more engaged with go, and it’s very likely that we will have 10 players for next years’ league,” says  Sebastián Montiel, Chilean go teacher at Club de Go Aonken. “This was the first time that we organized a tournament as a league system for Latin American youth, and it was quite a great success.” Co- organizer Diego Albuja, Ecuadorian go teacher at Academia de Go, told the Journal: ” I’m delighted that the league tournament concluded so satisfyingly, it depended not only on the guidance of the go instructors, but also on the commitment and will to participate of the young players, this indicates to us as organizers that there is great potential for the youth go scene in Latin America. With this league tournament a very active player in Ecuador, Joaquín Proaño leaves the youth division as he turned 18, and we are glad to see he will continue his path at go as an amateur player.”

“All our players had a rich and fun experience making connections with opponents from the Latin American region,” says Siddhartha Avila, Mexican Go teacher at Dojo de Go. “Leonardo Valdovinos played the game for the top place,  even though it was intense and he came in 2nd,  he learned a lot from it. Another highlight was Lilian Zavala, as there are few female players we are proud to see that she continues getting to the top places in local and regional tournaments. These kinds of online tournaments for youth are relatively new for the countries in our region, but play a key role for the development of go. Our event joins the efforts of other Latin American tournaments, like the recent 1st Pandanet Go Latin American Team Championship  which kicked off with 10 teams on November 20th, or the annual online tournament “Torneo Iberoamericano de Go por Internet” which was held for the 18th time this year, with a total of 92 registered players between almost all the countries affiliated with the Iberoamerican Go Federation . -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor, with Siddhartha Avila.  Photo: Club members of Chile’s Club de Go Aonken, in the computer lab at Escuela Juan Williams.

 

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