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Microdosing study to use go to test creativity

Tuesday August 29, 2017

For years now, reports Inverse, trendy Silicon Valley bros have been sustaining a slight buzz by microdosing, claiming a few potent hits of LSD can supercharge a workday. Until now, there hasn’t been much in the way of science to back it up, but Amanda Feilding hopes to change that. 2017.08.27_Does LSD Microdosing Make You SmarterFeilding is founder of the Beckley Foundation and a leading researcher in the field of psychedelics and consciousness. She’s got a plan to prove that microdosing LSD makes you a better problem solver. She’s throwing the established protocols for evaluating cognition and creativity out the window in favor of a much more straightforward objective: How do test subjects fare when playing the ancient Chinese game of Go?

It’s a protocol imagined from her experiences among friends as students of physiology and psychology more than 50 years ago. “We were working very, very hard,” she tells Inverse. “And as recreation in the evenings, we used to play the ancient Chinese game of Go. I found that I won more games if I was on LSD, against an opponent I knew well. And that showed me that, actually, my problem-solving, my creative thinking, was enhanced while on LSD.” Feilding’s study, to be run through the Beckley/Imperial Research Programme, is designed to have 20 participants take a dose of LSD at 10, 20, and 50 micrograms (a typical recreational dose is 100 micrograms) and also a placebo. Each time they will complete questionnaires on their mood and other vectors, will undergo brain scans, and will play Go against a computer.

“The tests of creativity, which are current, like Torrance Test, they don’t really test for creativity. They test more for intelligence, or word recognition, or whatever,” says Feilding. “They can’t test those ‘aha’ moments in putting new insights together, whereas the Go game does test for that. You suddenly see, ‘Aha! That’s the right move to enclose the space.’”
- from The Plan to Prove Microdosing Makes You Smarter 

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Your Move/Readers Write: Gary Kasparov on AlphaGo

Tuesday August 29, 2017

By Michael Bacon

Enjoyed the coverage of the Go Congress immensely! Could not help but poke a few of my chess friends in the eye while contrasting all the coverage it received with all the coverage the recent US Open did not receive on the organ of US chess, the USCF webpage. I’ve also been transfixed by Michael Redmond’s videos. The man is a national treasure!

Former World Human Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, who will always be remembered as the human who lost to a ‘machine,’ in his apologia for having lost to the computer chess ‘engine’ called ‘Deep Blue’ — not for having turned Kasparov a deep shade of blue, and a whiter shade of pale, I might add — writes about go in ‘Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins‘:2017.08.27_Deep Thinking-Kasparov
“The nineteen-by-nineteen Go board with its 361 black and white stones is too big of a matrix to crack by brute force, too subtle to be decided by the tactical blunders that define human losses to computers at chess. In that 1990 article on Go as a new target for AI, a team of Go programmers said they were roughly twenty years behind chess. This turned out to be remarkably accurate. In 2016, nineteen years after my loss to Deep Blue, the Google-backed AI project DeepMind and its Go-playing offshoot AlphaGo defeated the world’s top Go player, Lee Sedol. More importantly, and also as predicted, the methods used to create AlphaGo were more interesting as an AI project than anything had produced the top chess machines. It uses machine learning and nural networks to teach itself how to play better, as well as other sophisticated techniques beyond the usual alpha-beta search. Deep Blue was the end; AlphaGo is the beginning.” (pgs. 74-75)

Please note the author capitalizes “Go,” but not “chess.” I find that curious as I have always capitalized “Chess.” (note: the EJ does not capitalize go, consistent with AP style) In addition, Lee Sedol, as all go players know, was not the “…world’s top Go player,” when he lost to the computer program known as AlphaGo.

2017.08.27_kasparov-bookWe move along to page 104 where one finds this:2017.08.27_Kasparov-playing
“The machine-learning approach might have eventually worked with chess, and some attempts have been made. Google’s AlphaGo uses these techniques extensively with a database of around thirty million moves. As predicted, rules and brute force alone weren’t enough to beat the top Go players. But by 1989, Deep Thought had made it quite clear that such experimental techniques weren’t necessary to be good enough at chess to challenge the world’s best players.”

Finally, on page 121, Kasparov, or his co-author Mig Greengard, writes this paragraph:
“More success was had with another method for allowing machines to extend their thinking into the hypothetical outside of the direct search tree. Monte Carlo tree search simulates entire games played out from positions in the search and records them as wins, draws, or losses. It stores the results and uses them to decide which positions to play out next, over and over. Playing out millions of “games within the game” like this was not particularly effective or necessary for chess, but it turned out to be essential in Go and other games where accurate evaluation is very difficult for machines. The Monte Carlo method doesn’t require evaluation knowledge or hand-crafted rules; it just keeps track of the numbers and moves toward the better ones.”

While reading I continually thought of former World Human Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker’s famous quote, “If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go.”

Not chess; go!

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“Invisible” available online; Yuan Zhou’s “AlphaGo vs. Ke Jie 9P”; Go World/AGJ issues available; Dino Pair Go

Sunday August 27, 2017

“Invisible” available online: “Invisible: The Games of AlphaGo” is now available online. ‘It’s a fascinating account,” says John Power, author of “Invincible: The Games of Shūsaku.” “I strongly recommend Invisible to any go player interested in the present and the future 2017.08.27_alphago-vs-ke-jieof go.”

Yuan Zhou’s “AlphaGo vs. Ke Jie 9P”: Also just out is Yuan Zhou’s “AlphaGo vs. Ke Jie 9P” from Slate & Shell and available through Amazon. Despite losing all three games,2017.08.27_pair-go-dinos Ke Jie did better than any one else had, and Yuan Zhou gives a thorough and insightful analysis of the match and reflects on the significance of AlphaGo for the go community.

Go World/AGJ issues available: You recently published a letter about the donation of go books to libraries (which I have already done) but I have heard nothing about libraries housing go magazines,” writes Joel Sanet. “I have a complete set of Go Worlds and the print version of the American Go Journal (there might be one issue missing) that I am willing to donate for the cost of reimbursement of  shipping which I estimate to be in the range of $40 each. Any library that is interested can contact me at yosdan30@comcast.net. BTW I have not see the NY Times crossword puzzle reported by Roy Schmidt but I suspect the answer to the clue “Travel edition of a classic board game?” is “on the go go.”

photo: a particularly intimidating couple at the Pair Go Tournament at the recent U.S. Go Congress; photo by Eric Wainwright 

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Moments from the MLily Cup: Days three and four

Saturday August 26, 2017

fullsizeoutput_c0dHua Xueming 7P’s Go philosophy is familiar
“No matter who I play with, if I’m playing a game of Go I am enjoying myself,” Hua Xueming 7P said through a translator during the Ruilong Primary School visit. “Even just last night I played four games, until midnight!” In the discussion room during the top eight round, she played a four-stone game with Jeff Shaevel (photo top right). Competition Officer Liu Jing 8P expressed similar feelings at the event, emphasizing that when he sees children playing and enjoying Go it makes him happy, because it reminds him of when he played as a child and how much he enjoyed it.

fullsizeoutput_c10Players began the top eight round with choosing for color
All in unison, following announcements of Wang Runan 8P, President of the Chinese Weiqi Association, players took stones from their bowls to choose for color, arranged the bowls appropriately, and started their clocks to begin the top eight round games. Park Jungwhan 9P and Chen Zijian 4P chose black and white respectively (photo top left).

Nie Weiping 9P joins the discussion room
In the discussion room during the top 16 matches, Hua Xueming played a go game with tournament sponsor Ni Zhanggen while everyone watched the tournament games projected on a fullsizeoutput_c1ascreen at the front of the room. During the top eight matches Hua Xueming 7P, Nie Weiping 9P, and Yu Bing 9P focused on a lively review of the tournament games in progress (photo bottom right).

fullsizeoutput_c16Semi-finalists chosen and paired
Competition Officer Liu Jing 8P introduced each of the four semi-finalists and prepared the box from which each player would choose their position and opponent for the best-of-three semi-final round (photo bottom left).
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report/photos by Karoline Li, EJ Tournaments Bureau Chief

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MLily Cup: Final four players chosen and paired

Saturday August 26, 2017

fullsizeoutput_c0cPark Jungwhan 9P, Park Yonghun 9P, Li Xuanhao 6P, and Xie Ke 3P were victorious in their top eight games on Saturday afternoon 8/26. After all the games were finished, the players drew lots to choose their matches for the next round, which will be best of three matches; games will take place on November 17th, 19th, and 20th.

Pairings for the top four best of three matches (photo, left to right):
Li Xuanhao 6P vs Park Yonghun 9P
Xie Ke 3P vs Park Jungwhan 9P
-report/photo by Karoline Li, EJ Tournaments Bureau Chief

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Adventures in Tongling City and a very short birthday

Saturday August 26, 2017

IMG_0792by Karoline LiIMG_0799

Down the street from our hotel Jeff Shaevel and I found the One Two Book Cafe, where we hoped to find good coffee to complement our otherwise local – and entirely delicious – culinary adventures here in Tongling. The cafe is also a bookstore and local hangout for young people to come and play games, on top of being a lovely coffeehouse. Jeff and I found ourselves there a couple of mornings when our schedule allowed, and were delighted – but not surprised – to find a Go set at one of the tables, on which he promptly trounced me two games in a row. However, our time there was not only a celebration of Go and good coffee; a room at the back of the cafe is festooned with balloons and stuffed animals and is specially designated as the Happy Birthday room. We looked no further for how to properly acknowledge Jeff’s recently under-celebrated birthday, which had begun only a few minutes prior to the boarding of our flight on Monday August 21 and as a result lasted only a few hours and was over by the time we landed.
-report/photos by Li, EJ Tournaments Coordinator

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MLily Cup top eight matches begin

Saturday August 26, 2017

IMG_0975The final top eight players of the MLily Cup begun their games the morning of August 26th in Tongling at 12:30 on the dot. A clock issue that interrupted the game between Fan Yunruo 6P and Park Yonghun 9P in the first few minutes was quickly rectified by the competition officer and the game progressed smoothly.
-photo: Park Jungwhan 9P begins his top eight match against Chen Zijian 4P
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report/photo by Karoline Li, EJ Tournaments Bureau Chief

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A glimpse of the go-playing students of China during the MLily Cup day off

Friday August 25, 2017

fullsizeoutput_bedby Karoline Li

On Friday 8/25, the day off between the top 16 and top eight MLily Cup games, Jeff Shaevel and I were invited to accompany a delegation of professionals and tournament organizers on a student-centric trip around the city of Tongling. Members of the group included President of the Chinese Weiqi Association Wang Runan 8P, Vice President Nie Weiping 9P, captain of Chinese national Go team Hua Xueming 7P, and coach of the Chinese national Go team Yu Bing 9P. Our first stop was a hotel in the city where Anhui province’s student tournament was held. We were ushered upstairs to a tournament room filled with hundreds of young students sitting at Go boards (photo top right), who applauded enthusiastically at the entrance of the professional players. Wang Runan spoke to open the event, and amid more thunderous applause and the start of games, the pros and their entourage exited.

fullsizeoutput_beeOur second stop was at Ruilong Primary School, where Hua Xueming (photo top left), Wang Runan, and Yu Bing played simultaneous games with the students. The organizer of the event first introduced the professionals to the room, and welcomed Jeff and I as representatives of the AGA; a translator told me afterwards that Wang Runan had spoken of his pleasure that we were there and the positive communication happening between China and America through Go evidenced by our presence. Then the children sat down at prepared Go boards, and each of the three pros took their places. I spoke with one of the teachers in attendance, who let me know that most of the students were between six and eight years old, and all beginner level go players. There were two empty boards on a table in the corner of the room, and when two students who had just come to observe asked Jeff for a simul, he happily obliged. Their table was soon surrounded with the students’ friends watching them play, and parents taking pictures.

fullsizeoutput_bf2The enjoyment in the room, on the part of both the students and the professionals, was palpable at both events of the day. Seeing the way Go is treated by teachers and students in schools as an important and worthy activity was truly wonderful to witness. It made me feel grateful for the teachers in America who spend the time and effort to introduce Go programs in school and bring students into the game. With the continued hard work of our Teachers of the Year, and all those who have not yet received the honor – but put in so many hours to teach Go to children and promote Go programs in Schools like the one Stephanie Yin 1P is introducing in New York City this year – perhaps one day we can have a student community of Go players in the US like the one that Jeff and I witnessed here in Tongling City.
IMG_0912-photo (bottom right): Wang Runan 8P, President of Chinese Weiqi Association, reviews a simultaneous game with a student
-photo (bottom left): Jeff Shaevel, AGA National Tournament Coordinator, plays a simultaneous game with two students while friends look on.
-report/photos by Li, EJ Tournaments Bureau Chief

 

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MLily Cup: Pairings decided for top eight match Saturday 8/26

Friday August 25, 2017

Eight players, six from China and two from Korea, will face off in the next round of the MLily Cup on Saturday afternoon 8/26 at 12:30pm. The strength of the young generation of Chinese professionals is evident in the results of the tournament so far; all of the Chinese players in the top eight were born after 1995.

Top eight round pairings:
Chen Zijian 4P of China vs. Park Jungwhan 9P of Korea
Li Xuanhao 6P of China vs. Huang Xin 4P of China
Liao Yuanhe 5P of China vs. Xie Ke 3P of China
Fan Yunruo 6P of China vs. Park Yonghun 9P of Korea

 

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Stephanie Yin 1P on MLily and the importance of promoting Go to kids

Thursday August 24, 2017

fullsizeoutput_beaby Karoline Li

After the beginning of Ryan Li’s top 16 game on Thursday 8/24 here in Tongling, Stephanie Yin 1P and I got a chance to sit down to chat about her Go career and her experience here at the MLily Cup. “I think I’m more nervous than Ryan is,” she laughed. “I am so proud that he has achieved this all on his own, without a teacher.” She is also happy that there are AGA representatives here to support Ryan, and not just her. “We think that last time, we were like individual soldiers, but this time we’re a troupe.” She and Ryan have been together since just after the 2016 US Go Congress in Boston. Since they are both professional go players, I wondered whether or not they ever play against each other; Stephanie says they have played a total of four games, and they each won two of them. “We haven’t played since his top 64 MLily Cup game,” she explains with a smile. “I think that after that tournament experience and his match with Chen Yaoye 9P he has improved a lot.”

Stephanie’s own Go journey began at the age of seven. Her father is a go player and big fan of the game. “He and Ryan are the same,” she laughs. “If they don’t touch go at least once a day they feel like something is wrong.” She started studying under her father’s teacher, and after only a year she won first place in the student city tournament, winning against older students who had been studying longer. She started studying at a professional Go school in Beijing at age nine, and became a professional Go player at age 16 in 2007. “I only competed for one or two years before moving to the states,” she says of her competitive career. After moving the US, she attended Fordham University in the Bronx studying finance. After graduation, she worked as a stock broker and taught go for a year before quitting her finance job to found the New York Institute of Go in August of 2016. “Teaching go full time makes me more proud of myself,” she explains, her passionate about teaching evident. “When I see a beginner who didn’t know about go begin to like it and improve, even after just one lesson, that makes me happy.” She has about 50 students now in group lessons, school programs, and after-school programs, and her Go program has just been approved by the parent teachers association of a network of schools in Manhattan; they will be starting Go clubs in September. “A new way to promote Go in the US is through rating competitions,” she suggests. She held just such a competition recently for her students in New York. These competitions are held with the purpose of assigning a rating to a beginner who hasn’t played in tournaments yet; they can use their new rating to compete in other tournaments, and work towards promotion. One of the things she’d like to see in the US is an organized system of rating and promotional competitions to get more beginners interested in learning and improving their Go skills. One of the most important things we need, she says, is to encourage teachers to put in the effort to promote Go in schools and community places like libraries to reach out and introduce new people to the game. “I think the market for Go in the US is large,” she says after her first year of full-time teaching experience. “We need to find sponsors like MLily for our events so we can reach more potential players and really work to promote Go.”
-report/photo by Li, EJ Tournaments Bureau Chief

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