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Only a Passing Matter

Tuesday September 3, 2013

In the recent US Go Congress, there were a lot of exciting half-point games. There was also some confusion over AGA rules and passed stones. On the top two boards of the US Open on the same day, for example, one game finished with black winning by a half-point while on the other, white won by half a point. How could this happen? Here’s an updated explanation of AGA rules, originally published back in 1992 when the rules were new.

In an even game with 7 and ½ komi, if White must make the third pass at the end of the game, that stone does change the score (from the traditional territory count) but does not (except rarely*) change the apparent result. The reason is a matter of parity.

Under AGA rules players alternately fill in any dame and both pass one stone to indicate the end of the game. That’s a design feature of AGA rules to avoid language problems and end game confusion and has no effect on the result.

If Black plays the last stone on the board, White – under AGA rules – also hands over a third pass stone. Why and what is the effect?

When Black plays last on the board, the number of stones played by both players (not including pass stones) must be odd. Since the board is odd (361), the territory after filling in prisoners will be even. (Odd minus odd equals even.) So any difference in the scores of the two players must also be even: 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. (e.g. 33 – 27 or 32 – 26).

If White is behind by 6 points (territory count) and gets 7 ½ komi, White wins by 1½ . The additional pass stone prisoner reduces the victory to ½ point, but White still wins. If White is behind by 8 and gets 7 ½ komi, White loses by ½ point. The additional pass means White is down 1 ½ points – just a bigger loss.

And if White plays last on the board, there is no third pass stone and no issue.

*Note, if there is a seki (or a combination of sekis) with an odd total number of shared liberties, the parity of points on the board changes and the added White pass stone can appear to change the result in a 1 point game. The combination happens very rarely – less than 1/1000. The Congress game between Matthew (Zi Yang) Hu 1p (w) vs Yuhan Zhang 7d (b) (U.S. Go Congress Recap/Preview: Wednesday, August 7 8/6 EJ; click here for the game) is the first reported example since AGA rules were introduced in 1991. But the “change” is an illusion. AGA rules are designed to produce the same result whether counted by territory or area. The last pass stone does that and the 7 1/2 point komi compensates White for Black’s last dame advantage. In addition, if you counted by traditional territory rules with a 6 1/2 point komi, this game would end the same: White loses by half a point.
- Terry Benson, with Dennis Wheeler and Phil Straus; photos of the Hu-Zhang game by Chris Garlock 

Categories: U.S./North America

Ranka Online WAGC Highlights: Tuesday, September 3

Tuesday September 3, 2013

Rounds 5 & 6 Reports: Korea’s Hyunjae Choi is an extremely quiet person. Drawing the black stones, he played the first move of the China-Korea game on the 3-4 point without making a sound, then pressed the clock button, equally noiselessly… Click here to read James Davies’ complete reports on Round 5 and Round 6.

Round 5: US-Singapore: A Fatal Weakness
Jia Cheng Tan of Singapore not only misses a chance to take a territorial lead at a key moment, but then overlooks a fatal weakness in his shape that costs him the game against Curtis Tang of the U.S. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the commentary.

Round 5: Korea-Canada: Building an Insurmountable Lead
Canada’s Bill (Tianyu) Lin doesn’t make any major mistakes in this undramatic game, yet Hyunjae Choi of Korea slowly but surely pulls ahead, building up an insurmountable lead. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the game commentary.

Round 4: Russia-China: Fast But Thin
A fast but thin move early on by Ilya Shikshin (Russia) 7d sets off a cascading series of fierce battles in which the attack changes hands several times. A good example of the kind of sustained concentration necessary for top-level play, even at amateur levels. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the commentary.

Round 3: Austria-Indonesia: Unorthodox
This game features an unorthodox opening by Sebastian Mualim 4d (Indonesia) that actually works fairly well up to a point. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the commentary.

Round 3: Brazil-Belgium: No Errors, But…
In this game, though Thiago Shinji Shimada Ramos (Brazil) 3d makes no major errors, by move 72 Lucas Neirynck (Belgium) 4d has established a clear lead; here’s how. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, transcribed by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the commentary.

What Else Would You Be Doing Today?
Jogging…playing soccer…painting…swimming…Mario Miguel Agüero Obando 1k (Costa Rica), Santiago Quijano Novoa 3D (Colombia) and Bill Tianyu Lin 7D (Canada) reveal what they’d be doing if they weren’t playing go. Click here  for John Richardson’s report; photos by John Pinkerton.

PLUS: Interviews with Romania’s Cornel Burzo and Erick Javier of the Philippines; Bacon, Eggs and Anti-Doping: Irish player James Hutchinson shares his thoughts on go as a sport, and new measures to prevent cheating.


EuroGoTV Update: Netherlands, Croatia, Poland

Sunday September 1, 2013

Centraal PlaatsingstoernooiNetherlands: Bert Vonk 1d bested Jan Bol 2d (left) at the Centraal Plaasingstoernoii on August 25 in Amstelveen; Ger de Groot 1d placed third. Croatia: The 5th Memorial-tournament Ivica Kuhar finished August 24 in Veliki Grdjevac with Stjepan Mestrovic 1k in first, Vlimir Kuhar 5d in second, and Robert Jovicic 2k in third. Poland: Stanislaw Frejlak 4d won both the first and second week of the Summer Go School Marathon tournament in Przystanek Alaska. Week one finished on August 16 with Andrew Kay 4d in second and Tomas Kozelek 4d in third. During week two, Kay held his post while Marcin Majka 2d placed third.
— Annalia Linnan, based on reports from EuroGoTV, which include complete result tables and all the latest European go news.
This post was updated 9/4 to indicate that the photo is of Jan Bol 2d, not Bert Vonk 1d. 



KBA Announces Invitation to Kim-in Senior Cup

Saturday August 31, 2013

The Korea Baduk Association is inviting players from around the world to attend the 7th Kim-in Cup International Senior Baduk Competition, an amateur go tournament being held November 1-4 in Gangjin in the picturesque Korean province of Jeollanam-do, according to AGA President Andy Okun. “My wife and I attended last year and the hospitality and the experience were extraordinary,” Okun said. The Gangjin area is known for its teas and Korea’s traditional celadon pottery (photo). Players need to make their own way to Korea, but once there all the transportation, food and lodging for overseas guests is taken care of by the sponsors. For further information, contact Okun at


EJ & Ranka Coverage of 34th WAGC To Start 9/1

Thursday August 29, 2013

China and Korea are favorites again this year to win the 34th edition of the World Amateur Go Championships, which will be held on September 1-4 in Sendai, Japan. Beginning September 1st,  Ranka Online and the American Go E-Journal will provide full daily coverage of the championship.

The field of 62 players from as many countries will range in age from 14 to 57 and in official rank from 7 kyu to 8 dan. Yuqing Hu will represent China and Hyunjae Choi is playing for Korea; those two countries have not dropped a single game to any other country in this event since 2006. The players from perennially strong Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Hong Kong (Wei-shin Lin, Kikou Emura, and King-man Kwan) will also bear watching, particularly 14-year-old Lin, who will move on from the World Amateur to a pro career in Taiwan.

These Asians will be challenged, however, by a strong European contingent, led by Slovakian prodigy Pavol Lisy, who finished runner-up to former Chinese pro Fan Hui in this year’s European Championship. Joining Pavol will be four other young finalists from the European Championship: Thomas Debarre (France), Ilya Shikshin (Russia), Artem Kachanovskyi (Ukraine), and Nikola Mitic (Serbia). Also competing will be such established European stars as Ondrej Silt (Czechia), Csaba Mero (Hungary), Cornel Burzo (Romania), Merlijn Kuin (Netherlands), and Franz-Josef Dickhut (Germany).

Challenging the Asians and Europeans will be a pair of North American students: Curtis Tang (US), a UC Berkeley student who trained for a year at a go academy in China, and Bill Lin (Canada), who played in the World Mind Games last December and is coming off a 3-1 defense of his Canadian Dragon title.

The Southern hemisphere will be represented by Hao-Song Sun (Australia, 11th place at the 2008 World Mind Sports Games), Xuqi Wu (New Zealand, 12th place at the 2009 Korea Prime Minister Cup), and a pack of hopeful new players from South America and South Africa.

In the past the World Amateur Go Championship has been held in the spring, but this year the schedule was moved back because of the effects of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Thanks to support from all over the world during the past two years, most of the regions hit by the earthquake are now recovering. It is hoped that through the game of go this tournament will give the world proof of the recovery and encourage the local people to press ahead with the long recovery process.
- Ranka Online
NOTE: This report has been updated to reflect Curtis Tang’s status as a college student, not high school.


Taylor Wins Gold at London’s Mind Sports Olympiad

Wednesday August 28, 2013

Paul Taylor 2d of the St Albans Go Club, UK took the gold medal for 19×19 go by just half a point at the 17th Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO) in London on Sunday August 25 (Mind Sports Olympiad Under Way in London, 8/18 EJ).

British Go Association (BGA) VP Tony Atkins 1d (right) of Reading, UK, who also organized the go events and ran a free introduction to the game, as well as acting as arbiter for the games, had to content himself with the second place silver medal. Michael Webster 1d of the Central London Go Club took bronze after a tie-break with Alistair Wall 1d of Wanstead Go Club, UK. Click here for full results.

In the previous afternoon’s 13×13 event, Chris Volk from Germany took gold, while the silver medal went to Jay Rastall. Martyn Hamer won the bronze, but only after a tiebreak playoff with Matthew Hathrell, who nevertheless won medals in several other events. Click here for full results.

Click here for full MSO medal awards.

Tony Collman, British Go Correspondent for the E-J. From a report for the BGA by Tony Atkins. Photos courtesy of Atkins’ website.


The Power Report: Summer Round-up from Japan (Part 3): Kisei Leagues Update; 8th Samsung Cup Qualifying Tournament; 26th Women’s Meijin League Starts; Murakawa to Battle Shida in Agon Kiriyama Cup Final; Yamashita Keigo or Akiyama Jiro to be Tengen Challenger: Yashiro Kumiko Promoted

Wednesday August 28, 2013

E-Journal Japan Correspondent John Power catches us up on go events in Japan and international events in which Japanese players took part. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Kisei Leagues Update
July 25: (A League) Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (W) d. Yamashita Keigo Meijin by 3.5 points. (B League) Murakawa Daisuke 7P (B) d. Takao Shinji 9P by 1.5 points; Mizokami Tomochika 8P (W) d. 25th Honinbo Chikun by resig.
August 8: (B League) Takao Shinji 9P (W) d. Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resig.
August 15: (A League) Yoda Norimoto 9P (B) d. Cho U 9P by 1.5 points; Yamashita Keigo Meijin (W) d. Kobayashi Satoru 9P by resig.

To review the state of the leagues, Yamashita Keigo, on 3-1, will win the A League if he wins his final game. The previous Kisei, Cho U, has dropped to 1-3,
so he has to worry about keeping his place. The B League is lagging a little
behind. Murakawa Daisuke, on 3-0, has the sole lead; next is 25th Honinbo Chikun on 2-1.

8th Samsung Cup Qualifying Tournament: The Samsung Cup has become the most diversified of the international tournaments, offering seats to players in various categories through the large-scale qualifying tournament: general (which could be interpreted as meaning purely on strength), senior, female, and world. The number of seats at stake in these sections respectively was 14, 2, 2, and 1. Only one of the 30 Japanese players who made the trip to Seoul to compete was successful: Komatsu Hideki 9P (aged 46), who won a place in the senior section for the second year in a row. The qualifying tournament was held in Seoul from August 2 to 7. Komatsu had to win five games in a row to get into the main tournament. The seeded players from Japan are Takao Shinji and Yuki Satoshi. The opening round, a complicated double elimination, will be held from September 3 to 5.

26th Women’s Meijin League Starts: The new Women’s Meijin League has got under way and first round and the first two games in the second round have been played. (25 July) Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) d. Okuda Aya 3P by 1.5 points; Ishii Akane 2P (W) d. Mukai Chiaki 5P by resig. (August 1) Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) d. Yoshida Mika 8P by half a point; Kato Keiko 6P d. Chinen Kaori 4P by forfeit.
(August 8). Kato Keiko 6P (W) d. Ishii Akane 2P by resig.

Murakawa to Battle Shida in Agon Kiriyama Cup Final: Two new stars will battle it out in the final of the Agon Kiriyama Cup: Murakawa Daisuke 7P of the Kansai Ki-in (aged 22) and Shida Tatsuya 6-dan of the Central Japan branch (Nagoya) of the Nihon Ki-in (also 22). In the semifinals, held on August 19, Murakawa (W) d. Cho U by resignation and Shida (B) defeated Ichiriki Ryo 3-dan by half a point. The final will be held in Kyoto on October 5.

Yamashita Keigo or Akiyama Jiro to be Tengen Challenger: The semifinals of the 39th Tengen title were held on August 22. Yamashita Keigo Meijin (B) beat Cho U 9P by resignation and Akiyama Jiro 9P beat Yo Seiki 3P, also by resignation. The winners will meet in the final to decide the challenger to Iyama Yuta. Cho U has had a terrible summer: he missed a chance to challenge for the Meijin title, he dropped out of the running in the Kisei league, and he lost in the Tengen and Agon Kiriyama Cup semifinals. Not so long ago, when he was winning three or four titles every year, he looked a certainty to challenge the record for most titles won, but now his prospects don’t look nearly as good. The record, 72 titles, is held by Cho Chikun (25th Honinbo Chikun); Cho U is in sixth place with 38.

Yashiro Kumiko Promoted: Ms. Yashiro Kumiko was promoted to 6P (90 wins) on July 12.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Popular Teacher’s Workshop to Return at 2014 Go Congress

Tuesday August 27, 2013

The Teacher’s Workshop will be offered again at the 2014 Go Congress, according to AGA VP Chris Kirschner.  “The howling success of the 2013 Workshop indicates that this will become a regular Go Congress event,” he told the E-Journal.  The Workshop had 21 hours of programming, with some of the sessions repeated.   Certificates for 8 hours of participation were earned by 40 teachers who ranged from 15 kyu to 5 dan.  Go teachers who did not attend the workshop are welcome to join the announcement/discussion list for the Workshop, which is being moderated by Bill Camp.  To join the list, just email BillPhotos: top right: Go Phrase Guessing Game devised by Korean Pro Dahee Lee (at back); bottom left: Chris Kirschner; bottom right: Bill Camp.  Photos/report by Brian Allen


The Power Report: Summer Round-up from Japan (Part 2): Kita Fumiko Inducted Into Hall Of Fame; Iyama To Challenge For Meijin Title

Tuesday August 27, 2013

E-Journal Japan Correspondent John Power catches us up on go events in Japan and international events in which Japanese players took part. Click here (link) for Part 1. 

Kita Fumiko Inducted Into Hall Of Fame: At a July 16 meeting at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, Kita Fumiko, honorary 8-dan, became the first woman to be inducted into the Go Hall of Fame. Kita (1875-1950) was the adopted daughter of the pioneering woman player Hayashi Sano (1825-1901). She became professional 1-dan in 1891 and reached 3-dan in 1895. In the same year, she married the head of the Kita No school, Kita Roppeita, and retired from active play. She made a comeback in 1907 and achieved good results, leading to her being promoted to 4-dan by the Hoensha group in 1911. In 1921 she became the first woman player to reach 5-dan. She played an important role in the founding of the Nihon Ki-in in 1924. She retired from active play and devoted herself to teaching. After her death, she was promoted to 7-dan and then to 8-dan. She is famed as “the mother of women’s go” and had many disciples, one of whom, Sugiuchi Kazuko 8-dan, is still active.

Iyama To Challenge For Meijin Title: After the 38th Meijin League ended in a tie between Iyama Yuta Kisei and Kono Rin 9P, a play-off to decide the challenger to Yamashita Keigo was held on August 5. Iyama drew black and beat Kono by resignation. This win gives Iyama a chance to regain the title that he lost to Yamashita Keigo in 2011. It also means that he will set yet another record by becoming the first player ever to appear in all top-seven title matches in one year. That will also give him a chance to revive the dream of holding all the top seven titles simultaneously (he would need to win all his title matches up to the Kisei next year, then regain the Judan title).

Below is an update of Meijin League results since my last report.
Round 7 (July 18). Yuki Satoshi 9P (B) d. Mizokami Tomochika 8P by half a point. This was the last game in the seventh round and it put an end to Yuki’s losing streak of 16 games over three leagues. His loss made demotion from the league certain for Mizokami; even though he had only one win, as a seeded player he could have retained his league seat if he had won his final two games. Three players, Yuki, Mizokami and Sakai, now had only one win with one round to go, so Murakawa Daisuke, with three wins, became certain of retaining his place.
Round 8 (August 1): As has become the practice in recent years, all the games in the final round were played on the same day, to ensure a dramatic finish. If Cho U won, he would win the league outright and become the challenger. If he lost his game with Kono Rin, Kono would end in a tie for first with the winner of the game between Iyama Yuta and Hane Naoki. Kono Rin 9P (B) d. Cho U 9P by resig; Yuki Satoshi Judan (B) d. Takao Shinji 9P by resig; Murakawa Daisuke 7P (B) d. Mizokami Tomochika 8P by resig; Iyama Yuta Kisei (B) d. Hane Naoki 9P by resig.
The final order in the league was: 1st, Iyama 6-2; 2nd: Kono 6-2; 3rd Cho U 6-
2; 4th Hane 5-3; 5th Takao Shinji 5-3; 6th Murakawa 4-4. Yuki (2-6), Mizokami
(1-7), and Sakai Hideyuki 8P (1-7) lost their places.
In an interview after the play-off, Iyama said that he was lucky. He was not
just being modest. When he was beaten by Cho U in the seventh round (actually the sixth round for Cho, his score was 5-2 compared to Cho’s 6-0, so his prospects didn’t look very good. Fortunately for him, other players managed to defeat Cho in his last two games. This is an example of relying on “tariki” (the strength of others) instead of “jiriki” (one’s own strength). It worked for Iyama.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

The Power Report: Summer Round-up From Japan (Part 1): Iyama Defends Gosei Title, Maintains Quintuple Crown; Yuki Reaches Third Round Of Mlily International Tournament

Monday August 26, 2013

I spent the summer traveling overseas (that is, away from Japan, where I live), so in a 3-part series this week I will catch up on go events in Japan and international events in which Japanese players took part. Some of these may have been reported on previously in the E-Journal so these reports will provide additional information of interest.
- John Power

Iyama Defends Gosei Title, Maintains Quintuple Crown: In the 38th Gosei title match, Kono Rin 9P made an excellent start, winning the first two games, but defending champion Iyama Yuta Kisei (right) fought back to defend his title with three straight wins. The third game was played at the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Osaka on July 26. Taking white, Iyama picked up his first win of the series, edging Kono by 1.5 points. This win could have been predicted, as Iyama has never lost a title match (this was his 14th) with straight losses. This was a fairly quiet game in which Iyama exploited a small slip by Kono in the middle game, then played steadily to keep his lead. The fourth game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 9. Taking black, Iyama secured a resignation after 189 moves. Iyama took the lead in territory, then wrapped up the game by living inside Kono’s moyo. For the deciding game, played on August 23, the title went back to Iyama’s home ground, the Kansai Headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in. Kono won the nigiri and so took black. In some very difficult fighting that started in the middle game, Iyama took a small lead and once again carefully nursed it to the end of the game. The final margin was 2.5 points. This is Iyama’s first defence of the Gosei title and his 19th title overall.

Yuki Reaches Third Round Of Mlily International Tournament: Three Japanese started out in the first round of China’s new international tournament, the 1st Mlily Cup, but only one made it to the third round. That was Yuki Satoshi of the Kansai Ki-in, who frequently represents Japan in international tournaments, despite his “advanced” age, by international standards, of 41. I have reported on this tournament previously, but there are some added details below. Note that I give only a selection of the results in the first two rounds.
Round 1 (Chinese Qiyuan, Beijing, July 9; China 41 players, Korea 18, Japan 3, Chinese Taipei 2): Yuki Satoshi 9P (Japan) (W) defeated Cheong Seung-hyun amateur (Korea) by resig; An Dongxu 4P (China) (B) d. Yamashita Keigo 9P (Japan) by 2.5 points; Li Qinsheng 2P (China) (W) d. Piao Wenyao 9D (China) by resig; Lei Zhenkun 1P (China) (W) d. Yi Ch’ang-ho 9P (Korea) by resig; Peng Quan 7P (China) (B) d. Pak Cheong-hwan 9P (Korea) by resig; Hu Yaoyu 8P (China) (B) d. Murakawa Daisuke 7P (Japan) by resig; Yi Se-tol 9P (Korea) (W) d. Chang Hao 9P (China) by resig; Na Hyeon 3P (Korea) (W) d. Shi Yue 9P (China) by 2.5 points; Mi Yuting 4P (China) (B) d. Kang Tongyun 9P (Korea) by resig; Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) (W) d. (Ms.) Song Ronghui 5P (China) by resig. (China 25 wins, Korea 6, Japan 1)
Round 2 (Chinese Qiyuan, Beijing, July 11): Yuki (W) d. Li Qincheng 2-dan (China) by resig; Mi Yuting (W) d. Yi Se-tol by resig; Kong Jie 9P (China) (B) d. Chen Yaoye 9P (China) by resig; Cho Han-seung 9P (Korea) (B) d. Qiu Jun 9P (China) by resig; Gu Li 9P (China) (W) d. Na Hyeon by resig. (China 13 wins, Korea 2, Japan 1)
Round 3 (August 9, Shanghai): Wang Xi (B; at left in photo above) d. Yuki (at right in photo)by resig; Dang Yifei 4P (China) (B) d. Tang Weixing 3P (China) by resig; Zhou Ruiyang 9P (China) (W) d. Guo Jianchao 5P (China) by resig; Wu Guangya 6P (China) (B) d. Hu Yaofeng 5P (China) by half a point; Lian Xiao 4P (China) (B) d. Ch’oe Ch’eol-han 9P (Korea) by 1.5 points; Gu Li (W) d. Hu Yaoyu by resig; Wang Lei 8P (China) (B) d. Cho Han-seung by 1.5 points; Mi (B) d. Kong Jie by half a point. (China won all eight games.)
Quarterfinals (August 11, Shanghai; I don’t have winning margins): Gu (W) d. Wang Lei; Zhou (B) d. Lian; Wang Xi (B) d. Wu; Mi (W) d. Dang.
In the semifinals, to be played in September, Gu plays Zhou and Wang plays Mi.
- photos courtesy Go Game Guru

Categories: Japan,John Power Report