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Openings on AGA Web Team Available

Sunday June 5, 2011

If you’d like to help make the best English-language go website in the world even better, the AGA webmaster team now has a few openings available. The workload is shared so no-one gets overloaded and we’re looking for folks with good skills and fresh ideas on how to improve the AGA’s website. If interested, please email journal@usgo.org

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Scot Wins Scottish Open

Sunday June 5, 2011

For the first time in many years, the Scottish Open was won this year by a Scottish-born player. Local native Sandy Taylor 2d (Durham) won all five games to take his first tournament title at the Open, held May 28-29 in Dundee. The closure of long-term sponsor Real Time Worlds and a local wedding anniversary contributed to a drop in attendance, with 23 players participating. A new sponsor, Denki — a locally-based “digital toy factory” — ensured that, as ever, all players took away a jar of Dundee’s famous marmalade. Prizes were also awarded to David Lee 2d (Dundee) and Dieter Daems 9k (Leuven) for four wins out of five, and to Martha McGill 2k (Edinburgh), Boris Mitrovic 2k (Edinburgh), Tom Croonenborghs 1d (Antwerp), Eugene Kee-Onn Wong 4k (Glasgow) and Andrew Thurman 7k (Durham) for three wins. Edwin Brady 1k (St Andrews) and Sandy Taylor 2d (Durham) jointly won the Lightning tournament with three wins out of four.
- Tony Atkins, based on his report on the BGA website

Categories: Europe
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“Flawed” Use of Go in Kissinger’s New Book?

Sunday June 5, 2011

Henry Kissinger ‘s understanding of go strategy informs his latest book, On China. However, according to a recent review in The Economist, Kissinger’s book “is marred by three related flaws. The first is Mr Kissinger’s insight that Chinese strategists think like players of wei qi or Go, which means that, in the long term, they wish to avoid encirclement. Westerners are chess-players, tacticians aiming to get rid of their opponents’ pieces ‘in a series of head-on clashes’, he writes. ‘Chess produces single-mindedness; wei qi generates strategic flexibility.’” The review, entitled No go points out that “This conceit has been used by other authors. It appears every few pages here like a nervous tic. Even before Mr Kissinger joins the game, the metaphor is pulled into service to analyse, among other things, Chinese policy in the Korean war, the Taiwan Strait crises of the 1950s (where, of course, “both sides were playing by wei qi rules”), the 1962 war with India (“wei qi in the Himalayas”). Later he describes events in Indochina as ‘a quadripartite game of wei qi,’ just at the time when genocide was under way in Cambodia.” Finally, The Economist reviewers say, “the picture of Chinese foreign policy, as formulated by cool, calculating, master strategists playing wei qi, makes it appear more coherent, consistent and effective than it has been. China’s involvement in the Korean war, for example, led, in Mr Kissinger’s phrase, to ‘two years of war and 20 years of isolation,’ hardly a goal for China—or a wei qi triumph.” In a related story, Leonard Lopate recently interviewed Kissinger on NPR’s WYNC and they briefly discussed the game of go; click here to hear the interview; they talk about go  from approximately 13:50 to about 16:20. Click here for our January 24, 2011 report on Kissinger on Go and Chinese Strategic Thinking.
- thanks to Robert A. McCallister, past president of the AGA and former publisher of The American Go Journal, and to Richard Simon, for spotting these reports

“Flawed” Use of Go in Kissinger’s New Book?

Nick Krempel to play Matthew Macfadyen for British title

Saturday June 4, 2011

Matthew Macfadyen, the 2010 British Champion, has won all seven games in the Challengers’ League May 27-30 to earn the right to defend his title. This year he will be playing Nick Krempel 3d (London), who won five games in the League, in a best-of-3 final. Hui Wang and Alistair Wall just missed out on playing for the title by one win each.
- Tony Atkins, based on his report on the BGA website

Categories: Europe
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Ian Marsh Organizes and Wins Bracknell

Saturday June 4, 2011

Ian Marsh, the organizer of the Bracknell Tournament, was also the winner. Marsh 1k (Bracknell) was the best of the 28 players at the May 15 UK tournament. Also winning all three were Xinyi Lu 4k (Maidenhead) and Laurence Anderson 7k (Bracknell). Poland’s Marcel Zantman 6k won two and then had a last round jigo. Bahareh Afshari won the problem solving, Mike Charles won the 13×13 and Peter Collins won the caption contest.
- Tony Atkins, based on his report on the BGA website

Categories: Europe
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Russian Go Congress Set for July 1-11

Saturday June 4, 2011

The 14th Russian Go Congress will be held in Saint-Petersburg from July 1-11. “All foreign go comrades are welcome,” says Maxim Podolyak. Click here for details.

Categories: Europe
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World Amateur Go Championship: Rounds 6 & 7

Wednesday June 1, 2011

Round 6 began at 1:30pm on May 31 with China’s Baoxiang Bai and Chinese Taipei’s Tsung-han Wu squaring off. One of those two was about to lose his unbeaten status. Next to Bai and Wu, Korea’s Woo-soo Choi was paired against Poland’s Kamil Chwedyna (photo at right). One of those two players was about to lose his second game of the day, after four straight wins in the first half of the tournament. The Polish player drew white and placed his first three stones on the 9-10, 11-10, and 4-2 points, while the Korean occupied three corners.

On three other boards in the main playing room, Japan’s Hironori Hirata was playing Spain’s Joan Flos, Thailand’s Choltit Rattanasetyut was playing Vietnam’s Kanh Binh Do, and France’s Thomas Debarre was playing Eric Lui of the US. The winners of these games would still be very much in contention, provided one of them could manage to beat the winner of the Bai-Wu game.

In the outer playing area the Ukraine’s Mykhailo Halchenko had been drawn down against Romania’s Cornel Burzo. A win for the Ukranian would leave him in contention for the championship too. A win for the Romanian would mean a good chance at taking one of the top ten places, conditional on a strong performance tomorrow. Sixteen other players with 3-2 records were also playing for chances to finish in the top ten. With the stakes becoming increasingly clear, the pace of play slowed. Only a few games finished in less than two hours. Two of these ended in victories for Japan and Korea. At the two-hour ten-minute mark the Southeast Asian showdown between Thailand and Vietnam was also over, and in this game victory went to Thailand, by 9.5 points.

By this time a crowd of over thirty onlookers had gathered around the game between the unbeaten duo from China and Chinese Taipei, Baoxiang Bai and Tsung-han Wu. The situation on the board was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for Chinese Taipei, and after another ten minutes Wu resigned, leaving China’s Bai in undisputed first place, at least for the present.

Thomas Debarre and Eric Lui are both relatively slow players, and their game lasted longer. The winner was Eric Lui. His reward: a pairing against the Chinese player in round 7. In the outer playing area, the drawn-down game, another lengthy affair, was won by the drawn-up player, Cornel Burzo. Tomorrow he will first face Kanh Binh Do of Vietnam in a quest to restore Romania to a place in the top ten. In other pairings for round 7, Korea is matched against Chinese Taipei and Japan against Thailand.

Round 7: At 9:30am on June 1, chief referee Masaki Takemiya (standing in photo at left) gave the players a cheery greeting, followed by the formal call to choose colors and start play. As in round 6 the pace of play was generally slow, but three games in the outer playing area ended quickly. Franz-Josef Dickhut of Germany picked up his fifth win by beating Joan Flos of Spain in less than an hour. Next a nine-stone handicap game between Madagascar’s Manitra Razafindrabe and referee Yasuhiro Nakano ended. Both players won, Nakano on the go board, Razafindrabe by getting a bye in the tournament. Shortly afterward Costa Rica’s Mario Miguel Aguero Obanda scored his second win by beating India’s Sandeep Dave.

The first game finished in the main playing room was the match between Japan and Thailand. Thailand’s Choltit Rattanasetyut resigned at 10:40, giving Japan’s Hironori Hirata a sixth win and an assured pairing against Baoxiang Bai of China in the last round. A minute later, on a different board, Armenia’s Artak Margaryan 3k resigned against Azerbaijan’s Bahadur Tahirbayov 6D, and awhile later Zoran Mutabzja of Croatia lost to Mykhailo Halchenko of the Ukraine.  Andrius Petrauskas saw his hopes of gaining a first-ever top-ten finish for Lithuania dim considerably when he lost to Canada’s Jun Fan.

At 11:20 Israel’s Jonathan Lidor made one last attempt to resurrect a dead group, then resigned to Finland’s Mikko Siukola. Vietnam’s Kanh Binh Do chose to play out a long endgame, including a half-point ko, only to lose by a wide margin to Romania’s Cornel Burzo. Not many people witnessed these defeats, however. The spectators were massed at the front of the room where the games involving China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the US were proceeding.

In the China-US game, Eric Lui had been struggling without success to attack a large group in the center of the board. He was now playing in his last renewable 30-second time period, which he repeatedly used down to the last second or two, eliciting protracted beeps from his tournament clock. At 11:43 he resigned, and China’s Baoxiang Bai took a big stride closer to a world championship.

In the outer area Poland’s Kamil Chwedyna played the endgame from a standing position to win by 4.5 points against Singapore’s Xiang Zhang. At the other end of this area five armed samurai, a ninja, and two kimono-clad girls wearing hats and veils in the style of Matsue’s founding year, 1611, were posing for photographs. When the photography was finished, some of these medieval characters drifted into the main playing room, arriving in time to see Korea’s Woo-soo Choi win his game against Chinese Taipei’s Tsung-han Wu by 3.5 points.

In the last game to finish, France’s Thomas Debarre defeated Czechia’s Radek Nechanicky. In the final round the French and Thai players are paired together, as are the players from China and Japan, from Korea and Romania, and from Chinese Taipei and the US. And outside, the rain for which Matsue is also famous has let up again.
- James Davies, Ranka Online; edited by Jake Edge

World Amateur Go Championship: Rounds 4 & 5

Tuesday May 31, 2011

Round 4 of the 2011 World Amateur Go Championships (WAGC) began at 1:30p on May 30 with referee Yasuhiro Nakano giving the signal to start. With only seven undefeated players remaining, the competition was beginning to tighten up. Two of the three games among those undefeated players ended quickly. Choltit Rattanasetyut of Thailand made an early and serious mistake against Baoxiang Bai of China, and Morten Ofstad of Norway made a major mistake in the middle game against Tsung-Han Wu of Chinese Taipei, giving Bai and Wu easy wins. Wu, who said he had never played a European opponent before this tournament (“except possibly on the Internet”), rated Ofstad as fairly strong. Rattanasetyut was rated as considerably stronger than the Thai player who finished with four wins last year by Yuan Sun, a Chinese 3P player who had been a referee at the WAGC in Hangzhou last year and is assisting the Ranka staff this year.

The third game between undefeated players, Woo-soo Choi of Korea against Eric Lui of the US (left in photo at right), proceeded much more slowly but ended without an upset. Choi said he was satisfied with having won a difficult game, and rated his opponent’s level as not much different from his own. Another undefeated player who won what he described as a difficult game was Poland’s Kamil Chwednya, who had been paired down against Belgium’s Jan Ramon. For the first time in this tournament, the Polish player played conventional opening moves. “Every opening has its own logic,” he said.

In the next round, the undefeated Chinese and Korean players will face each other in what is generally expected to be the deciding game of the tournament. Shortly after round 4 ended, Baoxiang Bai was seen to be going over the game record of Woo-soo Choi’s victory with Choi’s defeated opponent Eric Lui (U.S.). In a different room, Choi was being interviewed for Japan’s Go & Shogi TV channel. When asked how he intended to play against Bai, Choi said he had no special plan: “I’ll just do my best, same as always.”

Undefeated Tsung-han Wu and Kamil Chwednya are also paired against each other in the next round. Eric Lui, Choltit Rattanasetyut, and Morten Ofstad join eleven other players with three wins, including Japan’s Hironori Hirata, who redeemed his honor this afternoon by defeating Jun Fan of Canada by 9.5 points, and Aliaksandr Suponeu of Belarus, who so far is having the best World Amateur Go Championship of his long career.

Round 5: A light rain was still falling on the morning of May 31 as the players made their way, some on foot but most by bus, to the Shimane Prefectural Assembly Hall. First to take his seat in the main playing room, ten minutes before the 9:30 starting time, was China’s Baoxiang Bai (below), arguably the favorite to win the tournament. He has been making his mark on the Chinese national tournament scene since 2006, when he took second place in the Huanghe (Yellow River) Cup at the age of 13. The next year he won the amateur Qiwang (King of Go) tournament, in 2009 he won the amateur Dujuanha (Azelia) Cup, and in 2010 he won the Wanbao (Evening News) Cup. Those last two triumphs earned him the right to represent China at this year’s Korean Prime Minister’s Cup and the 32nd World Amateur Go Championship. At age eighteen he is already recognized as one of the four top amateur players in China.

Five minutes later Woo-soo Choi took the seat facing Bai. Choi is less well-known, having had no national triumphs until he won the Korean amateur Kooksu in 2010. In that tournament, however, he defeated Hong-suk Song, who had beaten Chen Wang, another of China’s top four, to become last year’s world amateur champion. The Kooksu victory made Choi this year’s Korean player at the World Amateur. Soon after Choi sat down, Chinese Taipei’s Tsung-Han Wu took his seat at the adjacent board, and at 9:30 on the dot Poland’s Kamil Chwedyna ambled into the main playing room and sat down facing Wu. Referee Yasuhiro Nakano then gave the signal to start.

On the top board Baoxiang Bai correctly guessed that Woo-soo Choi’s hand held an even number of stones and quickly played the first black stone on the four-four point in the top right corner. Choi took his time before replying on the four-four point in the top left. On the second board Kamil Chwedyna produced another unusual opening, positioning white stones on the 8-8, 8-10, and 8-12 points.

The game on the second board ended within an hour and a quarter. Black carved white’s position into pieces and captured two of them. Kamil Chwedyna manfully resigned and stepped out of the playing room, to be swarmed by a group of uniformed girls from the go club at the Okuizumo Choritsu Takada Primary School, who collected his signature on their programs. A rather older group of spectators had gathered around the board where Japan’s Hironori Hirata was playing Czechia’s Radek Nechanicky. This game ended with the Czech player’s resignation at 11:36.

Some of the spectators now moved over to watch Bai and Choi play out the endgame of their crucial encounter. White had started well in the opening, but in the middle game white let black capture two stones in the center in a classic turtle-shell shape. The territory white took in return did not compensate for the power black gained in the center. Bai’s expression revealed nothing, but he said later that once he took those two stones he had felt confident of winning, and win he did, by 3.5 points, just before noon, as a crowd of close to thirty onlookers thronged around the board.

At this point the only game still going was the one between Eric Lui of the US and Xiang Zhang of Singapore. It continued until nearly 12:40, with Eric Lui winning safely by 5.5 points. In the meantime France’s Thomas Debarre, Ukraine’s Mykhailo Halchenko, Spain’s Joan Flos, Thailand’s Choltit Rattanasetyut, and Vietnam’s Kanh Binh Do had also won their games to join Woo-soo Choi, Kamil Chwedyna, Hironori Hirata, and Eric Lui in the group with four wins. These nine will be fighting to stay in contention while the two remaining undefeated players, Baoxiang Bai and Tsung-han Wu, battle it out it in the afternoon round.

In parallel with all this action in the playing room, the three referees, together with other professional players in attendance, had been kept busy reviewing the completed games, assisted by a capable staff of interpreters. The weather was also cooperating. The rain lifted during the break between rounds 5 and 6, and several players took advantage of this interval to stretch their legs and visit Matsue Castle.
- James Davies, Ranka Online; edited by Jake Edge

World Amateur Go Championship: Rounds 2 & 3

Monday May 30, 2011

THIS JUST IN: Click here for all the latest news from the 2011 World Amateur Go Championships (WAGC) live from Japan, including a report on Round 4 results, reported by our colleagues at Ranka Online, the bulletin of the International Go Federation.

Round 2 of the 2011 WAGC started just after 1:30 on May 29 with all players present. This time the bye went to Mykhailo Halchenko of the Ukraine. The player with the bye receives a teaching game from one of the referees, so Mykhailo 5D found himself playing Yasuhiro Nakano 9P at two stones. This was a tough challenge, and Mykhailo went down to honorable defeat by resignation.

In the real competition, six players now faced opponents of equal rank. The game between Thomas Debarre of France and Cornel Burzo of Romania, both 6D and hopeful of finishing in the top ten, was particularly intense. The winner, by 3.5 points, was Burzo, who earned a pairing against China’s Baoxiang Bao in the next round. In another duel of 6D players, Merlijn Kuin of The Netherlands triumphed over Franz-Josef Dickhut of Germany, and in a clash between two 7D players, Chinese Taipei’s Tsung-Han Wu overcame Canada’s Jun Fan. These four players are also expected to contend for places in the top ten.

At the 5D level, Kanh Binh Do of Vietnam picked up his first win by downing former European champion Zoran Mutabzja of Croatia. At the 1D level, Francisco Pereira of Portugal overcame Michael Galero of the Philippines, and Aliaksandr Suponeu of Belarus bested Manitra Razafindrabe of Madagascar. At the 1k level, Miroslav Smid of Slovakia scored a win over Mario Miguel Aguero Obanda of Costa Rica.

Unlike Round 1, round 2 produced some upsets. In one of the most unusual games of the afternoon, Kamil Chwedyna 4D of Poland used his patented second-line opening to defeat Viktor Lin 5D of Austria. In the closest game Salvador Larios 1k of Mexico squeaked past Hock Doong Ho 1D of Malaysia by half a point, and in the biggest surprise of the day, James Hutchinson 1k of Ireland upended Torben Pedersen 3D of Denmark.

Round 3: Once again most of the spectators chose to watch the game of the Japanese player, Hironori Hirata (in photo at right). Yesterday they had seen him sail serenely past opponents from the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and this morning they expected him to do likewise against Morten Ofstad from Norway. For most of the game it looked as if their expectations would be fulfilled, but the Norwegian 4D did not give up easily and his perseverance was rewarded: a critical mistake in a life-and-death situation forced the Japanese 8D to resign. Mr Hirata accepted defeat with good grace and bowed in apology to his onlooking supporters.

The spectators then moved into the outer playing area to watch the game between Chi-hin Chan of Hong Kong and Tsung-han Wu of Chinese Taipei, which was still in progress. The outcome was impossible to predict: both players are young and strong, both represent territories where go is booming among the younger generation, and the position on the board was tense. After a thrilling endgame it was Tsung-Han Wu, clad in blue jeans, a plaid shirt, and a black vest and sporting earrings, who walked away the winner by a point and a half.

In another 1.5-point finish, Choltit Rattanasetyut of Thailand defeated Xiang Zhang of Singapore. The Thai player led throughout the first half of the game, but victory did not come easily: the lead changed hands twice before the end.

These results left the players from Norway, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand undefeated. Joining them in the all-victorious group were Baoxiang Bai (China), Woo-soo Choi (Korea), Kamil Chwedyna (Poland), and Eric Lui (US), who defeated opponents from Romania, The Netherlands, Spain, and Slovenia in round 3. The Poland-Spain game featured another remarkable opening. Playing black, Kamil Chwedyna placed his first four stones in a pon-nuki shape in the center of the board; then he fought his way to a 6.5-point victory. In the next round the players from China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei will tackle the players from Thailand, the US, and Norway.
- James Davies, Ranka Online; edited by Jake Edge

Wisonet Cup Semi-finals to be held June 19 in NJ

Monday May 30, 2011

The semi-finals of the first Wisonet Cup Go Tournament will be held at 1p on June 19 at the Madison Suites Hotel in Somerset, NJ. It will feature two matches between 7D players: Andy Liu vs. Kevin Huang and Minshan Shou vs. Xinyu Tu. The basic time limit will be 2 hours with 60 seconds of byo-yomi.  If there’s a big enough audience, organizers may arrange to relay the game(s) on a a large go display board in the conference room and possibly broadcast the games on KGS. There may also be a fast game tournament held at the same location in the morning.
- Ronghao Chen, TD (shown at right watching a game during the May 22 Wisonet round)

fast game tournament
Categories: U.S./North America
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