American Go E-Journal » Go News

IGF meetings kick off 38th World Amateur Go Championship in Guiyang, China

Saturday June 3, 2017

by Thomas Hsiang, special correspondent to the E-JournalThe 38th World Amateur Go Championship is being held at the five-star Guiyang Sheraton Hotel in downtown Guiyang, China.  On June 3, the first day, the International Go Federation held its annual Board and General Assembly meetings.  A number of important announcements were made by Chairman Chang Zhenming, president and chairman of CITIC 2017.06.03_wahc-igc-mtgSecurities, Inc:
  • The next three WAGC’s will be held in Tokyo May 2-9, 2018; in Matsue City of the Shimane Perfecture in 2019; and in Vladevostok, Russia, in 2020.  Maxim Volkov, president of Russian Go Federation, was on hand to celebrate the announcement.
  • IGF will host the “CITIC Securities Cup” – the First International Artificial Intelligence Go Open – on August 16-17, 2017, in the City of Ordos of Inner Mongolia, China.  16 programs will be entered into the competition from over the world.  Generous prizes will be provided.
  • IGF offers a $20,000 grant to support the First Latin America Go Congress, to be held October 12-16, 2017 in Cancun, Mexico.
  • The Second IMSA Elite Mind Games, participated by IGF, will be held December 8-16, 2017 in Huai’an City, China.  This event will continue at least through 2019.
  • The 2017 Pair Go World Cup will be held August 7-10, 2017 in Tokyo.
  • A new member, the Republic of Georgia, was admitted and is now the 77th member of IGF.
Mr. Hiroaki Dan, chairman of Nihon Kiin and vice president of IGF, made the proposal for IGF to take on surveying and building up go instructional materials for schools.  The proposal was approved unanimously by the Board and will become a priority for IGF in the next few years.  Chairman Chang made the following declaration on behalf of IGF: “In recognition of the benefit of Go in the development of intelligence and character of youths, IGF will promote Go education in schools by surveying its members for existing Go educational materials worldwide, followed by sponsoring studies that consolidate these materials to build systematic educational content and pedagogy.  We welcome active participation from IGF members.”
Mr. Chang also called on IGF to take up studies to work toward a universal ruleset and to establish a universal rating system.
After the General Assembly, the traditional ceremony to draw pairing was held.  In the evening, a lavish dinner banquet concluded the busy day.  Tomorrow the first two rounds of competition will be held.
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Memory and DNA study seeks go-playing volunteers

Saturday June 3, 2017

Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute and Harvard’s Personal Genome Project (PGP) are partnering with Luminosity to better 2017.06.03_harvard-studyunderstand the relationship between memory and DNA.  The goal of the study is to identify genetic factors that can help in developing treatment for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, by identifying individuals having exceptional memory, attention, and reaction speed.
Yingleong Chan, PhD, postdoctoral fellow of George Church’s lab at Harvard Medical School, has reached out to the American Go Association to find go players who are interested in participating in being participants of the PGP and participating in this PGP-Lumositygenomics research study.  Participants will be asked to complete six games aimed at evaluating memory, attention, and reaction speed.  Participant test scores will then be grouped to identify exceptional performers.  People that perform well on the games will have the opportunity to identify their genome sequence in order to construct experimental models to form new hypotheses related to the characteristics of neurodegenerative disorders.  Through this study, the PGP hopes to better understand efficient memory functions in order to further research Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Click here for more information, including instructions on how to enroll in the study.
- edited by Brian Kirby
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Categories: U.S./North America
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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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Categories: Latin America
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Early-bird Congress registration extended

Wednesday May 31, 2017

Due to the excitement surrounding the recent AlphaGo – Ke Jie match and the Memorial Day weekend, the Directors of the 2017 US Go Congress – San Diego have decided to extend the end of the early-bird Congress registration from June 1 to2017.05.31_Town.Country.Resort Monday, June 5. “This will enable registrants to still take advantage of the $50 saving for Congress registration and the subsidized  meals packages through Sunday, June 4,” says Ted Terpstra. 
The Congress will be held at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego from August 5 to August 13. Discounted hotel reservations can be made through the Congress web site.

Nearly 400 have already signed up to attend the 2017 Congress, including delegations of players from China, Japan, and South Korea. Teachers and pros from around the world will be at the Congress to lecture, play simultaneous exhibitions and analyze games in the afternoons and evenings. A round of the US Open will be played every morning except Wednesday, which is a rest day to take in the sights of San Diego.

- photograph of the Town and Country Resort taken by Ted Terpstra

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Evanston go club continues teaching tradition at Anime Central

Tuesday May 30, 2017

Following a 10-year long tradition, the Evanston Go Club recently introduced go and taught to new players for more than twenty hours over two days 2017.05.30_evanston.animeat Anime Central in Rosemont, Illinois, reports club president Mark Rubenstein. Begun in 1998, Anime Central is an annual convention dedicated to the “appreciation, recognition, and enjoyment of Japanese tradition and culture.”  This year’s event was held May 19th-21st in the Hyatt O’Hare and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.  “We are confident that we have kindled the interest in go for many newcomers,” writes Mark, noting that it was now time “to get some sleep.”

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Categories: U.S./North America
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Zhaonian Chen wins Maryland Open, 5-0

Monday May 29, 2017

Zhaonian Chen 7d (left) won the Maryland Open last weekend, going undefeated — including wins over pros Eric Lui and Calvin Sun (right) — in the 2-2017.05.29_md-open-chenday, 5-round tournament in Baltimore Maryland. The 44th edition of the tournament attracted 70 players and was directed by Gurujeet Khalsa, assisted by Todd Heidenreich. Full results below.

Open Section
1st Zhaonian Chen 7 dan, 5-0
2nd Eric Lui Pro 1 dan
3rd Calvin Sun Pro 1 dan

A Section
1st Chen An 6 dan
2nd Huang Qi 6 dan
3rd Hu Xiaocheng 6 dan

B Section
1st Zehua Zhao 4 dan
2nd Zhenying Gu 4 dan
3rd Ashish Varma 4 dan

C Section
1st Lee Hunyh 2 dan
2nd Brian Jiang 2 dan

D Section
1st Isaac Wiener 2 kyu – Kyu Champion
2nd Greg Lysack 1 kyu

2017.05.29_md-open-sun-luiE Section
1st Arnold Eudell 4 kyu
2nd Bob Crites 6 kyu

F Section
1st Joon Lee 10 kyu, 5-0
2nd James Funk 7 kyu

G Section
1st Alan Yang 16 kyu
2nd Brian Ye 20 kyu

Greg Lefler Award – Feng Yun Go Club

Fighting Spirit Prize – Patrick Bannister 16 kyu
bottom left photo: Sun and Lui review their game; photos by Keith Arnold

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Categories: U.S./North America
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The Power Report: Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match

Monday May 29, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.05.29_Hon2 Iyama

Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match: The second game of the 72nd Honinbo title match was held at the Kumagai Family Residence in Oda City, Shimane Prefecture, on May 23 and 24. This residence is a large house that belonged to a prominent merchant family in the Edo period; it has been listed as a World Heritage Site and is now a tourist attraction. In the go world, Oda is known as the birthplace of Honinbo Dosaku. Taking black, Iyama Yuta (Honinbo Monyu) won by resignation after 110 moves. As the low number of moves would indicate, this was a one-sided win for the titleholder. Actually the challenger, Motoki Katsuya, did not make major blunders, but Iyama was able to exploit small chinks in his armor to take a firm grip upon the game. This may be more worrying for the loser than losing through an easily identified mistake. Motoki has some work to do before the third game, scheduled for June 8 & 9.

Promotion2017.05.29_O Keii
To 3-dan: O Keii (40 wins, as of May 26). O is the daughter of former Kisei O Rissei. She is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in.

Brilliant shogi newcomer: A brilliant new shogi star, Fujii Sota, has been gaining attention outside the shogi media and may be of interest to go fans. In shogi, you do not become a full-fledged professional until you earn promotion to 4-dan. Fujii qualified for 4-dan about five months ago at the age of 14, which set a new youth record. Since then, he has not lost a game and is now sitting on a winning streak of 19. That includes wins over some strong players, such as Habu 9P, who is the only player to achieve a simultaneous grand slam of the top seven shogi titles. Nineteen successive wins is already the seventh-best winning streak in shogi. There is no comparable achievement in go (of course, 1-dans are fully qualified professionals in go, so it would be hard for a go debutant to match Fujii). Shogi enjoys greater popularity in Japan than go, and Fujii’s success has created quite a stir in the media. Fifty members of the press turned up to report on the game that became his 19th win, on May 25. It was significant, because he qualified for the main section of the Ryuo tournament. Seven more wins in this tournament and he would become the challenger. Some observers have commented that in strength he is already one of the top ten.

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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In surprise announcement, AlphaGo retires; DeepMind to release 50 self-play games

Saturday May 27, 2017

AlphaGo is retiring. DeepMind’s Demis Hassabis and David Silver made the stunning announcement as the Future of Go Summit wrapped up in Wuzhen, China, saying that the match against world #1 Ke Jie represented “the highest possible pinnacle for AlphaGo as a competitive program” and would be the AI program’s final match.2017.05.27_alphago

“The research team behind AlphaGo will now throw their considerable energy into the next set of grand challenges, developing advanced general algorithms that could one day help scientists as they tackle some of our most complex problems, such as finding new cures for diseases, dramatically reducing energy consumption, or inventing revolutionary new materials,” Hassabis said. “If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable. We can’t wait to see what comes next.”

DeepMind isn’t leaving the go community empty-handed, however. As a “special gift to fans of Go around the world,” DeepMind is publishing a special set of 50 AlphaGo vs AlphaGo games, which Hassabis and Silver said “we believe contain many new and interesting ideas and strategies for the Go community to explore.”

And while DeepMind doesn’t plan to give AlphaGo itself a wide release, Hassabis says he’s more than happy for others to make use of DeepMind’s research themselves. Programs like Tencent’s Fine Art and Japan’s DeepZenGo have used similar deep-learning techniques to achieve around 9th-dan level, according to Hassabis. DeepMind will soon publish another paper on how it architected the latest version of AlphaGo, AlphaGo Master, and Hassabis expects other companies to learn from the new research.

Also, Hassabis said that “We’re also working on a teaching tool – one of the top requests we’ve received throughout this week. The tool will show AlphaGo’s analysis of Go positions, providing an insight into how the program thinks, and hopefully giving all players and fans the opportunity to see the game through the lens of AlphaGo. We’re particularly honoured that our first collaborator in this effort will be the great Ke Jie, who has agreed to work with us on a study of his match with AlphaGo. We’re excited to hear his insights into these amazing games, and to have the chance to share some of AlphaGo’s own analysis too.”

Read more in The Verge and on the DeepMind website. photo courtesy The Verge

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AlphaGo-Ke Jie watch parties help build AGA chapter “strength, longevity and cohesiveness”

Saturday May 27, 2017

AlphaGo-Ke-Jie surprising move copyChapters of the American Go Association held watch parties across the country for the historic AlphaGo-Ke Jie match this week. Here are a couple of reports and photos.

At the Seattle Go Center (right), 30 people came for Nick Sibicky’s lecture on a previous game by Ke Jie, and more than 40 were in the room for the first AlphaGo/Ke Jie game.

durham-sm_1970A dozen go aficionados gathered in Durham Wednesday night (left), to review and discuss Game One. A surprise guest was Cole Pruitt, the co-director and producer of “The Surrounding Game.” Says Bob Bacon, “We devoured pizza generously provided by the AGA as we witnessed another milestone in the history of go. Events like this help add to the strength, longevity and cohesiveness of the chapters and the AGA as a whole.”

photos by Brian Allen (right) and Bob Bacon (left)

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AlphaGo defeats Ke Jie in Game 3 to sweep 3-0

Saturday May 27, 2017

AlphaGo completed its sweep of world number one professional Ke Jie 9P on Saturday, winning the third and final game of their match by resignation. Ke called it “one of the greatest matches that I’ve had.” The game once again showcased exciting and surprising moves from both sides, the first arising almost immediately on move 7, a four-space extension from the upper right in which AlphaGo played one space closer to 2017.05.27_ke-jie-hassabisthe corner than in the usual Chinese opening. White 20 was a counter-intuitive second-line probe into Black’s framework on the lower right, showcasing Ke Jie’s superb positional judgment.

When Ke Jie attained a local advantage in the centre, AlphaGo switched to build a powerful framework on the top that spurred White to invade. The action came to a head when Ke Jie sacrificed the territory on the upper side to AlphaGo, gaining initiative to pressure the lower left. After AlphaGo protected its group, the match proceeded towards the endgame. Ke Jie revived his stones in the upper left to take the territorial lead, but this sequence left AlphaGo just enough latitude to take control of his group in the centre, and White resigned after 209 moves.

“We held this event aiming to discover new insights into this ancient, beautiful game,” said DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis. “I can safely say that what has taken place since Tuesday has exceeded our highest hopes. We have seen many new and exciting moves, and we also saw AlphaGo truly pushed to its limits by the great genius Ke Jie.”

Adapted from a report on DeepMind’s AlphaGo page.

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