American Go E-Journal » Go News
Wednesday July 27, 2016
Wednesday July 27, 2016
The European Team Championship is the opening event in St Petersburg at the European Go Congress. The defending champions France had qualified alongside teams from Russia, Romania, and Ukraine. In the end they finished in third place this year, losing in the first round to Russia, drawing in the second with the eventual champions Ukraine, before beating Romania in the final round. Here we (Revue Francaise de Go) present an interview with Antoine Fenech (AF), the captain of the French team.
RFG : Hello Antoine. To begin with, can you explain the principle of the Pandanet European Go Team Championship.
AF : The championship was created 6 years ago. It was one of the first big events to take place on the internet. The participating countries are separated into 3 divisions, with a system of promotion and relegation spots; France has always been in the first division. In the first division, there are 10 teams and they play a match (4 games contested by different players) every month, normally on Tuesday evening, on Pandanet, who is sponsoring the competition with about 20,000 Euros a year. At the end of the season, the 4 best teams are invited to contest the finals at the opening of the European Congress.
RFG : Do France often reach the finals?
AF : We participated 4 times in 6 years. In the beginning, we did not have high hopes and thought more of avoiding relegation. But actually we found ourselves in the fight for the qualification spots and since then this became out goal … until finally we won the tournament last year.
RFG : What did this victory change for you?
AF: I think that it was a catalyst for Go in France. Thanks to this competition, we had an objective on the European ladder. In actual fact, to be (individual) champion of Europe, it was probably a little beyond the reach of Thomas Debarre, Tanguy Le Calvé, or Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia. But to become team champions, thanks to the support of Fan Hui, it was within reach.
RFG : So for this year’s final, what were your thoughts?
AF: We arrived in poorer shape than last year, since we were only fourth in the league. We played Russia at home in the first round, and we were probably too scared of them. This initial defeat compromised our chances for the title, but we realised in the end that we were not so far from contention, as Russia were beaten by Ukraine against whom we drew! Finally, it showed us that, even without Fan Hui, the title is within our reach, and that motivates us even more for next year, even if the qualification phase is always difficult.
RFG : When we look at the results, we see that France is rather alone amongst many countries from Eastern Europe. How can you explain this?
AF : We have a young team and an excellent team spirit. If we look at our neighbours Germany, they also have strong youth players (Krämer, Obenaus, Welticke…) but they still pick the older generation, and they switch between the first and second division. We were able to better integrate our young players (Tanguy Le Calvé, Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia, and now Denis Karadaban). I hope that we will have one or two more new players there in 2 or 3 years.
RFG : Now concerning your role as Captain, how do you choose the line up for the team for each round?
AF: It is very simple, I send an email to the team before each match to see who is available. From the players who respond favourably, I try to build the most competitive team. Our team is rather homogeneous, so the absence of a single player is rarely crippling. We also use the principle that a player who won his last game has the right to play again in the following match should he choose to.
RFG : Do you take into account the opponents, for example if a French player has very good results against a particular opponent?
AF : Of course! For example in the finals, Thomas Debarre was very sad after his two initial defeats. We could have changed the line up for the final game against Romania, but Thomas is always very motivated by his games against Catalin Ţaranu. So we chose to stick with the same team, and we took the point!
RFG : Between two seasons, are there departures and additions to the squad?
AF : In the first year, our team was experimental with many “old” players present. From this generation, only Frederic Donzet still played actively and continued to participate. Today, he is no longer playing in tournaments but is still part of the team, who has not seen any departures since the second year. We have also steadily integrated more and more young talents (Benjamin, Tanguy et Denis) as I have already said. We also had the support of Fan Hui, who became French and joined the team, in helping us become champions of Europe. This year, he had less free time and took a break from the competition. As we are not short of numbers, we keep the inactive players on the team if they want to restart playing. Evidently, we continue to bring aboard the young players who make 5-dan.
RFG : Do you see yourself continuing in the role of French Team Captain for a long time?
AF : As long as we keep up this team spirit, this motivation and this dynamic, and so long as the players haven’t had enough of me, I stay! It must be understood that we have quite a different mode of operation to the other countries, who often rely on a hardcore of 4 or 5 players. They share their winnings between a smaller group, but they always have to be available for each round. I think that our strength lies specifically in our ability to be a group of 7 or 8 players. In any case, as captain, it is like this that I want to continue to manage our team.
RFG : Thank you Antoine for making yourself available to our readers !
AF : Thank you !
Based on the original interview in Revue Francaise de Go.
Wednesday July 27, 2016
Given AlphaGo’s dominant performance in last March’s match against Lee Sedol 9P it was no surprise that the July 26 presentation the the European Go Congress by Fan Hui 2P (right) on behalf of DeepMind attracted a huge audience. DeepMind’s Aja Huang is scheduled to present the keynote at the US Go Congress this Saturday and on July 24 tweeted that “We will soon be posting some special commentaries on the Lee Sedol games + for the first time ever some AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo games! Fan Hui will give more details in his speech in the EGC.”
Although many in the go community might have been devastated after the the AI program defeated Lee Sedol 4-1, Fan Hui said he feels quite the opposite. From his point of view AlphaGo is a perfect teacher who can educate not only about aspects of the game but psychology and spirituality as embodied in the saying that “Greed can’t win.” AlphaGo, said Fan Hui, strives to find the best move, and does not commit to any conventional patterns or ”good” or “bad” moves listed in books or shown by pros or teachers. Thus, AlphaGo dares to be free to play any move. Many players could have been jaded after studying the tangled mess of josekis, tesujis or hametes so Fan Hui suggested that AlphaGo helps to break free and simply enjoy trying to be the best. Fan Hui compared Alpha Go to Lee Changho, who is famous for not showing any emotion when he plays, just as AlphaGo does not attribute any emotional characteristics to the moves.
Fan Hui also showed some moves from AlphaGo’s games against itself. Some of the AI program’s moves can really challenge our go beliefs, he said, citing the unorthodox attachment at left. But AlphaGo rates this the best move here, which may mean the Chinese fuseki will not be the same in the future. Click here for the video of Fan Hui’s presentation.
- Daria Koshkina; photo by Michail Krylov
Wednesday July 27, 2016
Will go events soon include cheerleaders? Team Relay Go as developed in Asia has incorporated a number of NBA basketball franchise concepts, including teamwork, timeouts, huge live audiences and, yes, even cheerleaders. Greater Washington DC players tried out the idea in May when Team Virginia and Team Maryland squared off in Tysons Corner, VA. Coached by Qiao Shiyao 1P, each team included three players (though 4-7 per team is more typical), sending in one player each per quarter, which is 40 moves in 30 minutes.
In the first quarter, Yong Chen 1D (MD), successfully invaded to Zhao Zhao 5k’s (VA) moyo, while Coach Qiao 1P showed better variations for white to audiences in the nearby discussion room. The live broadcast in the tournament room was via iphone-iMac Facetime.
While everyone felt white’s 30-point comeback was a “mission impossible,” Lin Lu 8d (VA) started the relay by building a bigger moyo in the second quarter. Maryland’s strong player Muyuan Wang 3d might have wanted to play safe to keep his team’s big lead, but an inadvertent overplay triggered a huge battle in the mid-game, which soon turned into a game-deciding chase of a 20-stone black “dragon.”
In the third quarter, event host Edward Zhang 6D (VA) further reduced the eye-shape of black’s dragon. Players are allowed to take one timeout per quarter, but in the excitement of the chase, Team Maryland forgot to call timeout for help from Coach Qiao 1P and Team Virginia won by resignation after a ko-fight in the 4th quarter.
Due to the strength difference of the player pairs, the live audience was often surprised, and the discussion room filled with laughter and sometimes puzzlement. The review was also a good opportunity for players to hear the perspectives of both professionals and fellow amateurs, and many admitted lacking review and group discussion despite years of playing.
“Team Relay Go has had an explosive growth in Asia in the last two years,” said Shiyao Qiao 1P, a member of the Shenzhen Team in the 24-team City Weiqi League in China. “I’m very pleased that everyone had a blast in this team relay go event, and I look forward to teaching and promoting go more in the U.S. in the near future.” The newly emerged City Weiqi League attracted sponsors quickly and the 2016 season total prize rose to over $360,000 USD.
- reporting and photos courtesy Edward Zhang
Tuesday July 26, 2016
Tennis-playing go players who want to burn off some energy on the courts are invited to join E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock on the Boston University tennis courts next week. “Bring your tennis gear!” Garlock urges, fresh off league victories for both his 3.5 and 7.5 combo teams. Terry Benson invites those who prefer to handle balls with their feet to join him for the usual afternoon soccer scrimmage. Details on both TBA; email firstname.lastname@example.org
photo: Garlock and Phil Straus introduce go to the gridiron at the 2015 Go Congress
Monday July 25, 2016
The 60th European Go Congress got under way on July 23rd in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Congress is being held at the Hotel Azimut, a couple of kilometres south of the historic centre of the city. 456 players took part in the first round, including seven Europeans with pro status. Among the guests are professional players including Cho Hye-Yeon 9p, Shao Weigang 9p, Yamashiro Hiroshi 9p, Muraoka Shigeyuki 9p, Ohashi Hirofumi 6p and many others.
In addition to many tournaments, Congress organizers have prepared some special events. On July 25 Google DeepMind representatives will give an update on AlphaGo, on July 27 Cho Hye-Yeon will take on Zen AI and two chess Grandmasters will clash in a go battle.
Traditionally the first days of the EGC are marked by the Pandanet Go European Team Tournament finals. Team Ukraine, led by recently-minted European pro Artem Kachanovskyi, prevailed over Team Russia 3-1 in the finals, with a sensational victory by Andrij Kravec over Alexandre Dinerchtein (photo at left), sealing the championship. Russia took second place, France 3rd and Romania 4th.
- Daria Koshkina, with additional reporting from the EGC 2016 site; photos: EGC 60 opening ceremony (right); Dinerchtein vs Kravec
Sunday July 24, 2016
Twelve players from 11 countries competed in the Samsung Cup’s World Division among the 19-division preliminary in Seoul, Korea on July 20. Israel’s Ali Jabarin 1P defeated Slovakia’s Pavol Lisy 1P to earn a seat at the upcoming 21st edition of the Samsung. The first round, officially known as the Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance World Masters Baduk Championship, will be on September 6-8 in a double-elimination format. North America’s Eric Lui 1P (US) and Manuel Velasco 6D (Canada) both lost in the first round. See chart at right for the World Division’s full results.
In the division semi-final on July 19, China won 19 of 22 critical matchups against Korea, and accordingly became a huge winner with 14 spots from the prelim. Complete prelim winners: Byun Sangil, Kang Seungmin, Cheong Tae-sang (Korea); Tan Xiao, Tong Mengcheng, Li Qincheng, Guo Wenchao, Fan Tingyu, Liao Xingwen, Xia Chenkun, Fan Yunruo, Cai Jing, Huang Yunsong, Tuo Jiaxi, Yu Bin (‘Senior Division’), Lu Jia, Rui Naiwei (‘Women Division’) (China); Ida Atsushi (Japan); Ali Jabarin (Israel).
by Edward Zhang
Saturday July 23, 2016
The 2016 U.S. Go Congress begins in just a week. It will take place on the main campus of Boston University, which is located near the heart of Boston and along the Charles River. Boston is a fun and beautiful city during the summer: blue sky, Boston Harbor Islands, cool ocean breeze, good food, and beautiful people. It’s a vibrant city with about 152,000 college students. And it’s home to many innovative companies and institutes. Boston is also steeped in history. This was where the Boston Tea Party took place (some believe it’s the reason why we drink coffee today) and the first place in the United States to have a subway transportation system. The city was named after Boston, Lincolnshire, England, the origin of several prominent colonists. The original people of the area were the Massachusett, after whom the state is named.
Go players who use the traditional day off on Wednesday to explore the city might enjoy dimsum in Chinatown, a walk around Boston Common and the Public Garden, a lunch at the Faneuil Hall, a ferry ride to one of the Boston Harbor Islands, a dinner at the North End, and/or drinks in Cambridge. Alternatively, you might enjoy a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts and an afternoon tea inside the Boston Library (at Copley Square) with its gorgeous paintings and architecture. For kids, the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science are always the big hits. And of course, there are always the duck boats. See you soon!
Thursday July 21, 2016
Metro Washington-area go players can get a taste of the upcoming US Go Congress next Monday, July 25 when Chinese pro Yang Shuang 2P — who will be teaching at the Congress in Boston — will play Josh Lee 6D at the NoVA Go Club, followed by a game analysis. The game will start at 7:30 pm at the club, which meets at St. George’s Church in Arlington at the corner of Fairfax and Oakland (ring the bell or call the cell phone number posted on the door). In other local news, a Back to School Special tournament is scheduled for September 10, the Richmond (VA) Go Club is back and will be having a fall tournament on October 15 and the Pumpkin Classic will be held October 29. Email garrett.p.smith
Thursday July 21, 2016
- Daria Koshkina; photo from EGC 2016 website