American Go E-Journal » U.S./North America
Monday July 11, 2011
Monday July 11, 2011
I am a go player, and I love go players, but we are an odd bunch at times. It is not unusual for us to know a person’s rank, but not his name, his name, but not his job, or his KGS handle and not whether he’s married or single.
So when Mark Rubenstein posted on Facebook about the passing of longtime Chicago go mainstay Chester Zawacki (r) on June 19, I was sad, truly. I remembered him from many Congresses, and I remembered him as a 2 kyu, but it was not until I looked up his obituary that I knew of his wife and children.
I even posted on his memorial page how much I liked him, even if though I was not sure we had ever played. In fact, thanks to our AGA Database, it turns out that I played him four times, long-forgotten games in my yearly quest for the “Keith Arnold” prize in the Self-Paired tournament.
I guess my point is that I wish I was less one of those go players who simply know each other as opponents and not as people. Because Chester was not one of those kind of go players. I remember that he loved to talk, loved to get to know people. He certainly knew that I was married, and seeing him was one of the main reasons my wife Erica looked forward to the Congresses – he was one of the folks she loved to see again. And Chester knew me too. Just recently he called to talk about the Civil War, knowing that I am more than simply a 4 dan – but a person with interests beyond go. Don’t get me wrong, Chester was a go player. He played non-stop, but he did not play silently, head down. He took in his opponent, getting to know him off the board as well as on.
With the annual U.S. Congress coming we have our best chance to spend a week getting to know one another and I hope that each of us strives to learn something new about each of our old go friends, or, better yet, about a new go friend.
Thank you Chester, not just for the forgotten four games, but for being the kind of unforgettable go person I’d like to be.
Click here for Chester Zawaki’s online guest book; photo by Mark Rubenstein
Sunday July 10, 2011
When Frank Lantz thinks about games, he doesn’t play around. Lantz teaches game design at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, the School of Visual Arts, and the New School. He created games for Cartoon Network, Lifetime TV, and VH1 before becoming becoming the co-founder and creative director of Area/Code. His writings on games, technology and culture have appeared in a variety of publications. In a recent lecture on “Go, Poker and the Sublime” at a game developers’ conference (click here to view online), Lantz declared that games are an art form on a par with music, literature and film, perhaps even “the most important art form of the 21st century. Describing go to his mostly non-playing audience, Lantz comes up with some remarkably well-turned phrases, explaining how “Go is good at teaching itself to you,” “. . . at the border of the discrete and the continuous,” “. . . thought made visible to itself.” I especially enjoyed his riff explaining why “light” is better than “heavy,” yet “thick” is better than “thin.” Lantz goes on with a similarly eloquent description of poker, which he finds to be about “the alchemical transformative power of greed.” Looking at both games together, Lantz sees a contrast with video games that dominate today’s market. Go, poker and similar pastimes are more abstract, less reliant on make-believe – in short, they are games that grownups also play. They are infinite – players do not reach an end point as in narrative-based adventure and role-playing games. He exhorts the game developers in the audience to think big: “I want a game that I can play my whole life, that I can teach my son, and he will play his whole life.” Mostly known for the iPhone app “Drop7,” Area/Code has pursued other innovative “social gaming” ideas such as Macon Money, an alternative currency “game” conducted in “RL” (real life) in Macon, GA; and Budgetball, a physical sport that also requires a certain degree of fiscal planning. In January, Area/Code was acquired by Zynga, the social gaming giant behind Facebook megahits such as Farmville and Mafia Wars, giving Lantz an even bigger arena in which to realize his dream. With its emphasis on building, cooperation and balance, go has much in common with social media games like Farmville and Cafe World (another Zynga biggie) with the added spice of life-and-death struggle. If Zynga’s next games have bit more of a competitive edge, perhaps we’ll know why . . .
- Roy Laird
Friday July 8, 2011
The Hikaru no Go anime series is now more available then ever, thanks to Hulu, Netflix, and iTunes. Although Viz intitially canceled the series and stopped the English dubs at Volume 11, the show has become increasingly popular online in the subtitled versions. Recently, iTunes has added the last two seasons, dubbed in English. This makes the entire run available without subtitles for the first time. Hulu first made the show available last year, and Netflix added it for free streaming a few months ago. To watch on Hulu, go here, For Netflix, search for Hikaru no Go. Viz media also has the entire series streaming on their website, although you have to put up with ads, click here for their server. Fans of the dubbed version can pay for each episode, on iTunes. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor
Monday July 4, 2011
(UPDATED!) More than a dozen strong players have already signed up for the five-round Swiss qualifier to represent the U.S. in the Sport Accord Mind Games (SAMG) in December 2011. The registration deadline is 8P (EST) Tuesday, July 5. The field includes five former North American Ing Masters (NAIM) champions: Feng Yun 9P, Huiren Yang 1P, Jie Li 7d, Joey Hung 7d and Andy Liu 7d. Five players, including at least one female, will play in SAMG against five other strong teams including China, Korea, Japan, Europe and Chinese Taipei (representing Asia-Pacific). This means the US players will play against top players in the world like the legendary Lee Changho, Lee Sedol, Gu Li, Kong Jie, Cho U and Iyama Yuta. The qualifier will be held on July 10-12, July 13-16, July 17-20, July 21-23, and July 24-26 on KGS. Players may reschedule with mutual consent, otherwise they must play at the official game times: 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on July 11 (Mon), 14 (Thur), 18 (Mon), 21 (Thur) and 25 (Mon). Due to the tight schedule there may be some short notices, so organizers note that players are responsible for checking and replying emails in a timely manner.
- Zhiyuan ‘Edward’ Zhang
Monday July 4, 2011
Jimmy Yang 5d (left front) won the June 26 Triangle Go Group’s Friendship/Ratings tournament in Durham/Chapel Hill, NC, topping a field of “18 friendly players,” reports organizer Bob Bacon. Yang was the only participant to go 4-0 for the day. New AGA member Yongman Kang took second place with a 3-1 record, losing only to Yang. Triangle Go Group veteran Peter Armenia won the B section with a 3-1 record. Second in this section was another youngster, Brian Wu, with a 3-1 performance, losing only to Armenia. The C section was dominated by the older generation, with (not so old) Russell Herman taking first, at 3-1, and Steven Manning coming in second, at 2-2. “Great games, great friends, great go!” says Bacon.
Monday July 4, 2011
Andy Liu and Minshan Shou will play for the Wisonet Cup on July 10. Liu beat Kevin Huang and Shou defeated Xinyu Tu in the June 19 semifinals in earn their berths in the Cup final.
The first round starts at 9a sharp at the Madison Suites Hotel, 11 Cedar Grove Lane, Somerset, New Jersey and are open for free viewing by spectators. The Wisonet Go Club is also hosting rated games at the same time; registration ($10 per round) starts at 8:30a, with the first game at 9:30a (1.5 hours BT) and the second game at 1p.
Photo: Kevin Huang, Andy Liu, Wisonet Go Club Director Ronghao Chen, Xinyu Tu, Minshan Shou.
Monday July 4, 2011
With one win each in previous matches, whoever wins this Sunday’s Gerry Cup USA-Canada mixed team tournament will take the lead in the North American showdown.
The third Gerry Cup will be held on KGS this Sunday, July 10 beginning at 1p (EST) in the USA vs Canada Team Tournament room.
The U.S. team features Yinli Wang, Xingshuo Liu, Chaelim Kim on the women’s side and Yuan Zhou, Yue Zhang, Kevin Hong, Guochen Xie, Yunzhe Zhang, Jie Liang, Minshan Shou, Michael Chen, Lu Wang, Dae Hyuk Ko, Huiren Yang, Zhanbo Sun on the men’s. Changlong Wu and Carson T are substitutes.
Cathy Li, Sarah Yu, Irene Sha are playing on the Canadian women’s team, while Jing Yang, Juyong Koh, Ziyang Hu, Ryan Li, Bill Lin, Hank Xie, Xiandong Zhang, Tiger Gong, Jefferey Phung, James Sedgwick, Daniel Gourdeau and Hao Chen are on the men’s.
The tournament is organized by Boston Go School and the Toronto Go Center and sponsored by Greater Boston Chinese Culture Association and Newton Chinese School. Previous editions of the tournament were held in 2007 when the U.S. prevailed 7-4 and in 2009 Canada won 10-8.
Monday July 4, 2011
Go and libraries are natural partners, not just because of longtime efforts to stock libraries with go books but because libraries have also often hosted go clubs. Which is why the AGA’s Chris Kirschner, 2008 AGF Teacher of the Year Vincent Eisman and I found ourselves among 20,000 librarians at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference last week in New Orleans.
The American Go Foundation (AGF) sent us out to promote free equipment and books to youth librarians. Libraries across the country are stocking lots of manga (Japanese comics) because they pull kids in. From my own program, at a public library in Boulder, CO, I knew Hikaru no Go was a gold mine: once kids read it, they want to play go. And with Winston Jen’s generous donation of 1,000 sets of Hikaru, we figured we would be in a good position to reach out, especially since the AGF is giving libraries and schools the entire 23-volume set for free.
We knew the event was going to be big, but we were shocked at how huge the convention center was. The building itself ran for almost two miles, and the vendor area housed 900 exhibitors. I had arranged to have our booth in the Graphic Novel/Gaming Pavilion, and once the conference opened, we had a steady stream of visitors.
All three of us have done a lot of demos before, but we felt that this was very different. People were not casually interested, or just wandering by and curious: they were focused, excited, and looking specifically for ways to engage kids and teens in their libraries. A great number of them were members of YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association. They were very enthusiastic about what we were providing, and seemed like a perfect target for us. There were also a number of library directors and people in other departments who took information and said they would give it to the right person at their branch. Not only did 113 libraries sign up for a free set of Hikaru on the spot, but we also gave out over 700 brochures, about 500 copies of The Way to Go, almost 200 starter CDs and 280 cardboard sets. We even taught librarians how to play right there in the booth as well, and they all seemed fascinated.
The AGF has been reaching out to libraries for a couple of years now, so I was hoping we might encounter some people who already knew about us. There were several who had, and they raved about how much they appreciated our services. One school library already had a go program, with equipment from us, but didn’t know we gave away Hikaru now, so their librarian was psyched to order it. Another one told me that the program was going strong for a while, but then it died out when some of the kids moved on. She said it successfully resurrected itself this past year when two fifth graders read Hikaru and got into the game. I ran into a librarian from Sacramento, who said she had had many go demos at her library in the past. When I asked who did them, she said it was None Redmond, Japanese professional Michael Redmond’s mother, and a tireless promoter of youth go. Another librarian said the kids really love go at her branch, and that the equipment we sent gets used all the time.
Even at night, when we were “off-duty,” we found go connections. After strolling down Bourbon Street, where we soaked in the live jazz and the beautiful French Quarter architecture, a waiter at one restaurant overheard us mention the word atari, and asked if we played go. We were pleasantly surprised to find a fellow player at random and he told us there were a couple of go clubs in New Orleans, although we didn’t have time to visit any of them. A security guard at the convention center also turned out to be a player, and had contacted me in advance through Tiger’s Mouth, our youth website.
Much to our delight, a good number of the librarians had already heard of go, Hikaru, or both. It seemed that everywhere we went we saw evidence that go continues to break into the national consciousness. Chris Kirschner remarked on how much ground had been gained in the past 30 years and mused that “we can never underestimate the value of the seeds that we are planting,” and that one never knows what teaching even one person how to play go might lead to.
We all felt that this particular group of people were in a great position to help spread go on a much larger scale. Once they have Hikaru in their libraries, they will find kids asking to form a go club. The AGF will be right there for them, offering free starter sets with enough equipment for 24 kids to play, and ongoing support through our mentor committee. Slowly but surely, we are building the future of go.
- Paul Barchilon, Vice President of the AGF and Youth Editor for the E-Journal. Photos: Top: The AGF booth at the convention.
- Photos: top left: Vincent Eisman convinces passersby that go is for them while Chris Kirschner demonstrates go in back; Bottom right: Kirschner teaches a librarian; photos by Paul Barchilon
Sunday July 3, 2011
If you need another reason to read David Mitchell’s spellbinding new novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the game of go plays a key and major role in the story. Indeed, one entire section of the book is entitled “The Master of Go” and not only does go strategy drive part of the novel’s structure, but the game itself — in fact, a specific game, the board and pieces — play a dramatic role at the climax of the riveting novel. Thousand Autumns is more than just a terrific read, though. Mitchell has “meticulously reconstructed the lost world of Edo-era Japan, and in doing so he’s created his most conventional but most emotionally engaging novel yet,” wrote Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times. Set in atmospheric coastal Japan, this epic story centers on an earnest young Dutch clerk, Jacob de Zoet, who arrives in the summer of 1799 to make his fortune and return to Holland to wed his fiancée. But Jacob’s plans are shaken when he meets the daughter of a Samurai. Thousand Autumns is now out in paperback, as well as available as an e-book.