Demonstrating the continuing fascination with all things AlphaGo, it was standing-room-only on Thursday afternoon at the US Go Congress when Fan Hui 2P presented a detailed commentary on Game Five of the AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match. Blending his trademark self-deprecating humor and intense commitment to the game, Fan — who was the first pro to play AlphaGo in October 2015 — illustrated some of the key parts of the game with ideas and comments he’s gleaned from reviews with many other professionals including Gu Li 9P, as well as AlphaGo’s own estimates of where Lee Sedol should have played. Although many of the proposed moves were not terribly sure in Fan’s estimate, he joked that “One thing for sure is that AlphaGo thinks it’s good for white, so I think so too,” drawing a laugh from the audience.
DeepMind is due to release commentaries on games one and two as well in the coming weeks, for which Fan gave brief trailers. In conclusion, Fan said AlphaGo had not just changed the course of go history, but the day-to-day lives of go players around the world. “Before, when you told friends or family members you play go, they’d look at you in puzzlement and ask what go is. Now they know it’s the game in the famous ‘Man versus Machine’ match. Now you can be proud to say ‘I am a go player.’”
In a brief presentation before the lecture, American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock and AGA president Andy Okun made both Fan and AlphaGo programmer Aja Huang honorary members of the E-Journal team “in appreciation for your incredible work publicizing go to a global audience,” presenting them with E-Journal caps. They — along with Garlock — were also given letters by the Empty Sky Go Club’s Steve Colburn from members of go clubs in Upstate New York thanking the entire AlphaGo team for making go “worldwide headline news” and “breaking a barrier that has not been seen in the world of go until now.” Huang and Fan then signed the lids of two go bowls that will be auctioned off at the Congress closing night banquet to benefit the American Go Foundation.
- Andy Okun; photo by Todd Heidenreich