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World Amateur Championship Set for May 11-17

Sunday May 6, 2012

Top amateur go players will compete in the 33rd World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC) May 11-17 in Guangzhou, China, the first time that this event will take place in South China (click here for last year’s reports from Japan). The American Go E-Journal and Ranka online are teaming up again this year to provide daily coverage.

The field of 58 players will range in age from 13 to 67 and in official rank from 8 kyu to 8 dan. Nearly half will be newcomers to the WAGC, and eleven will still be in their teens. One teenager to watch will be 16-year-old Qiao Zhijian who has been cutting a wide swath through the Chinese tournament scene, winning the Evening News Cup to earn the right to represent China at the WAGC and then defeating the legendary Nie Weiping in the annual Evening News pro-amateur match. Three others will be Hong Kong’s 14-year-old Chan Chi-Hin, who took 15th place in the WAGC last year and then worked up to a 9-dan rating on the Kiseido Go Server, Chinese Taipei’s 7-dan Chen Cheng-Hsun, the youngest in the field, and the Czechia’s Lukas Podpera, who won the U20 division of the recent European Youth Go Championship. These four will be battling for top spots with formidable opponents from Japan, the two Koreas, Southeast Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Oceania. Well-known go teacher Yuan Zhou 7d is this year’s U.S. representative.

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is the capital city of Guangdong Province. It is enjoying great economic prosperity, flourishing development, cultural diversity and dynamic modernization. With a history of more than 2800 years, Guangzhou is forging its way ahead between its cultural heritage and fashionable skyscrapers. It offers tourists and visitors a feast of sights with unique charm, including the Flowery Pagoda, the Pearl River, the Baiyun Mountain, and the Temple of Six Banyan Trees. In 2010, when Guangzhou hosted the 16th Asian Games, the whole city improved itself comprehensively and impressed guests from all over the world with its ebullience and hospitality.

Guangzhou Chess Institute (left) has been chosen as the venue of the 33rd WAGC. Located in scenic surroundings near the Baiyun Mountain, Guangzhou Chess Institute was rated “the most culturally attractive venue of the Asian Games”. Listening to the ripple of the stream, looking around at the traditional Lingnan houses, you may think you are in a famous garden. The simple and natural design of the playing hall speaks of calmness and harmony to the players and audience.
- excerpted from Ranka Online’s report 

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13-year-old Yang Dingxin 3P Wins Ricoh, Plus World Go News Round-Up

Tuesday April 10, 2012

This month in the world of professional go… April 7: 13-year-old Yang Dingxin 3P is in the news in China after defeating Piao Wenyao 9P to win the 12th Ricoh Cup. Yang, born October 19, 1998, set a new record as the youngest domestic title holder in China. He may well have broken other records too. Any record buffs out there? Write in and let us know! Elsewhere, China’s Wang Chenxing, extended her winning streak in the 2nd Huang Longshi Cup to eight consecutive games and was consequently promoted to 5P. The Huang Longshi Cup is an international win and continue tournament for women and Wang (almost single handedly) knocked out all of the Korean team and most of the Japanese team before Japan’s Xie Yimin 6P finally put a stop to it. Unfortunately for Xie, she was then left in the position of having to take on China’s four remaining players by herself. In the next game she was defeated by another youngster, Yu Zhiying 2P, and China took the Cup for a second year on April 9. Meanwhile in Japan, the Judan (10 dan) title match is underway, with title holder Iyama Yuta 9P leading Cho U 9P 2-1 in the best of five match. Iyama is defending the title after taking it from Cho last year. The next game is on April 18 in Osaka, Japan. On a lighter note, Choi Cheolhan 9P just won Korea’s Sipdan title (equivalent of the Judan). He took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend, Yun Jihee 3P, on April 10. Choi had planned earlier to formally propose after winning the Maxim Cup in March, but his ambitious plan was foiled by Park Junghwan 9P. More about Choi Cheolhan and Yun Jihee here. Coming up this week, expect some exciting games as the BC Card Cup enters the round of 16 on April 12 and don’t forget about the Judan. See the professional go calendar for more details.
- Compiled by David Ormerod. Photo: 13-year-old Yang Dingxin 3P wins approx $40,000 USD in the Ricoh Cup.

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North America & Europe Among Early Outs at Chunlan Cup

Wednesday April 4, 2012

North American representative Jing Yang 8D and European representative Alexandre Dinerchstein 3P were among the 16 players eliminated in the first two rounds of the 9th Chunlan Cup, which wrapped up on April 30. Now only 8 players remain. In Round One, Yang drew Choi Cheolhan 9P, a top Korean pro known as the ‘venomous snake’ because of his aggressive fighting style. Yang fought hard and gave Choi a difficult game, but eventually resigned in the early endgame (see game below). The Chunlan Cup is an invitational Go tournament for 24 top players from around the world, which uses a knockout format. Yang qualified as the North American representative in February this year. The quarter-finals will be held in late 2012, with no specific date set yet.
- David Ormerod; based on his original article: Just 8 players left in 9th Chunlan Cup at Go Game Guru. Photo: Jing Yang (left) plays Choi Cheolhan.

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Second International Children’s Art Contest Accepting Submissions

Monday April 2, 2012

The second International Children’s Go Art Contest is now accepting submissions, and will culminate in an exhibit of the pieces at the U.S. Go Congress in North Carolina this summer.  The event is sponsored by the Mexican Youth Go Community and the AGA, in honor of the International Go Symposium.  Organizer Siddhartha Avila says “the contest will feature children’s artwork, in which they will be free to express their visions, emotions and ideas about go through painting. Its purpose is to make go culture flourish among children, and promote it through a creative exchange.”  Last year’s contest drew submissions from Japan, the Phillipines, India, the US and Mexico.  Submissions must be received in Mexico City by July 13th.  Complete information, including the submission forms and event details, can be found on the Go Symposium site. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

Zen Computer Go Program Beats Takemiya With Just 4 Stones

Tuesday March 20, 2012

Taking just a four-stone handicap on a full board, the Zen computer go program defeated Takemiya Masaki 9P on March 17. The legendary pro played two games against Zen as part of the 6th E&C Symposium in Japan. In the first game Zen received a five stone handicap and won by 11 points. After that the handicap was reduced to four stones, but Zen surprised many by winning again, this time by 20 points. Zen — aka Zen19 — was written by programmer Yoji Ojima and ran on hardware provided by Kato Hideki, of team DeepZen. According to Hideki, the hardware for this match was a mini-cluster of four PCs (a dual 6-core Xeon X5680/4.2 GHz, a 6-core Xeon W3680/4 GHz and two 4-core i7 920/3.5 GHz) connected via a GbE LAN. This is the same hardware used by Zen’s ‘zen19s’ and ‘zen19d’ accounts on KGS. Both of the games were played with 30 minutes main time and 60 seconds byo-yomi. Zen is currently ranked 5 dan when playing under similar time conditions on KGS. Earlier in the day, another pro, Ohashi Hirofumi 5P played two even games on 9×9 against Zen. The result was one win each. While winning against a pro with four stones is very impressive and shows how far computers have come in go, it’s clear that Zen was able to win these games by avoiding fighting to a certain extent and relying on its excellent positional judgement, raising the question of whether Zen and other programs will continue to improve steadily as the handicap is reduced and they’re forced to play a more risky style.
- adapted from David Ormerod’s report on GoGameGuru, which includes both Takemiya-Zen game records. Photo: Takemiya Masaki 9P.

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China Steals Show at 4th BC Card Cup

Tuesday March 20, 2012

The 4th BC Card Cup is about to enter the round of 16. This year’s tournament has been full of upsets with favorites falling left and right in the early rounds. Two stand-out players so far have been 16 year old Mi Yuting 3P and 18 year old Dang Yifei 4P of China. In the first round, Mi defeated Korea’s young star, Park Junghwan 9P. Then in the round of 32, Mi caused quite a stir by defeating the legendary Lee Changho 9P. Dang followed suit by defeating Lee Sedol 9P in the round of 32. Mi and Dang are joined by China’s Gu Li 9P, Niu Yutian 7P, Zhou Ruiyang 5P, Kong Jie 9P, Liu Xing 7P, Xie He 7P, Tan Xiao 5P, Chen Yaoye 9P, Jiang Weijie 9P, Piao Wenyao 9P and Hu Yaoyu 8P, and Korea’s Lee Wonyoung 3P, Park Younghun 9P and Baek Hongseok 9P. Unfortunately for Japan and Taiwan, the handful of their players who made it to the round of 64 were eliminated at that stage.
- Jingning; based on her original article: China on a roll in 4th BC Card Cup at Go Game Guru. Photo: Mi Yuting 3P.

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Kiseido Releases Modern Master Games in Hard-Copy

Tuesday March 20, 2012

Kiseido has just issued Modern Master Games, Volume One, The Dawn of Tournament Go in hard-copy; it was first released in September 2011 (Modern Master Games & More New Releases from SmartGo Books 9/19 EJ) in digital format by SmartGo Books. A survey of Japanese go from the founding of the Honinbo tournament in the 1940s to the Meijin and Judan tournaments in the 1960s, Modern Master Games was written by by Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich, with historical notes by John Power. It includes 11 games, including the “Atomic Bomb Game” between Iwamoto and Hashimoto, analyzed in detail and tied together with a historical commentary by John Power. The games in this book were played in turbulent times. When the first Honinbo tournament was established in 1941, the war had not yet seriously affected the Japanese go world or the daily life of the average Japanese. But by the time of the third Honinbo tournament, Japanese society was in chaos — bullets were whizzing overhead during the first game of the title match and the atomic bomb was dropped just 10 kilometers from where the second game was being played. After the war, life slowly returned to normal. By the 1950s, the go world was again abuzz. Rivalries were flourishing, and newspapers were establishing new tournaments with abundant prize money. As the post-war go world was reorganizing itself, the matches played were of much consequence — it became more than just winning a title. The results were to determine the organizations that governed the game in Japan until today. The pressures on the players were intense, and it exposed their psychological strengths as well as fragilities. Takagawa’s games in this book show how dangerous it is to underestimate an opponent. It was almost unbelievable to some that the mild-mannered Takagawa, whose quiet and laid-back style, never attacking too strongly and lacking the brilliance of a player like Sakata, could hold the Honinbo title against all comers for nearly a decade. Sakata’s games are good illustrations of the slashing style which earned him the moniker Razor-Sharp Sakata. We also see examples of the depth of his analysis when he makes an unorthodox peep (dubbed the tesuji of the century) against Fujisawa Shuko that entails another tesuji 15 moves later whose consequences also have to be analyzed. The fact that both Sakata and Fujisawa could read this deeply and accurately shows that the level of their play was second to none. Fujisawa Hosai was another important player of this era — his power on the go board was likened to that of a bulldozer. He had a penchant for playing imitation go, but this was, as explained in the commentary on one of his games, a well thought-out strategy that he used to take advantage of the komi system that had been recently adopted. photo: Hashimoto Utaro (l) and Go Seigen (r) in 1947; photo courtesy Go Igo Weiqi Baduk blog.

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Matthew Harwit 4D Tops Colorado Youth Tournament

Sunday March 18, 2012

Eighteen youngsters competed in the March 3 Colorado Youth Go Tournament at the Eloise May library in Denver. Playing strengths ranged from 4-dan to 40-kyu and ages from 5 – 14. Matthew Harwit 4D won the dan section, Tim Chang 20k won the kyu section and Andrew Huang won the majority of his games, and was the 5-and-under Colorado state champion. David Weiss and Alex Yavich were the TDs.

Park Junghwan Wins 13th Maxim Cup

Tuesday March 6, 2012

On March 5, 2012, Park Junghwan 9P defeated Choi Cheolhan 9P to take the 13th Maxim Cup two games to zero. The Maxim Cup is a 9 dan only invitational tournament in Korea. Like last year, the finals took place at the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage listed Jeju Island. It seems that reporters make a habit of giving the players a hard time at the Maxim Cup finals. Last year, Lee Changho was asked how he felt about losing his dominance over the Go world. This time, Choi was in the hot seat and got grilled about his upcoming wedding. Park was not spared either. Asked about his disappointing first round loss in the 4th BC Card Cup, where he started as one of the favorites, Park said that hopefully with this win, his performance will improve in future tournaments. Both games featured creative openings, followed by hard fighting.

Jingning; based on her original article Park Junghwan wins 13th Maxim Cup at Go Game Guru.

Photo: Park Junghwan 9P.

Insei League Expands

Monday March 5, 2012

Alexandre Dinerchtein’s Insei League is reaching out to youth with discounts and free memberships.  The league is run on KGS, and is structured  the same way Korean kids train to become professionals.  “We call for young players who are ready to devote themselves to the game and to compete later with Asian professionals,” writes Dinerchtein 3P. “We have changed our pricing policy to encourage participation in the League for any promising children.  The first three prizewinners of the European and the US Youth Go Championships, under 12 and 18, get free places in the Insei League. Go Champions under 12 and 18 of any country get 3 months in the League instead of 1 for $95. Young players who took second through fifth place during the last youth go championship of their country can play for 2 months instead of 1 for $95. Young go players under 18 and stronger than 10 kyu get a 15% discount.”  As another incentive, Dinerchtein has set up a prize jackpot, which increases by $250 each month.  Insei League members can win the jackpot if they place in the top three at the World Youth Go Championship, in either age group,  or top three at the World Amateur Go Championship, or  at the Korean Prime Minister Cup. “Every year the League will store about $3000 and we hope that this jackpot helps to develop a more serious approach to go studies,” adds Dinerchtein. For more information, visit the Insei League website. - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.