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WORLD GO NEWS ROUND-UP August 31 – September 6: Myeongin Semis; Yamashita Keigo Advances; Lee Sedol Defeats Lee Changho; Iyama Yuta takes Meijin Lead; Tuo Jiaxi Upsets Kong Jie; Kim Jiseok Advances; Jiang Weijie vs. Gu Li in Mingren

Monday September 6, 2010

Myeongin Semifinals in Place. Lee Changho 9P defeated An Kukhyun 2P by 1.5 points in the 38th Myeongin League A playoff match. He now advances to a three-round semifinal match against Park Yeonghun 9P. In League B, Won Sungjin 9P defeated Kim Kiyoung 5P by resignation in their playoff match. Sungjin also advances to a three-round semifinal match against Kang Dongyun 9P. The winners of each semifinal best-of-three series will face one another for the Myeongin title. Yamashita Keigo Advances to NEC Cup Semifinals. Yamashita Keigo 9P defeated Yuki Satoshi 9P by a convincing 11.5 points in the second round of the 30th NEC Cup to advance to a semifinal matchup with O Meien 9P.  The remaining second-round match will be played on September 6 between the current NEC Cup title holder Kono Rin 9P and challenger So Yokoku 8P. The winner of that game will advance to the semifinals to play Cho U 9P. Lee Sedol Defeats Lee Changho in First Round of Price Information Cup. Lee Sedol 9P (l in photo) takes a 1-0 lead in the Price Information Cup by beating Lee Changho 9P (r) by resignation.  The second round in the best-of-three series will be held September 15. Iyama Yuta takes 1-0 lead in Meijin. Defending Meijin title holder Iyama Yuta 9P defeated Takao Shinji 9P by 6.5 points in the first round of the 35th Meijin title match. Takao held the title in 2006, after defeating Cho U 4-2. The second round will be played on September 16-17. Tuo Jiaxi Upsets Kong Jie in Qiwang Second Round. In the 6th Qiwang, Tuo Jiaxi 3P defeated current title holder Kong Jie 9P by resignation. In other second-round matches: Li Zhe 6P defeated Piao Wenyao 5P; Wu Guangya 6P defeated Tan Xiao 5P; Peng Liyao 5P defeated Nie Weiping 9P; Gu Lingyi 5P defeated Chang Hao 9P; Xie He 7P defeated Shi Yue 5P; Zhang Li 5P defeated Ding Wei 9P; Qui Jun 8P defeated Chen Yaoye 9P. Kim Jiseok Advances to Caltex Semifinals. In the third round of the 15th GS Caltex Cup challenger tournament, Kim Jiseok 7P defeated Choi Cheolhan 9P by resignation to advance to the semifinals.  That round will have Kim against Won Sungjin 9P on September 29th and Park Yeonghun 9P against Lee Younggu 8P on September 15th. Jiang Weijie vs. Gu Li in Mingren. Jiang Weijie 5P defeated Li Zhe 6P by resignation in the third and final match to decide the challenger for the 23rd Mingren title. Jiang will face Gu Li 9P for the title.
- JustPlayGo; edited by Jake Edge

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NEW STUDY FINDS PLAYING GO MAKES BRAINS GROW

Monday September 6, 2010

Serious study of go causes actual physical changes in the brain. That’s the stunning finding of a Korean group of neuroscientists who studied the difference between “long-term trained players” and“inexperienced controls.”  In their paper, which appears in the August 2010 issue of Neuroimage, Lee et al. report that they found “larger regions of white matter . . . that are related to attentional control, working memory, executive regulation, and problem-solving.” Their findings also suggest that “experts tend to develop a task-specific template for the game, as compared to controls . . . [and] were less likely than were controls to use structures related to load-dependent memory capacity.” In other words, experts don’t think harder, look at more variations or read farther than the rest of us; they use “spatial processes” – pattern recognition – to see better moves than the rest of us immediately. The researchers used a special type of fMRI –voxel-based diffusion-tensor imaging — to compile their data. This is a fairly well-established method: last year British researchers used the same process to show that “motor learning” – in this case, juggling – produced similar changes. The findings that strong players use something like “intuition” to see better moves tends to confirm previous research such as Chase and Simon’s classic 1973 study, where it was discovered that master chess players see more meaningful “chunks” when briefly glancing at a position than “woodpushers.” “Chunk theory” is now a widely accepted way of understanding how trained brains work. Reitman’s 1976 paper furthered our understanding of expert processes by studying an “expert” go player (Jim Kerwin, who went on to become the first Western pro) and then-beginner Bruce Wilcox (later the author of NEMESIS, the first computer go program) and confirming the basic tenets of “chunk theory.” Other research has examined whether go playing brains may have different — and hopefully more desirable — general qualities than non-playing brains.  The Deoksoo Study is one of several suggesting that serious go students may acquire more sophisticated cognitive abilities in other areas. In 2003, Chen et al. showed that go players use many different areas of the brain; similar chess studies have shown more localized activation. Lee et al.’s study takes our understanding one giant step further – high-level cognitive training has a physical impact on the brain, just as hitting the gym does for the body. This finding has enormous implications for the eternal “nature-nurture” debate. The current conventional wisdom is, “We are what we’re born with,” not “We are shaped by our experiences.” The brain’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions and perform the other work that makes us human is seen largely as biological, inborn, brain-based. “Big pharm” ads tell us over and over that the way to fix our depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ED, etc. is to tweak our brain chemistry with a pill.  Teachers and parents often label struggling students, then begin the quest for the perfect pill that will fix the ADHD, bipolar disorder or whatever. But what if the pills don’t work? If it’s an inborn biological problem, what’s the solution? Fortunately, we now know that certain kinds of experience can actually improve the physical brain.  As the authors say, “long-term Baduk training appears to cause structural brain changes associated with . . . higher-order cognitive capacities, such as learning, abstract reasoning, and self-control, which can facilitate education and cognitive therapies.” Other questions now arise. Are some activities more growth-promoting than others? Probably. Does the brain change more in players who begin at a younger age? Does the increased white matter in go players’ brains just help them to play well, or is the increased “throughput” capacity useful in other areas as well?  One would think so, but there’s no evidence – yet.  To learn more, check out “Go and Cognition” by Peter Shotwell, in the Bob High Memorial Library.
– by Roy Laird; additional reporting by Hajin Lee 3P

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WORLD GO NEWS ROUND-UP August 24-30: Han Zenki and Tsuruyama Atsushi Advance; Mukai Chiaki to Challenge; Olleh KT down to Eight

Monday August 30, 2010

Han Zenki and Tsuruyama Atsushi advance in Daiwa Cup: Surprising second round results from the Daiwa Cup have two of Japan’s top professionals being defeated by less well-known 7 dans.  The first was Han Zenki 7P who defeated current Daiwa Cup title holder Kono Rin 9P by resignation. The second was Tsuruyama Atsushi 7P who defeated O Rissei 9P by resignation.  Han became a pro 1996 at age 19, while Tsuruyama turned pro in 1999 at the age of 18. Mukai Chiaki to challenge Xie Yimin for Female Honinbo: In the final challenger-decision match for the 29th Female Honinbo, Mukai Chiaki 4P defeated Umezawa Yukari 5P by resignation, giving her the nod to challenge Xie Yimin 5P for the title. Mukai Chiaki is 23 years old, became a professional in 2004, and was promoted to 4 dan just this year. She is a student of Honda Sachiko. Her two sisters, Mukai Kozue 1P and Mukai Kaori 2P, are professionals in the Nihon Ki-in as well. The first round of the title match will be played on October 6th. Olleh KT down to eight as Yun Junsang 8P defeats Kim Jiseok 7P: In their sixth round game, Yun won by resignation over Kim in the inaugural edition of the Olleh KT Cup, which is a Korean professional tournament sponsored by the telecommunications company Olleh KT. This is their first sponsored tournament with total prize money of 700 million won.
- JustPlayGo; edited by Jake Edge

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BY 2.5, SAKAI HIDEYUKI IS THE NEW GOSEI

Friday August 27, 2010

In a true Cinderella story, Sakai Hideyuki 7P has become the new Gosei by defeating Cho U 9P by 2.5 points in the fifth and final round of the 35th Gosei, winning the series 3-2. This is Sakai’s first major title win, which also ended Cho’s four consecutive years of holding the Gosei title. Sakai’s only title win prior to this was the Kansai Ki-in Championship in 2003.  For a long time, he was the strongest amateur go player in Japan, and by winning his first major title at 37, he has defied those that say that only youth can accomplish such things.  When he won the World Amateur Go Championship in 2000, he was awarded professional 5 dan by the Kansai Ki-in (after defeating two 5D and two 7D players). He was also the first player in Japan to be awarded a special amateur 8 dan diploma.
- JustPlayGo.com

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IGOLOCAL, GROWING RAPIDLY, YET TO HIT CRITICAL MASS

Thursday August 26, 2010

Barely a month after launching, IgoLocal already has more than a thousand users. IgoLocal enables players to find and contact each other, and there are now 1131 users in 62 countries, with 449 of those in North America and 570 in Europe. The network is growing at 35 new members each day, reports founder Chuck Thomas, “and that number is trending upwards.” Users “are still figuring out how to use the system to the best benefit of their communities,” says Thomas. “1,100 users may sound like a lot of go players, but it’s actually an absurdly tiny number when spread throughout the entire planet.” Thomas says he can “easily envision a quarter million users on this system,” and says that “At the current rate, it may be another two months before we begin to reach critical mass.  This is fine – the users who are already on the system are able to go about their business, and one day they’ll receive a PM or even a game challenge from a previously-unknown rival, who is well matched to their rank.” Thomas points out that “Igolocal keeps working for you even if you forget about it for a while,” and admits that “Even I have only the faintest idea what the end result will be. This has never been done before.” Two hundred of the IgoLocal users are dan-level or stronger and two professionals are also registered, Jennie Shen 2p in Santa Barbara, and An Young-gil 8p in Sydney, Australia. The site supports six languages, English, French, German, Dutch, Russian and Japanese, and volunteers are now working on Italian, Polish and Chinese translations.

WORLD GO NEWS ROUND-UP August 16-23

Monday August 23, 2010

Sakai Hideyuki evens Gosei 2-2 with Cho U. Sakai Hideyuki 7P defeated Cho U 9P by 3.5 points in the fourth round of the 35th Gosei title match. The series is now tied at 2-2, with the final game to be played on August 27th. Lee Changho defeats Lee Sedol in Myeongin league play. In the final regular League A game of the 38th Myeongin, Lee Changho 9P defeated Lee Sedol 9P by resignation. Sedol’s loss eliminates him from the main tournament, finishing with a 2-3 league record. Lee Changho finished with a 3-2 league record but will now enter into a playoff match with An Kukhyun 2P, who also finished at 3-2. The winner will join Kang Dongyun 9P in the main tournament. Agon Cup Second Round Results. Qiu Jun 9P, Chen Yaoye 9P, Chang Hao 9P, and Piao Wenyao 5P each won their respective second round matches in the 12th Agon Cup, putting them in the semifinals. The defending Agon Cup title holder, Sun Tengyu 4P, lost to Jun by resignation. In the other three matches, Wang Xi 9P, Gu Li 9P, and Jiang Weijie 5P each lost their respective games to Yaoye, Hao, and Wenyao. The semifinals will be played on August 30th. Jiang Weijie and Li Zhe tied in Mingren challenger match. In the first game of the 23rd Mingren challenger match, Jiang Weijie 5P defeated Li Zhe 6P by resignation.  In the second game Zhe narrowly defeated Weijie by half a point. Park Yeonghun clinches 1st round spot in Myeongin. Park Yeonghun 9P clinched a first round spot in the 38th Myeongin by defeating Kim Kiyoung 5P by 3.5 points in the last round of League B play for each player. Yeonghun will now advance to the final tournament with a 4-1 record. The last regular game for League B will pit Cho Hanseung 9P against Park Jeonggeun 4P on August 26th. The winner of that match will then play a tie breaker with Won Sungjin 9P, who has a 3-2 record, to determine who among the remaining League B players will join Yeonghun in the tournament finals. Lee Sedol 9P, Choi Cheolhan 9P, and Won Sungjin 9P win in round one of the 54th Kuksu. Each won by resignation. Mok Jinseok 9P will play Ko Geuntae 7P on August 20th and Heo Yeongho 7P will play Lee Chungyu 3P on August 29th to complete the first round (game records).
- JustPlayGo

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SPOTS OPEN IN KIM-IN CUP INT’L SENIOR BADUK TOURNEY

Monday August 23, 2010

Applications are now being accepted for the 4th Kim-in Cup International Senior Baduk Competition. The tournament is being held November 5-8 in GangJin City, Korea and is open to male go players 50 and older and female players 30 and older. It’s sponsored by the Korea Baduk Association and the Korea Amateur Baduk Association; KBA provides hotel, meals and domestic transportation for all players, who must cover their own travel costs to Korea. email iris@baduk.or.kr for details and to register.

TWO SCHOOLS OFFER CHANCE TO STUDY WITH KOREAN PROS

Thursday August 19, 2010

Korean players dominate the professional go scene these days and now amateurs have some new opportunities to study with top Korean pros. The Yang Jae-Ho Baduk Dojang is recruiting foreign players to study go in Korea. The dojang, or training center, plans to offer English-speaking instructors, and the pro instructor roster — in addition to founder Yang Jae-Ho (l) — includes Yi Sang-Hun 9P, An Dal-Hun 8P and Yi Jung-Wu 7P. The Dojang currently houses over 80 students and school founder Yang Jae-Ho 9P is the director of the Korean team for the Asian Games. Accommodation and training at the Dojang is 750 Euro/$1000 US per month; a 10% discount is available to groups, or students staying for over three months. Cultural excursions are also included in the deal. In Australia, the Young Go Academy in Sydney is run by a Korean professional, An Young-Gil 8P. In addition to An, there are four other instructors, two pros and two strong amateurs; Yu Kyung-Min 6P, who won several titles in Taiwan, including the Chung-hwan Cup, Kim Hyun-Sup 2P, who has recently been in the Korean league, Jang-Bi, the amateur 7-dan who spent a year teaching at the Seattle Go center and won many titles in the U.S., and 24-year-old Lim Mi-Jin, a strong amateur female player. Though the Young Go Academy is smaller than Yang Jae-Ho, it also offers teaching in English, and due to the number of teachers, students are guaranteed more individual attention. Accommodation and training at the Young Go Academy is 800 Euro/$1100 US per month; a 10% discount is available to groups or students staying for over three months and cultural excursions are also offered as part of the package. For more information on either school, contact Sang-Dae Hahn sdhahn@gmail.com

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WORLD GO NEWS ROUND-UP: August 10-15

Monday August 16, 2010

Jiang Weijie & Li Zhe Advance to Mingren tournament finals. Jiang Weije and Li Zhe will battle it out in the 23rd Mingren challenger decision match for the right to face Gu Li 9P.  Jiang Weijie 5P defeated Zhong Wenjing 5P by resignation and Li Zhe 6P defeated Chang Hao 9P by resignation.  Of the 32 players in the tournament, only five were 9-dan pros, with only Hao surviving to the semifinals. (more info and game records) Cho U Defeats Hane Naoki in NEC Cup Second Round. Cho U 9P defeated Hane Naoki 9P by 4.5 points in the second round of the 30th NEC Cup tournament. Cho U will face the winner of the second round match between So Yokoku 8P and Kono Rin 9P, the defending NEC Cup title holder. The remaining second round matches are between Iyama Yuta 9P and O Meien 9P (scheduled for August 19th) and Yuki Satoshi 9P and Yamashita Keigo 9P.  An Kukhyun Forces Playoff in Myeongin. By virtue of defeating Kang Dongyun 9P in the Myeongin A league, An Kukhyun 2P has put himself into position for a playoff against the winner of the August 19 match between Lee Changho 9P and Lee Sedol 9P.  Changho and Sedol are both 2-2, so Kukhyun’s 3-2 record forces the playoff to continue into the main tournament. Kukhyun is a relatively new 18 year-old Korean pro and defeating either Changho or Sedol would be a major boost for his standings.
- reports/photo from JustPlayGo

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IYAMA YUTA 9P’S VERY GOOD YEAR

Friday August 13, 2010

Iyama Yuta 9P, the young turk among Japanese pros, is doing well in his first year as Meijin. He is about to start his first defense of that title against Takao Shinji 9P and has played in every Japanese tournament this year, except for those restricted to women and members of other branches of the Nihon Ki-in. Here’s his record this year in the top seven Japanese titles: in the Kisei League B, he is the only player with two victories; in the Honinbo he lost the challenger decision match to Yamashita Keigo; he’s in the semi-finals of the Judan, lost in the semi-finals of the Oza to Yamada Kimio 9P, lost in the second round of the Tengen to Cho U 9P, and lost in the final of the Gosei to challenger Sakai Hideyuki 7P. In lesser tournaments, he lost in the first round of the Agon Cup, lost in the final preliminary game of the Ryusei, is seeded into the second round of the NHK Cup, is in the second round of the NEC Cup, in the third round of the Daiwa Cup, and lost in the semifinals of the Daiwa Cup Grand Champion to Takao Shinji. Given this track record, it seems likely that he will become an ever bigger threat to Cho U’s current dominance of the Japanese scene.
- Bill Cobb

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