American Go E-Journal » Go Spotting

Your Move/Readers Write: 1940′s Article on Go Found

Tuesday April 8, 2014

“I expect you’ll have many responses to Stuart French’s question (looking for 1940′s article about how Japanese generals used the game of go to strategize WWII in the Pacific) in the April 7 E-Journal (Your Move/Readers Write: More Responses to The Popular Go Quiz Question), but I give mine anyways,” writes Reinhold Burger. “I think the article may have been a piece in the May 18 1942 edition of Life Magazine (pp. 92-96), entitled ‘Go: Japs play their national game the way they fight their wars.’ The map in question is on page 96. Btw, it includes a photo of Edward Lasker placing a stone on the board.” Burger goes on to wonder “if this is a serious example of the game. After 42 moves, neither player has touched the lower left corner (i.e., where the Indian ocean lies). But I am quite weak (DDK), so perhaps a stronger player could comment.”
Thanks also to David Doshay, Grant Kerr and quizmaster Keith Arnold, who also flagged the same article. It also appears on page 26 of The Go Player’s Almanac published by Kiseido, reports Richard Bozulich.

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Go Spotting: Parsing Go

Tuesday April 8, 2014

EJ reader Simon Guo found this description of how to use Perl to parse a go game record file in Simon Cozens computer language book, Advanced Perl Programming.

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Why Bill Gates Wants to Be a Better Go Player

Sunday April 6, 2014

In “Why does Bill Gates want to be a better Go player?”, David de Ugarte says that “The birth of videogames and Apple’s first steps, free software’s first steps, and even the platforms that allowed for the organization of tens of thousands of volunteers for the earthquake in Haiti, all have something in common: their creators cited Go as a source of personal inspiration and related it to their form of innovating and thinking.” de Ugarte’s fascinating March 14 post on the Las Indias blog asks “What good is Go to those who change the world?” and takes a look at the go lessons learned and applied by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Nintendo’s Hiroshi Yamauchi (right), Tron’s Ken Sakamura, Richard Stallman of GNU (/Linux), Microsoft’s Bill Gates and young extrepreneur Luke Biewald (left), the creator of Crowdflower. de Ugarte has published two other posts on go, Reason Against Force and How Go Became The Favorite Game Of Anarchist And Libertarians. He’s an economist, technologist “and entrepreneur committed to new models of economic democracy.”
Thanks to Mark Gilston & Bart Jacob for passing this along.

Categories: Go Spotting,World
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Go Spotting: “Orange is the New Black”

Tuesday April 1, 2014

“Credit to my wife and daughter for spotting a go board in the Netflix series ‘Orange is the New Black,’” reports Vermont Go Club President Dave Felcan. “In Season 1, Episode 12 (“Fool Me Once”) around the 29:30 mark, a go board can be spotted on a desk next to the main characters. Its there for about 5-7 seconds, so it was a nice spot.”

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“New Yorker” Reports on Computer Go

Wednesday March 26, 2014

The latest advances in computer go are covered in a new post by The New Yorker. In “The Electronic Holy War”, Patrick House reports on the Densei-sen, “or ‘electronic holy war,’ tournament, in Tokyo, where the best Go programs in the world play against one of the best humans” where Crazy Stone last March defeated Yoshio “the Computer” Ishida.

The article does an excellent job of explaining why go has been so tough for computers to crack. “Part of the difficulty for computers—and humans—is that it is often hard to determine at any given time whether a group of pieces is being surrounded or doing the surrounding, and thus who is ahead…Without a clear understanding of who is ahead, programs like Deep Blue stutter. ‘All the machinery that was built up for computer chess is pretty useless,’” (Murray) Campbell (a member of the IBM Deep Blue team says.

It also explains how “Monte Carlo” algorithms, initially developed seventy years ago as part of the Manhattan Project, have been the key to developing stronger go programs. “The better the programs got, the less they resembled how humans play: during the game with Ishida, for example, Crazy Stone played through, from beginning to end, approximately three hundred and sixty million randomized games. At this pace, it takes Crazy Stone just a few days to play more Go games than humans collectively ever have. ‘I have to be honest: I still find it kind of magical, that it works as well as it does,’ Campbell said.”

The “electronic holy war” will run once a year in Tokyo until 2017, the report continues. “This past weekend, at the second annual tournament, Crazy Stone faced Norimoto Yoda, a Japanese professional who has a reputation for slamming pieces onto the board—sometimes shattering them—to intimidate his opponent. Crazy Stone was given a four-move head start and, lacking the eyes and ears through which another player might have been intimidated, won by two and a half points. “After the match, Yoda, through a translator, told me that he was grateful for Crazy Stone because it eased up at the end and allowed the game to be closer than it actually was: the result of randomness—or, perhaps, of the beginnings of pity.”
Photograph of Rémi Coulom and Ishida Yoshio courtesy of gogameguru.com

Subtitled “Tokyo Newcomer” Available Online

Wednesday March 26, 2014

German go journalist colleague Tobias Berben recently sent a link to an English-subtitled online version of Tokyo Newcomer  (New Go Films: Tokyo Newcomer & Weiqi Wonders 5/7/2012 EJ). In Jiang Qinmin’s 2012 film, Chinese go genius Yoshiryu (Qin Hao) comes to Japan to hone his skills in the game, but finds he’s too busy earning a living to study go at all. One day, he meets an old woman hawking vegetables, who turns out to be a descendant of a prestigious go family. “Written and directed by a Mainland Chinese, but utterly Japanese in look and feel, ‘Tokyo Newcomer’ is an engaging light drama centred on a young Chinese guy’s passion for the board game of go and his assimilation into the country which has made the (Chinese-invented) game into a national expression of its mindset,” writes Film Business Asia’s Derek Elley.

Categories: Go Art,Go Spotting
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Go Spotting: Teen Wolf Takes Sente

Tuesday March 25, 2014

MTV’s Teen Wolf has shattered the Go Spotting record, featuring go four weeks in a row, on a show that’s not about go.  With a viewership of 3.5 million, repeated mentions of the game, and even a summary of the main goals, local clubs could soon be seeing a surge of new players if even a fraction of those viewers become curious about go and learn to play.  This week’s episode, entitled “The Divine Move” both starts and ends with go.  Early in the episode Mrs. Yukimura (Tamlyn Tomita) advises a desperate Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) while the family is seated around a go board “he made a powerful move by splitting the two of you.”   “So what’s our move?” responds  her daughter Kira (Arden Cho), as she places a stone on the board. “The Nogitsune has had sente until this point, what you need is a ‘Divine Move’ in order to turn this game around,” responds her mother.  Stiles does find a divine move, in the story arc at least, and his friends defeat the Nogitsune at last.  Towards the end of the episode, Kira’s parents are seen picking up the pieces from the go board, drawing a conclusion to the story arc (and the season).  Full episodes of Teen Wolf can be streamed on the MTV website here. As an added bonus, in the after show (Wolf Watch) series creator Jeff Davis also talks briefly about go. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo from the MTV website: Kira places a stone on the board, while Stiles talks to Mrs. Yukimura.

 

 

Go Spotting: Teen Wolf – Third Week in a Row

Wednesday March 19, 2014

MTV’s Teen Wolf seems to be on a go jag.  This week’s episode featured another conversation about strategy, with Kira (Arden Cho) learning about go from her mother, who even explains what the game is about, and describes territory.  Later in the episode, Kira’s father tells her that go is called Baduk in Korea, and that her mother is a very aggressive player – too aggressive for her own good.  This marks the third week in a row that go has been featured on the show, and next week’s episode is titled “The Divine Move,” which any Hikaru no Go fan will immediately recognize as a key concept in the manga.  My guess is that next weeks episode will revolve around another go match, possibly between Kira and her mother. Check out Teen Wolf on the MTV website here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.

Go Spotting: Haskell Small’s “The Rothko Room”

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Go is referenced prominently in the liner notes for Haskell Small’s new CD, The Rothko Room: Journeys In Silence, beginning with a quote from Iwamoto Kaoru: “Go uses the most elemental materials and concepts — line and circle, wood and stone, black and white — combining them with simple rules to generate subtle strategies and complex tactics that stagger the imagination.”

“Meditations on silence and space are as structurally important to the creative life of Haskell Small as are the grids on his beloved Go board,” the liner notes continue. “And, just as with that ancient and revered “game” (using that word advisedly), vast complexity arises.” An accomplished pianist and composer, Small is a longtime go player and organizer in Washington DC.

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Go Spotting: Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon”

Monday March 17, 2014

The novel “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson “has a 2-page scene involving a go board and a rambling digression using go as a metaphor in the middle of its 1100+ pages,” reports David Doshay. “Cryptography is one of the main themes of the book.” Doshay warns that “this book is not for folks bothered by swearing.”

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