American Go E-Journal » Tools: books, software & hardware

Worldwide shortage of go equipment reported in wake of AlphaGo match

Monday April 25, 2016

The surge in interest in go following the recent match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol 9p has apparently led to a worldwide2016.04.25_ggg-shortage shortage of go equipment. Go Game Guru reports that their stocks of go equipment have been significantly depleted “and some products have been removed from our catalog after completely selling out.” In addition, “The factories that make the equipment we sell are facing an even heavier surge in demand,” Go Game Guru reports, “because AlphaGo has caused an even larger ‘go boom’ in Asia. Given that they are struggling to keep up with domestic demand, it’s extremely difficult for them to satisfy the export market.” GGG’s report ends with the warning that “This is not an April Fools’ joke, we deliberately withheld this post for over 48 hours to avoid confusion.”
- Noah Doss, based on a report in Go Game Guru

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New version of StrasGo released

Thursday April 21, 2016

In the wake of AlphaGo’s match, the Go Club of Strasbourg, France has been busy promoting the game with its own teaching2016.04.20_Stras Go method. The Strasbourg Teaching Method has been used successfully for a long time, indeed it won the Iwamoto Award in 2001. They have created their own software (StrasGo), which is free of charge, to help beginners learn go through this approach. As of this month it now has an English language version. For the moment it is only available for Windows but a Mac version will be available later this year. The Strasbourg Teaching Method encompasses a three phase approach, which is widely used in the schools in their local region. Essentially these phases are: 1. Capture game on 9×9; 2. Strasbourg Rules on 9×9 or 13×13; 3. French (AGA) rules on 13×13.

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Chinese masterpiece, “Go Fundamentals” translated into English

Thursday March 31, 2016

Qing dynasty go saint Shi Xiangxia’s masterpiece, Go Fundamentals (Yili Zhigui Xubian), has been translated into English by 2016.03.29_go-fundamentalsRuoshi Sun 4d. Originally published in 1778, the book covers 12 topics, using 257 variations from six different games. Unique to this work, Go Fundamentals includes three poems on go theory. Notably, Shi’s “Guiding Formulas for Important Positions” is seen by some as “one of the most important literary works in go history, not only for its technical value but also for its literary beauty”. To top it off, translator Ruoshi Sun has enhanced Shi’s work by including illustrative examples from the Google Challenge Match between Lee Sedol and AlphaGo to demonstrate “how the profound principles of this great master can be applied even to this day.” The book is available from CreateSpace and Amazon.
- Brian Kirby
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Ideas for Adding Buzz to Your Go Club Program

Sunday March 20, 2016

If you’re looking to add some excitement, ‘zip’ or ‘buzz’ to your go club program, GoClubsOnline’s Robert Cordingley has some suggestions. “One 2016.02.20_go-clubs-online-pair-goway is to run face-to-face tournaments in which players compete to win prizes, improve their ratings or just accumulate accolades!” says Cordingley. Another idea is running a Pair Go tournament. A popular feature of the annual US Go Congress, “Pair Go might be a little daunting for a club to run but is now much easier because they are supported in the latest release of GoClubsOnline,” says Cordingley. From registration to forming teams, calculating team ratings and generating pairings, GoClubsOnline gives TDs the tools they need. Click here for details.

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Slate & Shell 50% Off “Dark of Winter” Sale

Sunday February 21, 2016

Slate & Shell is having its annual “Dark of Winter” sale. The following books are available at 50% off through February 29: The Meijin’s Retirement Game, Old vs 2016.02.20-dark-of-winterNew Fuseki, All About Joseki, Whole Board Thinking in Joseki, Monkey Jump Workshop, Kamakura, The Chinese Opening, 200 Tesuji Problems, and Master Play: The Style of Lee Sedol.

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Game Over? AlphaGo Beats Pro 5-0 in Major AI Advance 

Wednesday January 27, 2016

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In a stunning development, the AlphaGo computer program has swept European Go Champion and Chinese professional Fan Hui 2P 5-0, the first time that a go professional has lost such a match. “This signifies a major step forward in one of the great challenges in the development of artificial intelligence – that of game-playing,” said the British Go Association, which released the news on January 27, based on findings reported in the scientific journal Nature this week (click here for the video, here for Nature’s editorial, Digital intuition and here for Go players react to computer defeat). NOTE: This story was posted at 1p EST on Wednesday, January 27; be sure to get the latest breaking go news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

“AlphaGo’s strength is truly impressive!” said Hajin Lee, Secretary General of the International Go Federation and a Korean go professional herself. “Go has always been thought of as the ultimate challenge to game-playing artificial intelligence,” added Thomas Hsiang, Secretary General of the International Mind Sport Association and Vice President of International Go Federation. “This is exciting news, but bittersweet at the same time,” said American Go Association president Andy Okun. “I think we go players have taken some pride in the fact that we could beat the best computers. Now we’re down to Lee Sedol fighting for us.”

2016.01.27_hui-fanGoogle DeepMind, the British artificial intelligence company which developed AlphaGo, has issued a challenge to Lee Sedol 9P from South Korea, the top player in the world for much of the last 10 years, to play a 5-game, million-dollar in March. “I have played through the five games between AlphaGo and Fan Hui,” said Hsiang. “AlphaGo was clearly the stronger player. The next challenge against Lee Sedol will be much harder.” While Hajin Lee agreed, saying “I still doubt that it’s strong enough to play the world’s top pros,” she added “but maybe it becomes stronger when it faces a stronger opponent.” Fan Hui (left) is a naturalized French 2-dan professional go player originally from China. European Champion in 2014 and 2015, Fan is also a 6-time winner in Paris as well as Amsterdam.

Just as the Kasparov/Deep Blue match did not signal the end of chess between humans, “so the development of AlphaGo does not signal the end of playing go between humans,” the BGA pointed out. “Computers have changed the way that players study and play chess (see this 2012 Wired article), and we expect something similar to occur in the field of go, but not necessarily as assistance during play. It has been recognised for a long time that achievements in game-playing have contributed to developments in other areas, with the game of go being the pinnacle of perfect knowledge games.”  Added Okun, “go has for thousands of years been a contest between humans and a struggle of humans against their own limits, and it will remain so. We still cycle in the Tour de France, even though we’ve invented the motorcycle.”

The BGA noted that that achievements in game-playing technology have contributed to developments in other areas. The previous major breakthrough in computer go, the introduction of Monte-Carlo tree search, led to corresponding advances in many other areas.

Last year, the Facebook AI Research team also started creating an AI that can learn to play go and earlier today Mark Zuckerberg reported on Facebook that “We’re getting close, and in the past six months we’ve built an AI that can make moves in as fast as 0.1 seconds and still be as good as previous systems that took years to build. Our AI combines a search-based approach that models every possible move as the game progresses along with a pattern matching system built by our computer vision team.”

In a related story, computer scientist John Tromp last week revealed the number of legal go positions, “weighing in at 9*19=171 digits.” Read more here.

Game 1 of the AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui 2P match appears above right. Click below for the match’s remaining game records:
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 2
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 3
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 4
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 5

Update (11:44pm 1/27): Myungwan Kim 9P will analyze the games played between Fan Hui and AlphaGo during a live stream on the AGA YouTube Channel and TwitchTV this Friday; more details will be posted at 7a EST.

 

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Jasiek Releases “Positional Judgement 2 – Dynamics”

Wednesday January 27, 2016

Robert Jasiek has released his 12th book, “Positional Judgement 2 – Dynamics.” Targeted at players 5 kyu to 5 dan, the book focused on “the 2016.01.27_PositionalJudgement_2_Cover_smalldynamic aspects of the middle game (influence, aji, fights etc.) and the related positional judgement with theory and examples,” says Jasiek. “While territory characterises peaceful positions, our assessment of dynamic positions includes reductions, aji, potential, influence, thickness and fights. The general theory applying to these concepts raises the quality of our middle game and enables our very profound positional judgement.” 276 pp., EUR 26.50 (book), EUR 13.25 (PDF). Click here for sample pages, a review, and all of Jasiek’s books.

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New Go Quiz App Tests Knowledge

Friday January 1, 2016

We can’t guarantee it’ll make you a stronger player but Stephen Miller’s new Go Quiz app is a lot of fun and will definitely improve your 2016.01.01_go-quizknowledge of the game. Available on Quizup (or search for Quizup in the App Store), the quiz now has 289 questions covering a wide range of go information, including history, players and the game itself. “You can play against people you know, or you can play against random players,” Miller tells the E-Journal. “Either way, it’s a fun way to learn some go facts, history, lore and trivia.” Each game has seven rounds and Miller says “The best experience in Quizup is to download the app on your mobile. It’s designed more as a mobile game, but you can certainly play online.”

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“Celestial Arsenal” Translation Released

Friday January 1, 2016

Sun Ruoshi has just released “The Celestial Arsenal,” his English translation of the late Ming dynasty classic “Xianji Wuku.” Originally 2016.01.01_The Celestial Arsenalcompiled around 1629, “The Celestial Arsenal” comprises a collection of hundreds of famous games, corner and side josekis, opening and invasion patterns, and over 400 life-and-death problems. Lu Xuanyu, a famous collector of go manuscripts, carefully selected and edited material from several famous go manuals and game records into eight scrolls: Gold, Rock, Silk, Bamboo, Gourd, Earth, Leather and Wood. This translation, however, is on 500 paper pages. The cover features two problems from the book; White to live on each side of the board. The book is available on Amazon and CreateSpace.

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Oregon updates: Mochitsuki volunteers wanted; Janice Kim coming to Corvallis

Sunday December 27, 2015

Oregon go player alert: the Portland Go Club is looking for volunteers to help host a table at Mochitsuki at PSU on January 31st and Corvallis 2015.12.25_Mochi-Banner-color-webwill host a workshop with Janice Kim 3P February 13-14.

The Portland Go Club will host a table at Mochitsuki at PSU on January 31st, the 20th anniversary of the Japanese American New Year celebration. “Last year was a great success 2015.12.25_JaniceKimand four of us introduced many, many adults and children to go,” reports Peter Freedman. “This is a well-attended event!” Volunteers get free access; email pleefreedman1@comcast.net.

Corvallis will host their third visit from Janice Kim 3P with a workshop scheduled for February 13 and 14. “The workshop is being aimed at the 9 kyu to 3 dan strength range of the Corvallis Go Club ‘regulars,’ many of whom you will be familiar with from the annual Lewis & Clark tournaments, as well as participation on Braindog,” reports Bob O’Malley. For details and to register, email omalleyr@science.oregonstate.edu.

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