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

New from Kiseido: “300 Joseki Problems”; “Close Encounters with the Middle Game” & Discounted Slate & Shell Stones

Monday July 25, 2016

“300 Joseki Problems”: The final installment of “Graded Go Problems for Dan Players,” Kiseido’s popular seven-2016.07.24_300 Joseki Problemsvolume dan players’ series, is now available. Aimed primarily at 3-dan to 7-dan players, “300 Joseki Problems” – a continuation of Volume 3 of the series — is divided into two sections, each featuring 150 problems. The first section analyzes local joseki problems, allowing the reader to expand their understanding of local patterns. The second section takes the reader on to the next level, presenting whole-board joseki problems from real professional games, where the global situation must be taken into account.

At times, the correct move is not a standard joseki move, but an innovative move, requiring the reader to “think outside the box.” Consequently, readers will not only gain joseki knowledge, but will gain a real understanding of what joseki means, and how it can be applied to unique positions that might arise in real games. Note that even though the problems in this book are rated as high as 7-dan, Kiseido says the book is actually suitable for players 1-dan and above; even if the correct answer is hard to find, simply studying the answers to get exposure to new ideas and joseki innovations is enough to improve your game.

2016.07.24_Close Encounters with the Middle Game“Close Encounters with the Middle Game”: The game of go is often decided in the middle game. Players strong at the opening can gain an early advantage. Players with precise endgame skills can gain points to finish the game. But excelling at the middle game is the surest way to victory. And what better way to improve middle game expertise than to learn from the best? Michiel Eijkhout’s “Close Encounters with the Middle Game” presents 32 crucial middle-game positions that arose in top professional games. Each position is analyzed in detail, explaining how the players were thinking during the middle game, highlighting the techniques needed to gain an advantage during middle-game fighting. If you’ve ever been confused by professional moves, wondering about alternatives – what moves were good, bad, or difficult to judge – you’ll want to check out this “entertaining journey through the realm of professional go.”

Slate and Shell Stones: Kiseido reports that slate and shell stones are becoming more and more difficult to come by due to a tremendous increase in demand and go players willing to pay premium prices. Fortunately, Kiseido has managed to obtain a small supply of “Jitsuyo grade” stones, and is offering them at a discounted price. Click here for details and to order.
- Brian Kirby

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Robert Jasiek Releases Life and Death Book for Beginners

Tuesday July 19, 2016

Robert Jasiek, go teacher, author, and strong German amateur player, has released a new book on life and death, or tsumego2016.07.18_FirstLifeAndDeath problems. Titled “First Life and Death,” the book promises to “teach life and death from scratch,” starting with building two eyes and creating dead shapes (nakade). Continuing with techniques for attack and defense of one’s eyespace, 274 problems guide the reader through the theory of life and death, including liberty shortage, capturing races, strategy, and tactical reading. With an approach designed for those first venturing into the concept of life and death, Jasiek says beginners can expect to reach the life and death skill of intermediate players. The book can be purchased here.
- Noah Doss

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“Whole Board Thinking, Vol.2″ Back in Print

Sunday June 12, 2016

Slate & Shell has just re-issued Yilun Yang’s “Whole Board Thinking in Joseki Volume 2.” Long out of print, this is a continuation 2016.06.12_Whole Board Thinkingof Mr. Yang’s exploration of joseki, written in collaboration with former AGA president Phil Straus. “The title of this book is a bit misleading,” notes Slate & Shell. “It does not aim to teach you josekis. 2016.06.12_Whole Board Thinking coverIt aims to teach you how to decide which joseki to use in a particular situation (assuming you know the relevant josekis). So what it is really about is judging how to play in the early opening. To narrow down this enormous topic and provide a very thorough treatment of it, Yang focuses on situations in which a few opening moves have been made, including in all four corners, and your opponent has approached your 3-4 stone in one corner. The issue is how should you respond: by settling the corner, trying to get out (in the proper direction), or attacking from the outside. It depends on the rest of the board, of course, and this book shows you how to determine the correct response in terms of the whole board situation. This is very useful knowledge even if your understanding of how to achieve the correct goal in that situation is somewhat limited. At least you will know what you should try to do instead of just guessing the proper continuation.” 181 pages, $26

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“JustGo” Game Recording App to Demo at Go Congress

Sunday June 12, 2016

Automatic game recording app “JustGo” will be demonstrated at this year’s US Go Congress. Lei Chen 7d and Yi Tang 2p 2016.06.12_justgo-appfrom WanTong technology will be on hand at the Congress with their newest technology. Click here to see a demo; the app will be available both in iOS and Android.

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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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