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

Summer 2012 GoGoD Release Includes 2,000 Cho Chikun Games

Friday July 20, 2012

The Summer 2012 GoGoD (Games of Go on Disk) update is now available and on its way to subscribers, with a total of 72,644 games in the Database, reports T Mark Hall. “This is a landmark issue,” says Hall. “We now have exactly 2,000 games featuring Cho Chikun. He beat Cho Hun-hyeon as the first to that mark by a whisker. And since we are in Golden Oldies mood, let us recall and salute Jan van Rongen, who collaborated with us on Chikun’s collection in its early days.” Other new material includes “a new Kitani game we found on the day we went to press, but apart from that there has been a long catalogue of new finds of old masters’ games. The most significant perhaps are the three new games by Shusaku which we wrote about in New In Go. Of course the Krypton Kiddies who only wish to drive their 4×4 josekis are not forgotten. You will find well over 1,200 new games for 2012 alone.” Fun stuff includes some new 13×13 blindfolded-pro games, as well as pro games at 9×9, 13×13, 15×15, 17×17 and 21×21. Hall says that GoGod is changing the way the database is sold. “Basically, we are dropping the subscription system at the end of this year, although purchasers who have already subscribed will get their copies as normal,” Hall says. “From now on, all sales will be at the plain vanilla price of $30. This gives us the freedom to update at different times in the year, when we reach notable targets, for instance.”

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SmartGo Books Adds Three by Yilun Yang

Friday July 20, 2012

Just in time for players to get in shape for the upcoming U.S. Go Congress, SmartGo Books has added three more booksfor a total of 38 designed to be read on the iPad. The latest batch is a trifecta by Yilun Yang 7 dan, “all based on his inspiring workshop lectures,” says SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf. “How to Destroy and Preserve” ($3.99) and “Sabaki – How to Manage Weak Stones” ($3.99) are out-of-print small books originally compiled and edited by John C. Stephenson. “The Workshop Lectures, volume 1” ($5.99) by Slate & Shell contains three chapters: When to Tenuki in the Opening, Choosing the Direction of Attack, and Playing Complicated Joseki. SmartGo Books is a free app for iPad and iPhone, with 38 Go books (including “Invincible”) available as in-app purchases. Kierulf tells the EJ that he hopes “to add at least two more highly requested books before the Go Congress.”

Kiseido Discounting Books through July 31

Friday July 20, 2012

Through July 31, Kiseido is offering 10-20% discounts and free shipping on dozens of books. Books on sale include the 4-volume Graded Go Problems for Beginners series, the Elementary Go Series, the 6-volume Graded Go Problems for Dan Players, 7-volume Mastering the Basics Series and more, including problem books, technique guides and game collections.

SmartGo Books 2.0 Released

Tuesday July 3, 2012

If you have an iPad or iPhone, reading go books just got even better. “SmartGo  Books 2.0 improves the reading experience by moving the controls more out of the way, always showing the chapter title (iPad) and page number (iPhone), and speeding up navigation,” reports SmartGo author Anders Kierulf. Three new books bring the total number of SmartGo book to 35, and Kierulf says he hopes to have five more books before the upcoming U.S.Go Congress.

The three new books:

  • “Get Strong at Life and Death” by Richard Bozulich ($8.99): Fundamentals of life & death, with 230 problems (Kiseido).
  • “More Go by Example” by Neil Moffatt ($6.99): Explore the thinking required to break through the kyu-dan barrier (Learn Go Press).
  • “Correct Joseki” by Mingjiu Jiang and Guo Juan ($7.99): Dealing with joseki mistakes, and how to select joseki for particular game situations (Slate & Shell; published in print as “All About Joseki”).

SmartGo Books is a free app you can download from the App Store, with books available as in-app purchases. Click here for more information.

 

AGA Launches Revamped Website

Sunday July 1, 2012

The American Go Association’s new website launched on Saturday, June 30. While most of the new site’s changes are behind the scenes and will provide a more up-to-date, robust and flexible structure for the site, users will also notice a cleaner and more streamlined visual design.

Most of the old site’s content has been retained, as well as cleaned up and updated where necessary, and is accessible via nested navigation bars along the left-hand side. Three popular areas — Upcoming Events, Ratings and Latest Go News — are quickly accessible via the navbar across the top of the page, while the center of the home page continues to feature news stories which are updated daily.

Well over a year of work has gone into developing and implementing the new site. “We owe a huge debt of thanks and appreciation to the dedicated team of volunteers — Chris Garlock, Roger Schrag Steve Colburn, Joshua Simmons, Justin Kramer, Jason Preuss, Jonathan Bresler, Roy Laird, Phil Waldron, Sam Zimmerman, David Arteche and Bob Gilman — who put so much of their time and energy into this project,” said AGA President Allan Abramson. “This updated and upgraded site will enable the AGA to continue to provide the go community here and around the world with high quality information about the world of go. It’ll also enable new go players to quickly and easily access that world.”

Comments and suggestions on the new site are welcome: email them to journal@usgo.org

Baduk TV Comes to Your Smartphone

Monday June 25, 2012

Go junkies rejoice: Baduk TV is now available on your smart phone. That’s right, you can now watch the same program Korean baduk (the Korean word for go) players watch 24 hours a day. The free Baduk TV app is available in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Though currently only available in Korean, Myungwan Kim 9P says there may be an English translation version of the program available as early as the end of this year. “Many Korean go players first met go through Baduk TV,” says Kim, “The biggest reason prize money in Korean tournament has been rising for the last 10 years or so is because Baduk TV created so many fans and attracted commercial sponsors. I think it could make a huge difference to the go community here, as well.” For now, the service is free, though Kim says that may change later this year, and the rates will depend on how many users there are.

Your Move/Readers Write: The Girl Who Played Go

Sunday May 27, 2012

“I saw this book today and thought the go community would be interested,” writes E-Journal reader Tina Zhang about Shan Sa’s 2003 novel The Girl Who Played Go. That sent us deep into the American Go EJournal Archive where we retrieved Roy Laird’s 7/15/2003 review:

GO REVIEW: The Girl Who Played Go
by Shan Sa; translated from the French by Adriana Hunter
280 pp.

In The Square of The Thousand Winds, a Chinese girl plays go. Serious go, toppling opponent after opponent. The time is the early 1930‘s and the Japanese are invading. Hearing that “terrorists” from the Chinese Resistance meet at the Square to plot their next moves, a Japanese soldier visits the square in disguise, to spy on them. Instead he falls into a game with the girl who plays go. They meet at the square day after day to continue this strangely compelling game. Meanwhile, we watch their lives converge toward a startling climax.

The award-winning author (at left) seems to know her Asian history and literature, and even fills us in with footnotes when the characters participate in major historical events, or discuss history. Attention to detail is so “granular” that the Chinese girl depicted on the cover is even holding authentic Chinese stones! (Chinese stones are flat on one side.) The writing is sprinkled with thoughtful little gems, but seems mostly halting and disjointed, and the occasional intrusion in the translation of Britishisms like “chivvying” is a bit jarring. Most of the chapters are only a few paragraphs long — just when we‘re beginning to immerse ourselves in a scene, it‘s over. Nonetheless, as often happens with good books, I am left with vivid memories and images, and thoughtful questions about the meaning of war. You have to admire the author‘s ambition. Through these gradually intertwining lives, one Chinese, one Japanese, she seeks to illuminate a dark era of occupation, torture and violent death, and to some degree she succeeds.

As a go player, I was happy to see the game presented as in a compelling, dramatic way. The Japanese lieutenant goes to the Square on a mission for his country and the Emperor, but finds himself hopelessly seduced by go. He confesses to his Captain, who shows his understanding by quoting the Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zi: “When you lose a horse, you never know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.” In the end, the game becomes the means by which two minds meet in a profound, life-altering way.

This novel takes its place in a growing lexicon of “go stories”. The ongoing, periodically adjourned game that progresses through most of the book invites comparison with Kawabata‘s The Master of Go, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. After the degrading portrayal of women in Sung-hwa Hong‘s tough, dark First Kyu, it‘s nice to see a woman who is not just the central character, but clearly the master of a her fate — and a strong go player to boot!

Most of all, The Girl Who Played Go brings to mind the classic film The Go Masters, a historic Chinese-Japanese film that has been called “an Asian ‘Gone With the Wind.’ ”
- review by Roy Laird

Spring Crop of Go Books: 300 Tesuji Problems, Modern Master Games, Punishing and Correcting Joseki Mistakes, Five Hundred and One Tesuji Problems, Joseki Dictionary Vol. 3 & Life of Honinbo Shuei

Wednesday May 23, 2012

Spring has brought an early crop of go books, some brand new and others re-issued in new formats. Here are  six that have just been released, two each on joseki and tesuji, a historical look at tournament go in Japan and a bio of “Meijin of Meijins” Honinbo Shuei.

Don’t let the “4-dan to 7-dan” subtitle of Kiseido’ s 300 Tesuji Problems scare you off. Though the problems in this book, Volume 5 of the Graded Go Problems for Dan Players series, are quite challenging, “even if you are unable to solve them, contemplating the problems, then studying the solutions will broaden your tactical horizons by revealing new possibilities in fighting techniques,” says go publisher Richard Bozulich. Also new from Kiseido is Modern Master Games, Volume One, The Dawn of Tournament Go by Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich with historical notes by John Power. 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 contains eleven exciting games with detailed commentaries that chronicle the Japanese go scene during the Second World War, including the “Atomic Bomb Game” between Iwamoto and Hashimoto, and the rise of Sakata and Takagawa’s dominance of the Honinbo title in the post-war era. Kiseido notes that many of their books “are now available on the iPad and iPhone through Smart Go.” Available books  can be purchased by downloading the free SmartGo Books app from the App Store, then use in-app purchase. New titles are being added regularly.

SmartGo Books has been updated with two new books, and the added feature of being able to play arbitrary moves in diagrams, which is especially valuable for problem books. The new books are Punishing and Correcting Joseki Mistakes by Mingjiu Jiang 7 dan and Adam Miller, a popular Slate & Shell book that has been out of print, and Five Hundred and One Tesuji Problems by Richard Bozulich, featuring a large variety of tesuji problems. SmartGo Books for the iPad and iPhone has always allowed users to replay moves in diagrams. “In version 1.5, you can also play your own moves directly in the diagram,” says author Anders Kierulf. “This is especially helpful for problem diagrams, where SmartGo Books will provide feedback on whether your move is right or wrong.” For problem books like 501 Opening Problems or the newly added Five Hundred and One Tesuji Problems, Kierulf says, “this is a game changer.”

Volume 3 of Robert Jasiek’s Joseki Dictionary completes the German 5-dan author’s joseki series. Jasiek’s intent is to make learning joseki easier with a method of evaluation that enables players to “distinguish equal from one-sided results correctly” and emphasizes understanding strategy and judgment. His dictionary explains the strategic choices in each joseki, evaluating the territory and influence of each sequence, identifying types of josekis, from “finished thick settling” to “lean and attack.” Using databases of professional games, Volume 3 includes modern josekis and 130 mostly professional game examples. Click here for a sample and Jasiek’s overview.

GoGoD is releasing a new e-book for the Kindle, The Life of Honinbo Shuei, Volume 1 of a trilogy, The Life, Games and Commentaries of Honinbo Shuei, by John Fairbairn. A famous go player in Japan at the end of the 19th century, Shuei was known as the “Meijin of Meijins” and is still revered by many modern professionals. Overcoming a life full of hardship and controversy, Shuei rose to dominate the go world in his forties, a classic example of “great talents mature late.” This first volume covers Shuei’s biography, with forthcoming volumes to provide detailed commentaries on about eighty of his games and commentaries by Shuei himself on games by other players. Volume 1 covers Shuei’s own life in detail, and sets it firmly in the context of the go scene and the social and political scene at the time, especially the long-running spat between the Honinbos and the Hoensha. Included are juicy tidbits like the tragic end of Honinbo Shuwa, Shuetsu’s breakdown, the fate of the Driftwood Board, the sordid truth about Shusaku’s Castle Games and why Shuei disappeared from the go scene for years at a time.

BadukMovies Launches Weekly Webcast

Thursday May 10, 2012

Dutch go players Peter Brouwer 6d (‘danoontje’ on KGS) and Kim Ouweleen 4d (‘Murugandi’) have launched a weekly webcast on their BadukMovies website. The short videos — 10 min. max — clearly explain and cover a wide variety of go topics, ranging from “A trick play without drawbacks” to “A Chinese tesuji against moyo” as well as detailed explanations about securing or destroying bases. Every Monday a new screencast is uploaded, with eight posted since the launch on March 20. The free videos are in English and Brouwer and Ouweleen say “Comments, feedback or new ideas for videos are more than welcome. Let us know what you think!” You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

New Go Films: Tokyo Newcomer & Weiqi Wonders

Monday May 7, 2012

Go features prominently in a couple of new films, one a drama, the other a documentary. In Tokyo Newcomer, 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. The latest film by Jiang Qinmin – who also directed The Last Sunflower and Sky Lovers – Tokyo Newcomer is “a touching drama about true communication, transcending national borders and generation gaps, through go.” In Weiqi Wonders: Conversations About the Game of Go in China, anthropologist Marc L. Moskowitz (at right, below) interviews people in China in settings ranging from children’s schools to China’s elite Beijing University to a park where retired working class men gather to play, from child educators to those reminiscing about their own youth during the Cultural Revolution. What emerges is a fascinating cultural study as people discuss children’s education, retirement, China forty years ago and today. “As Chinese politics have changed over the last two millennia, so too has the imagery of the game,” Moskowitz notes, “from a tool to seek religious enlightenment to military metaphors, one of the noble four arts, one of the condemned “four olds”, nationalism, transnationalism, historical elitism, and futuristic hyper rationality.” The film is “witness to people’s lives, ranging from university students to working class senior citizens, professional players, people who gave up professional careers to become students, and a range of others who all share a love for this extraordinary game.” Please let us know if you hear about screenings of either of these films, so we can let EJ readers know.