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

EYES OF WOOD, HANDS OF STONE, HEART OF PAPER

Sunday August 29, 2010

To play go,” writes programmer Reg Braithwaite, “one needs a huge amount of humility and patience. At first I thought I lacked these qualities, but then a funny thing happened: I purchased my first-ever mountain bike. In cycling, I receive regular positive feedback. I can measure my improvement with little things like occasionally feeling myself hit the balance point when working on a ‘1/2-1/4 to manual wheelie drop.’ Or popping the front wheel up onto a bench and driving the rear wheel up and under me. In go, I received no such affirmation. I play, I lose, and games are too long to be able to identify the specific mistakes without extensive personal coaching. I simply don’t know whether I am succeeding or failing when I make a move unless it’s a spectacular blunder.” Click here for the rest of Braithwaite’s thoughts on go, bikes and learning in Eyes of Wood, Hands of Stone, Heart of Paper, including Wood & Stones, his program to turn your iPad into a go board for playing face to face.
- thanks to Steve Colburn for passing this along

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NEW IN PRINT 2010 (PART 1): Classic Games

Saturday August 28, 2010

by Roy Laird
Strolling through the vendor area at this year’s U.S. Go Congress, I realized that it’s time for some updates on what’s happening recently in the small but active world of go publishing. Watch for posts over the next few weeks and feel free to email me with suggestions of 2010 go books I should mention.

The first thing I noticed was that it’s been a busy year for GoGoD co-author John Fairbairn, who has embarked on an ambitious project with his publisher, Slate and Shell: a series of books on the ten-game matches Go Seigen played when he was at the top of the go world. Drawing on multiple original sources, each book provides extensive historical material, and integrates game commentary from a variety of sources.   Kamakura, covering Go’s first matchup during WW II with Kitani Minoru, came out last spring. It was followed by Final Summit, describing the last jubango, against Takagawa Shukaku in 1955-56. Then came 9-Dan Showdown, focusing on two ten-game matches and two shorter encounters with with Fuijisawa Kuranosuke (later Fujisawa Hosai), one of the great players of the 1940′s and 1950′s. In a change of pace, Fairbairn also translated The Go Consultants, in which Kitani and Seigen team up against Segoe Kensaku and Suzuki Tamjiro for a “consultation game.” Inspired by a similar practice among Western chess masters, in a “consultation game” the two-player teams discuss the game while it is in progress.  Stay tuned — more exciting titles are on the way!
Next week: A Beginner’s Bonanza

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.

KISEIDO OFFERS VOLUMES OF PROBLEMS

Monday August 23, 2010

There’s theory and there’s practice. In go, practice means studying problems. Kiseido is five volumes into an ambitious seven-volume series of problem books for dan-level players originally published in Japanese by the Japan Go Association. Now available: Graded Go Problems for Dan Players; 300 Life-and-Death Problems, 5-kyu to 3-dan; 300 Tesuji Problems, 5-kyu to 3-dan; 300 Joseki Problems, 1-dan to 3-dan; 256 Opening and Middle Game Problems, 1-dan to 7-dan. These problems are designed to develop your intuition and to provide exercises for developing your ability to analyze positions deeply and accurately. “These are not problems that you can skim through in a couple of days,” Kiseido warns. “Each problem requires serious thought to obtain the maximum benefit.” Click here for details and to order.

SHOTWELL’S UPDATES ON GO HISTORY & STATS

Monday August 23, 2010

Peter Shotwell, author of Go! More Than a Game, has published two articles based on subjects in the upcoming update of his book to the AGA’s Bob High library. The first [PDF] is a look at his re-dating and re-interpretation of early Confucian thoughts on go, and the second article [PDF] covers some research done on the statistical properties of go games by Dr. John Tromp.  Traditionally, the Confucian ideas about go have been thought to be quite negative, but Shotwell took account of the fact they were actually written in a small area in northeastern China over a period of only about 50 years in the late 3rd to early 2nd centuries B.C.E, (instead of the usually-thought “hundreds of years”). When the full contexts were looked at, he found that the writers were clearly using go only to aid their comments on their evolving attitudes about filial piety, and that the only aspect of the game they disapproved of was fanatical play to the detriment of moral duties.  The last Confucian go writing appeared c. 260 B.C.E. and it was only 120 years later, after the Warring States period had ended and peace was restored, that writings with high praise for go (indicating a great increase in skill) appeared and the earliest game board was found. The second article, which includes an interview of Dr. Tromp, notes his incredible figures for the longest possible go game (longer than the universe might last), compares the vast numbers of possible positions for chess and go (like comparing the nucleus of an atom to the size of the universe), and the total number of possible games (for example, there are 386+ billion for 2×2 boards).  Shotwell gave a presentation at the recent U.S. Go Congress looking at both of these topics and some others that will appear in the update to his book.
- Jake Edge

ONLINE SOFTWARE FOR MANAGING YOUR CLUB

Sunday August 1, 2010

“Who wants to be spending time organizing your go club when you could be playing go?” asked Santa Fe go club organizer Robert Cordingley Monday evening. Cordingley conducted a presentation on his online software GoClubsOnline, which simplifies the process of registering players for tournaments, sending email to club members, uploading data to the AGA, tracking a club library, and more.  Clubs can register with GoClubsOnline for $95/year for up to 30 members, though Cordingley is offering a discount for the duration of the Congress to $80/year for attendees.
- Report by Jake Edge

NEW WAY TO FIND GO PLAYERS DEBUTS

Sunday August 1, 2010

IgoLocal is a new way to find go players in your community or when you’re traveling. Creator Chuck Thomas – who also runs Shodan Imports — calls IgoLocal “the first physical go server and location service,” and the free online service — which just launched — makes it easy to find local go players who match your rank, challenge them to games at a specific time and location and create open games for anybody in your area to accept. IgoLocal is also designed to help go players find and join local go clubs, create a go club that will be seen by the entire world and manage your local schedule of go-related activities. “Register now so that other go players in your area can find you!” urges Thomas.

NEW EMPTY SKY T-SHIRTS AVAILABLE

Monday July 26, 2010

The new Empty Sky Go Club t-shirts are now available. “This was designed by our very own Becky and it looks great,” reports club president Steve Colburn. The Hanes Tagless t-shirts in Kelly Green can be pre-ordered now; orders will ship by the end of the September, “just in time for the go tournament season!” adds Colburn. CLICK HERE to order.

SLATE & SHELL ISSUES SPANISH TRANSLATION OF “HOW NOT TO PLAY GO”

Monday July 12, 2010

“Uno de los atractivos de ser un jugador kyu es la facilidad con que puede mejorar su juego—algo mucho más difícil para jugadores dan,” says Yuan Zhou in Como No Jugar al Go, a just-issued Spanish translation of Zhou’s popular How Not to Play Go in which he clarifies the common kyu level misunderstandings of how to play which hold kyu players back from reaching dan level. Brian J. Olive of Orlando, Florida did the translation and Slate & Shell publisher Bill Cobb reports that “there are also plans to translate How Not to Play Go into other languages.”

BRITISH GO JOURNAL BACK ISSUES NOW AVAILABLE ON-LINE

Wednesday June 9, 2010

The British Go Association (BGA) has recently completed a project to get all issues of the British Go Journal into an on-line archive.   Each issue since 1967 is available as a PDF file, with many issues having some of their content translated into web pages.  Making article web pages is an ongoing project, and issues will only become available to the general public once they become a year old.  There are 148 issues currently available with games and instructional articles for kyu through dan-level players.

Early issues were produced on typewriters and used an algebraic notation to describe games and positions.  Starting with issue number 4, pictures were added and the web page versions include SGF and GO format game records.  News from the local, national, and international go scenes in the issues as well as 40+ years of  “internal wranglings” of the BGA provide an amazing resource for anyone interested in go history, or just in improving their game.
- EuroGoTV; photo: Jon Diamond, creator of the first BGA journal prototype in 1967; he was British Champion at the time and is the current BGA President