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

GoGoD Game Database Passes 70,000

Monday November 28, 2011

Go Games on Disk – aka GoGoD – has passed another milestone, with more than 70,000 games now in the sgf database of professional games. “Many of these are modern Japanese, Chinese and Korean games which are not published on the internet, but we have also been delving back into Korean history, to find early games by Cho Hun-hyeon, Seo Pong-su, Kim In, Cho Nam-ch’eol as well as a rare sunjang baduk game from the 1970’s to add to our existing collection of such games played under ancient Korean rules,  and previously unknown games from a visit Takagawa Shukaku made to Korea,” reports GoGod’s T Mark Hall. “These obviously do not appear in the collected games of Takagawa. One effect of the growth is that we now have to use two CDs, one for the database and one for the encyclopaedia, but at no extra cost to our customers.” The latest GoGoD Encyclopaedia has been updated with more details of tournaments and events, as well as updated software for accessing the database faster. Email tmark@ for details.


Go Shop Offers Tumblers & Totes

Monday November 14, 2011

If go problems are your cup of tea, a new shop may have just the thing for you. The Go Shop carries a neat line of go “tumblers” or insulated beverage containers. The Fuseki Series includes the Chinese Opening, Kobayashi, Mini Chinese Opening and San  Ren Sei, and there’s also a Corner Problems tumbler and a Go Board tumbler. All are offered in English, Chinese or Korean. To carry your tumblers, and other go materials, the Go Shop also carries a go-themed tote bag. “For us, every small move counts,” says the Go Shop.


Go Game Guru Launches Online Go Shop

Monday November 7, 2011

Go Game Guru — an Australia-based go website featuring go news, commentaries and more — has just opened an online go shop. “We want to make it easier and more affordable for everyone to buy go books,” GGG founder David Ormerod says. The GGG Go Shop catalogue currently includes two dozen popular Kiseido titles “and we have a go book competition to celebrate the opening of the shop,” Ormerod — a frequent contributor to the E-Journal — says. “If things go well we have plans for equipment, merchandise and on-demand video,” Ormerod adds. “We’ll also expand the number of locations we can ship from to continue reducing postage costs for everyone.” GGG first trialed the go bookshop idea back in June and Ormerod says “Our goals haven’t changed since then. Basically everything we’re doing is aimed at either introducing go to new players or helping existing players get stronger.” Ormerod adds that “Go Game Guru is still something of an experiment. Younggil and I started it based on the idea that you could build a self sustaining business around promoting go globally. We don’t ask for donations for this project, because then we’d be competing with go associations. If people want to donate money or time towards promoting go, I’d really encourage them to get involved with their local go association.” Ormerod says that GGG is an attempt to “build a business that provides useful services to the community and uses profits to promote go in online and traditional media – working with existing promoters like go associations.” Ormerod freely admitts that “Nobody really knows whether this theory will work — and there are very mixed opinions among people I know – (but) what we’re really trying to do is test the theory and find out (if it works).”


Mini Goban Located

Sunday November 6, 2011

The mini 9×9 goban (Cute Board? 10/31 EJ) has been tracked down. It’s available from Schaak en Go Winkel in Amsterdam, Scandinavia’s Mohsart (both offer 13×13 versions as well) and Jeu de in France. On the other hand, reader Dwight Anderson says the miniature goban “Would be easy to make. Just get someone to cut and plane a 2 x 10 board, draw the lines on with a permanent marker and finish with some varathane. You can buy the little legs at a local building supply.”





Jonathan Hop to Launch Go Video Site; Seeks Contributors

Sunday October 30, 2011

Go author Jonathan Hop is starting a video lecture website aimed at popularizing go and providing more resources for people who want to learn more. The website, Sunday Go Lessons “will eventually grow to have hundreds of lectures on various topics, from joseki to the middle game, and will present go in a fun and exciting way,” Hop tells the E-Journal. “Perfect for getting friends and colleagues acquainted with the game.” Looking for financial contributions from the go community to help get his dream off the ground, Hop is offering prizes for contributors, including free lectures and signed copies of his books. Jonathan Hop is a 4 dan amateur and studied at the Yu Changhyuk Baduk Dojo in Migeum, S. Korea and is also the author of the So You Want to Play Go?series, a primer for players of all skill levels. Click here for details on the new site.



Dinerchtein’s “Intense” Korean-Style Insei League

Monday October 24, 2011

Alexandre Dinerchtein’s Korean-Style Insei League on the Kiseido Go Server is a training league aimed at providing online participants with an experience similar to Dinerchtein’s insei training in Korea. Dinnerchtein, a 7-time European champion, holds a 3 dan professional ranking from Korea. Besides Dinerchtein, League teachers include Christian Pop (solaris on KGS) and Fernando Aguilar (aguilar on KGS), who are also regular teachers in KGS Plus. AGA 7 dan Andy Liu (bigbadwolf on KGS) has also participated as a teacher. The League is open to amateurs 10 kyu or stronger. “This is an intense go experience,” reports Bob Gilman 5k, who’s enrolled in the October League. “Inseis are expected to play at least 12 games during the month with at least six different opponents. In addition, the schedule for the first two weeks includes 27 lectures or simultaneous games with teachers. A few of the lectures are in Russian but most in English. Some are also likely to be at awkward times for U.S. players. Still with so many events I’ve been able to attend plenty . There are a number of US players, so finding opponents in a nearby time zone is not so much of a problem. I am enjoying it.”


SmartGo Books Releases Sakata’s “Killer of Go” and “Single Digit Kyu Game Commentaries” by Yuan Zhou

Sunday October 23, 2011

The out-of-print Killer of Go: Technique and Preventative Measures by Sakata Eio (published by Yutopian) is now back to life in SmartGo Books. “It’s a classic text on the theme of killing stones, featuring advice, game analysis, killing techniques, as well as shape and tewari analysis,” says SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf. The SmartGo Books edition “makes it easy to replay the moves in the diagrams,” Kierulf adds. “Moreover, twenty-seven additional diagrams replace long sequences of letters that were hard to follow in the original text.” SmartGo Books also recently released Single Digit Kyu Game Commentaries by Yuan Zhou. Earlier versions of these six commentaries were originally published in the E-Journal, but the commentaries have been significantly expanded for inclusion in SmartGo Books.


Modern Master Games & More New Releases from SmartGo Books

Monday September 19, 2011

SmartGo Books has just released “Modern Master Games, Volume One: The Dawn of Tournament Go,” a new Kiseido book by Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich. “Master Games” features detailed commentary on eleven masterpieces by some of the great players of the post-war era. It starts with the atomic-bomb game between Iwamoto and Hashimoto, Takagawa’s dominance of the Honinbo title, the rise of Sakata and Fujisawa Shuko, Fujisawa Hosai and his imitation go strategy, and more. The book is priced at $11.99, using in-app purchase on your iPad or iPhone. Even if you don’t have a device running SmartGo Books, you can check out a PDF of the commentary of one of the games here. Unlike a PDF, SmartGo Books lets you replay the moves directly in the diagram. Other recent releases include the first three volumes of Janice Kim’s acclaimed “Learn to Play Go” series (volumes IV and V will be added in the coming months), and “The Go Consultants” by John Fairbairn and T Mark Hall (published by Slate & Shell), “one of my all-time favorite go books,” says SmartGo Books publisher Anders Kierulf. SmartGo Books now includes 18 titles, from beginner to advanced, with more to come.


Kaya Go Server Aims at Online Audience

Monday September 19, 2011

Those who have attended Congresses will be familiar with seeing top board games computer projected onto a large screen, relayed to on-line audiences around the world. Many more people will have played on-line. A new go server aims at these online fans. The Kaya Go Server aims to improve accessibility, especially for newcomers, by making it simple to play in a web browser. There is also an emphasis on making community features readily available. For details there’s an interesting interview with Kaya’s lead developer, Gabriel Benmergui , a leading Argentine player, as well as comments in Finnish champion Anntii Törmänen’s blog and there’s also overall information on on-line go servers.
- Bob Gilman


NEW IN PRINT 2011: A Mixed Bag

Wednesday August 24, 2011

by Roy Laird
During this year’s annual visit to the vendor room at the U.S. Go Congress, I added four new titles to my collection. I’m interested in pretty much anything John Fairbairn has to say, so I was excited to see that his ongoing partnership with Slate and Shell has produced two in which he focuses on a single important game played by Shusai , the last hereditary head of the Honinbo school. Old Fuseki vs. New Fuseki describes Shusai’s 1933 encounter with Go Seigen , while The Meijin’s Retirement Game covers the 1938 contest immortalized in Kawabata’s The Master of Go. Shusai’s opponent in that game was of course Kitani Minoru, who along with Go is credited with the creation of the revolutionary “New Fuseki.”  Fairbairn goes far beyond mere game analysis to tell the story of how these games came to be so important, placing them fully in the social and historical context of the time. There are “Timelines” outlining the lives of all three principals, and Old v. New contains an extended essay on the birth of “Hypermodern Openings.” Like Fairbairn’s other works, these books strengthen our appreciation for the deep sociocultural well we dip into each time we reach for a stone.

Another productive collaboration is that between S&S and Yuan Zhou. In addition to instructional material – my personal favorite is his small but powerful booklet, “How Not To Play Go” – he shares insights gained from a lifetime of studying the games of important players in his “Master Play” series. In five previous books, he has analyzed the style of seven top players through detailed discussion of two exemplary games – Go Seigen, Takemiya , Cho Chikun, Kitani, Kato, Lee Chang-ho  and Seo Bong-soo. In this year’s Master Play: The Playing Styles of Seven Top Pros, he takes a similar look at Sakata, Takagawa, Fujisawa Shuko, Rin Kaiho, Nei Wei-ping, Ma Xiao-chun and Cho hun-hyun. They say the best way to improve is to study pro games, and here we have a collection of games by some of the strongest players of our time.

Michael Redmond is also working with S&S to produce a new series of books for Western players on the opening. I saw a preliminary proof of Volume One, which will focus on the san-ren-sei opening. In the introduction, Michael says he intends this as “a textbook as well as a game collection.” Considering the Opening: San-Ren-Sei should appear in print before the end of the year.

On a more practical level, I found that I had somehow missed Volume 7 of Kiseido’s “Mastering the Basics” series, Attacking and Defending Moyos. This is the third book in English on the subject. Keshi and Uchikomi (2002; out of print) is organized as a dictionary, showing twenty standard reduction patterns and eighteen common invasion techniques. Reducing Territorial Frameworks (1986) focuses mostly on the “keshi” side of things.  Invading and Reducing Moyos co-authors Richard Bozulich and Rob Van Ziejst take a unique look at the subject by spelling out thirteen general principles, then illustrating these points through extended analysis of six carefully chosen games. The book ends with 151 problems.

Two problem-oriented series continued to grow this year, each serving a different purpose. Korean pro Cho hye-hyon was the youngest female, at eleven, to ever earn Korea professional credentials. In 2010 she became the world’s fourth female 9P. Her blog of challenging problems became so popular that last year she turned it into a book, Creative Life and Death; now she followed up with Volume Two. These books feature extended analysis of dan-level problems. At the other extreme, Oromedia’s Speed Baduk workbook series is now up to twelve volumes. Each book contains hundreds of problems breaking go down to its most basic elements, such as “hane at the 1-2 point.” Dozens of problems illustrate each point.  The workbooks themselves contain no answers – answer books are available separately for each three-volume unit. I also decided to pass up the 21st Century Dictionary of Basic Joseki,Takao Shinji’s update/rewrite of Ishida’s Joseki Dictionary, although I’m sure it contains valuable new material. I have Ishida, much of which is unchanged in the new edition, as well as Kiseido’s Dictionary of Modern Fuseki: The Korean Style. I also subscribe to Go World, where I see more discussion of modern openings than I can ever understand. If I didn’t have a joseki dictionary, though, this is the one I would get. Volume Two, completing the series, will appear early next year.

The long- rumored and anticipated Kiseido art book featuring ukiyo-e with go themes from the Pinckard collection, Japanese Prints and the World of Go, has finally appeared – and I’m sorry to report that it is a big disappointment. Unlike the rich, glossy covers of Go World, the prints seem faded and blurry. William Pinckard’s accompanying commentary in English and Japanese, on the other hand, is richly enlightening. Pinckard was a great scholar of go – click here to read his remarkable essay comparing go to the other ancient classic games, chess and backgammon. If you ever visited the Kiseido website’s “Art Gallery”, from which much of this material was drawn, you know how thoroughly Pinckard researched his acquisitions. I was looking forward to a beautiful book that could live on our coffee table – and I still am.