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

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.


SmartGo Books Releases Three More Books

Friday August 5, 2011

Just in time for the Go Congress, SmartGo Books has released three new books from Hinoki Press, reports SmartGo author Anders Kierulf (l). In Vital Points and Skillful Finesse for Sabaki, Yoda Norimoto 9P takes a look at sabaki, one of the most intriguing techniques in go. “In the hands of accomplished players it can seem like pure sorcery. At times the stones can appear to dance with life. While playing lightly hither and yon, the opponent’s forces can end up ineffective, over-concentrated and misdirected.” (220 pages, $8.99). And in Shuko: The Only Move — volumes 1 & 2 — Fujisawa Shuko looks at joseki, fuseki and the middle game. “The key word here is imagination and Shuko Sensei never tires of repeating that the essential factor in go is to think in creative ways.” Two books from Kiseido are currently in preparation; Modern Master Games: The Dawn of Tournament Go by Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich and The Games of Fujisawa Shuko by John Power. The free SmartGo Books app runs on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and currently contains 13 go books available for in-app purchase. Click here for details.
- photo by Chris Garlock


New GoGoD Released, Coming to Congress

Sunday July 17, 2011

This year’s U.S. Go Congress attendees will be able to meet GoGoD authors T Mark Hall and John Fairbairn when the two bring copies of the brand-new Summer 2011 edition of the GoGoD database and encyclopaedia to the States.

“The crop of new games for various top players has been unusually large this year,” Hall tells the E-Journal. “We have new games for Kitani Minoru, Takagawa Kaku,  Hashimoto Utaro and Sakata Eio.” Hall also says that “with much eye-rubbing,” they’ve found Honinbo Jowa’s earliest known game.

Additions to the latest CD also include a number of New Fuseki games from Autumn 1933, “a key period in this movement, and these will illuminate the period especially for those who have our latest book: Old Fuseki vs. New Fuseki.” Another sidelight on that period is provided by the very large number of games by Segoe Kensaku just added.

”Of course, routine games have not been neglected,” Hall promises. “The latest games are there en masse and Fujisawa Hideyuki has now become a milligod, as we have at least 1,000 of his games. The entire GoGoD game collection now comprises some 68,127 games.

The cost for GoGoD – which in addition to the games includes the extensive encyclopaedia – is $30 for a single copy or $40 for a copy plus one update.


Dango: A Go-based Card Game

Saturday July 16, 2011

A new game called Dango combines the rules of go with the mechanics of a card game.  Players use two kinds of cards, representing either go shapes or “actions”.  The go shapes are used to play stones on a goban, while the actions allow (or require) players to do various things, like remove opponent’s stones, lose their turn, or block a move that an opponent wants to make.  Cards can be downloaded and printed out or sets can be purchased from Alexander Dinerchtein.


Kiseido Releases Updated 21st Century Joseki Dictionary

Saturday July 16, 2011

21st Century Dictionary of Basic Joseki Vol. 1Calling it “an indispensable study tool and reference work,” Kiseido has just released the 21st Century Dictionary of Basic Joseki, Volume 1 in English.

The Dictionary is a thorough updating and complete rewriting of the Yoshio Ishida Dictionary of Basic Joseki published in the mid-70s,” according to Kiseido. “Like the Ishida work, it thoroughly analyses the various components of josekis, such as tesujis and good style and good shape, and focuses in depth on such themes as securing momentum and building influence.”

This first volume of the dictionary covers not only long-established josekis familiar to players of all levels but also the many new variations of old josekis, such as the Magic Sword and the Large Avalanche, that have been developed in recent decades, including the first decade of the 21st century. “Each joseki is backed up by numerous diagrams exploring alternative moves and mistakes, to ensure that the reader understands the joseki fully,” Kiseido says.

The author, Shinji Takao, is a top Japanese professional who has held both the Honinbo and Meijin titles. His book retains the variations from its predecessor that are relevant to contemporary play but also gives countless new variations, reflecting the widespread innovations generated by professional go in the Far East in the last three decades.

Kiseido is currently working on a translation of the Dictionary’s second volume, scheduled for a 2012 release. Check out the Kiseido Newsletter for more information on this and other newly-released books.
- Daniel Nichols


Shotwell Updates Go! More Than a Game

Monday July 4, 2011

Go writer Peter Shotwell reports that he recently updated Go! More Than a Game with a brand-new chapter covering recent developments in the go world. New material in Go! — first published in 2003 by Tuttle — includes Computer Go Turns into Supercomputer Go, Surreal Numbers and Combinatorial Game Theory, Go Combinatorics: The Maximum Number of Possible Go Positions, Games and their Length, Asian Professional Go, Two Giant Tibetan Go Boards and A Re-dating and Re-interpretation of the Pre-Han Confucian Go Passages. Because of space limitations, the section on beginner’s use of The 36 Strategies has been dropped from the latest edition, “however they will soon appear in the AGA e-library” Shotwell says, adding that he’s now at work on a review for the EJ of the use of go in Henry Kissinger’s new book On China and Scott Boorman’s The Protracted Game.


Instant Go Set Now Available

Saturday July 2, 2011

For anyone wanting to play go, but without a goban handy, the Instant Go Set could fill in that gap. David Ormerod has announced the free PDF of a go board and stones that can be printed and then cut out for a quick game.   Ormerod says: “When people learn go, it’s important for them to start playing quickly, so they remember what they’ve learned. Of course, you can play go online or against your computer, but not everyone wants to do that. Some people just want to play go with their friends and family. We created the Instant Go Set to give away with our free go course with this in mind. Now we want to make it available to everyone. Anyone who wants to learn go, teach go or just wants a free go set is welcome to download it.”


MyGoFriend Program Ties Top Pro

Sunday June 26, 2011

The MyGoFriend program scored a 2-2 result against Kim Young Sam 8P in a June 16 9×9 exhibition match played during the recent Kido Cup in Hamburg, Germany and broadcast live on KGS. MyGoFriend – a Gold Medal winner at the 15th Computer Olympiad that employs state of the art Monte Carlo algorithms  — won the first two games and Kim Young Sam 8P the last two. While MyGoFriend officially lost the final game on time, due to connection issues, the position was evaluated as unclear or better for MyGoFriend. Click here for the complete report, videos, photos and game records.