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

New on the AGA Website: Classic Chinese Problem Collection

Sunday March 16, 2014

Guanzi Pu (Sensei’s Library), a classic Chinese problem collection from 1660 of 1473 problems has just been added to the Learn Overview page, based on a post on L19 . It is one of the problem collections that is considered high dan/pro level, although it may be the easiest of those. Some problems are easy at the beginning, but ramp up. Includes a PDF with multiple problems per page, but doesn’t include the solutions, typeset by pwaldron. Also includes a PDF (ebook) version that includes all 1473 problems (plus a few extras) and answers from p2501 on L19.
- Greg Smith, AGA website team

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On Studying With Kaz

Saturday March 15, 2014

by Steve Berthiaume

If you’ve been a subscriber to the Members’ Edition of the E-Journal, you’ve probably seen the occasional feature, “Lessons with Kaz.”  I always liked the style of these features, how Kazunari Furuyama (right) often suggests different moves for players of different abilities, or rates the severity of mistakes by assigning a dollar level to them, so I recently began taking lessons from him online. 

Kaz’s teaching methods appeal to me as an adult player, because he understands that the adult mind learns differently than that of younger players.  This is not to say that adults don’t have the same potential to improve, and Kaz has seen many of his adult students progress from mid-kyu to dan level under his tutelage.

For the first lesson, Kaz has his students submit 11 games for review, 10 that he looks through to get a sense of the player’s strengths, weaknesses and habits, and then a game which he reviews with extensive commentary and variations. Accompanying this review is a set of 25-30 problems.   Sometimes in place of some of the problems, Kaz will send a group of related problems that explain a concept in great detail.  An example of this would be Kaz’s “Peeps” or the “On Fighting” series that have been recently featured in the E-Journal. For subsequent lessons, Kaz asks that students continue to send recent games, so he can keep track of the student’s tendencies and address any issues that come up.

This is precisely the kind of instruction that appeals to me. I have a shelf (and now IPad) full of go books that — with the exception of a few recent books — always seem to be over my head after a few pages; I feel they are often geared to professional players who don’t make kyu-level mistakes, and feature commentary that leaves me scratching my head.  Instead, Kaz stresses basic, strong shapes that have broad application throughout the game, and repetition in various configurations that really allows the concepts to sink in.  He avoids complicated josekis, choosing simpler ones that also teach good shape and tesuji, and have broad application throughout the game.

Since starting lessons with Kaz, I have felt more in control of my games, able to remain calm and play moves that I knew were solid, as well as take advantage of opponent’s mistakes, particularly in 3-3 corner invasions.  This allows me to spend more time thinking about other aspects of my playing, and has greatly increased my enjoyment and fascination with this game that seems to be taking over my life.
- Steve Berthiaume is a 15-kyu who plays at the Milford Go Club in Milford, Massachusetts. Email cickazu@gmail.com  for details on studying with Kaz. photo by John Pinkerton

Bitcoin.io: A New Server With Unique Prizes

Sunday March 9, 2014

What do you get when you cross the world’s oldest game with the newest form of currency? A bitcoin go tournament, such as the ones being organized online every week at Bitcoingo.io. “Bitcoins are an ideal currency for an international game like go,” founder Steven Pine told the EJ.  “It allows students and teachers to connect and transact without concern for currency exchanges or waiting on a check or wire transfer to clear. The same is true for tournaments. I think the currency has lots of potential to transform the go community in many positive ways.”

Anyone can sign up, enter a tournament and begin playing on Bitcoin’s own Python/mySQL-based server. Komi is 6.5 points, and each player starts with 15 minutes; there are five 30-second overtime periods. Territory counting is used but no full rule set has been formally adopted. A tournament win earns the victor at least one point, depending on how many points their opponent has. A new tournaments starts, and the old one finishes, at midnight each Saturday. The self-paired “most points” format favors active competitors, so if you plan to play to win, you may need a comfy chair. The winner of the February 10 tournament had 78 points.

Bitcoins are notoriously unstable – last week it was discovered that as much as 5% of the total bitcoin money supply had been stolen from a prominent exchange without detection several years ago; the exchange declared bankruptcy. (NY Times 2/25/14) If you plan to convert your winnings to real-world money you may face a challenge. The weekly pot has been 6,000,000 “satoshis” but before you start planning your retirement, you should know that it breaks down to about $40 depending on the bitcoin’s daily value relative to the USD. (On 3/1/14 one bitcoin was valued at $556.85 on Coindesk, which monitors exchanges, down more than ten percent from just ten days before.) “Although the ‘satoshi’ – the smallest fraction of a bitcoin that can be transacted, currently .00000001th of a bit coin —  is not well-known, we decided to use it as a base unit to drive home the point that bitcoins are easily divisible and can facilitate micro payments,” Pine said. “Some services talk about ‘millibits,’ but we thought it would be more fun for people to win like 1,000,000 satoshis.” Pine and cofounder Jonathan Hales are underwriting the prizes themselves, hoping that tournament and teaching fees will make the site revenue positive.

If you check it out, bear in mind that it’s a work in progress.  Traffic is very low; a private room on an established server would probably bring in more users. But if you enjoy checking out new servers, Steven and Jonathan will appreciate your visit!
- Roy Laird 

GoGoD Goes Online Only

Tuesday February 25, 2014

Though the “D” now stands for “Download,” GoGoD is continuing, following the death of T Mark Hall last December (In Memoriam: T Mark Hall, 1947-2013, EJ 12/12/2013), who originated the massive go game collection. Originally an acronym for Games of Go on Disc, GoGoD is no longer available on disk but will continue to be available online as Games of Go on Download. Surviving GoGoD partner John Fairbairn expects the collection of go games – currently at 79,000 — to reach at least 100,000. The only item being offered now is the database of sgf games. The Encyclopaedia (including the Names Dictionary) has been removed from the download package and the price has been significantly reduced. The GoGoD database is and will continue to be incorporated in various SmartGo products, along with the Names Dictionary.
- Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal, based on a report by the British Go Association

Go Game Guru Announces First Book Will Be on Gu-Lee Jubango

Saturday February 15, 2014

Go Game Guru has announced that their first go book will feature the ongoing 10-game match between Gu Li and Lee Sedol. “Over the last few years, many readers have emailed us and suggested that we should publish a go book of my game commentaries,” says GGG’s An Younggil 8P. “We’ve been too busy to do so up until now, but this match is special, so we’ve decided that our first go book will be about Lee Sedol and Gu Li’s jubango,” says An. 

In an unusual move, An has already published his commentary of the first game of the match online, as a draft, and welcomes reader comments and questions. “You can play a part in shaping this book, by asking questions about each game and discussing the games together,” he says. The final book will include extended commentary, based on readers’ questions, and detailed discussion about modern opening strategy with reference to each game. 

More details can be found on the official page for the as yet untitled ‘Lee Sedol vs Gu Li Go Book‘. In related news, Benjamin Hong 3-kyu – working with his teacher (“frozensoul” on KGS) — has just published a move-by-move review of the Gu-Lee game on his blog designed to “allow kyu players to easily follow the game and understand some of the most significant moments of the game.”

Yunzi Stones and Lead: An Update

Friday February 14, 2014

“I bought ‘Yunzi Stones’ from Yellow Mountain Imports as a gift for my young children so we can play baduk together,” wrote EJ reader Jason Lee recently. “Later on after ordering, I saw online that this kind of stone can contain lead. So when my order arrived I got a lead test kit from the local hardware store to check them for safety. It turns out that the stones sent to me did contain lead. This is unsafe for my children to use and maybe me too. I wrote about my experience here. Thank you for the great work (the EJ does) for baduk players. I read the website every week.”

The EJ originally reported on this in 2008 (Go Review: Chinese Go Stones 2/4/2008) and we later reported (Yunzi Stones Now Lead-Free 6/23/2008 EJ) that YMI had contacted the manufacturer, who had agreed to eliminate lead from the manufacturing process of yunzi stones, which are special go pieces manufactured in the Chinese province of Yunnan. Apparently the manufacturer did not completely eliminate the lead, instead reducing it below the levels recommended by the Consumer Products Safety Commission; see below for details.

Yellow Mountain Imports responds: “Thanks for reaching out to us. We thought we had resolved this many years back when we had gone through all the reformulation and subsequent tests with the Yunnan Weiqi factory so obviously we were concerned. We take product safety seriously so when we heard these new complaints, we contacted the Yunnan Weiqi Factory immediately. They were equally concerned and arranged for a current official radio spectrometry test. The black stones tested positive at 0.005% (50 parts per million). Lead was also found in the white stones, at an even lower concentration, less than 0.002 (20 ppm). The Yunnan Weiqi Factory reformulated Yunzi stones to be within safe levels as per our request many years ago, while maintaining as much as the original qualities as possible, but it turns out that they cannot eliminate it completely. Lead makes the stones more durable and less brittle. These levels are well below the 0.009 (90 ppm) level recommended by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, but we do not claim that they are lead-free. Anyone who has purchased Yunzi stones and wants to return them can do so and should contact us.” Email customerservice@ymimports.com with any questions or concerns.

New In Print: Classic Handicap Books; SmartGo Says “Oui”

Friday February 7, 2014

Classic Handicap Books: Whether giving or getting stones, two new translations of classic handicap go books will come in handy. Go master Guo Bailing’s “Sanzi Pu” (Three-Stone Games) and “Sizi Pu” (Four-Stone Games, Part 1 & Part 2 have just been translated by Ruoshi Sun and published on Amazon’s Create Space. The books contains hundreds of diagrams from Guo’s research on three- and four-stone handicap games. In Guo’s own words, “It is the author’s intention to elucidate the countless variations and let people realize that they all follow the basic principles.” Both books were recently added to the AGA’s “New and Noteworthy” page where you’ll find information and links to hundreds of go books both new and old.

SmartGo Says “Oui”: Meanwhile, SmartGo Books is branching out into other languages. After releasing books in Japanese, Spanish, and German, SmartGo Books recently added two books in French: “Comment ne pas jouer au go” is the French translation of “How Not to Play Go” by Yuan Zhou (Slate & Shell), translated by Micaël Bérubé. Also, “Black to Play! – Train the Basics of Go” by Gunnar Dickfeld (Board N’Stones) now includes both French and Spanish translations. Click here for more information on SmartGo Books or here for information in French. Also just added to the SmartGo Books line-up: John Fairbairn’s “New Ways in Go: A complete translation of Honinbo Shuho’s classic Hoen Shinpo”.

Michael Redmond’s Kisei Bonus Tsumego (solution)

Friday January 17, 2014

[link]

Black to play. Both sides must find a clever move for optimal play. The first move is relatively easy, as White lives easily if Black plays any other move.
Published in the January 17, 2014 edition of the American Go E-Journal.

This bonus tsumego is just one example of the material, including pro game commentaries, available to Member’s Edition subscribers. Click here for more on how you can sign up today.

Michael Redmond 9P shares with the E-Journal some of his own tsumego compositions. For these more challenging problems, dan players can test their reading speed and accuracy, while kyu players can play through the solutions to learn ideas and techniques.

Michael based this problem on a very similar position that arose around move 63 of the just completed 1st game of the Kisei championship match in Spain. Click here to see the game record.

Michael Redmond’s Kisei Bonus Tsumego

Tuesday January 14, 2014

[link]

Black to play.  Both sides must find a clever move for optimal play.
Published in the January 14, 2014 edition of the American Go E-Journal.

This bonus tsumego is just one example of the material, including pro game commentaries, available to Member’s Edition subscribers.  Click here for more on how you can sign up today.

Michael Redmond 9P shares with the E-Journal some of his own tsumego compositions.  For these more challenging problems, dan players can test their reading speed and accuracy, while kyu players can play through the solutions to learn ideas and techniques.  The solution will appear in a few days.

Michael based this problem on a very similar position that arose around move 63 of the just completed 1st game of the Kisei championship match in Spain. Click here to see the game record.

Baduk TV Now Available on Apple TV

Sunday January 12, 2014

Live Korean go matches with commentary, game reviews and lessons are now available 24/7 through KorTV on Apple TV. KorTV — an Internet television network designed to provide free live Korean IPTV — provides HD quality live Korean go streaming services for $2.99 a month. KorTV also provides baduk (as go is known in Korea) VODs, such as lessons for various levels from beginner to professional and hour-long world matches and Korean leagues. The live broadcasting is in Korean, but some VOD have English subtitles or dubbing. Note: this is a separate service from Baduk TV English — the partnership between Baduk TV and Go Game Guru.