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

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. 

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AGA Website Updates Detailed

Thursday December 26, 2013

The AGA’s crackerjack web team has been as busy as elves with updates to the usgo.org website. Here are a few highlights to check out over the upcoming holidays. The new “Learn To Play” page is a great intro for absolute beginners. All the tournament pages have been updated, especially the calendar — which has a much cleaner, more accessible look – but also the pages for major tournaments and championships, tournament resources and tournament crosstabs, which includes crosstabs for major events from 2008-2013. The “Fun and Miscellaneous” page has some great new stuff, including links to History and Culture, Go Around The WorldLearn Overview, and Rules of Go. The ratings page now includes a tournament ratings status page. And following on the heels of the just-concluded SportAccord World Mind Games, there’s now a handy chart showing the International Go Federation’s global relationships and events. Greg Smith heads up the AGA’s website team, which includes Roger Schrag and Tom Hodges, with support by Karoline Burrall, Jason Preuss, Jonathan Bresler, Paul Barchilon, Roy Laird, Terry Benson and Thomas Hsiang. There are a few spots available on the team for qualified and committed volunteers: email journal@usgo.org for details.

ARGO: Go In Augmented Reality?

Sunday December 22, 2013

A team of researchers from UCLA and Osaka University are developing a way to learn go with “augmented reality” goggles. Players using an actual physical board will “see” highlights on certain intersections as the game proceeds in real time. Check out the Youtube video to see how it’s supposed to work. The authors – S. P. Chuang at UCLA and Kikoshi Kiyokawa and Taruo Takemura at Osaka University – believe many beginners get discouraged because it is hard to apply lessons from books on the real board in actual play. On the other hand, computer play lacks the aesthetics of placing real stones on a real board, which also deepens the learning process. ARGO aims to integrate the best aspects of “real” and “virtual” experience. The video illustrates four functions.  “Fuseki Tutor” uses Kombilo to search a database of 80,000 professional games, identify moves that pros have used, and “project” them onto the board, while “Joseki Tutor” uses Kogo’s Joseki Dictionary in a similar way. As play moves into the middle game phase, “Go Engine” mode allows the player to connect with an open-source program such as GNUGO or Fuego for next-move recommendations. ARGO can also attempt to count the game and provide estimates of the current “score.” The authors also claim that ARGO enables online play with a real board by transmitting the player’s next move to the server.

At first glance, ARGO appears to set forth on a potentially promising path. We’ve all encountered and experienced “bewildered beginner syndrome,” in which new players have no idea what to do next. A few recommendations can help to move the game along so that protracted helplessness does not become part of the experience. In years to come, players may look back on ARGO’s little green dots as we now recall Pong and the Commodore 64 — quaint relics of a primitive era. One can easily imagine color-coding good moves, best moves, pitfalls, trick moves and so on. Future players may “right-click” on recommended moves view possible outcomes while a narrator talks them through each variation. For now, ARGO is probably mostly of benefit to new players by providing them with specific options to think about. Cynics may say that ARGO also makes it easier for players to “cheat” with a program that is stronger than they are, especially online, but anyone with two computers can do that already.

Unfortunately, the 60 MB download does not seem to include easy instructions; and of course one would need a pair of AR goggles. Nothing has been posted or revised for several months and we were unable to reach the developers for comment, so it is hard to know whether this project will move forward or remain “vaporware” for now .Visit Chuang’s Github site for the latest information.
- Roy Laird

6 New Titles from SmartGo Books, Including 2-Volume “Lee Chang-Ho’s Endgame Techniques”

Friday December 20, 2013

Just in time for the holidays, SmartGo Books has released half a dozen new titles, including two exclusives. The two volumes of “Lee Chang-Ho’s Endgame Techniques” are published by Yutopian, “but they never made it into print,” says SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf. In Volume 1, Lee, known for his extremely strong endgame play, takes a systematic look at many common patterns, while Volume 2 contains endgame tesuji problems. Also included in this release are “Cross-Cut Workshop” by Richard Hunter and “200 Endgame Problems” by Shirae Haruhiko (both Slate & Shell), as well as “The Basics of Go Strategy” by Richard Bozulich (Kiseido, also includes the German text by Brett & Stein), an extended and revised version of the classic “Strategic Concepts of Go”. Click here for a list of all 86 SmartGo books now available, or check out the free SmartGo Books app for iPad and iPhone.

New Term Starts Soon at Guo Juan Internet Go School

Wednesday December 18, 2013

Guo Juan’s Internet Go School’s next term starts on the weekend of January 11. Group classes include separate groups for dan level, single digit kyu and double digit kyu players. “Join us,” says Guo, a 5-dan professional who’s been teaching in the West for more than twenty years. “You will have fun, meet new friends and improve your game!”
photo: Guo teaching at 2011 North Carolina workshop; photo courtesy Bob Bacon

 

SmartGo for Windows is Back in Beta

Saturday December 14, 2013

SmartGo for Windows is back, reports author Anders Kierulf. A full beta version is available for free download, and includes the full GoGoD game collection of more than 76,000 games. SmartGo offers a wide range of functions for go players from 20 kyu to 6 dan, “with powerful features easily accessible in a well-designed user interface,” according to SmartGo’s website. “The main functions in SmartGo are grouped into tabs that organize your Go activities as well as your games.” SmartGo 3 is a free upgrade for SmartGo 2 users, “and currently only $39 (down from $49) for new users,” Kierulf tells the EJ. “Also, you’ll note that the smartgo.com website is new and shiny, with a matching gobooks.com site.” Before the holidays, Kierulf says “I expect to add five more books to SmartGo Books, including two books from Yutopian that never made it to print and will be SmartGo Books exclusives.” Stay tuned for more details soon.

New Go Mag Tries to Bridge Print, Online Formats

Thursday December 12, 2013

Imagine sitting at your go board, playing through a game from a printed game commentary. You come to a point where you need further explanation, scan the QR code into your Smartphone, and go online for a tutorial. Or jump online to play the game with the aid of your laptop or tablet. Whichever works best for you, Cooper Stevenson wants to help you enjoy the beauty of the game with his new magazine, Formation. “I want to engage the initial spark people have when they first appreciate the game and carry them all the way to expert levels,” Stevenson told the EJ in a recent interview. “Learning go should feel like a journey through a scenic valley, discovering new treasures along the way.” The inaugural issue includes coverage of a merger to create a potentially major new server, the latest scientific evidence that go actually produces physical changes in the brain, and move-by-move commentary by Go Seigen on a classic encounter with Kitani from 1957. Stevenson adapted Jim Z. Yu’s translation, also available as the first of ten games and several other game analyses in the free download, “Go on Go: The Analyzed Games of Go Seigen.”

By porting instructional material online, Stevenson hopes to make it easier for players to learn, especially those new to the game. “When I was learning from printed books, the diagrams were too hard to read,” Stevenson said. “I wanted to give authors a better way to communicate their ideas to their readers.” Formation will be available in print and online. The print version will have a spiral binding so as to lie flat next to the goban. QR links will enable players to step through a variation, get the answer to a problem, and so on. “The key is delivering the best content respective to the medium by which it is delivered,” Stevenson said. “The online site will have current news because digital media are more timely. The print medium will have more in-depth stories and features from the world of go. The reader can take their time absorbing the content, as a copy is always on the coffee table, ready for a good read.”  Subscriptions to the print version will be available soon at the website.

Formation is looking for volunteer proofreaders, interesting games, and authors. If you have an idea for future content, contact editor@formationmag.com.

Kyu-Friendly Author Releases Two New Books

Sunday December 8, 2013

German 5D Robert Jasiek has just released the seventh and eighth books in his series aimed at low- to mid-kyu players. “Go is so fascinating that I am not just a player but also a researcher in go theory and writing strategy books,” he writes on his website. Life and Death Problem 1 offers “life and death problems of different degrees of difficulty help kyu players to train their reading skill.” Jasiek told the EJ. “The answers explain every relevant variation, so that the reader learns to read correctly and consider all important moves. Theory teaches the fundamentals, attack and defense of the eyespace, the five major types of liberty shortage and basic reading principles. The study of all basic meanings of moves includes single and multiple threats.” Fighting Fundamentals, Jasiek’s other new work, also aims to illustrate basic principles, rather than just showing problem after problem, hoping to give the kyu-level reader a “profound fighting foundation.” All of Jasiek’s books are available in print or as PDFs from his website by credit card (prices shown in euros.)
- Roy Laird 

AGA Website Streamlined For Easier Use

Thursday November 28, 2013

The AGA website has undergone some significant changes in the last few months. All the favorites are still there, including news, ratings, youth go, and tournament information, but the main left-side navigation menu has been revised from the top down, focusing on reducing duplication and adding comprehensive titles. “We hope that information is easier to find,” says Greg Smith, AGA Website Volunteer and team leader of the reorganization, on which Roger Schrag, Paul Barchilon and Roy Laird also worked. “We spent a lot of time mapping out the existing content and placing each link into a larger flow of ‘Learn, Play, Outreach, Teach’ ”

The new Outreach section has pages dedicated to presentations and publicity including a dedicated section for handouts. And we created better access to information about the AGA itself: the elections and organizational information each have their own consolidated and categorized page.

In recognition of the AGA’s Professional Certification program, we created a whole new section on AGA-Certified Go Professionals while continuing to honor those go professionals living in the US and certified by other nations.

“The AGA website has an enormous amount of content. We’ve rearranged it a bit in hopes that we can expand with more easy-to-find information,” adds Smith.

Check it out and let us know what you think by emailing your comments to us at webmaster@usgo.org

 

Lee Sedol’s Commented Games, Volume II: Another Triumph

Sunday November 17, 2013

Book Review of Lee Sedol’s Commented Games:  Volume II (Baduktopia)

by Fritz Balwit

The arrival of the English version of Lee Sedol’s Commented Games Volume I in 2011 fulfilled a dream of our go study group: a high-quality, detailed view into the highest levels of the art of go as practiced by the Korean super-talents.  We had worked our way through stacks of old Go Worlds, graduated Slate and Shell’s magnificent Fairbairn volumes on Go Seigen’s famous Jubangos. But here was something new and different: Lee Sedol, the world’s number one player famed for games of staggering complexity, uncompromising fighting spirit, quadruple ko and half-point wins. I was immediately struck by the superb quality of the books. Everything from the paper to the layout and its large diagrams made for a most enjoyable reading experience. There are just three games in each volume, but the depth of the commentary more than compensates.

Lee actually wrote three books during a six-month hiatus in his tournament schedule while he worked out some kinks in his relationship with the Korea Baduk Association. Volume Two,  now available from GoGameGuru, begins with Lee’s fantastic triumph in Game 3 of the LG Cup against Lee Changho 9P. Lee devotes 100 pages to this game alone. Large diagrams head the chapters and typically include a general point of strategic advice or an insight into the psychology of the game. Indeed, the book abounds in the latter sorts of reflections, both in Lee’s own words and those of the writer, his sister, Lee Sena, who glowingly covers aspects of Sedol’s personal development and the ups and downs of his career. Game Two, against Chang Hao 9P, similarly runs to more than 100 pages and includes commentary and annotated variations at a depth I have never seen before. However, the last game is the best of all. Again, the opponent is the Lee Changho 9P. This time, the occasion is the World Oza 2006. Whereas the first two games will surely repay careful study and help players of all levels to improve their understanding of whole-board vision, deep reading, modern joseki and the like, the last game is best approached as a lesson in humility. I suggest you play through this game with a 6-dan, as we did at our club. He was utterly flummoxed by it and unable to predict the moves or discern the flow of the game.  Lee’s avowed dislike of being “coerced” by his opponent manifests itself in a taut duel of nerves in which each player defiantly shifts the location of the battle in what appears, even to strong amateurs, to be chaotic mayhem. The strangeness of this game has its own beauty and excitement, but don’t expect to pick up any tips.

Baduktopia deserves high praise for putting out these splendid books on one of the most exciting players of our generation. (Click here for a review of Volume 1.) The editorial decision to include few but thoroughly commented games with a limited number of moves per diagram results in a book that you can read anywhere, even without a board.  The biographical materials add a nice dimension to our appreciation of the life of a professional Go player. All in all, I recommend Lee Sedol’s Commented Games: Volumes I and II without reservation. We await with eagerness the arrival of the promised third volume.

Balwit (in cap at right in photo above) was The American Go Foundation’s 2011 teacher of the Year