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

BadukMovies: Mid-Level Videos and a Great Game Archive

Monday July 15, 2013

Every week for the past year or so, BadukMovies co-founders Peter Brouwer and Kim Ouweleen have added an “episode” to their archive of nearly 80 short videos aimed mostly at aspiring mid-level players. The clear, bite-size chunks of information seem easy to digest, and many of the early ones are free (click on still at right for a sample). You can also subscribe to BadukMovies Pro series for €8/month for exclusive access to additional material. The content is created by Korean 9P Cho Hye-yeon and two experienced authors, Yoon Young-sun 8P and Kim Sung-rae 8P. Another remarkable feature is the pro game database. The “pattern search” function is pretty cool. Place stones on the board, select an area and you can search an archive of more than 47,000 pro games and find all the games where that pattern appeared and see how those games came out. The free lectures are great for mid-level players; it looks like BadukMovies Pro is more advanced.
- Roy Laird

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New Site Features Video Go Lessons

Friday July 12, 2013

Jonathan Hop 3d, author of the “So You Want to Play Go?” series, has opened a new website featuring video lectures for go players of all levels. There are several free lessons for new users to try the service out, and then lessons on various topics can be rented for $1.99.   “Currently the site has about 20 lectures,” says Hop, “but little by little I will put more up.  My goal is to make go more of a game that Americans can relate to, and see as fun and personable.  You’ll find lectures for total beginners, as well as those on more advanced topics like invasions and josekis.”   Hop has given  lectures on KGS, and has been teaching players, from total beginners to single digit kyus, for a number of years.  Check out Hop’s site here.

Kiseido Digital Releases DVD of Go World’s Final Issues

Friday July 5, 2013

The last 21 issues of Go World have just been released on DVD, reports Kiseido Digital’s Bob Myers. “We got the message loud and clear,” Myers tells the E-Journal. “The community wanted the final issues in digital form, now. We were happy to respond.” The issues – Autumn 2006 through Winter 2013 – are collected in Go World Archive Vol. IV, available as a single DVD ($49.99), and “continue the great Go World tradition of detailed game commentaries, news, tutorials, and problems,” says Myers. “We’ve included Jochen Fassbender’s wonderful and detailed topical index, jumping you directly to issue and page. Vol. IV also contains an updated full-text search index for all 129 issues, allowing you to instantly find any text in over 8000 pages.”

New Hinoki Site Offers Go Books, Useful Links

Tuesday June 25, 2013

Hinoki Press – publisher of “English translations of top-quality, advanced go study materials” like Yoda Norimoro’s Vital Points and Skillful Finesse – has launched a new website. Go clubs recognized by the AGA can consolidate member orders and receive a 20% discount. The site also provides links to learn how to play go, suggestions on how to study go, and to the AGA website.

Expert On “How to Learn Go in 20 Hours”

Tuesday June 18, 2013

“The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast!” by author Josh Kaufman includes an entire chapter on go, one of the things Kaufman – a bestselling author, learning expert and business advisor – learned using his “systematic approach to rapid skill acquisition.” Covering the history and basics of the game, “It is a good intro from an interested beginner’s perspective,” says EJ reader Howard Cornett. “It is great to see our game as a full chapter in a book about learning something new!” Kaufman notes that “Learning go will require time and concentration. I’m already playing other games, but I have a very limited amount of leisure time. If I want to progress in go as quickly as I’m able, I’ll need to focus.” His summary of “How I Learned to Play Go” may be useful for beginners, teachers and go club organizers, and there’s also some cool go footage in the trailer he made for the book.

Virtual Go a Labor of Love for Games Programmer

Wednesday May 29, 2013

When Glenn Fiedler first came to go in 2004, he was immediately taken with the aesthetic side of the game, the black and white stones, their biconvex shape, the sound they make hitting a wooden board.  “I especially loved the way go stones wobble and how stone placement becomes irregular as the game progresses, because the go stones are just slightly larger than the grid,” he told the EJ.  Playing on a computer, though, was not the same experience.  “When I play go on a computer it feels like I’m playing on a magnetic board. In real life, I don’t want to play on a magnetic board. I wanted to make a go board that I could play on the computer that felt like I was really playing go.”  The desire led the Australian Fiedler to a career change.  He became a network game programmer with a specialization in physics and started developing methods of synchronizing physics simulations across multiple computers.  “I ended up inventing new techniques and talking at GDC (Game Developers Conference) about how to network physics simulations. And all the techniques I invented were originally thought up because I wanted to network a simulation of a go board and stones!”

Now, after finishing work on his latest project at Sony, “God of War: Ascension,” Fiedler has finally turned his attention to programming go.  The idea is not to provide an AI opponent, but instead provide a beautiful and compelling simulation of an actual 3D goban and stones that other developers could include in existing go software like SmartGo or Many Faces of Go, Fiedler said.  It is a painstaking step-by-step effort he is chronicling in a blog on his website, Gaffer on Games.  The blog lays out the code and the physical reasoning behind it.  Fiedler hopes to make some commercial use of the software eventually, though it will be hard to do.  In the meantime, that’s not what’s on his mind. “I’ve had some time to work on my dream project after almost 10 years. It’s really satisfying.” -Andy Okun.  Diagram of a stone from Fiedler’s blog: Gaffer on Games.

KBA Donates Free Beginner’s Book to AGA

Thursday May 23, 2013

With the publication of Falling in Love with Baduk: Play a Game in One Week, The Korea Baduk Association has taken yet another important step to support Western go.  Written in both Korean and English by Dahye Lee and Jihee Baek, two young Korean pros, this is a book aimed at beginners, and especially Westerners. “People with different skin colors and different languages can understand one another when seated across the Baduk board,” they write.  “It thrills us to imagine a view of Easterners and Westerners playing the game together.” This is a valuable book for serious newcomers of any age. Basic principles are broken down into seven simple lessons, presumably one per day, with dozens of problems illustrating each day’s lesson. Ms. Lee will attend this year’s US Go Congress and will participate in the AGA’s first teacher training program. The book is ideal for classroom situations too, and can be used as a manual for non-players who find themselves running go programs at libraries or schools.   The book is available as a free download from the AGF website here, it is 86 mb, so expect it to take a little time.

The text in Falling in Love with Baduk appears side by side in Korean and English, following a style developed by Korean publisher Oromedia. Perhaps Oromedia had an uncredited role in developing this book. Oromedia’s Speed Baduk series (9 volumes) has been all-English, but their other books feature side-by-side presentation of the same material in English and Korean. Examples include Korean Style of Baduk, the Think Like a Pro series ( 2 volumes), the 100 Tips for Amateur Players series (3 volumes ), Inspiration of Pro and Creative Life and Death (2 volumes), all available from Yutopian. Here, as in the other bilingual books, it’s fun to see what the authors have to say in both languages on the same page, especially for language learners. The English text uses Korean terminology for concepts lacking an English equivalent, rather than the terms of Japanese origin that Western players learned from the first generation of English go books. For instance, the position known as “atari” is called “dansoo.” The emergence of Korean-based synonyms may further bewilder newcomers who are already struggling to grasp the vast, abstract nature of the game itself. But in the end, it all adds to the ineffable richness of the game. The worldwide community of players has been unable to agree on a single set of rules. There is not even agreement on what the game should be called; we are unlikely to produce a universal lexicon any time soon. Confused readers can always consult Prof. Chi-hyung Nam’s Contemporary Go Terms, if they have one handy, but the question remains – if you want to tell your opponent that their stone is about to be captured, what should you say? -Roy Laird

European Go Catalog Near Completion

Thursday May 23, 2013

Dutch go player Theo van Ees 1d, one of the authors of Bibliogo, is developing a catalog of go books and articles. The project started in 1975, and is now a listing of about 3,200 go titles in the main European languages plus Russian. The European Go Cultural Centre, meanwhile, started a library of go books in 2003 and today this collection is managed by librarian Henk Mourik 1k. Database specialist Otto Versteeg 8k has put both collections together in a searchable database listing all of the titles in van Ees’ catalog, with an indication of which items are available at the European Go Cultural Centre library in Amstelveen, Amsterdam. You can search the go catalog, and the plan is to update it frequently. You may report comments and wishes to van Ees at tvanees@xs4all.nl. He is especially interested to hear about omissions and newly published material.

New IGS Client, AGA City League

Tuesday May 21, 2013

There is a new IGS client available, GoPanda 2, which is being distributed as a standalone application. Version 2.1.0 was released May 15th. “Aside from a ton of bugfixes and new features, we also moved away from java as the supporting technology” report the developers. “The new client handles like a native app, and doesn’t rely on any specific browser being installed anymore. It’s still missing some features, but we will be adding new things constantly.”

The Pandanet/AGA City League plays Round 7 for the A & B Leagues and Round 5 for the C & D Leagues. Observers can watch live on IGS starting at 1pm EST/10am PST on Sunday March 26th. For more info on the league, click here.  Pandanet encourages players and observers to try the new client  during their games on Sunday.

 

New From Hinoki Press: “Theory and Practice” series by Russian Master

Sunday May 12, 2013

In Russia, they take their mind sports seriously. Case in point: the Russian Sports Federation’s (RSF) chess program has produced many of the world’s finest players. Similarly, the RSF’s go program has produced top Western professionals through their partnership with the Hankuk Kiwon, producing players such as Alexander Dinerchtein 3P (“breakfast” on KGS) and Svetlana Shikshina 3P, and continues to produce promising up-and-comers such as Ilya Shikshin 7D.

If asked to name their mentors, all would certainly mention Valery Shikshin, an Honored Trainer of the Russian Federation (and as you may gather, father of both Svetlana and Illya). Shikshin has been teaching and coaching Russian go for 25 years, and has developed a set of axioms and principles that he sets forth in this four-volume “Theory and Practice Series,” now available exclusively in the US through GoGameGuru. Volume 1, The Theory and Practice of Tsumego, includes more than 300 original life-and-death problems, many from Russian master games. Starting with the basic shapes, Shikshin takes the reader all the way through corner positions, side formations, and on into the intricacies of seki and ko. I found the chapter on seki to be uniquely systematic in its understanding of how these strangely symbiotic shapes arise.

While Volume 1 of “Theory and Practice” is a new approach to an area that has been widely studied, Volume 2 — The Theory and Practice of Semeai — is surely unique in English. Here Shikshin takes the same systematic approach to capturing races, illustrating a few dozen basic principles with numerous problems and game examples. As in Volume 1, the principles are illustrated by hundreds of problems and examples, many from actual games. Two other volumes will complete the series in the next few months – The Theory and Practice of Shapes, and The Theory and Practice of Analysis. These materials helped to produce some great Western go masters – they are surely a worthy entry into the Western go canon.
- Roy Laird