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

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. 

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.