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

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.

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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

Honolulu Go Club Member Releases Introductory Go E-Book

Monday September 30, 2013

Honolulu Go Club member Brian Johnson has just published Beginner’s Mind: an Introduction to the Game of Go, an introductory go eBook. Johnson is a teacher at Punahou School who teaches a credit high school go course called “Buddhism and the Game of Go” and introduces around 150-200 students each year to the game. The ebook’s text is designed to take advantage of the touchscreen features of the iPad and contains numerous picture galleries, animations, and interactive elements to help explain and clarify basic and more advanced concepts of go strategy. Only available for the iPad, it’s $9.99 in the iTunes Store, where you can download a free sample.
- Sid Kobashigawa, Honolulu Go Club

Why Doesn’t the West Play Go?

Friday September 27, 2013

Why isn’t go more popular in the West? That question has preoccupied go author and scholar Peter Shotwell for decades. Shotwell’s recently published “appendix” on the subject — appended to his ongoing “Origins of Go” study — is entitled Why the West Plays Chess and the East Plays Go: How Classical Chinese and Ancient Western Grammars Shaped Different Strategies of War, Weiqi and Chess. Shotwell examines his idea that the presence or absence of abstract nouns, the verb “to be” and other linguistic features developed and shaped the philosophies and resulting different strategic thinking of early Greece and Classical China. He provides the historical background of how and why this happened and concludes with an examination of the Thirty-six Strategies that encapsulate the strategic yin thinking of Chinese generals like Sunzi (right) and weiqi players of the Han dynasty, along with a short discussion of the reasons for the fall of the Qin dynasty. The full article is 274 pages, or you can download a 16-page summarizes of the most significant findings here.

Streaming Online Games

Monday September 9, 2013

Popular streaming site twitch.tv is pulling in 38 million viewers a month, by streaming video gamers playing and commenting on their games.  The site’s goal is to “connect gamers around the world by allowing them to broadcast, watch, and chat from everywhere they play,” according to their website.  Why not stream online go games as well, asks AGA member Royce Chen? “Streaming go games, with entertaining and informative comments made by the streamers, could potentially attract the interest of young players, especially those who are already familiar with streams of conventional games,” says Chen. “The idea is to make videos like those by TheOddOne, a popular League of Legends player, who is known for providing entertaining commentary.”

The AGA would like to recruit volunteers of any playing strength, who would stream some of their online go games. All that’s needed is a webcam and a twitch.tv account. Live streams would be promoted on the AGA Facebook page, and  archived recordings can also be submitted for uploading to the new Go AGA YouTube channel, which is being managed by Shawn Ray (AKA Clossius on Youtube).  Anyone interested in streaming can email Royce Chen for more details. Ray also plans to promote lessons from several popular online go teachers on the new Youtube channel, with archived videos from both twitch and youtube available.  Subscribe to the new channel to get updates on this content. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

Go Game Guru Celebrates 3rd Year Anniversary and Looks Ahead

Sunday August 25, 2013

Congratulations to Go Game Guru, which recently celebrated its third birthday. “When we started this project, we set out with the idea of building a sustainable business that exists to promote go worldwide,” writes GGG founder David Ormerod. While conceding that “I didn’t fully anticipate exactly how much work that would be, or how long it would take to get certain things done,” Ormerod says the GGG team and systems “are running very smoothly at last, which frees up a lot of time to improve how we’re doing things and to work on new stuff.” That includes new go equipment in the GGG store, more articles for beginners and intermediate players, and affordable, basic equipment for beginners. Perhaps GGG’s most ambitious idea is one that the E-Journal strongly supports as well: worldwide go demonstrations on the same weekend in 2014. Stay tuned for more details. Meanwhile, happy birthday to Go Game Guru and best wishes to the team for many happy returns!
- Chris Garlock, Managing Editor, American Go E-Journal 

Go Spotting: Japan Woodworker Catalog Features Go Board

Monday August 19, 2013

A custom-made go board is featured on both the July 2013 edition cover of The Japan Woodworker Catalog and the August 2013 Woodcraft catalog. A post on the Woodworking Adventures blog describes both the construction of the board and the game of go. “This is a great family project and game piece,” says the blog. “Great for all ages to keep your minds sharp, worthy of ‘Spock’ like mentality. Head to your woodshop, build one of these, learn to play, live long and prosper, but most of all, ‘GO’…have some fun!” Thanks to David Doshay for passing this along.

GoGoD Summer 2013 Update Released

Thursday August 8, 2013

The Summer 2013 update of the GoGoD (Games of Go on Disk) Database and Encyclopaedia has been issued and now contains a total of over 77,000 games with extra games from Hashimoto Utaro, Kitani Minoru and Go Seigen, to add to their “complete collections”, reports T Mark Hall.