Wednesday May 4, 2016
by Phil Straus
In early 1997, I played in a Baltimore tournament as a 45-year-old three-dan. I split the first two games. In my third game I was paired in an even game with a two-dan. Statistically I had about a 2/3 chance of winning. I lost, but what was shocking was that I resigned in less than 30 minutes. I had recently published, with Yilun Yang, Whole-Board Thinking in Joseki. The opening (fuseki) was by far the strongest part of my game. I was ahead at the end of the opening in at least 95% of my tournament games. I was shocked to be so far behind so early in a game. Normally, I have to get to my middle-game weaknesses before I fall behind.
I had spent the previous decade studying intently, hoping to reach the upper levels of amateur play. I looked across the board, and realized my opponent had better potential than I. He was seven years old. I withdrew from the fourth round, went home in time to get a babysitter and go to the movies with my wife. By Monday, I had stopped all my regular lessons and training, and became a full-time photographer.
This past Saturday, I played in the Philadelphia tournament as a 64-year-old two-dan. In my first game, I took six stones from Eric Lui, 1P. I was right. That seven-year-old in 1997 had had more potential. I was delighted that I didn’t lose this game until the fighting in the middle game. The six-stone handicap helped delay my second resignation against this fine player. It was a pleasure to lose again to this young man, who still has such great potential.
Straus is a former president of the American Go Association. He’s at right in the photo above, playing Eric Lui. photo by Henry Hathaway.
Wednesday January 6, 2016
by Chris Garlock
The AGA’s professional qualification tournament tests the go skills of its young competitors, but it’s also a grueling endurance challenge. With two rounds each day, and each game usually going at least three hours, that’s six to eight hours a day for a full week. The concentration these players bring to bear on each game is fierce; every move is considered, and then reconsidered. I’ve seen players think about a move for twenty minutes, reach into the bowl for a stone, take it out and then put it back and settle in for another ten minutes. Even the most natural, “obvious” move must be fully read out and time, while a factor, seems to be the furthest thing from their minds as they follow the branching trails deep into thickets of strategy and tactics, move and countermove, probe and response.
The silence in the playing room is deafening. Traffic swishes by outside and the sounds of a working hotel drift in throughout the day. The pinging of the elevator doors. Housekeeper carts rumbling overhead. Snatches of conversation as hotel guests walk by the room. The hum of air conditioning.
As fierce as the competition is here — and every single one of the players wants to win — it’s not unusual to see two players who have just spent the last few hours trying to slaughter each other’s groups now peacefully reviewing the game, sometimes for another hour. In fact, the analysis is so cooperative and collegial that it can often be difficult to know which player is the winner and which the loser. Perhaps because they understand that in the shared search for mastery they are both winners.
Garlock is leading the E-Journal’s game recording/broadcasting team at this week’s AGA Pro Qualification Tournament in Los Angeles. photo: Daniel Gourdeau (l) and Jeremy Chiu review their game while Manuel Velasco and Sarah Yu watch.
Thursday December 10, 2015
“There are very few things that beat saunas in the winter,” says Boris Bernadsky. “One of them is playing go in the sauna in the winter.” That’s why he’s hosting an unusual go Meet-Up this Saturday at the King’s Spa, a Korean style bathhouse in Palisades Park, NJ. Here’s a link for a discount entrance fee. “The spa has a space separated by gender where the bathing occurs and a coed area where there are many dry sauna and activity areas, including go boards,” says Bernadsky. “I will bring two more just in case.” The spa provides clothing for the coed area. There is also a restaurant, and for $10 extra you get a blanket and can spend the night on a lazyboy — the go event runs from 5p Saturday through 8a Sunday — although as Berndsky notes, playing all night “is not mandatory. Anyway it will be fun!”
Sunday November 30, 2014
Dropped in on the Gotham Go Club last Tuesday night during a visit to New York City to see longtime friend and go colleague Roy Laird. Despite Thanksgiving being just two days away, the club was bustling with activity, as it reportedly is each week. Had a fun time watching games and a quick pick-up game with a young student from China; it’s a great club well worth the visit if you’re in town!
- Chris Garlock, Managing Editor, American Go E-Journal. Check our Facebook page for more photos. Got go travel tales — or photos — of your own? Send ‘em to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Wednesday May 28, 2014
On his BenGoZen blog, Benjamin Hong recently posted a nice report on his Hong Kong go adventure earlier this year. After spotting an ad for go on a bus, Hong was disappointed to discover that the Hong Kong Go Association (HKGA) does not have a go salon where visitors can drop in for a game. “I was pretty bummed to hear that,” Hong, a 2-kyu who lives in the metro Washington area, writes. “After all, would my epic go adventure in Hong Kong be reduced to simply visiting the HKGA and maybe taking a few pictures? All hope was nearly gone until the secretary told my mom that I could take private lessons if I wanted to.” This launches an adventure across the city that will be familiar to anyone who’s tried to track down go in a foreign country. In addition to being entertaining, Hong’s tale has a happy ending and reveals the correct address of the HKGA, including a helpful photo of the sign to look for. Hint, not the one at right.
Monday May 26, 2014
“Visitors to Seattle should save Tuesdays for the Go Center”, advises Center Manager Brian Allen. “It’s our biggest day.” On Tuesday, May 20, the Center had 47 players visit, including 12 children. New players can find instruction on Tuesday as well. Saturdays are smaller, but usually there are more than 20 visitors at all levels. There are evening classes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Your first ten visits to the Go Center are free, including classes. Visitors are invited to check out the weekly schedule, and the special events calendar. Photo: A Tuesday night in June 2013.
- photo/report by Brian Allen.
Wednesday April 23, 2014
by Barry Pasicznyk
Every year go players from the Penn Go Society and Phoenixville Go Club teach go at Philadelphia’s Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival. This year an especially poignant moment occurred that I wanted to share with other go players.
While we were teaching people how to play go, a man approached our tables. He said that he wanted to donate a go set so we could pass it on. He mentioned that when he was in the hospital with cancer that someone came to the hospital to play go with him. Now he was cured of the cancer; I was under the impression that he had not expected to survive. He said that he was eternally grateful for the act of kindness in his most desolate time, and that he wanted to pass the go set on so others could enjoy the game.
So we accepted the go set and gave it to a group of young adults who seemed to be enjoying the game. We told them the story of the set so that maybe it would inspire them to acts of kindness.
Sometimes go is more than just a game.
photo courtesy BoomsBeat
Saturday November 16, 2013
A go hothouse sprang up in Letchworth Garden City, UK the weekend of November 8-10, when 14 of the UK’s strongest and most promising players congregated at the home of Letchworth Go Club organizers Simon and Alison Bexfield (see New Go Club Blooms in UK’s Garden City, EJ 4/5) for an intensive weekend honing their go skills under the guidance of Juan Guo 5P. Juan, famous for her Internet Go School and a frequent attendee at US Go Congresses, flew in from her home in Holland to be there.
Co-host and participant Alison Bexfield 2d (pictured, right of center) described the event as “inspirational”, explaining that “the weekend was one of a series run by the British Go Association over the past few years to encourage the development of the leading UK players.” The program was developed by British Pair Go Champion Kirsty Healey who also organizes the weekends, which are aimed at increasing the number of players with a European Rating (GoR) over 2400. Invited attendees had to be rated over 2100 or meet other criteria such as being young and rapidly improving players.
The format was a mix of formal teaching from Juan on particular openings, interspersed with games and reviews of those games. Intensifying the complete absorption in go, many slept at the Bexfields’ or in nearby accomodation and the event was catered throughout by Simon Bexfield.
Participant Tim Hunt 2d (pictured, center), a senior IT developer at the Open University, told the EJ: “The event was excellent, as usual. Guo Juan is a fantastic teacher. The Bexfields are wonderful hosts.”
Check out Juan’s Facebook page for more photos.
Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the EJ. Photo by Juan Guo; (L-R) Matthew MacFadyen 6d, Richard Hunter 3d, Tim Hunt 2d, Alison Bexfield 2d, Matt Scott 2d.
Sunday September 15, 2013
Gordon Castanza — former AGA Board member and EJ game recorder — passed along this report from his friend Ernest French of the Beijing Go Club, who sends this report and a collage of photos he took at the “Second Donghu Cup Amateur Wei Qi Invitational Tournament between China and Korea,” which was held on Saturday, September 7th in Beijing, China.
“Last Saturday we played in an amateur tournament up in Wangjing in northeast Beijing. It was outside in the middle of a park, on a beautiful, cool, blue sky morning. After the opening ceremony, we started our matches against local teams – time settings of 35 minutes per player, absolute. Altogether, I’d say 100+ go players showed up in total.
Participating for the BJGC were Sam, Karl, Carl, Gina, Chris, and me; each round was 5 games (1 person sitting out). The first round we had some tough games – I lost one I should have won, but we did manage to go 2 and 3. For 8 am, that’s a good result.
Next round we faced the kids and cleaned up 4-1 despite some questionable play on their part (but what’re you gonna do?) All in good fun. By this point it was heating up, and we were full of coffee and ready to go. Unfortunately, our final match-up was against the baitou team – a bunch of really good Koreans who had won every game of the day so far. My game was against an older gentleman who placed his (Chinese style) stones upside-down. He was quite good, and calmly took advantage of my questionable play. I broke into his giant moyo at the end of the game… but somehow it wasn’t enough and I lost by 15. Carl was the only one to defeat that team all day. That afternoon we continued an (unofficial) match against the Beijing Capital Airport team, who gave us some fun games. Thanks to Karl for finding & organizing this, and I definitely want to do it again sometime!” Click here for more photos.
Friday August 2, 2013
by Jan Engelhardt
Western go players sightseeing in Japan won’t want to miss Innoshima in the Hiroshima prefecture. That’s the birthplace of Honinbo Shusaku, the most famous go player ever. Shusaku was born as Kuwahara Torajiro on June 6, 1829 in Innoshima. At the age of 10 he moved to Edo (now called Tokyo) to join the legendary Honinbo go house. Even after he became a professional go player, Shusaku returned to Innoshima for long stays. The people of Innoshima are very proud on Honinbo Shusaku and value his heritage, calling themselves a “Go playing city” where as much as ten percent of the 20,000 inhabitants play go and twice a year Innoshima hosts a a “Shusaku Honinbo Go Festival” for professional and amateur go players.
The “Honinbo Shusaku Igo Memorial Hall” is a fascinating museum honoring Shusaku’s life and accomplishments, showcasing many artifacts of his life, including the old goban on which his mother taught him go. In the museum’s back yard there is a reconstruction of the actual living house of the family. The museum’s memorial hall is also used for go events, including professional ones. There are always go boards available for guests and it’s amazing to see all the letters, game records and go material related to Shusaku’s fascinating life. Next to the hall one can find a shinto shrine constructed by a later Honinbo in Shusaku’s honor.
Not far away is Shusaku’s grave. It is said that one becomes two stones stronger by touching the gravestone, and it’s traditional for visitors to light an incense stick there in the great player’s memory.
- Engelhardt, who was in Japan recently to attend the Osaka Go Camp, is the E-Journal’s German Correspondent. photos by Jan Engelhardt