American Go E-Journal » U.S. Go Congress

Four American Pros Coming to Congress

Wednesday May 15, 2013

Myungwan Kim 9P, Yilun Yang 7P, Mingjiu Jiang 7P, and Jennie Shen 2p have confirmed they will be teaching at the US Go Congress in Tacoma this year.  Co-Director Chris Kirschner reports: “Pros from Korea, China, and both Kansai Ki-in and Nihon Ki-in in Japan will attend, but we aren’t sure of the names yet.” Korea also plans to send two additional pros to the Teacher Workshop. See the What’s Happening link on the Congress Website for more details and frequent updates.

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Historical Exhibit to Debut at Go Congress

Sunday May 12, 2013

“The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience will be assisting us to present items of significance to the history of go in this country,” reports Congress Director Chris Kirschner. “We  will have a collection of AGA Journals from the 1940′s and 50′s. Japanese players in Seattle have donated old books dating back to the early 1920′s, including some that were hand written during the wartime internment. Copies of some of these will be available for purchase at the Go Congress.” Also on display will be a floor board and stones, along with a doll that traveled West from Japan about 1900, to Austria, and continued from Europe about 1950, landing in Seattle ultimately.

“We will  have a piece by well known Japanese calligrapher Taiun Yanagida, stating 10 rules for playing well,” said Kirschner. “It was a feature at the original Seattle Go club in Seattle’s international district, which was a chapter of the Nihon Ki-in. It was donated to the Seattle Go Center by surviving members of that club shortly after the Go Center was founded in 1995. A translation will be available.  Copies of early books in English will make an interesting comparison with our modern book style,” adds Kirschner. The organizers are looking for additional display material.  If you have material you would like to see displayed , contact Kirschner at director2013@gocongress.org. -Paul Barchilon. 

AGA to Issue Rank Certificates at Go Congress

Tuesday May 7, 2013

Top winners at this year’s U.S. Go Congress will receive the AGA’s first-ever Rank Certificates. Although the automated rating and tournament reporting system may not be ready by August, “AGA President Andy Okun looked at reports of US Open winners and determined that over 90% of those who place in the top three in their band, or top 6 in the open section, hold or exceed the rank,” reports Congress Co-Director Chris Kirschner. “That’s good enough for us to jump-start the program with certificates based on placing at least third in your band,” said Okun. When the automated process is completed, players who meet the standard for their next rank will receive an email notifying them of their achievement and a printable PDF certificate. Fancier certificates and plaques, suitable for framing, will be available at a reasonable cost. “This is an exciting addition to the tournament scene,” said Karoline Burrall, AGA National Tournament Coordinator. “Since the only way to get the certificate is to compete in AGA tournaments, we are expecting more and larger tournaments.”

U.S. Go Congress Registration Passes 100 Mark

Saturday May 4, 2013

Over 100 early birds have registered for the 2013 U.S. Go Congress, which runs August 3-11 in Tacoma, Washington. Registration cost rises $50 after May 31; payment must be made in full to receive the early-bird discount (which is why only 48 show on the “Who’s Coming” page, though some registrants simply may not yet selected room and board plans).

“This Congress has new exciting plans,” says Congress Co-Director Chris Kirschner. “The AGA will issue official rank certificates, a teacher’s workshop will inaugurate an AGA teacher certification program, and The Pentathlon is a new competitive opportunity for the truly dedicated.” Combined scores from the U.S. Open, Self-Paired, 9×9, 13×13 and the Lightning tournaments will determine the Pentathlon winners. photo: Mt. Rainier, nearby the Congress site

Teacher of the Year Deadline Extended

Thursday May 2, 2013

Nominations for the American Go Foundation’s  Teacher of the Year award have been extended until May 30th. The award is presented each year at the U.S. Go Congress and recognizes an outstanding American teacher. The winner  will receive an all expenses paid trip to the congress.  To be eligible, a teacher must be a member of the AGA, have been teaching go to children for at least two hours a week (during the school year) for two years, have started a go club or organization for youth, and have helped their students enter appropriate tournaments, if possible.  If you would like to apply for this award, e-mail mail@agfgo.org.  Nominations are due by May 30th and should include a description of the teacher’s activities,  how long they have been teaching, and how many students attend their program. - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo: 2011 winner Fritz Balwit teaching his son Theo. 

Korean Pros to Attend Teacher’s Workshop at U.S. Go Congress

Sunday April 28, 2013

The Teachers Workshop planned for this year’s U.S. Go Congress has attracted the attention of the Korean Baduk Association,  which is sending two Korean pros who are recognized experts in teaching techniques, to add to the program. “They are very enthusiastic about supporting go education in America,” says Myungwan Kim 9P, whose diplomacy made the visit possible.  The Koreans are particularly interested in sharing their techniques for bringing youth players into the low single-digit kyu level within a year or two. “Our curriculum this year is aimed at those teaching absolute beginners,” says workshop coordinator Bill Camp. “The Korean expert teachers will allow us to expand the program to include those who want to teach at a higher level.”  Enthusiasm for the workshop is much higher than expected, according to Congress co-director Chris Kirschner, who reports that “16% of Congress attendees thus far have registered for the workshop. We aren’t planning on turning anyone away, but we do want people to sign up early so we can plan the workshop sessions to fit the number and types of people attending.” – Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

$200 Congress Scholarships Offered for Youth

Saturday April 27, 2013

The American Go Foundation (AGF) is offering $200 youth discounts to this year’s US Go Congress.  Interested youth must write an essay on why they want to go; the application deadline is May 30th. Twenty-Five scholarships are available, and up to 15 awardees will be selected by June 1. Five scholarships are available to residents of Canada or Mexico. Applications received after May 30th will be placed in a lottery with the remaining scholarships  awarded at random from qualifying essays.  The scholarships are available for youth who are under 18.  For more information, and to apply, click here.  - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: In the Youth Room at the  2012 Congress, photo by Paul Barchilon.

2013 U.S. Go Congress Registration Opens

Thursday April 11, 2013

“Registration is now open for the 2013 U.S. Go Congress!” says Congress Co-Director Chris Kirschner. Click on “Sign In” at the top of the Congress website  and you can register, choose your housing and meal plans and even sign up for Day Off activities. Although technical glitches delayed opening registration, “We’re back on track and excited about our plans,” adds Kirschner. Carrying on the Northwest tradition of providing something new at Congresses there, Kirschner says this year’s Congress “will include a special workshop for teachers who will get a $50 rebate of their Congress registration courtesy of the American Go Foundation.” The Korean Baduk Association is considering sending Korean pros who are particularly interested in meeting and teaching the American baduk (go) teaching community. And in a groundbreaking style development, Kirchner reports that “There will be alternative Congress tee shirt styles and colors,” including three styles for women and alternative colors in all styles. This year’s Go Congress also features a brand-new competitive event, the pentathlon. “Only for the truly dedicated competitors, the pentathlon will combine results from the U.S. Open, Self-Paired, 9×9, 13×13 and Lightning tournaments,” says Kirschner. “So far as we know, this has never been done before.” - photo: Point Defiance Park, near the 2013 Congress site

Help Build the Future of Go in the US

Friday December 21, 2012

The American Go Foundation‘s annual fund-drive is under way. “Every dollar you give is matched by the hundreds of hours AGF board members, mentors and volunteers spend on helping our programs and encouraging others to teach go,” says AGF President Terry Benson. The AGF and AGA worked “more closely than ever to promote go” in 2012, Benson says, and “Now the AGF needs to rebuild our treasury.”

The AGF Store, previously available only to approved AGF programs, is now open to college clubs and AGA chapters, while continuing to serve schoolslibraries and community programs. The AGA has renewed its matching grant program for college clubs to help them purchase playing equipment from the AGF Store for club use.  The AGF had a booth at the American Library Association convention again this year to encourage libraries to order the Hikaru no Go manga for only $20.  “These sets are the seeds for the future of go which we’ve planted in hundreds of communities around the country,” says Benson, “often with the assistance of local volunteers working with their community’s youth librarians. The library clubs are nurtured with the equipment made possible by generous go players.”

The AGF provided most of the funding to broadcast and archive the sessions at the 2012 International Go Symposium and the AGF also provided $11,000 in scholarships for kids to attend this year’s US Go Congress and US Go Camp, as well as $1,000 for new go comics on the TigersMouth website. The $1,000 AGF College Scholarships reward college bound organizers and “We just received a shipment of $15,000 worth of boards, stones, and bowls to replenish our supplies for youth programs.”

“If you have helped the AGF before,” urges Benson, “please renew your support. If you haven’t, please start now.”

 

Scientists at the 2012 International Go Symposium

Tuesday December 18, 2012

The 2012 International Go Symposium in Black Mountain, North Carolina attracted leading scholars and researchers from around the world for two days of presentations and discussions on the many aspects of the game of go. Hours of footage have now been edited down and posted online to accompany the conference papers. This 3-part series covers highlights of Symposium presentations by teachers, scientists, historians and anthropologists. 

In addition to the teachers and social scientists whose presentations have been described previously in this series, several computer scientists and mathematicians brought their colleagues up to date on recent advances in those areas at the 2012 Symposium. Programmers have been trying to create strong go programs since the creation of the first computers in the 1950’s, but their efforts were so ineffective that go was dubbed “the fruit fly of artificial intelligence.” Top-level play is still an exclusive human domain, but these days computers are closing in, thanks largely to the so-called “Monte Carlo Tree Search” (MCTS) technique, which selects each move by playing out hundreds of thousands of games and choosing the move that seems to win the most games. ZenGo, an MCTS-based program, recently defeated the legendary Takemiya – twice! And in October, playing as “Zen19″, ZenGo finished nearly 200 games over a four-day period on KGS, ending with a ranking of 5D.  Jacques Basaldúa, the author of GoKnot, reviews the basics of the MCTS algorithm and explains how a new filtering mechanism known as “CLOP optimization” is making programs stronger than ever (right)Francois van Niekerk also looks at MCTS, focusing on its unique ability to make use of parallelization and supercomputers.

In the world of mathematics, Prof. Elwyn Berlekamp and others have been exploring how to calculate the “temperature” of endgame moves, for instance in Berlekamp’s Chilling Gets The Last Point. Bill Spight, who wrote a chapter about Berlekamp’s “Coupon Go” in More Games of No Chance, presents some further thoughts on Berlekamp’s concept of “thermographic” analysis, and discovers surprisingly deep questions of life and death on the 3×3 board. Kyle Blocher uses combinatorial game theory in a different way, to develop a method for assessing the value of moves that he calls “miai counting”. Another aspect of the game that seems to yield to mathematical analysis is seki, as we learn from Thomas Wolf, the author of Mastering Ladders. Wolf explores how to recognize a seki when it appears, differentiating among “basic”, “linear” and “circular” types and developing a way to express seki in mathematical terms (left).

The AGA and the 2012 US Go Congress are extremely grateful to The International Go Federation for financial support that made this event possible, and to The American Go Foundation for supporting the video recording.  NOTE: Links to all the videos and to associated papers, links and contact information be found at the Symposium website.

Categories: U.S. Go Congress
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