American Go E-Journal » U.S./North America

Burned-out Mr. Go Welcomes Helping Hands

Monday July 18, 2011

Multi-talented go promoter Blake Haber (aka Mr. Go) recently lost everything in a house fire at his home in Santa Barbara, California.  Haber was the cartoonist for the American Go Journal (at right), has made go videos (including this one), as well as created go blogs and websites.  In addition to all his other belongings, he lost his go library and equipment including several handmade boards.  Any contributions of go books or equipment, or money to help him get back on his feet, would be much appreciated.  He can be reached at the following email address: .
- From an article at EuroGoTV, which includes links to reports on the fire.

Categories: U.S./North America

71 Turn Out at Mexican Youth Go Championships

Sunday July 17, 2011

Mexico City drew 71 kids to it’s recent youth tournament, held June 4th.  “The children were from different schools and clubs, and ranged in rank from 30k to 10k,” reports organizer Siddhartha Avila,  “this was a great opportunity to round up the majority of young players in the same place, and to make new friends. After this we’re looking forward to  consolidating the existing go clubs, and to eventually create more go programs for youth in México.  The event wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of go teachers, players, and volunteers who offered their efforts to run the tournament.  We want to thank them as well as the AGF for their donation of 20 sets of  stones, which we needed to make this possible.” Winners Report: 1st: Fernando Álvarez 13k, 2nd: Vicente A. Cortez 17k, 3rd: Adam S. George 13k. Full results here. A retro style photo album from the event, by Alma Juárez is here.  -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor, photo by Alma Juárez.

US Youth to Play Japanese Insei

Sunday July 17, 2011

Ten of America’s youth players will compete in the first ever friendship matches with Japanese insei this coming Thursday, July 21st.  The insei are youth that are studying to become professionals in Japan, their lifestyle has been portrayed in the Hikaru no Go manga and anime, inspiring countless American kids to reach for the stars themselves.  Insei in classes B through D will compete, as will the top four high school players in Japan, according to Nihon Ki-in Overseas Coordinator Tom Urasoe.  The match has been organized by AGA Youth Coordinator Paul Barchilon, who chose the ten member US team based on both playing strength and dedication to the go community.  The matches will be held on the Japanese Yugen no Ma Go Server.  An English language version of the client is available at games will be held in the Japanese Go Room.  The US team, and a list of their opponents, can be found on  To observe the matches, download the client and create an id.  Matches will be held Thursday, July 21, at 5 pm PDT. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Image: insei characters from Hikaru no Go

Balwit Named Teacher of the Year

Sunday July 17, 2011

Portland go teacher Fritz Balwit has been selected as the American Go Foundation’s Teacher of the Year. “My selection is a great honor,” says Balwit, “it has been a unique privilege to introduce go to children. They immediately recognize its magical properties, and are receptive to its aesthetic allure at an intuitive level. I have found that it brings people together in friendly collaboration based on respect and shared appreciation. I hope to continue working with kids in schools and to create a space at our local go salon where kids can discover the beauty of the game.  I teach go daily at Portland English Language Academy where I also teach English as a second language. We have a very lively group that plays for fun. Many of the Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese students are newly introduced to their traditional game. These are mostly younger adults and a few teenage kids. One kid- Shohei Jinno- came forward in a class and shyly mentioned his rating was 6 dan; he subsequently rolled over all Oregon players at the AGA tournament in Salem.”
Balwit started showing up on the radar in 2008, according to longtime organizer Peter Freedman: “For a number of years he had taught chess in the public schools, but about the time I met him he had recently fallen in love…with go.  He morphed his chess clubs into ‘chess/go clubs’, but in fact all his chess clubs became go clubs.  During 2008 he had clubs in seven schools.  As a result of his efforts over 125  children and youth were exposed to go, and 90 played in one of the school go clubs.  Fritz also ran several go camps during school breaks.”  Many of the programs Balwit launched in 2008 continued in the following years, and he is running five programs now.  “I’ve assisted Fritz teach at many of these schools,” adds Freedman, “I call him ‘the pied piper of go’ in Portland.  He has a magical way with children. He is gentle, funny, articulate, gives out tons of positive reinforcement, and continually amazes me with the way he explains go to children, making it more than a game.  He talks about how in go you must share, just as in life. When talking about building a wall, he remarked, ‘If you don’t play here there will be a little hole for a ferret to crawl through.  You don’t want a ferret running around in your house, do you?”  Actually, Fritz has two ferrets running around his real life house, along with three children ranging from elementary to middle school age, all of whom play go. One of them was his assistant in the go club he organized at her school.” Balwit has won an all expenses paid trip to the US Go Congress in Santa Barbara, where he will be honored at the awards banquet.  He will be speaking at the congress as well, in a special round table for teachers, and anyone who wants to work with kids, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 5:00 pm.  -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo by Fritz Balwit: Balwit (r) teaching his son Theo (l).

Kiseido Releases Updated 21st Century Joseki Dictionary

Saturday July 16, 2011

21st Century Dictionary of Basic Joseki Vol. 1Calling it “an indispensable study tool and reference work,” Kiseido has just released the 21st Century Dictionary of Basic Joseki, Volume 1 in English.

The Dictionary is a thorough updating and complete rewriting of the Yoshio Ishida Dictionary of Basic Joseki published in the mid-70s,” according to Kiseido. “Like the Ishida work, it thoroughly analyses the various components of josekis, such as tesujis and good style and good shape, and focuses in depth on such themes as securing momentum and building influence.”

This first volume of the dictionary covers not only long-established josekis familiar to players of all levels but also the many new variations of old josekis, such as the Magic Sword and the Large Avalanche, that have been developed in recent decades, including the first decade of the 21st century. “Each joseki is backed up by numerous diagrams exploring alternative moves and mistakes, to ensure that the reader understands the joseki fully,” Kiseido says.

The author, Shinji Takao, is a top Japanese professional who has held both the Honinbo and Meijin titles. His book retains the variations from its predecessor that are relevant to contemporary play but also gives countless new variations, reflecting the widespread innovations generated by professional go in the Far East in the last three decades.

Kiseido is currently working on a translation of the Dictionary’s second volume, scheduled for a 2012 release. Check out the Kiseido Newsletter for more information on this and other newly-released books.
- Daniel Nichols

Andy Liu Sweeps Wisonet Cup Finals

Friday July 15, 2011

Andy Liu 7d (l) defeated Minshan Shou 7d (r) in the Wisonet Cup finals held on July 10 in Somerset, New Jersey. Liu’s convincing 2-0 sweep “shows that he is a young American go star,” said Cup organizer Ronghao Chen. Liu won both games without needing to count or go into overtime. “In the second final game Minshan Shou had a chance to kill a 15-stone group of Andy’s,” reports Chen, “but he didn’t know that he could kill this group and missed his opportunity to win immediately” and force a third round. Chen tells the E-Journal that the Wisonet Cup Go Tournament will run again in Spring 2012.

Categories: U.S./North America

AGA Launches Online Membership Database

Friday July 15, 2011

Checking, updating and renewing your membership in the American Go Association just got a whole lot easier. Each AGA member can now review their personal current membership info on the AGA’s membership page; just click on Join, renew, or update your information online. The first time members access the new online membership site they’ll just need to enter your email address and will then be able to set the password for secure access to their membership record. From then on, members will be able to view or update their membership info directly; “No more multiple emails about changed mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses!” says AGA President Allan Abramson. “And renewing is now a 1-click snap that results in instant renewal.” AGA members can also make sure they’re signed up for the correct AGA chapter, check their latest rating (including seeing when it was last updated), as well as see what their highest rating has been, how many tournaments they’ve played in, how many AGA-rated games they’ve played and the last tournament they played in. Members can also view their Player Card in the AGA Go Database, which has lots more cool stats on your tournament record and performance. “Thanks to Justin Kramer for all his hard work getting this great new system up and running,” said Abramson, “and to Sam Zimmerman and Steve Colburn for all their support.”

Categories: U.S./North America

Rare KBA Dan Certificates to be Awarded at Go Congress

Wednesday July 13, 2011

Myung-wan Kim 9P reports that the Korean Baduk Association has decided to award rank certificates to the winners of all six dan divisions of the US Open at the upcoming U.S. Go Congress in Santa Barbara. “The 1d up to 6d certificates are handsome, suitable for framing, and quite hard to obtain,” reports AGA board member Andy Okun.
photo: Tang Wenhua 6d [r] receives his 6d KBA certificate at the 2010 Santa Monica Coffee Cup from Myung-wan Kim 9P (l); photo courtesy Andy Okun

U.S. Go Congress Attendance Nears 450; 19 Pros Confirmed

Monday July 11, 2011

With this year’s U.S. Go Congress just a few short weeks away – July 30 through August 7 in Santa Barbara, CA – attendance is shooting up faster than summer temperatures. In addition to a spectacular site right on the coast at UC Santa Barbara, the 8-day event features the U.S. Open – the largest annual Go tournament in the US – the North American Ing Masters – 16 of the strongest amateur and professional players in North America, the Redmond Cup – the preeminent youth tournament of the year – as well as lectures and simuls with 19 professionals, go vendors and more go than you can possibly imagine (yes, the Midnight Madness tournament is back!). There’s plenty for non-players to do in the area (click here for details), and soccer and tennis players should be sure to bring their gear, as there’ll be opportunities for ball games as well as the board kind. So mark your calendar, book your flight and register now!
- photo collage from 2010 U.S. Go Congress; photos by Chris Garlock & Jake Edge

Top N.A. Players to Vie on KGS for US Representation in Sport Accord Mind Games; Li and Hong Claim First Wins

Monday July 11, 2011

With three professionals, six North American Ing Masters champions and four top Canadian reps you won’t want to miss the opening rounds of the Sport Accord Mind Games (SAMG)  qualifier this week on KGS starting at 8p EST. Pairings include top-seeded Feng Yun 9P vs Yuan Zhou 7d, Mingjiu Jiang 7P (seeded 2) vs Gansheng Shi, Andy Liu (4) vs Calvin Sun, Huiren Yang 1P (5) vs Hugh Zhang, Juyong Ko (7) vs Daniel Chou, Sorin Gherman (8) vs Lionel Zhang and Kevin Huang (9) vs Xianyu Li. Dae Hyuk Koh (6) will play Bill Lin at 10p EST. In the two SAMG matches on Sunday, July 10, Jie Li (3) defeated I-Han Lui and Seung Hyun Hong (10) won over Yinli Wang. The top five players will represent the U.S. in the SAMG this December in Beijing, China. Watch KGS for schedule details: Rounds 1 & 2 are this week; Rounds 3 & 4 are next week and Round 5 will be the week of July 25; the updated schedule will be posted on the AGA’s website.
- SAMG Qualifier Co-Director Zhiyuan ‘Edward’ Zhang

Top North American Players to Vie Online This Week

Categories: U.S./North America