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

Go Congress Youth Room Packed

Wednesday August 13, 2014

The Youth Room at the US Go Congress has been bustling all week, with over 100 kids and teens registered this year. Sunday drew scores of kids for Lightning Go, and 9×9 and 13×13 were very popular on Monday afternoon. Tuesday’s Youth Adult Pair Go featured 68 players, although several of them were Rengo (same sex pairs) instead of male-female.  Many charming pairs were children playing with their parents, or strong players joining with younger siblings and relatives, even Andy Liu 1P got in on the action, playing with Alex Jiang 7k . After the day off break, Relay Go is planned for Thursday. The most popular event of the week, the Youth Team Tourney (where teams of three will compete in the same format seen in the Hikaru no Go manga) is set for Friday. Winners at all of these events have had their choice of a slew of great prizes: Hinoki Press generously donated a full case of each of their popular Heart of Go Series, all seven volumes, while Winston Jen donated both anime, and copies of the latest Japanese manga about go, Hoshizora no Karasu (Crow in the Starry Sky) – in the original Japanese, as it has not been translated into English. GoGameGuru donated both sets of stones, and copies of Speed Baduk Vol. 2.  Youth Room directors Paul Barchilon and Fritz Balwit “have had our hands full, but are having a great time with the kids,” Balwit told the E-Journal.

Table Winners Reports: Lightning: Daniel Liu, Gilbert Feng, Frederick Bao, Patrick Lu, Daniel Zhao, Douglas Patz; 9×9: Forest Song, Willis Huang, Benjamin Peng, Yuga Suzuki, Sarah Crites, Seth Liang; 13×13: Sammy Zhang, Mike Fellner, Yuga Suzuki, Patrick Bao, Dowson Yang, Alex Du; Youth Adult Pair Go: Lirui Wu 7d and Dongfang Li 1P, April Ye 1d and Dae Hyuk Ko 7d, Melissa Zhang 2d and James Sedgwick 6d, Kelly Lu 3k and Michael Chen 7d, Melissa Cao 5k and Jie Liang 7d, Ann Wu 10k and Steven Wu 10k, Sammy Suastegui 15k and Jesy Felicca 6k, Sarah Crites 16k and Bob Crites 8k, Douglas Patz 22k and Alexandra Patz 13k. -Story and Photos by Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor; top: Youti Wen 22k and Shen Wen 4k at left, vs. Alice Sedgwick 17k and Richard Newman 12k; Bottom: Prizes in the Youth Room, courtesy of Hinoki Press, GoGameGuru, and Winston Jen.

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US Go Congress Goes a Little Crazy

Wednesday August 13, 2014

“White plays capturing black, putting herself and black into atari,” calls Crazy Go TD Terry Benson. He officiated several games of Rengo Kriegspiel on Tuesday evening – a pair go game in which all four players face away from the main board and play their stones on their own empty board in front of them; the only clues about where their opponents — and even their partner — have played comes when they make an illegal move, or play where their own team or their opponents already have stones. Rengo Kriegspiel is only one of dozens of variants on the game of go that were played by an enthusiastic crowd of around 100 players. Familiar games include Magnetic Go, 4 Color Go, Tessellation Go, 3D Go, Spiral Go, and Blind Go. “After all these years, it’s still crazy,” said TD and Crazy Go founder Terry Benson. New Crazy Go games, never before played at a Go Congress, were even invented on the spot. Four players donned sleeping masks to block their vision and transformed Blind Go into Rengo Blind Go, and a few other players added the fundamentals of Tiddlywinks to their go game. Spectators and players alike are enthusiastic about the creativity of the games and the fun of adding a little Crazy to Go; “Crazy Go is my favorite part of the Congress!” said Bob Crites.
- report/photos by Karoline Li

Day Off Photo Contest: Still Time to Submit!

Wednesday August 13, 2014

Our first batch of Congress Day Off photos has been posted on the AGA’s Facebook page; check ‘em out and send your submissions to us at journal@usgo.org. Photo(s) should be from Day Off or NYC sight-seeing adventures and must include a go board!
photo by Phil Straus

Game Theorist Frank Lantz on why go should be “A little less Tang Dynasty and a little more NASCAR”

Wednesday August 13, 2014

“We should do a better job embracing and celebrating go’s status as the deepest, most challenging competitive game in the world, deeper than chess, harder than poker,” said New York University Game Center Director Frank Lantz in the keynote speech last Saturday night opening the 2014 US Go Congress in New York City. In a riveting 45-minute multimedia presentation on ‘Go in the New Age,’ Lantz urged hundreds of assembled go players to challenge their own assumptions about how to popularize the game. A self-described “terrible amateur despite a lifetime of off-and-on study,” Lantz described go as “a beautiful work of vibrant culture” and in a tour de force performance that melded history, art and culture, insisted that despite being more than 4,000 years old, go is not an ancient antique, “It’s alive here and now,” he said excitedly. Go, he suggested, should not be content to be a game of interest only those intrigued by the arcane.

“There is a huge online audience of game players who play games that require study and intelligence, not just fast fingers,” he said, describing how video, multiplayer and other e-games have huge audiences worldwide. He urged the US go community to develop a significant, interesting go presence on Twitch, “where there are millions of these people” and suggested marketing go to this audience with the theme “Go is the most difficult strategic game ever invented.” We should “worry less about the beauty and age of go in marketing it,” Lantz said, and emphasize the game’s difficulty and challenge.

Stars and a global rating system are important too, Lantz said. “It should be as easy to follow top go players as it is to follow an NBA team. Who’s the best player in the world? That gives other players – especially young ones – someone to follow and to emulate.” Tournaments also should be easier to follow, he added. “What’s a ‘jubango’” he asked, noting that Gu Li and Lee Sedol, two of the top players in the world, are currently competing in a one-on-one showdown that no-one outside the go world – and arguable many inside – don’t really understand and therefore find it hard to follow.

“We should be a little less Tang Dynasty and a little more NASCAR,” Lantz argued.  The speech garnered an enthusiastic response and Lantz’ analysis and suggestions have doubtless been a topic of discussion at this week’s Go Teacher’s Conference at the Go Congress. Lantz became known to the go community because of his lecture ‘Go, Poker and the Sublime’ at the at the 2011 Game Developers Conference (Life and Death and Middle Pair: Go, Poker and the Sublime 10/30/2012 EJ).
- Chris Garlock, with Peter Freedman; photos by Phil Straus

He Xie 9P On Mastering the Fundamentals

Wednesday August 13, 2014

He Xie 9P furrows his brow as though studying an especially knotty life and death problem. He cocks his head slightly, thinking. The seconds tick by, the silence stretches out nearly a minute. I’ve asked him his favorite thing about the game of go and now I see why his playing style has been described as “calm and cool like water.” Finally, he says, “The rules are very simple but the variations, starting from an empty board, are immense. Cosmic.”

Born in Qingdao, China in 1984, Xie – one of the strongest players in China today — learned go at the age of 6 from his father, improving so rapidly “that my dad could not beat me,” Xie said in an interview Monday afternoon at the US Go Congress, where he’s a visiting professional. Xie turned professional at 11 in 1995, and was promoted to 9P in 2012. Well-known for an intense work ethic when it comes to studying, Xie stressed the “crucial importance of the fundamentals” to improving, including studying life and death and endgame.

“These are the core techniques of go. Only after you’ve mastered the fundamentals can you think about the middle game,” Xie said quietly but firmly. “You cannot be weak in any part of your game. At the same time, you must study and research the opening. There are many new variations in the opening” that need to be explored. Then comes playing games, “and it’s extremely important to review your games.”  Online go has made it easier than ever to get a game but Xie doesn’t play online much himself, although he says that it’s given players around the world more access to a “treasure trove” of go resources, from game records to live broadcasts of professional games. “It’s a good thing,” he says, that’s contributing to a much faster spread of new ideas about the game. Go Seigen himself, the master go player who just celebrated his 100th birthday recently, “has always stressed the importance of trying new ideas, of experimenting.”

While professionals “realize they must spend time on all aspects of the game,” Xie said there are many amateurs who play “simply because they enjoy the game; they play for the love of the game.” For such players, it’s enough to “focus on studying the part of the game that interests you the most.” But for those amateurs who really want to improve, Xie said that studying life and death problems is the surest way to get stronger. Studying endgame is also key, he said, although there are not as many books or other resources on the subject.

Asked about the future of go in the United States, Xie, who’s visiting this country for the first time, said that while go has thousands of years of history in China, Japan and Korea, “the United States has been catching up quickly, thanks to online go spreading information so much more quickly,” adding that he’s happy to see the recent increase in interest in the US and Europe. Asked about whether computer go will ever attain professional strength, he smiled and said “It’s possible,” although he noted that while programs have done well at 9×9 the increase in complexity to 13×13 and 19×19 “is exponential.”
- Chris Garlock; photo by Phil Straus; translation by Daniel Chou

Top Congress Tourney Leaders Emerging at US Open & Masters Division

Tuesday August 12, 2014

Leaders are beginning to emerge in the top tournaments at the US Go Congress as the weeklong event takes the traditional mid-week break. Only a single player, Mark Lee, is undefeated after five rounds in the US Open Masters Division and 34 players are undefeated in the rest of the US Open field (click here for latest crosstab results)

Tuesday began with the third round of the US Open and the fourth round for the US Open Masters Division and finished strong with Crazy Go and the fifth round of the Masters Division, as thunderstorms moved into the city, prompting game recorder Nathan Borggren to report that “A rainy day is turning into a rainy night, clouds are moving in front of the buildings, lights are coming on all over the skyline; looks like one of those nights Batman has his work cut out for him. White has left the room.” Yilun Yang 7P gave live game commentary on Board 1 of the US Open Masters Division morning game as well as on Board 2 of the 3rd round from the previous evening. After the morning US Open round, professionals gave well-attended game reviews (right), simuls, and lectures throughout the late morning and all afternoon. The afternoon saw another round of the Women’s Tournament, as well as the advance of Jim Fienup 3k in both the 9×9 and Lightning Tournament playoffs. Check out EJ photographer Phil Straus’ Tuesday Photos Facebook album.

Crazy Go dominated the main playing room Tuesday night, with around 100 attendees throughout the evening and even some new crazy games the tournament hadn’t seen before, invented on the spot. Stay tuned for a full Crazy Go report on Thursday with photos and game profiles. The third round of the Midnight Madness tournament was scheduled for late Tuesday night; it takes place every evening around 12am midnight in the main playing room. The sign-up sheet is on the tables outside the main playing area.

Day Off Photo Contest: The E-Journal is very pleased to announce that we’re sponsoring our first-ever Day Off Photo Contest for sight-seers out and about in the Big Apple on Wednesday. Send us photos from your Day Off adventures and we’ll tweet and post them! Photos must include a go board; an iPad is ok if we can see board. Show us go in NYC! Send photos to journal@usgo.org.

Wednesday Highlights: The traditional 4-round Die Hard Tournament will be held Wednesday in the main playing area. And watch for these stories tomorrow (follow us on Twitter @theaga):
- Game Theorist Frank Lantz on why go should be “A little less Tang Dynasty and a little more NASCAR”
- He Xie 9P On Mastering the Fundamentals

Self-Paired Tourney Off to Slow Start

Tuesday August 12, 2014

Just 80 games have been played so far in the Self-Paired Tournament at this week’s US Go Congress, considerably off the event’s usual blazing pace of hundreds of games a day. Part of the challenge is likely the wealth of other opportunities, like pro simuls, lectures and New York City attractions, but another reason may have been a delay in the reporting system. That’s now in process and we’ll post updates as results become available. Anyone interested in playing in the Self-Paired Tournament will find results slips — and the box to turn them in — at the table just outside the main playing room. Any game can be part of the Self-Paired if the opponents agree. Games entered into the Self-Paired Tournament are AGA-rated and players are eligible for prizes in a number of categories, including most wins by a kyu player over a dan player, most dan player wins over a kyu player, most-improved and so on.- report by Karoline Li; photo by Chris Garlock

Expanded Field Showcases Women’s Growing Strength

Tuesday August 12, 2014

As a testament to the growing number of women who play go, the Women’s Tournament has nearly doubled its size this year. “The first Women’s Tournament I directed in 2007 had just over 20 players,” says long-time TD Lisa Scott. “This year there are 40 women playing at least one game in the tournament.”  The current iteration of the Women’s Tournament started up in 2007 at the Lancaster Go Congress. Rounds 1 and 2 were played on Sunday and Monday. Round 3 is scheduled for 3p Tuesday (but players are free to reschedule their games as necessary during the day with permission of the TD and their opponent): 5 players are undefeated so far: Chen Jiahui 5D, April Ye 1D, Amanda Miller 8k, Marion Edey 10k, and Alexandra Platz 13k. The Round 4 final will be held Friday.  The tournament promotes go among women, but Scott adds that it also “helps make friends and connections in a 500 person event.”
- report by Karoline Li; photo by Kevin Hwang; photo: Susanna Pfeffer and Hisayo Miyazaki play in the second round.

AGA Game Database Test Version Online

Tuesday August 12, 2014

A beta version of the American Go Association Game Database (AGAGD) is available for testing and review this week. The AGAGD includes every game record in the AGA database, more than 130,000 since 1991. You can search by player or tournament. Player info includes complete tournament history, who you’ve played over time, and detailed info about your rating with a history graph of your progress; the blue line is your rating, the light blue on either side is your sigma (or variance in your rating). Tournament info includes wall charts and complete round-by-round results. Comments and suggestions are welcome: email them to journal@usgo.org

US Go Congress Packs in a Full Schedule on Day Two

Monday August 11, 2014

The second full day of this year’s US Go Congress began with the second round of the US Open and third round of the US Open Masters Division (click for cross-tabs). Feng Yun 9P and E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock reviewed Masters Division games with audio commentary on KGS (available free on KGS Plus; look under “Recent Lectures” under USGO5; there will be live pro commentary on the Masters again Tuesday morning on KGS beginning around 10a EST). After the round, players could get their games reviewed by professionals, and after lunch there were many pro lectures and simuls to choose from. The game review by He Xie 9P of China was so popular that the audience spilled out into the nearby hallway (look for our interview with him soon). The ever-popular Lightning Tournament in the evening attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd “divisible by 6” said a happy Keith Arnold, directing as usual. The unusually mild weather outside the Hotel Pennsylvania drew many players into the streets of midtown Manhattan for meals or sightseeing while the go action continued on the boards on the 18th floor of the hotel. The EJ continued its social media coverage throughout the day by tweeting photos and updates of many Congress events in real time; keep up with breaking news at the 2014 US Go Congress by following us on Twitter @theaga and Facebook at American Go Association.
- report by Chris Garlock; photo by Phil Straus; see more in today’s Phil’s Photos album on Facebook.