What game has tens of millions of active players, is very popular in Asia, has professional leagues and professional tournaments all over the world and was originally dominated by the North American League? Not go, of course. It’s League of Legends, one of the most popular eSports, or organized video game competitions. We were tipped off to this phenomenon by one of the strongest amateur go players in the United States, who admitted recently that his go playing time has been cut into not only by work and family, but by his fascination with League of Legends. “As a mental and strategy game, it bears a close resemblance to go,” the player — who prefers to remain anonymous — says, although unlike go, League of Legends is a team game, with five players on each team. “Like the go world, China and Korea are dominating League of Legends now,” the player says. “However, because this game has such a big fan base in North America, there is a chance that we can come back.” According a Forbes report in August, “If there needed to be further evidence of the growing enthusiasm in the West for eSports, League of Legends may have just set some sort of unofficial record for most tickets to a live event sold in the shortest amount of time. In about an hour after they went on sale, tickets to October’s World Championship Final event in LA’s Staples Center were sold out.” And according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, “Top (videogame) players can ultimately take home $18,000 a month or more.”
American Go E-Journal » U.S./North America
Thursday October 24, 2013
Wednesday October 23, 2013
Go author Jonathan Hop is working on a new project about Chinese culture and language. “I am trying to get funds to do a graphic novel,” Hop tells the E-Journal. In “Journey to the Middle Kingdom,” three modern-day kids travel back to ancient Chinese fairy tales. “The main character’s grandfather plays go and owns an antique shop,” Hop, a 4-dan from Ann Arbor MI and author of the “So You Want to Play Go” series says. “Go will make an appearance in the first book and I’m definitely going to have it in several others because the book series is a celebration of Chinese culture. I also may even teach the readers a little bit about go (because that’s what I do) if the series gets underway, but I gotta get the first book going.” With just 14 days to go, Hop’s Kickstarter campaign has raised nearly $1,200 toward the $10,000 goal.
Tuesday October 22, 2013
Online registration for the 2013 Cotsen Go Open and 2nd AGA Pro Prelim is now closed. To register on-site in Los Angeles, come early this Saturday, October 26th; registration opens at 8a at the Korean Cultural Center (5505 Wilshire Blvd). “If you are not registered by 9:30, you will not be allowed to play in the first game,” organizers warn. The Cotsen features a number of unique attractions, including paying the AGA “one time rating fee” for all players who do not currently have an AGA membership, prizes for those who can solve certain go problems, one candidate will be selected for the AGA’s next professional certification tournament to be held later this year. Plus, Myung-wan Kim 9P, one of the organizers of the US pro system, will also be on hand to teach and play simultaneous games and local Southern California favorite and renowned US teacher Yi-Lun Yang 7P will also teach and provide game commentary. There will also be a pro game over the internet between Yi-Lun Yang 7P and another pro. Lee Hajin 3p and Kim Minhee 3p will also be there to do game reviews and simuls along with a late addition to the delegation, Kim Younghwan 9p. Kim (left) became pro in 1987. His nickname is “Younghwan Wizard” because of his ability to give more handicap stones to amateur players than any other pro, and still win. He is currently working as a baduk instructor and a commentator for Baduk TV. The tournament also features free lunch at a food truck (but only for those who pre-register) and two masseuses who will make the rounds “to ease the tensions that arise in your shoulders when you discover that your big group really doesn’t have two eyes.” There are also go club prizes of $1,500, to be awarded to top three clubs that have the most points overall in the tournament. Top-board games will be broadcast live on KGS by the E-Journal. photo: Cotsen with son Lord at the 2012 Cotsen Open; top right photo by Chris Garlock
Tuesday October 22, 2013
Andy Liu won the October 12 Gotham Go Tournament in New York City. Liu Xiaohan was second and in 3rd place was Benjamin Lockhart, who qualified to play in the AGA Pro Select tournament in Los Angeles later this year. “We had a total of 82 players competing for $1500 in cash and prizes from all ranks!” report organizers Peter Armenia and Mathew Hershberger. Click here for full results and a photo album. photo: Benjamin Lockhart (l) plays Zhong Sichen in the final round; photo by Peter Armenia
Monday October 21, 2013
“In the past few weeks we have started our chess/go clubs at Beverly Clearly, Irvington, and Grant High,” writes Portland, OR, go teacher Peter Freedman. “Fritz [Balwit] and I are teaching at Irvington and we have 33 children. 8 have never played go before, the rest have been in the club in past years. They range from 2nd to 6th grades. I am also teaching go at Beverly Cleary, where the chess club coach has agreed to change his club to a chess and go club. We had 13 children at our first meeting and expect more to attend in the future. One child has had some exposure to go previously. The initial response by these chess-playing children is very positive,” adds Freedman. The chess and go program at Grant High, taught with Balwit, is also off to a good start. “So far there are about 10-12 students coming, some of whom have played go before. We expect the club to grow, one of the Japanese language teachers has 180 students, and has invited me to present to her classes.” The busy Portland organizers also have programs or demos scheduled for three other local schools as well, and plan to create go teams and school matches once all the schools get rolling. “We’ve bought t-shirts for all 33 kids in the Irvington program, at a cost of less than $10 per shirt. Since parents pay $150 a year for the weekly, one hour club, we have raised enough money to support this,” adds Freedman. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Peter Freedman: Ansel Wallace (l), a member of the Irvington Chess and Go club, in his new club t-shirt.
Monday October 21, 2013
The deadline for the American Go Foundation’s College Scholarship is just one month away. The program recognizes high school students who have served as important organizers and promoters for the go community. Read about last year’s winner here, and former winners here. For more information, and the application form, visit the AGF Website. - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.
Sunday October 20, 2013
Sunday October 20, 2013
Is Capture Go merely a stepping stone to traditional go, or can it stand on its own as a viable game? In Memphis, two go players and teachers are working hard to answer that question.
The simplified rule set that master teacher Yasuda Yasutoshi 8P describes in his book Go As Communication has been used in hundreds of schools, after-school programs and libraries. Go players who teach Capture Go often hope to quickly move their pupils along to traditional go but Jay Jayaraman 9K and Graham Smart 9K wondered what would happen if a whole program focused just on Capture Go. They’re working with the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis (CIUM) where they’re teaching Capture Go to Chinese language instructors from CIUM-affiliated after-school programs in the Memphis area, who in turn will introduce hundreds of primary school students to the game this year. The program is currently active in 12 Shelby County elementary schools and will be adding more schools throughout the year, reaching an estimated 40-50 students per program. Jayaraman and Smart also plan to start Capture Go programs in middle and high schools in the area.
“We are not trying to teach go,” Jayaraman, the director of CIUM’s after-school programs told the EJ. “We are presenting 9×9 Capture Go strictly on its own merits, not as a ‘gateway game.’ We call the game we teach go, not Capture Go, so that children who become interested in the long-form game don’t have issues with transition. We hope that even students who don’t enjoy traditional go will have a little fun with Capture Go.” All students, not just winners, can earn Pokémon-style badges (created by Smart) to reward merit, encourage competition and create a sports-like atmosphere. Players will get badges for reaching certain goals, such as completing a certain number of games or playing at least one game with every other player.
The curriculum involves ten two-hour classes, presented as part of CIUM’s Chinese language and history program in partner schools. The American Go Foundation has provided 80 full size sets of stones and more than 200 9×9 boards so far, and Viz Media has granted permission to use Hikaru no Go anime and manga freely as part of their curriculum. Smart is also creating a series of introductory videos for use in the curriculum. The rule set is designed to be completely simple and solvable on the board. However, since the instructors are also new to the game, the organizers will serve as “experts on call” when the classes are taking place. Any instructor can send them a question, along with a picture of the board position if needed, and receive an immediate answer.
Jayaraman discovered the potential of Capture Go as a standalone game last summer when he served as the lead go instructor for CIUM’s K-12 Chinese Summer Immersion Camp. With 20 students ranging from five to eleven years old, he worried about losing them if the game seemed too complex, so he focused on Capture Go after discovering Let’s Play Go, Yasuda’s elegant yet simplified introduction to the game. Jayaraman and local player Wade Humbert “described Yasuda’s ‘Capture Go’ method and hoped for the best,” says Jayaraman. “To see a room full of children playing within thirty minutes of first hearing about the game was quite a treat. We set up daily classes, drawing upon the Freedman-Balwit curriculum available through the ‘Methods and Materials’ page on the AGA’s Teacher Resources site. To our surprise, only a handful of children showed any interest in advancing to traditional go, but they were all incredibly enthusiastic about Capture Go. Campers were actually excited about their homework! We held a tournament on the last day and combined homework scores with results to find the top finishers. Prizes included copies of Hikaru No Go and full size playing sets. It was a joy to watch their enthusiasm and progress.” Positive feedback from parents encouraged CIUM and the Memphis schools to expand the program into the school year. The Memphis program has four goals: reach the largest possible audience; re-envision go and Capture Go as team sports; engage parents, teachers and other stakeholders; strengthen ties with Confucius Institutes nationwide.
Jayaraman thinks one reason go more popular is that the go community has followed the top-down, expert-oriented teaching approach that has worked so well for chess. Unlike chess, however, go experts are few and far between. In addition, programs such as the middle school chess team seen in the recent documentary Brooklyn Castle have high infrastructure costs and are difficult to maintain. Chess-In-the-Schools spends millions of dollars teaching chess in New York City alone.
“There’s another pitfall in expert-based teaching methods,” Jayaraman believes. “Skilled go players often flood beginners with complexity, leaving them feeling hopelessly lost. But Capture Go is easy for anyone to learn. In our model, non-playing teachers and after-school staff receive basic instruction and then learn along with their students. Yasuda sensei never meant for Capture Go to be an introductory tool to regular go. The original program was designed to foster interaction using Capture Go as a great equalizer. Like him, we want to use Capture Go as a standalone vehicle for promoting the ‘four C’s’ — critical thinking, cooperation, competition and communication.”
- Roy Laird
Saturday October 19, 2013
The online prelim for the American Go Association’s 2013 professional selection process will take place on KGS in November, the AGA Pro System Committee announced earlier this week. The event is open to US and Canadian citizens who meet a minimal residency requirement and have either an AGA rating or stable KGS rank of 5d or higher. Competitors should also be members of AGA or CGA. The tournament will take place November 9, 10, 16 and 17 in the AGA Tournaments Room on KGS. The winner will be invited to participate in the pro selection tournament in Los Angeles Jan. 2-8 2014, receiving an $800 travel subsidy. Players can register for the tournament here. Upon registration players should also submit a copy of their US or Canadian passport. The residency requirement is that players have lived in the US or Canada for at least three of the last six years or else obtain a waiver from the AGA president based on their time overseas being temporary and for the purpose of education, go study or an overseas posting. For questions about the tournament contact Karoline Burrall Li at email@example.com. For questions about pro selection or the residency requirement contact AGA President Andy Okun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday October 19, 2013
Want to help build the global go community? The American Go E-Journal team is expanding, and has a few immediate openings for dedicated, talented volunteers who want to help maintain and expand the American Go Association’s online presence and better serve the global go community. PHP/Drupal/Database/Linux SysAdmin experience helpful but also looking for writers and editors to keep web content fresh and up to date. For more details email email@example.com