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

Keith Arnold Remembers Don Wiener

Saturday February 23, 2013

Don Wiener was the fourth person I ever met who played go, but he was my first go player, the first person who truly inhabited the game – he played, he studied, he taught and he organized.

I had learned the game from a professor at college, and I knew of two other students who played. One January, back in 1980, the professor taught a month long course on the game. While I did not take the class, I showed up for Don’s visit. After only experiencing the very laid back style of the prof, Don was a seismic shift. His energy was amazing and his laughter infectious. I recall he played the entire class 9×9 games with handicaps. I lacked 9×9 experience, so I was not one of the few winners, but I recall him complimenting my willingness to try to kill him. I failed, but he did not kill me either – I recall the final score was 5 to 2.

Later I would learn that he was one of the strongest players on the East Coast. He was a mainstay of the American Go Journal staff back in those days. I know he was extremely proud of his work on the “Keshi and Uchikomi” series in the Journal, which was later published by Slate and Shell. Like Sam Zimmerman and Chris Kirschner, he was one of those guys who simply showed up at the Go Congress and went to work setting up and helping out wherever he could.

You could call Don the “father of the AGA 7dan”. The US Open — until the second Denver Congress in 2000, I believe — had always had a 5 dan section, and an open section above that, therefore, the AGA’s highest rank was 6 dan. Don argued for years that he was a 6 dan, but that he could not compete with those other 6 dans, and that we should have a 6 dan section, implicitly recognizing a 7 dan rank. My recollection is he got his wish, promptly won the first-ever 6 dan section, and had to play in the Open section the next year anyway.

But my fondest, and given his death from cancer, bittersweet, memories of him were playing games, usually on picnic tables outside at the Go Congresses. Unlike many strong players, Don would play absolutely anyone just so long as they were willing to share his smoker’s exile and put up with his running commentary on the game. Laughing with him in the summer sun are truly some of my brightest Congress memories.

august afternoons
heavy eyebrows laugh and smoke
joyful go exile

- by Keith Arnold; photo by Phil Straus 

Categories: U.S./North America

Andy Liu 1P vs. Lee Sedol 9P this Sunday on

Friday February 22, 2013

U.S. pro Andy Liu 1P will play Lee Sedol 9P this Sunday, Feb. 24 (10a EST) in the latest round of the 10-game series between the AGA-Europe pro team and Lee, sponsored by
- photo: Andy Liu (right) receives his 1-dan professional certificate from Myung-wan Kim 9P at the 2012 AGA-Tygem Pro Tournament; photo by Steve Colburn

Categories: U.S./North America

Pandanet AGA City League Round 2 Set for Sunday

Friday February 22, 2013

The second round of the Pandanet AGA City Leaguewill be held this Sunday, February 24. Round 1 winners in the A League were Greater Washington (d. Boston), Los Angeles (d. New York City) and Vancouver (d. Seattle). In B League, winners were Washington DC 1, San Francisco and Toronto. In the
C League, winners were Washington DC 2, Memphis, Chicago and Pittsburgh. D League winners were Quebec, Southern California 2, Kentucky and Brentwood TN. Click here for Sunday’s pairings (check schedules for times for each league): A League; B League; C League; D League.

In Memoriam: Don Wiener 6D

Friday February 22, 2013

Long-time go organizer and mentor Don Wiener passed away on February 21 after a struggle with lung cancer. “We will miss one of American go’s true spirits,” said American Go Association President Andy Okun. Wiener (left), a 6-dan player, was one of the stalwarts of the Massachusetts Go Association, and an organizer of countless tournaments over a span of more than 30 years. At the beginning of each tournament, he always announced – with a straight face – the “special MGA rule” that “if you touch a stone you must play that stone.” Wiener taught so many players with so many high-handicap games that he often said “I don’t know how to play an even game.” He was also an important member of the New York group which powered the growth of the AGA in the late 70s and 80s. Beside his speed go and quick wit, Wiener’s speed typing was a huge asset as an Assistant Editor of the American Go Journal from 1977 to 1987 when all of the text was done on an IBM Selectric typewriter. Wiener is survived by his mother and a sister in California. No memorial service is planned, but donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.
- Bill Saltman; photo: Wiener at the 1987 U.S. Go Congress; photo by Phil Straus

Categories: U.S./North America

Penn State Course Studying Go for Insight into Military, Cyber Threats

Wednesday February 20, 2013

At Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), Stan Aungst is employing the ancient Chinese game of go to help students gain new insight and new methods for countering attacks — cyber and physical, both foreign and domestic — and to hone new cognitive skills for the 21st century.

“We’re using the game as a training ground to think strategically and tactically,” said Aungst, a senior lecturer for security and risk analysis (SRA) and senior research associate for the Network-Centric Cognition and Information Fusion Center in a Penn State press release February 7.

The course that Aungst is teaching, “Using Serious Games to Promote Strategic Thinking and Analysis,” introduces students to thinking visually about attacks, attack patterns, spatial analysis with individual performance evaluation via interactive virtual scenarios/missions and gaming. Paul Wright, president of the State College Go Club, recently demonstrated the game for the students in the class.

John Hill, a lecturer at the College of IST who is assisting Aungst with the course, said that the class is a “significant departure” from any other courses that the college has offered. “During the course, go is used as the means for analyzing widely divergent problems, and for developing effective tactics and strategies to address those problems by means of conversion rather than elimination,” Hill said.

Joe Cho, a sophomore SRA major who is also in the class, said the objective of the Go game is “more about efficiency” than other board games such as chess, since the goal is to capture territory using as few “stones” as possible. “The lessons are more applicable to today’s military situation,” he said.

A test will be used to measure individuals’ ability to predict cyber and physical attacks. About 100 intelligence analysts have taken the test, Aungst said. After the students in the “Go” class take the test, he added, their scores will be compared to the students who took the test last year.
- photo by John Pinkerton; effects by Chris Garlock

Categories: U.S./North America

Zach Tellman on “Playing Go with Clojure”

Tuesday February 19, 2013

Despite the simplicity of its rules, go remains something of an open problem for the game AI community. In Playing Go with Clojure, Bay Area software developer and go player Zach Tellman discusses the inherent difficulties of the problem, provides a survey of current approaches, and explores how they can be efficiently implemented in Clojure, a dialect of the Lisp programming language.
- Thanks to Steve Colburn for passing this along.

Categories: U.S./North America

Pair Go a Hit in Mexico

Monday February 18, 2013

The Mexican Youth Go Community drew 31 pairs to their first Pair Go Tourney, held in December in Mexico City. “The kids wanted to play go with their parents but they didn’t know how, so they asked us for workshops and lessons,” reports organizer Siddhartha Avila. “Then we thought, why not make go an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family, this way each family will spread the game even when their kids grow up and leave elementary school. We had a great response, with pairs including the kids, parents, relatives, or friends,” said Avila.  Winners Report: 1st place Mariana (5th grader) and her mom; 2nd place Melanie (2nd grader) and her dad; 3rd place Diego Armando (1st grader) and his mom. A special thanks goes to the Principal Marcela Zepeda, Go teacher Marcos Arámbula and Israel Rodriguez President of Asociación Mexicana de Go, who helped us with the pairings. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Report and Photo by Siddhartha Avila.

“Surrounding Game” Releases New Trailer

Monday February 18, 2013

“We’ve just put our new extended trailer on YouTube,” reports The Surrounding Game co-director Cole Pruitt. “Plus, thanks to help from several American go contacts, we’re working with the Nihon Ki-in to schedule a trip to Japan sometime later this summer, hopefully to coincide with a big amateur go festival in August. In March, at the Spring Go Expo, we’ll interview a Japanese 4p who will be coming to the US for a month for promotional purposes.”

54th New Jersey Open Set for March 2-3 in Princeton

Sunday February 17, 2013

The Princeton Go Club will host the 54th annual New Jersey Open the weekend of March 2-3, reports co-director Rick Mott. The 2-day, 5-round event has been running for more than half a century, and on the Princeton campus for 23 years. Registration is 9-10A Saturday, March 3. Email co-director Mott for full details at

Go has a long history at Princeton. The Princeton club was founded by Professor Ralph J. Fox of the Department of Mathematics in 1945, who continued to promote go in Princeton until his untimely death in 1973. Professor Fox brought a number of Japanese professionals to visit Princeton, and often hosted them at his house. His late wife Cynthia bequeathed some of his books, photographs and papers to the club archives.

Perhaps the most famous association of Princeton with go is an opening scene in the film “A Beautiful Mind”, depicting the life of Nobel laureate John Nash Jr., in which Nash is challenged to a game by a fellow graduate student.

The Princeton club hosted the fifth US Go Congress in 1989. The following year, the long-standing New Jersey Open, one of the earliest regional events in the US, moved to the Princeton campus where it continues to be held. The tournament has drawn up to 120 players from Virginia to Massachusetts, with occasional visitors from as far away as Europe and Asia.

Past NJO winner and former club president Zhaonian (Michael) Chen ’11 (AGA 7D) is the highest-rated player to date to be part of the Princeton community. He was part of the first group of students from the nearby Feng Yun Go School to reach college age. Freshman Zhongxia (Ricky) Zhao ’16, AGA 7D, also studied with Feng Yun (photo). “In recent years, we have had an influx of college club players, notably Stony Brook and Rutgers. This year, Cornell has told us they will be sending a group as well,” Mott tells the E-Journal.
photo: Feng Yun analyzing a top-board game at the 2010 NJO; photo by John Pinkerton 

Categories: U.S./North America

Gotham Go Group In the News; Manhattan Adds Another Go Night

Saturday February 16, 2013

“Most people go to the Hungarian Pastry Shop expecting a little peace and quiet—and maybe a shot of espresso,” wrote Tracey Wang in the Columbia Spectator on February 8 (Gamers find home at Hungarian Pastry Shop). “But on Tuesday nights, the shop on Amsterdam Avenue at 111th Street plays host to a more energetic crowd—a group of gamers who challenge each other in the ancient Chinese game of Go.” The report on the Gotham Go Group includes a short video on the club and quotes club founder Peter Armenia as saying that the joy of go lies in its simplicity. “There’s an abstract beauty about it,” he says. “It has a little more grace than chess.” Jasper DeAntonio, a math teacher in Harlem, said that he has been coming to weekly games at Hungarian since November and that the way go surprises him has kept him coming back. “I just enjoy the patterns and the critical thinking of it,” he said. In related news, New York photographer and Gotham Go Group regular Marilyn Stern has created a photo slide show of the GGG tournament last month that she has posted on YouTube. Also, there is now another weekly meeting of go players in the Village on Thursday nights from 5:30-10:30 at Pie By the Pound (124 4th Ave, between 12th & 13th streets).


Categories: U.S./North America