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

Young Lions Youth Tourney Nov. 17

Sunday November 11, 2012

“Sign up now to play in one of the premier youth tournaments in the US,” urges AGHS Vice President Hugh Zhang.  “Past winners of the Young Lions Tournament have gone on to do extremely well in the United States Youth Go Championship. 2010 winner Vincent Zhuang went on the win the USYGC, while Yunxuan Li, the 2011 winner nearly made the finals. This year, there will be an open division with Aaron Ye 5d poised to make his move. Get ready to rumble, because it will be an awesome showdown to see who will lead the pack of young go lions,” says Zhang.  For more info, and to register, visit the AGHS website. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

Go Review: GoClubsOnline

Sunday November 11, 2012

By Peter Drake

I’ve used several different tournament management software packages over the years that I’ve run the Portland (Oregon) tournament. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using GoClubsOnline (GCOL). This has certainly been the most stable, least frustrating option and I plan to continue using it and recommend it to others.

GCOL works through a web browser and all data is stored remotely in the “cloud”, so there’s no worry of files being corrupted or lost. That does mean, however, that GCOL is not the right choice for a tournament director (TD) without reliable internet access.

For the TD, a package like this has two core jobs: pairing (deciding who plays whom) and recording results. Pairing is notoriously difficult because there are many constraints. GCOL does as good a job at this as any software I’ve used, with a plethora of options, like avoiding pairing players who live in the same city. While GCOL has on rare occasions given me some strange pairings it allows the TD to make some pairings manually and then automatically re-generate the rest. This is a recurring strength of GCOL: if something doesn’t work perfectly, there’s almost always a workaround.

There are a number of options for communicating the pairings to players. With two or three dozen players, I tend to just turn my laptop screen where they can see it, but you can print out pairings as well. Players can also log into the GoClubsOnline site and see their pairings and results.

Recording results is as easy as checking boxes. These can be displayed in the same variety of ways, and winners can be automatically computed; in my tournament, I compute the top three in each of dan, single-digit kyu, and double-digit kyu. The otherwise-tedious process of emailing the results to the AGA is accomplished with a few mouse clicks.

The stability of these basic features alone makes GCOL worth using, but there is much more. Players can register in advance online, for example, drastically reducing check-in time. GCOL also keeps track of income and expenses and how much needs to be forwarded to the AGA for tournament fees.

Is it perfect? Not quite yet. The system does take a bit of learning, as there are many options, but the default settings are generally good. Some may balk at the annual $39 cost, but this only covers “out-of-pocket expense” according to GCOL’s author, Robert Cordingley 2k of Sante Fe. “It is still very much a volunteer effort,” he explains. We are fortunate to have a volunteer willing and able to produce such complex, high-quality software for such an obscure niche. Cordingley has been extremely helpful; I’ve often been able to get help from him during a tournament and he’s added features requested by various TDs, like allowing players to specify meal preferences at a tournament serving lunch.

GoClubsOnline is reliable, clean, and easy to use. I have every reason to expect that it will become even more so as the number of users increases.
Drake is the Tournament Director of the Portland (Oregon) Go Tournament and runs the Lewis & Clark College Go Club in Portland.

Go Spotting: Girl vs. Monster; Xbox LIVE’s Path of Go; Tenjou Tenge

Saturday November 10, 2012

Girl vs. Monster: Go makes an appearance in the new Disney channel movie “Girl vs. Monster”, reports Tyler Keithley. If anyone’s got more details and/or stills, send ‘em to us at

Xbox LIVE’s Path of Go: Shawn Ray from Tennessee recently discovered Xbox LIVE’s go arcade game The Path of Go. Ray notes that “My mother, who is not even a go player, said ‘You know go is getting popular when it is on the X-Box.’” He says the game is “unique and fun,” adding that “the graphics are very well done and the board and stones are beautiful and portrayed in a way that you feel like you are playing with the go stones from ancient times.” In addition to useful beginner-level problems, Ray says there’s “a nice little story line with an interesting twist at the end.” He adds that “While most players who are well versed in the game might find the first few chapters boring and easy, it is worth it once you reach the later stages in order to find out what happens. Also the final boss is not so easy, as I am a 4d and it still took me a couple tries to beat him since we are playing on a 9×9 which forces me to come up with new strategies as I can’t us my normal joseki/fuseki ideas on a smaller board.” Ray has a few minor technical complaints but his main problem is that “since the game is not yet popular, I am finding it very difficult to find an opponent on X-Box Live. Hope we can spread the word and get more go players online!”
See Xbox’s Path of Go The New Hikaru No Go? for our original report in the January 10, 2011 EJ.

Tenjou Tenge: Taylor Litteral spotted a go board in Episode 26 of the anime Tenjou Tenge (at 7:40). The anime is based on the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Oh! great, which primarily focuses on the members of the Juken Club and their opposition, the Executive Council, which is the ruling student body of a high school that educates its students in the art of combat. As the story unfolds, both groups become increasingly involved with an ongoing battle that has been left unresolved for four hundred years.

In Memoriam: Dr. Heidi Kirschner

Thursday November 8, 2012

Doctor Heidi Kirschner died at her home in Seattle on November 1. She was 99 years old. A beloved elder of the American go community, Kirschner helped build the local go scene in Seattle, WA; and her son, Chris, is also a longtime local and national go organizer currently serving on the boards of the Seattle Go Center, the American Go Foundation, and the American Go Association.

Heidi Kirschner was 9 kyu when she arrived in the US from Austria in October 1939, with her husband Franz, also a 9 kyu — and the suitor who was willing to learn go from her. Clutching the then-customary single suitcase that could be squeezed out of Nazi-controlled Europe at that time, Kirschner was, even at 9K, probably the strongest Caucasian woman in the US at that time. In that suitcase was a cardboard go board with wooden stones on which her son Chris, born less than two days after her arrival in Seattle, would learn to play at age 6, shortly after the end of the war.

Kirschner learned go from her mother and an uncle who had visited Japan with the Austrian navy around 1900 and picked it up there.  She grew up in Vienna, the daughter of Ludwig Moszkowicz, a prominent surgeon in Vienna, Austria, and Elizabeth, director of the first nursing school in Austria.  In 1937 Kirschner graduated from the University of Vienna Medical School and at the family graduation party met an American woman, Mildred Lemon from Olympia, Washington, who in 1939 sponsored the immigration of Heidi and Franz to Seattle, where she raised four children before returning to the practice of medicine in 1958, joining her husband in his solo practice.  She retired in 1977 but continued to teach early childhood development part time at the UW Medical School.

As early as 1961, when the American go scene was concentrated in New York City and San Francisco, Kirschner put Seattle on the map by hosting Iwamoto Kaoru 9P during his tour of the United States that year. And her home was often the site for go events like a teaching session a few years later for local Caucasian players when a trio of women professionals — Reiko Kitani, and Sachiko Honda and Teruko — from Japan visited.  With son Chris directing, and assuring her she was not too weak at 9K, she  attended the US Go Congress in Seattle in 1995, and was a fixture at many subsequent Go Congresses as well as at local events at the Seattle Go Center.

As her mother before her, and her son after, Heidi Kirschner believed strongly that go could be an instrument of peace, a belief also shared by  Iwamoto, the Japanese professional go player – and Hiroshima survivor — who funded the Seattle Go Center as part of a mini-network of go centers founded in New York City, Amsterdam, Sao Paolo and Seattle to support the spread of go worldwide.
- photo by Phil Straus

Categories: U.S./North America

Pair Go “A way to form new friendships”

Monday November 5, 2012

Updated results in last weekend’s Pair Go Championships moved the US team up to 14th place. “Meeting different people was the best part” of the tournament, held in Tokyo,Japan. US team member Amy Su told the E-Journal. “It was very surprising to see so many countries participating,” added Su’s partner, Lionel Zhang. “It shows go is becoming more popular around the world. The informal goodwill match was great.” New US Pair Go Coordinator Rachel Small agreed, noting that “I am a lot more aware of the international presence of Pair Go now and intend to encourage our strong women to play Pair Go. Overall, the event was inspirational. I see Pair Go as a way to form new friendships.”

Categories: U.S./North America

Hurricane Aftermath Assistance

Monday November 5, 2012

“The American Go Association extends its deepest concern to members, their families, and the communities impacted in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy,” says AGA President Andy Okun. To assist members who may have been impacted and those who would like to contribute to the recovery efforts, the following websites may be helpful in finding assistance and contributing to the recovery: The Red Cross; United Way; Salvation Army; Charity Navigator.

For those of you working on relief efforts, whether individually or as a club, please let us know about the support you are providing, the extent of the problem, where you are, and how others may help, including contact information, so that we can share with our readers. email us at


Categories: U.S./North America

U.S. Defeats Finland in Int’l Amateur Pair Go First Round, Loses to Czechs in Second

Saturday November 3, 2012

The U.S. team of Amy Su and Lionel Zhang (left) drew Finland for its first round game at the International Amateur Pair Go  competition in Tokyo on November 3. The Finns, Eliza Pieniniemi and Antti Tormanen, chose black, “but after an unusually quiet game, the U.S. won comfortably,” reports Allan Abramson. “Sunday brings four intense rounds, so the U.S. has its work cut out to finish strong.” Click here for live game broadcasts and results.
This just in (11:30p EST 11/3): The U.S. team lost its second-round game to the strong Czech team, while China lost its first two games  to Ukraine and Japan (11/4 correction; the Chinese team was unable to attend, so these were forfeits, not on-the-board losses); Korea and Chinese Taipei look strong at 2-0. photo by Allan Abramson 

Categories: U.S./North America

New AGA Board Has a Lot on Its Plate

Thursday November 1, 2012

The AGA Board of Directors on Oct. 21 approved President Andy Okun’s proposal to restore the College Club Funding Program; the program, which provides $50-$100 per college club annually to assist with organizing go activities, had been suspended in 2008. The Board also asked President Okun to develop formal policies regarding offshore chapters, waiving membership requirements for foreign nationals playing in AGA tournaments, and compensation and invitation practices for pros attending the Go Congress. President Okun reported that work continues to fix the AGAGD, which has been offline recently due to security issues. He also reported on efforts to sign up teams for the Pandanet City League. A committee of Edward Zhang and Gurujeet Khalsa was formed to research a policy for optimal management of AGA reserve funds. President Okun will draft a policy for dealing with long-unused funds that had been allocated to some past Congresses for use by local clubs. The Board, favoring rapid development of a new rank certification program to officially recognize members’ rank achievements, instructed the President to identify and test possible criteria for granting the ranks. The Board also appropriated up to $1,000 for legal advice to determine what, if any, organizational changes might be necessary to accommodate the AGA’s new pro system.

Categories: U.S./North America

How to Become an Insei

Thursday November 1, 2012

“When I was webmaster I was often asked how to become an insei, or go student in training to be a professional,” writes Steve Colburn (What’s The Best School for Inseis? 10/22 EJ). “I never had a good answer, but recently I found some information on the Nihon Kiin’s site about how to become an insei in Japan for those not of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or Taiwanese descent. Hajin Lee 3P from the Korean Baduk Association (KBA) also told me that the custom in Korea is that foreign students need to find a private academy first, and become an insei later. Hajin Lee said that the KBA is usually very accommodating to foreign students in order to encourage them to study in Korea longer. For example the age limit is higher so that foreign students can stay several years longer than their Korean counterparts. Foreign students are also permitted a more relaxed schedule than Korean students, who train in the academies every weekday and then play the insei on the weekends, while foreign students are often interested in traveling or exploring Korea on their weekends.” Edward Zhang reports that in mainland China, there are no official “insei” but there are a lot training schools — mostly in Beijing– where the strongest amateur players train 14+ hours a day, 365 days a year for just one reason: taking the annual pro test in the summer, at which only 20 will make it through to turn pro.
Photo: former Japanese B class insei Antti Törmänen of Finland 

Categories: U.S./North America

Life and Death and Middle Pair: Go, Poker and the Sublime

Tuesday October 30, 2012

(Gamasutra) There’s little doubt that music, literature, and film can all result in some incredibly meaningful works of art, but for whatever reason, the jury’s still out when it comes to games. Veteran game designer, Area/Code co-founder, and Zynga New York creative director Frank Lantz, however, believes wholeheartedly that games can be just as beautiful and meaningful as any other media, and at the 2011 Game Developers Conference, he explained how some of history’s oldest games demonstrate the real power of the medium.

“Games are something like music, literature, film,” Lantz said. “Games can be meaningful, beautiful in the way these other things are, but their meaning and beauty is actually quite different.”

But rather than looking at video games, Lantz turned his attention to go and poker, two games that have long since stood the test of time and have proven the power games can hold over their players. By examining what makes these games special, Lantz believes video game designers can have a batter grasp of what makes their craft meaningful.

“Understanding this particular kind of beauty is challenging, and it’s important, because if this really is the golden age of games then we, as developers, are its custodians and architects, inventors and guides. And we should understand how these things are beautiful in order to each more people and in order to create deeper, more valuable games,” he said.

Click here to see Lantz’ lucid and fascinating hour-long talk — which includes a terrific Powerpoint presentation, parts of which are useful as an introduction to the game of go.
- from the Gamasutra website; thanks to EJ reader Nick Prince for passing this along.

Categories: U.S./North America