American Go E-Journal » World

Pause the Clock: Reflections on Ryan Li’s historic victory

Thursday June 29, 2017

by Keith L. Arnold, hka2017.06.28_ryan-li

The American Go Association has come a long way since I first became active in 1985. In those days the place to be was on the East Coast with far more events and tournaments. But now, we have wonderful broadcasts of top professional games, and if you live on the East Coast, as I do, they don’t start until 1:30 in the morning, making the West Coast the place to be. Bleary-eyed bitterness aside, it is a great time to be a Western go fan, with access to world news, live streaming events and global opponents as close as your nearest screen.

Having just finished my Kickstarter download of “The Surrounding Game” documentary, which focuses its wonderful introduction to the world of go on the birth of our professional system, being confronted almost immediately with Ryan Li 1P’s victory over two-time world champion Chen Yaoye 9p last week was pure serendipity. There is a moment in the film where I express my skepticism about our pro system effort. I should explain, as I swallow some crow, that my main objection was always concern that we could not provide our new pros a living. I would sarcastically urge players to “keep your day job” at meetings when the topic came up, but I should confess that I also had concerns about how strong our pros would be.

Now, as we celebrate Ryan’s win, it’s a good time to take a moment to appreciate the route we have taken to get here, and why this is such an amazing accomplishment. Those of us used to the bullet train of the modern internet go world might benefit from a little history from the guy still riding the rusty bus several stops behind.

For decades, American players had no chance to play a professional at all, certainly not in a serious game. Apart from occasional, usually Japanese, pro tours, we could only look at their game records, on paper, received months after the games were played. We s2017.06.28_ryan-li-close-uptudied, and we played as much as we could – usually once a week at our local clubs.

The US Go Congress was the first change. Beginning in 1985, American go players, at least for a week, once a year, could grab a simul or three from professional go players. But this only made the gap seem all the more vast. In 1986 at the first Seattle Go Congress, our strongest player Charles Huh played Sakata 9 dan in a two stone one-on-one exhibition game. Sakata, one of the greatest players in history, was no longer at his peak form, yet Huh was helpless at two stones, and that was with Sakata outside most of the time on smoking breaks.

In the 1990s, Western players started to have chances to play professionals in serious matches during the annual Fujitsu Qualifiers. Still the gap seemed evident – as Michael Redmond 9P played for a decade without a loss to an amateur player. But the 1990s also brought the internet. Access to news, sgfs, opponents and unlimited chances to play began to increase the Western level of play. While I do not mean to diminish the efforts of our early professional teachers — Feng Yun, Yilun Yang, Zhujiu Jiang, Ming-jiu Jiang, James Kerwin and others — the steady shrinking of time and distance provided by the internet has broadened, amplified and, arguably, exceeded their efforts.

More and more opportunities to play pros arrived, and Western players started to win. On the one hand, I do not think this was a matter of percentages — more games does not guarantee more wins — I think we were actually getting stronger. However, the wins were often against non-active pros, certainly not against current top international players.

All that changed last week. In a serious international event, a Western pro defeated, not just a pro, not just a 9 dan, but a 9 dan world champion in his prime. It is an accomplishment for Western go that is simply unequaled. Before this week, I would argue that our greatest accomplishment was Eric Lui’s third place in the World Amateur Championship. We cannot forget the significant accomplishments of Michael Redmond 9P, but because he trained in Japan, I submit that Redmond’s success is the success of a Westerner, not the success of Western go.

Ryan Li 1P, homegrown and homemade, has announced to the world that we are more than a grateful recipient of support and a vacation opportunity; we are now a force to be reckoned with. We also owe an enormous debt of thanks to Myungwan Kim 9 dan.  Without his vision, help and guidance we would not have been able to put Ryan where he clearly deserved to be.

a western pebble
slung across the mighty seas
brings down a champion


photos courtesy Ryan Li

 

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Internet World Amateur Go Tournament now accepting registration

Friday June 23, 2017

The longest-running internet tournament, the 22nd Pandanet Internet World Amateur Go Tournament (IWAG) is now accepting registrations. The free registration requires the player to have an established rank on Pandanet, which is established after playing 20 games there.  Depending on their playing strengths, the players are divided into five groups.  First-round winners are selected from Asia, Americas, and Europe by a 2:1:1 ration to play a knock-out tournament in the higher rounds.  Generous prizes are provided.
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WAGC Update: Only China remains undefeated

Tuesday June 6, 2017

by Thomas Hsiang, special correspondent to the E-Journal2017.06.07-wagc-hq

The morning’s round 5 was highlighted by an exciting game between China and DPR Korea, won by China with the smallest margin of 0.5 point.  US rep Danny Ko lost to Cornel Burzo and fell to the 2-loss group.  Japan’s Sakata Shusaku has been playing well since he lost in the second round.  He met Hong Kong’s Chan Naisan and played a strong game from the start, giving his opponent no real chance of coming back.

In the afternoon, the top game was China vs. Korea. Because of the large number of spectators, the playing area had to be screened off by a “chair wall”.  The game lasted well after all other games had finished and remained close.  But in the end, Korea made a yose mistake and had to resign.  Japan defeated Romania and sent Burzo to two losses.  Russia’s veteran Dmitry Surin defeated Czech Lukas Podpera to remain the only 1-loss Western player.  Danny Ko played Thailand’s Vorawat Tanapatsopol and fell behind by quite a bit late in the game and had also entered his last period of 30-second byo-yomi. But Ko played a well-designed whole-board yose trap to overtake his opponent.  When his opponent resigned, Danny Ko had played his last sixty or so moves within the last byo-yomi period.
Entering the last two rounds tomorrow, the picture is clearer.  Having won all his games, China’s Bai Baoxiang has the championship in his control.  There are five countries at one-loss: Japan, Korea, DPR Korea, Taiwan, and Russia.  These six will play each other in round 7: China vs. Russia, Korean vs. Taiwan, and Japan vs. DPR Korea.

photo: WAGC headquarters hotel; Guiyang Sheraton set next to a large Ming-dynasty temple
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Players needed to test online go and chess tournament site

Monday June 5, 2017

The Mindsports Academy is seeking play-testers for their online playing program. The Academy was created in 2013 by Mindsports 2017.06.03_Mindsports Academy MindsportsInternational in an effort to respond to growing demand for organized Mindsports events. The Mindsports Academy membership gives individuals and clubs the opportunity to become part of a worldwide network of players participating both online and in live evens. The Mindsports program includes games like chess, Scrabble, Magic: The Gathering, and, of course, go.
As part of their program, Go and Chess Tournaments are now running online, and they’re looking for players to help test the site. In return for playing and giving feedback to the developers, players will be given free “shields,” an item needed to play in the sportsroom. Feedback should be sent to jgeeser@mindsportsinternational.com along with your screen name so as to be credited with rewards for participation.
- edited by Noah Doss
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WAGC Day 1 Report: Early strong pairings

Sunday June 4, 2017

by Thomas Hsiang, special correspondent to the E-Journal2017.06.04_wagc-danny-ko

The pairing for WAGC this year, as in 2016, uses a Chinese algorithm that does not pre-order the players. Therefore some early strong pairings have already taken place on the first day.  In round 1, Japanese 7D Sakamoto Shusaku met with South Korean Lee Sangbin, with Lee winning a tough match.  In the second round, Taiwanese representative 7D Lai Yucheng lost to Czech 7D Lukas Podpera by 2.5 points, producing the first major upset.  US representative Danny Ko fought a difficult battle with German Lukas Kraemer and achieved a 2-0 result.  After the game, former world champion Yoo Changhuh reviewed the game for the players in great detail and Danny said that he felt like he had improved from the review.  He will need the extra strength as he prepares to meet Chinese Bai Baoxiang in the third round.  Bai has won the WAGC once previously already.  Canadian representative Yujie Gong lost in the second round to long-time Polish mainstay Leszek Soldan and was 1-1 going into the second day.  Other players who drew special interest include the DPR Korea player Jin Ungri who, although listed only as 4D, defeated a number of famous North Korean players to emerge as the country’s first representative to WAGC in several years; the 12-year old Vo Duyminh from Vietnam and the 72-year old Zoran Mutabzija from Croatia, who the youngest and oldest players respectively.  Jin easily won his first two games so far, while the other two were both 1-1 with Vo given a forfeiture after he misread the schedule and was late by 25 minutes in the first round.  In the third round, the strongest pairings include Danny Ko vs. Bai Baoxiang, Russian Dmitry Surin vs. Lee Sangbin, and Hong Kong 7D Chan Naisan vs. Austrian Victor Lin.

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IGF meetings kick off 38th World Amateur Go Championship in Guiyang, China

Saturday June 3, 2017

by Thomas Hsiang, special correspondent to the E-JournalThe 38th World Amateur Go Championship is being held at the five-star Guiyang Sheraton Hotel in downtown Guiyang, China.  On June 3, the first day, the International Go Federation held its annual Board and General Assembly meetings.  A number of important announcements were made by Chairman Chang Zhenming, president and chairman of CITIC 2017.06.03_wahc-igc-mtgSecurities, Inc:
  • The next three WAGC’s will be held in Tokyo May 2-9, 2018; in Matsue City of the Shimane Perfecture in 2019; and in Vladevostok, Russia, in 2020.  Maxim Volkov, president of Russian Go Federation, was on hand to celebrate the announcement.
  • IGF will host the “CITIC Securities Cup” – the First International Artificial Intelligence Go Open – on August 16-17, 2017, in the City of Ordos of Inner Mongolia, China.  16 programs will be entered into the competition from over the world.  Generous prizes will be provided.
  • IGF offers a $20,000 grant to support the First Latin America Go Congress, to be held October 12-16, 2017 in Cancun, Mexico.
  • The Second IMSA Elite Mind Games, participated by IGF, will be held December 8-16, 2017 in Huai’an City, China.  This event will continue at least through 2019.
  • The 2017 Pair Go World Cup will be held August 7-10, 2017 in Tokyo.
  • A new member, the Republic of Georgia, was admitted and is now the 77th member of IGF.
Mr. Hiroaki Dan, chairman of Nihon Kiin and vice president of IGF, made the proposal for IGF to take on surveying and building up go instructional materials for schools.  The proposal was approved unanimously by the Board and will become a priority for IGF in the next few years.  Chairman Chang made the following declaration on behalf of IGF: “In recognition of the benefit of Go in the development of intelligence and character of youths, IGF will promote Go education in schools by surveying its members for existing Go educational materials worldwide, followed by sponsoring studies that consolidate these materials to build systematic educational content and pedagogy.  We welcome active participation from IGF members.”
Mr. Chang also called on IGF to take up studies to work toward a universal ruleset and to establish a universal rating system.
After the General Assembly, the traditional ceremony to draw pairing was held.  In the evening, a lavish dinner banquet concluded the busy day.  Tomorrow the first two rounds of competition will be held.
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“Surrounding Game” launches screenings worldwide

Thursday May 25, 2017

“The Surrounding Game” is coming to a theater near you! The documentary team has just announced a summer lineup of screenings in major2017.05.24_ScreeningTourList cities across the US and Europe. The screening tour includes stops in: Toronto (6/10), San Francisco (6/10-11), Boston (6/28), New York City (6/29), Barcelona (7/07), The International Chess & Games Festival in Pardubice, Czech Republic (7/14), Berlin (7/18), Amsterdam (7/20), the European Go Congress in Oberhof, Germany (7/24), and the US Go Congress in San Diego, CA (8/05).

2017.05.24_surrounding-24x36-laurels_smallTickets are on sale now and the filmmakers urge those interested to “get yours now before they sell out!”

If you don’t see your city on the list, don’t worry – you can sign up to host a screening in your community. The film is now available to screen in theaters and community spaces. “We’re offering two options for volunteers to host a screening on their own” explains director/producer Will Lockhart. “ If you have a venue in mind, you can order a community screening pack, which will provide all the tools to host a successful event. Or, if you’re keen on getting the film to play in a local theater, you can sign up with our partners at Tugg. If you gets enough RSVPs, they’ll arrange to put the film in a local theater.” The team reports that several community screenings hosted by local go groups are already in the works.

“We’ve gotten a really positive response from non-players so far,” says producer Cole Pruitt, “and we feel this is the best way to share Go with people outside the community – by not just teaching the game, but telling a story. So if your club is looking for a way to bring more people in, I encourage you to host! I believe this is our chance to bring the world of go to the world at large.”

If your club wants to host a screening of the film, click here or contact the team directly at screenings@surroundinggamemovie.com.

photos: Berlin venue, San Francisco venue, film poster

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Categories: Go Art,World
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Internet 13×13 Amateur World Go Championship registration opens

Wednesday May 10, 2017

A very unusual online world championship is now accepting registrations. Pandanet — in cooperation with the Kansai Kiin — is holding the 2017.05.11-13x13-tourneyInternet 13×13 Amateur World Go Championship. The winner in the Main class will earn the right to play a game with Hirofumi Ohashi 6-dan (13×13 Net game). Registration is free, deadline is May 22, 2017.

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4th Mind Sports Championship to be held this August

Tuesday May 2, 2017

The Qatari Tourism Authority and the Mind Sports Academy will co-host the 4th Mind Sports Championship this August in 2017.05.02_qatar-mindsportsDoha, Qatar, writes Michael Fodera. In addition to go, the event features scrabble, chess, and E-sports.

The go portion of the event has a similar structure to the US and European Go Congresses, including a week-long main tournament from 9a to 1p each day, with a break in the middle of the week for a 3-round Diehard Tournament. Pro workshops, lectures, and simultaneous games are held in the afternoons, with evening activities featuring a 9×9, 13×13, blitz, and pair go tournaments. An Awards Ceremony will be held at the end of the tournament, featuring over $40,000 in cash and prizes. Click here for a full schedule and registration details.
“If you’re a diehard go player, a fan of a variety of Mind Sports, or even just looking for a new travel destination, this event has you covered,” says Fodera. For questions about the event, contact Fodera at mdf116@gmail.com.
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A few spots left for 2017 International Collegiate Go Tournament

Friday April 28, 2017

The Ing Foundation is hosting the 2017 International Collegiate Go Tournament in Bangkok, Thailand from July 7th through 13th, writes Michael Fodera. The event is open to any current, future, or recently graduated college student attending school sometime in 2017. Room, board, tours, and travel costs incurred during the event will be covered by the Ing foundation. The student is responsible for getting to and from the tournament site, and is expected to cover any personal expenses.
Full tournament schedule and registration can be found here.
There are still a few spots open for the event, but the registration deadline is quickly approaching.
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Categories: World,Youth
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