American Go E-Journal » Your Move: Readers Write

Your Move/Readers Write: How Do You Study Pro Games?

Tuesday January 20, 2015

How Do You Study Pro Games? “We often hear ‘study professional games to help you improve,’” writes Eric Osman. “But how do you actually do that in practice?” Osman says he plays through pro games on his phone.  “At each move, I think for a few seconds about what move I’d make next, then I click to see what the professional did.  If the professional’s move differs from mine, I try to see if I can think of a reason the professional’s choice was better than mine.” Osman is a KGS 2k/AGA 2d living in Amherst, MA who’s been playing go since 1976. Send your suggestions/comments to


Your Move/Readers Write: Enjoying Inseong Hwang’s School

Sunday January 18, 2015

Enjoying Inseong Hwang’s School: “I signed up for January for Inseong Hwang’s school on KGS, the Yunguseng Dojang, and am much enjoying it,” Bob Gilman writes. “Inseong Hwang, Korean 8D, is an excellent teacher with a gift for explaining ideas and game situations clearly. There are now six leagues of six players each in the American section with strengths ranging from 4d to double digit kyu. I highly recommend this for players with a serious interest in developing their skills and enjoyment of the game.”
Correction: this post has been updated to reflect that Inseong Hwang is an 8-dan amateur, not 8P.


Your Move/Readers Write: Where are the AGA Pro Game Records?

Thursday January 15, 2015

Where are the AGA Pro Game Records? “Isn’t it great having these Qualification tournaments?” writes Jean de Maiffe. “I love seeing our2015.01.15_pro-game-grid young go players battling it out for the honors and opportunities these tournaments provide. One disappointment, though: the text says ‘Click here for results and game records’ but clicking there only provides results. The results are thrilling and all that, and I wouldn’t want to miss them, but I am yearning for the game records.”
To see the games on the tournament results page, just click on the underlined result (e.g. “B+7.5” under Eric Lui) and an sgf viewer will open up with the game record.  


Your Move/Readers Write: Stop & Go; Winning Question; Gato Go

Monday December 22, 2014

Stop & Go: “While not really a spotting of a game of go, this photo (at right) does remind a player to STOP by the local club,” says Ted Terpstra. 2014.12.22_Go-stop-sign

2014.12.22_Ecuadoran-cat-goWinning Question: “I’ve often wondered why tournament winners get the books,” writes Eric Osman. “Don’t the losers need them more?” 

Gato Go: “This photo (left) is from the Facebook page of one of the Ecuadorian players I met in Quito,” writes Bob Gilman.


Your Move/Readers Write: An IBM CTO Responds to Scottish Neural Network

Saturday December 20, 2014

“It’s interesting to read about the work of University of Edinburgh to use machine learning to improve the level of playing in computers, (Scottish Neural Network Takes Computer Go to Next Level 12/16/2014 EJ)” writes Nin Lei, Distinguished Engineer and CTO, Analytics and Big Data, STG IBM Systems and Technology Group. “However, the title in their article creates an impression that their research is creating a program that can beat the best human players. If their probability of guessing their next move is only 44%, then their chance of guessing it wrong is 56%.  In a sequence of 10 moves, the chance of getting the complete sequence correctly is 0.44 ** 10, which is a very small number.” Noting that checkers “has been solved via machine learning,” Lei says that “it appears it is promising for go as well.” But because machine learning predicates that there is a pattern in the underlying data set, Lei warns that “it could be so complex that machine learning can only attain a certain level of accuracy.  It seems to me a program needs to have very high level of accuracy before it can play a good game at strong human level.” Lei also says that “Since machine learning is based on pattern recognition, I wonder if a professional can trick the program by using moves that may not be optimally locally but will create patterns that the program has not seen before. I applaud the work they are doing,” Lei concludes. “It is innovative by using a different approach than the existing strong computer programs.  It will be interesting to find out if someday they can come up with an algorithm that can improve the accuracy significantly.”
12/22: the chance of getting the complete sequence correctly has been corrected to 0.44 ** 10 (from 0.56).



Your Move/Readers Write: Bender Case Covered by “48 Hours”

Thursday October 2, 2014

The mysterious death of John Bender, the Philadelphia go player who died under suspicious circumstances in 2010 (In Memoriam 10/10/2013)2014.10.02_John-Bender was the subject of the September 27 edition of “48 Hours,” reports Phil Straus, who taught Bender to play go in the mid-1980’s. In “Paradise Lost” correspondent Susan Spencer investigates “How did a Wall Street millionaire end up shot dead in his bedroom?” Bender’s go-playing is not mentioned, although his prowess at poker is.
photo: John Bender, lecturing on the importance of plans and ideas, and how unimportant details and final results are, at the 1987 US Go Congress, Mt. Holyoke College, Massachusetts. photo by Phil Straus


Your Move/Readers Write: Diamond Go Salon Not Just for Women

Thursday September 25, 2014

“In your recent article (Your Move/Readers Write: Where to Play Go in Japan 9/13 EJ), Devin Flake states that the Diamond Go Salon is 2014.09.22_Diamond-Go-Salon‘mainly for women,’” writes” Adam Harding. “I am a long term member of that salon and I would say that DIS (Diamond Igo Salon) is not as much ‘mainly for women,’ but more for young and middle-aged players. The salon owners do run a monthly ‘Igo for women’ session which is for women only.” Harding says that Diamond’s other strong points include “a strong connection to the professional world; the owner runs her program on the Igo/Shogi channel; the atmosphere is that of a high-class wine bar instead of smoky back-room, with drinks and food available and the age range of players is about 20-50 on Wednesdays and Fridays instead of 40-60 as seems to be at most other places.” While Harding says DIS “is most slightly more expensive,” he notes that membership brings the entrance price down to that of other salons.” Click here for DIS lesson and Go Circle information and the club’s instructor listing (all in Japanese).


Your Move/Readers Write: Going With The Flow

Thursday September 18, 2014

“You mention that you’re looking for a January 2002 article about go by Katy Kramer (Go Spotting: Northeastern University Magazine 6/7 2014.09.16_GoWithTheFlow-amsterdamEJ),” writes Harald Zellerer. “I really liked that article also and republished it on the website of the Amsterdam Go Club.” Click here to read “Go: With the Flow.”

Bob Joyce also sent us a copy of the article, noting that “featured is Sangit Chatterjee, who authored Cosmic Go, Galactic Go, and provided game commentaries for the book Go! More Than a Game by Peter Shotwell.  He describes the game’s complexity as ‘Go is like six chessboards joined together, with all six games happening at the same time.’” Joyce extended special thanks to Joan Lynch, Managing Editor, Marketing and Communications, Northeastern University,who provided a copy of the article.
Editor’s Note: This terrific article would make an excellent handout for local clubs to beginners or at public events.


Your Move/Readers Write: More Thoughts on the High/Low Brow Matrix

Tuesday September 16, 2014

History is Not Offensive: “Regarding the ‘offensive’ qualities of the ‘Highbrow’ item (Your Move/Readers Write: High/Low Brow 2014.09.16_Patton_speaking_with_Lt._Col._Lyle_Bernard,_at_Brolo,_circa_1943Matrix Offensive 9/14 EJ), I’d like to rebut on behalf of the long-gone authors,” writes Peter St. John. “The thesis, which I believe was new in that era, is that appreciation of, and interest in, higher levels of abstraction is ‘high-brow’.  Go is more abstract than chess in the sense of being a level further removed from physical combat, the way Eisenhower immersed in logistics was a level removed from George Patton deploying tanks, who was several levels removed from the gunner pulling a trigger.” St. John also notes that “At the time of the article [1949] the only places to find go in America would be in the math and physics departments of universities. My dad learned, around that time, in a science laboratory from a mimeograph of a German article, because German scholars collaborated with Japanese scholars after the Russo-Japanese 2014.09.16_PoloHorsewar. I urge people not to be offended by history. We can learn from it, not in the sense of learning from an Authority but in the sense of learning from an Experience. The grid is a bit of history.”

Celebrating Progress: Noah Doss agrees, saying that the matrix “simply records historically the type of people who, in the time period observed in the matrix, were most fascinated with go.” He goes on to say that “Nowadays, go is not, in America, a game of the elite, but just because modern man has made some progress in quashing these societal imbalances in some respects doesn’t mean we need be offended by the fact that they once existed. I truly believe go is for everyone and, to be honest, if it was the way of polo or lacrosse in that everyone I met playing go had a trust fund, I would probably not love it so much, coming from a dirty farm town and an undersized stucco house. At a point in time, go was ‘highbrow’ but I think we should honor the fact that it used to be ‘highbrow’ and now we, as a society, have fixed that problem.”


Your Move/Readers Write: High/Low Brow Matrix Offensive

Sunday September 14, 2014

“I am probably in a very small minority on this topic, but I found the ‘High Brow – Low Brow’ matrix (Go Spotting: A “Highbrow” Game in 2014.09.14_NYT-highbrow-cropped1949  9/6/2014 EJ) extremely offensive,” writes Gordon Castanza. “As with almost all pseudo sociology that passes as junk science, this crap is another example. Go, if anything is classless, colorblind, and non-age-specific. Besides, the entire matrix applies to any number of people at any given time. Glenmorangie Taghta can be enjoyed by anyone (of legal drinking age); it also knows no class, income level, working condition, color of one’s skin, or country of origin. I know you’re trying to show go in the most positive light possible, and I’ve enjoyed the ‘Go Spotting’ feature in the past. However, to have some C-grade sociologist put go, or any other human endeavor, into a hierarchical range is just plain stupid and intellectually dishonest.”