Tuesday September 16, 2014
History is Not Offensive: “Regarding the ‘offensive’ qualities of the ‘Highbrow’ item (Your Move/Readers Write: High/Low Brow Matrix 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  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 war. 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.”
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 1949 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.”
Thursday September 4, 2014
Correcting the Games Database: “I checked out the AGA game database from a recent E-Journal (AGA Game Database Test Version Online 8/12 EJ) and really liked it!” wrote Shawn Ligocki. “But I noticed that a tournament I participated in seems to be double counted. I went 4-0, so maybe I shouldn’t complain.” We got a number of emails like this, pointing out various errors in the database. Thanks for flagging these; the programmers are working to update and correct the American Go Association Game Database (AGAGD). Comments and corrections should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for Japan Go Tips: “I will be traveling to Japan next spring,” writes Ben Bernstein. “Do you have any advice, or can you point me to a source of information (about where to play go)?” He’s specifically interested in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto; email your tips to email@example.com
Sunday August 24, 2014
Where’s the 2015 Go Congress? “I’ve heard that the next Congress will be in Seattle or in Minneapolis,” writes Wayne Nelson. “Which is it?”
St Paul/Minneapolis, AKA the Twin Cities: see 2015 Congress Website Launches 8/14 EJ.
Wednesday August 6, 2014
Congress Player Profiles a Big Help: “I have really been enjoying reading the go player profiles (US Go Congress Player Profiles: Chen, Liang, Lee & Chiu 8/4 EJ, & US Go Congress Player Profiles: Sun, Ko, Koh, Lin, Teng & Ye 8/5 EJ) for the upcoming Go Congress,” writes Dennis Wheeler. “It’s really going to help me get a better idea of who these top level US players are as I watch their games.”
It’s going to help him as a Congress game recorder for the EJ, too; watch for our live broadcasts starting Saturday afternoon with the Pandanet-AGA City League Finals and then the US Open starting Sunday morning.
More Clossius! “The Clossius commentary (Clossius in the Land of Baduk: At Home Abroad 8/5 EJ) was great,” writes Chris Uzal. “I hope that is not the last one.”
We’re pleased to welcome Shawn Ray as a regular EJ contributor; look for his next column soon!
Friday July 18, 2014
“I said for decades that I did not think I would ever be beaten by a computer playing go,” writes Phil Straus 2D in response to Go Spotting: IEEE Spectrum 7/16 EJ. “I was wrong. I was first beaten by a computer program on KGS sometime in the last two years. Laurence Sigmond and I watched Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov at the Philadelphia Convention Center in 1997. To pass the time between moves we, of course, brought a go board. I showed the go board to Hans Berliner, one of the iconic chess programmers. He looked at it, and just shook his head. He said ‘maybe in 20 years.’ I was even more pessimistic. Go looked impossible in 1997. We were both wrong.”
Straus is a former president of the American Go Association. photo: Rémi Coulom and Crazy Stone. Photo: Takashi Osato/WIRED
Wednesday July 2, 2014
Impressive Ge: “7 Dan is impressive,” writes Chris Uzal about our profile of Canada’s Yongfei Ge (2014 WAGC Player Profiles: Americas & Oceania 6/29 EJ). “Playing go in the womb is even more impressive: ‘Yongfei Ge 7D is a 30-year-old software architect from Scarborough. He’s been playing for 30 years…’”
That would be impressive indeed! In fact, Ge is 45 and has been playing since he was 15.
Looking for Spanish Go News: Uzal also asks “Where can I find go news in Spanish? I work for a local Spanish newspaper. I have enough influence to get go stories published. I’d like to see more on the Latin American players.”
Send your tips on where to find go news in Spanish to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it along.
Thursday June 26, 2014
Nauseating Profiles: “Reading the journal is part of my morning routine,” writes Chris Uzal. “Most of the time it is interesting, sometimes it’s not. Can’t win them all, of course. One of your articles today crossed over into the nauseous zone. This morning’s article about “player profiles” (2014 WAGC Player Profiles: Asia 6/24 EJ) is easily among the dumbest stories I’ve ever read. You want to inspire kids to play go? Articles like this is certainly not how you do it.”
Sorry you didn’t like the profiles; our intention is simply to introduce EJ readers to the players who will be competing at the upcoming WAGC, which we’ll be covering in greater depth starting at the end of next week. Thanks for taking the time to respond!
Clarifying Calculated Mistakes: “Just a quick reply to Michael Redmond’s comments on the Chess Life article!” (Michael Redmond 9P on “Calculated Errors” 6/24 EJ) writes Ed Scimia of About Chess. “I’m a lifelong chess player, and I can clarify a couple things that Michael brought up in his commentary. His concept of ‘calculated mistakes’ does exist in chess endgames as well: it is, of course, much easier for humans to play simplifying moves to reach an endgame situation they are certain is a win than to play the ‘perfect’ line according to a computer or deep human analysis (which may be much more complex and therefore tactically dangerous). In chess, nobody would consider those “sub-optimal” moves to be errors either, as long as they clearly lead to a win. In these situations, though, a player would be said to be winning by much more than a half-pawn. That advantage is enough to say that one player’s position is slightly better, but not enough to be certain they can actually win with best play from both sides (remember that in chess, a draw is a common and natural outcome for many games). I hope that helps!”
Tuesday June 24, 2014
“The Chess Life article (Your Move/Readers Write: ‘Catching Chess Cheaters’ 6/23 EJ) says that ‘One interesting statistic is that players make 60 percent to 90 percent more errors when half a pawn ahead or behind compared to when the game is even,’” writes Michael Redmond 9P.
“How would you compare half a pawn in chess to a point advantage in go? I don’t know how big an advantage that is for chess masters, but I think that Regan’s observation that the players’ assessment of a game position — and the assumed emotional value — is affecting their ability to think is also true of go players, but to a lesser extent, depending on how big a half pawn is.”
“The article seems to imply that while the player at a disadvantage might have reason to play a high-risk/high-reward move, the winning player must try to play the correct move always. He uses this reasoning to conclude that the players are actually making errors. I suppose that chess, being a race to kill, does not allow for calculated mistakes, but this seems to be less true of go, and could indicate a difference in the endgame stage of the two games.”
“In go, there can be calculated ‘errors’ by the player with an advantage. As a go game nears its end, the leading player can often calculate a win without playing the optimum moves. My opinion is that top go players will sometimes choose technically incorrect moves when 2.5 points ahead, a calculated choice to simplify the game. Such calculated ‘mistakes’ by the winning player are usually minor, and two to three mistakes can add up to a one point loss in actual play when compared to the correct endgame sequence. Anything more than that is probably a ‘real’ mistake.”
photo: Redmond at the 2010 WAGC; photo by John Pinkerton
Monday June 23, 2014
“Chess Life recently published a fascinating article, ‘Catching Chess Cheaters’ centered on using computers and statistics to detect cheating in chess,” writes John Pinkerton. “It covers many related topics of interest to go players such as rating inflation, comparing players of different generations, the statistics of move quality, and computational complexity theory. One interesting statistic is that players make 60 percent to 90 percent more errors when half a pawn ahead or behind compared to when the game is even. It’s believed to be a cognitive effect, not the result of high-risk/high-reward play, because it’s seen in both the player ahead and the player behind.” Graphic courtesy Chess Life; cover photography by Luke Copping