Friday March 8, 2013
NJO Game Records? “Does anyone have access to the SGF for Andy Liu’s win over Mingming (Stephanie) Yin at the New Jersey Open?” asks EJ reader Robert P.
Due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts, top-board games were not broadcast or recorded this year; the E-Journal hopes to broadcast the NJO in 2014.
Folding Board Query: “I was wondering if you have any more info on these boards (Whence the Seattle Portable Set? 9/2/2012 EJ),” writes Sergio Miranda Elmaleh. “I am considering of buying one of these and I was wondering what the durability of the folding seam is.”
We never did get a response to the original report; if anyone has info, please email us at email@example.com and we’ll pass it along.
Sunday March 3, 2013
iPad/iPod/iPhone user alert: In “SGFs and iStuff” (2/1/13), I looked at some issues related to viewing sgf files on iPods, iPads and other mobile Apple products. I managed to confuse some readers, so please note that I was referring specifically to apps for mobile devices, not desktop-based software. One reader disagreed at some length with my conclusion favoring Smart Go Kifu (SGK) over EasyGo, so I took a closer look at the two apps. The reader raised some specific questions: What about when you’re recording a game and realize you skipped a pair of moves? How do you place un-numbered stones when setting up a problem? I found that both apps have these functions. He also offered a link to a review from last April with information that is, in some cases, incomplete or inaccurate. SGK actually does keep problem statistics, but only for one user (EasyGo can track multiple users.) SGK only imports one file at a time, but that file can contain many games or problems; just concatenate them into one file on your desktop, using software such as the freeware Kombilo. EasyGo does offer one unique feature — a “time line” type graph that shows where the next comment will be. You can test it in the free version if you like. On the other hand, SGK’s problem collection is better. I’ve been studying a lot of problems lately. I find it is the perfect time filler when you’re waiting in line, riding the train or otherwise briefly idle. If you guess the wrong answer in EasyGo, you get a big red X that tells you to try again. SGK’s response is more thorough. Your wrong move says “1?”, and the other side’s best response appears, so you can play out failed variations and see why they don’t work. (If you don’t even get a “1?”, you know you’re not even close.) When you’re right, your stone says “1!”, but you still have to finish the variation to get credit, and if you go wrong along the way, you’ll get a “?” to let you know, and you can play it out and see why. With so many other features — a playing engine, a collection of 40,000 pro game records and a “Guess Next Move” function , to name a few — SGK still seems clearly worth the higher price. When I’m finished studying SGK’s >2000 problems, I’ll probably pick up EasyGo too, for the problem collection; or I may just get one of the classic problem books that’s available through Smart Go. Or both.
- Roy Laird
Saturday February 23, 2013
“Is it possible to sign up for one email per week that has all the msgs concatenated together from the previous week?” wonders Bill Chiles.
Absolutely; just go to “UPDATE YOUR PROFILE” at the bottom of your E-Journal and select the frequency you prefer.
Friday February 22, 2013
“I am the go instructor for the Penn State University course mentioned in the article “Penn State Course Studying Go for Insight into Military, Cyber Threats” (2/20 EJ), writes Paul Wright. “The university press release was sent out with some incorrect information regarding myself and the name of the go club I represent. The correct name of the go club is ‘The Schlow Library Go Club’ and my role in the club is that of ‘Coordinator.’ The Schlow Library Go Club meets every Saturday at 1:30 in the Sun Room at Schlow Centre Region Library. For more information about the Schlow Library Go Club, please see our Sensei’s Library page.”
Sunday February 10, 2013
“There is a persistent problem with the thinking behind many go articles (The Spirit of Play: “I’m Stuck” 10/29/2012 EJ, for example),” writes Terry Benson. “Everyone eventually gets stuck at some level and can’t get higher. Their game might change, but it doesn’t get better. Whatever rank they are will be their high water mark. That’s go and that’s life. There are limits in our brains which we can test but not break.
“So anyone who plays only because they are ‘getting better’ sooner or later will stop playing. Hopefully, before they give up, they’ll realize that go is a great game with many types of puzzles to solve and a wonderful way to connect to other people. They’ll switch from ‘I have to get better’ to playing for the pure enjoyment of stones, wood, patterns, and the thrills of the contest.
“What we need in this country — and indeed in the world — are millions of people playing go the way millions play tennis or golf or run. Most of them will be duffers; 35 handicap golfers, 9-minute milers, and, in go, 25 kyus. And their level of play will seem horrid to ‘serious’ players. But they are playing and they should be encouraged to play simply for the joy of playing. If they are having fun in the confusion of 25 kyu – leave them alone, especially if they’re kids! We know how often a won game gets away, even from stronger players. In some ways the game is even more fun at 25 kyu because literally anything can happen.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get better or trying to learn something new. There are levels of play that some people will find more satisfying than others. But improvement is a short term rationale. It’s far better to fall in love with the game.”
Benson, a 1-dan, has been playing go for 52 years and has served as president of the American Go Association, Managing Editor of the American Go Journal and is currently President of the American Go Foundation. He directed the video/webcast of the International Go Symposium 2012, where he gave a talk on promotion of the game.
Tuesday February 5, 2013
“Regarding Roy Laird’s article, ‘SGFs and iStuff’ (2/1 EJ),” writes Eric Anderson. “Please — if you’re going to do a comparative product review, please spend the effort to investigate the features. Otherwise, you’re using your powerful and respected platform to spread casual (and misleading) opinions, and it’s really quite unfair to your readers. Specifically — ‘Seems worth the extra cost unless you really need to import large databases.’ Um, no. SmartGo Kifu is an excellent problem and game collection, combined with a Go playing engine. It includes a form of SGF editor; but that editor is not particularly suitable either for recording games or for constructing problems — at least, not compared to EasyGo, which is specifically (and very well) designed to do … SGF editing. Bulk file import and export is only one of the features you’d want in an SGF editor; other features include tree-editing capabilities (ever tried fixing a recording mistake in SmartGo Kifu?), problem editing (ever tried entering un-numbered initial conditions?), and variation analysis. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s an independent review. Although at first sight EasyGo looks like a close-cousin to SmartGo Kifu, it is not. They share a goal though: analyzing games, exploring variations and solving problems. But they focus on different sets of features, and work very different. That review — only six paragraphs long — is much more insightful and thorough, and helpful to readers, than your ‘Seems worth the extra cost…’”
“All that seemed necessary was to copy the linked-to sgf on the web page onto my desktop,” suggests Kirby Smith. “Then I could use the ‘edit’ mode of the KGS interface (CGoban3) to view it and its commentary. I recall that The Many Faces of Go will also open these. Thanks for your journal’s many interesting articles.”
A number of readers also suggested this solution, which works great for desktops, but Laird’s review was specifically referring to smartphone apps available for Apple products.
Thursday January 17, 2013
“I want an Android app for the smart go books!” writes Lee Frankel-Goldwater.
“I’d like an Android version for SmartGo Books too,” responds SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf. “And I keep getting requests from people for Android versions of SmartGo Books and SmartGo Kifu. However, when looking at the costs of maintaining another platform, both in $$$ and in time that could be spent improving the iOS apps, it’s not so clear. Several articles (The shocking toll of hardware and software fragmentation on Android development; Why we’ve decided to stop producing TNW Magazine for Android) highlight some issues with adding Android support. I’m not ruling out possible Android support in the future, but my current plan is to improve iOS support and add a Macintosh version before I consider adding any other platforms. Meanwhile, if you’re desperate for SmartGo Books, an iPad mini may be the ticket.”
Sunday January 6, 2013
“Recently I’ve discovered some information about programmers advocating go to their peers,” writes Steve Colburn, an IT professional and go organizer in Rochester, NY who’s also on the AGA website and EJ team. “The first one is a video from the Game Developers Conference in which Frank Lantz from the NYU Game Center gives a talk about Life and Death and Middle Pair: Go, Poker, and the Sublime (reported in the 10/30 EJ). The second part is part of the Clojure community. The head of the community Rich Hickey advocates the playing of go to people who code in this language. I know of a few active Clojure programmers (Eidogo and IGS programmers) who are all go players. At this year’s Clojure Conj, Zach Tellman gave a talk about Playing Go with Clojure right before the keynote. It’s great to hear go being publicized like this to our peers and those who do not know about go.”
Wednesday January 2, 2013
In a December 29 NPR story about differences between the way that the West and the East think about the process of intellectual struggle, Planet Money correspondent Robert Smith (r) notes that “I learned how to play the board game Go…And one of the things they tell you right at the beginning is to lose your first 50 games quickly; that the whole notion of learning this game is to start by losing a lot. And it reminds me a little bit of this, this theory that it’s going to happen, so you need to embrace that. That is the important part.” Click here to hear the story: NPR Reporters On The Stories That Stuck In 2012; the story — by science correspondent Alix Spiegel – begins at 1:05 and Smith’s comment is at 2:45. Thanks to Eric Osman for passing this along.
Friday December 14, 2012
“I have every issue of Go World except the newest one,” writes Debbie Siemon. “I learned go in 1982 when I was 25 and was addicted right away. I used to lay out my Go Worlds on the rug in our condo and look at the colorful artistic covers (yes I was really in love with the game) When Tim and I read The Go Burglar by William Pinckard in the autumn 1986 issue (GW 45) we loved it and often quoted the theme when talking to other new or old go players. We could relate to the idea of being so immersed in the game that really nothing else mattered. You could burn the carpet or tell a burglar to sit down and make himself at home. When I saw the ‘Favorite Go World Story Contest’ (“My Favorite Go World Story” Contest Announced 11/26 EJ), I thought of that story immediately. Then I was happy to see that issue 45 is available as a sample from the American Go Foundation. I am sure all go players will enjoy the article. I have always loved getting my Go Worlds in the mail or at the Congress. I will miss it. I am glad we still have our E-Journal to catch up on our daily go news.”