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Two Weeks at the Lee Sedol Baduk Academy: Van Tran’s Journal (#1)

Sunday November 6, 2011

Sixteen-year-old Van Tran spent two weeks in South Korea at the Lee Sedol Baduk Academy earlier this year and sent the E-Journal his report, which will appear over the next few weeks. The high school junior lives in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas, has been playing for two and a half years and is “about 3 dan.”

July 5: Today is my first day of Go School. This is a very weird experience. I can’t understand anything that other people are saying, but somehow I feel like I have learned a lot about go today. The Koreans are very strong and I like the general Korean style that most people play. They like thickness very much and they like to fight aggressively. It amazes me how dedicated these kids are to go. Every day they have formal go study for 12 hours and then when they get back ome they study until 11PM when they go to sleep. Most of the people here my age are 9-dan and are aspiring professionals. It surprises me the gap in skill between a 9-dan and a 1-dan professional. There are even some 9-dans that aren’t inseis because they are weaker than the other 9-dans. There are many 9-dans who are very strong, but only a few become professional every year. A bit of food for thought is that these kids are able to give their all just for a small chance of becoming a  professional. They seem to live in a closed world of go. If they have free time they study go and they eat while they look at top go player’s statistics for “fun.” I lost all my games today even though I am playing with their very young students.

July 6: I woke up today with a terrible backache from sleeping on the floor. There are about 20 kids who are all exceptional at go staying in the headmaster’s apartment. They are all 3-dan and higher. Though most of them are 9-dans, the lowest-ranked out of the Koreans is a little kid I think about 6 who is a solid 3-dan. I have started to specialize my study in Korean Go to hangmae, a Korean technique which means the flow of stones. I find it to be somewhat similar to tesuji which applies many odd fighting shapes. It really helps with fighting and simplifies reading because hangmae acts as a bookmark leading to a favorable result. Today I lost all my games as well. It‘s a bit frustrating to lose all your games to little kids. To be continued next week…
Photo: Headmaster playing a serious go game with a student.

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Categories: World,Youth
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News from the Shanghai Go Camp

Monday July 11, 2011

Antonio Egea has reported back from the Shanghai Go Camp, which is currently underway in China. After two weeks of daily go training, at Shanghai International Studies University, the participants are ready for their next challenge. “It looks like the tough part will start now,” says Egea, “we are going to Hangzhou to receive training with the local go students.” Participants have also had time for some sight-seeing. They’ve visited The Bund – a world famous section of Zhongshan Road in Shanghai – and also  Zhou Zhuang, which Egea describes as “a Venice-like city”.

Based on Antonio’s report, direct from Shanghai Go Camp at Go Game Guru. Photo: Go Camp participants enjoy dinner together at a hot pot restaurant.

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Categories: World
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Zhirui Yang 6D Wins 15th Jujo Jiang Youth Goe Cup

Monday March 28, 2011

More than 120 young players turned out for the 15th annual Jujo Jiang Cup Youth Goe tournament last Sunday at the Chinese Culture Center in Sunnyvale, California. The players were all under the age of 21 and ranged in strength from 6 dan to 29 kyu. Zhirui Yang 6 dan, a visitor student from Jilin province, China, led the A division by winning all his games, while local player Aaron Ye 3 dan took 2nd, losing only to Yang.  With a growing go population in the Bay Area, the event also drew local news media, including KTSF26, the World Journal, and SingTao Daily, for onsite reporting. In the 19×19 division, players were divided into nine different groups from Group A (6-3 dan) to Group I (26 – 29 kyu) according to players’ strength. With the goal of prompting interest in go among little children, the tourney also had special 13 x13  board division which attracted 50 beginners around age of 5 or 6.  Trophies were awarded to 1 to 4th place winners for each group and the first six winners of each group could choose their prize a selection of offerings.
Winner’s Report: 19 x 19 Board: Group A (6D-3D): Zhirui Yang, Aaron Ye, Justin Shieh Group B (3D – 2D) Henry Zhang, Daniel Liu, Jeremy Chiu Group C (1D – 5k): Larry Qu, April Ye, Albert Chao Group D(6k-12k): Alan Hwang, Jonathan Ta, Peiken Tien Group E(13k – 16k): Patrick Wang, Eric Liu, Benson Lin Group F(17k-23k): Dyson Ye, Bryan Tan, Ryan Tang Group G(24k-25k): Allison Hwang, Jason Chu, Raymond Chen Group H(26k-29k): Jonathan Mi, Victor Chen, Samantha Meng Group I(26k-29k): David Huang, Jeffrey Mi, Brandan Chu  13 x 13 Board: first place winner for each group: Lilian Zhang,  Timmy Chen, Felix Liu, Catherine Tan. Click here for complete results.

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Categories: U.S./North America
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GO PLAYING TEEN WINS SIEMEN’S PRIZE

Monday November 15, 2010

A striking advance in mathematical game theory earned top honors for the team of James Pinkerton 1d (l), and Rafael Setra (r) in the recent Region Five Finals of the 2010-11 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, a premier science research competition for high school students. Pinkerton, an avid go player, and Setra are seniors at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Their win in the team category has scored them a $6,000 scholarship for their mathematics project, The Duplicator-Spoiler Game for an Ordinal Number of Turns.  Their math research might be analogized to mirror go–the players, a spoiler and a duplicator alternate turns, choosing elements from two sets until the duplicator is unable to mirror the spoiler’s move.

In the math, the number of turns for the spoiler to win tells you about the complexity of statements in mathematical logic needed to differentiate the sets.  Traditionally the games have a finite number of turns and their research extended the games to arbitrary lengths over various infinite structures. “This team has made a striking extension of a game-theoretic interpretation of descriptive logic that dates back to the 1960s. Using it, they can distinguish between mathematical structures not separable by simple queries,” said competition judge Haynes Miller, Professor of Mathematics at MIT. “Their work has potential applications to resource allocation in designing search algorithms. What impressed me about these students was their clarity of thought. It’s a very confusing subject to work in and they found their way through it to a new frontier.”

Pinkerton is president of the Chess Club and a member of the National Honors Society and French Honors Society. Fluent in French, he single sculls on the Potomac and plays chess and go competitively. Pinkerton teaches chess as a volunteer in several programs in his county and in inner-city Washington, DC. He also teaches mathematics to underclassmen. He credits his father (E-J staff photographer John Pinkerton) who taught him “fun mathematics, not the dreary algebra of secondary school,” with nurturing his love for the subject.  Pinkerton would like to study mathematics in college and to become a university professor. Setra was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and moved to the US when he was eight years old. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and is part of Operation Fly, National Honors Society and the Martial Arts Club. A volunteer at Viers Mill Elementary School, Setra plays Starcraft 2, non-competitive football and has just learned how to play go from Pinkerton. He would like to study mathematics, engineering and computer science and to become a college professor.

“Each year, the Siemens Foundation invites America’s high school students to make their mark in the world of science,” said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, President of the Siemens Foundation. “We commend these students on rising to the challenge and pushing the envelope of scientific thought.” The students presented their research to a panel of judges from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), host of the Region Five Finals, on November 6th.  Pinkerton and Setra will also be invited to compete at the National Finals in Washington, DC, December 3–6, 2010, where the winners of six regional competitions will vie for the $100,000 Grand Prize and national acclaim for extraordinary scientific achievement at the high school level.
-EJ Youth Editor Paul Barchilon, photo: James Pinkerton (l) and Rafael Setra (r), courtesy of the Siemens Foundation

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HANDLING 3-3 INVASIONS THE MAEDA WAY

Tuesday August 3, 2010

Making how to handle 3-3 invasions “clear for everyone” was the topic of Tuesday’s lecture by Ryo Maeda 6P, the third in his 4-part series at the ongoing U.S. Go Congress.  As he explained in Monday’s edition, the key to living is to make six points of space:  “if you try to make two eyes, chances are you may fail.” The invasion at the 3-3 point must be responded to by attaching on either side, but that’s not just true for 3-3 invasions, “you must do that, no matter where it happens on the board.”  Maeda then went through the standard invasion pattern, showing how it corresponded to the Maeda method for making six points of space in the corner. When there are other friendly stones in the area, choosing the proper direction for the attachment is a matter of protecting the widest space, so that you force the opponent into the narrower space.  But the 3-3 invasion should be “the last option,” don’t invade if you can do something else.  On the other hand, taking the “star point does not mean territory — you think you have closed the front door, but the back door is wide open” to the 3-3 invasion.  Maeda recommended using his method in a game first, “then tell your friend.”  In a display of real world application of his technique, Maeda put up a position from the morning’s U.S. Open game between his student Francis Meyer 7D and Myungwan Kim 8P.  Meyer used one of the formations from Maeda’s Sunday lecture, though it was, unfortunately, not the best move in this case.  But Maeda seemed quite proud of how his student was doing in the Open — 2-1 as of Tuesday — and planned to introduce him at the next lecture, which will be held on Thursday. As usual, the lecture concluded with Maeda’s trademark rock-paper-scissors simul.
- report/photos by Jake Edge

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Categories: U.S. Go Congress
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CA STATE SENATE AWARDS CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION TO ING FOUNDATION

Monday July 26, 2010

California Sate Senator – and Speaker Pro Tem — Leland Yee came to the San Francisco Go Club on Sunday, July 18th to present Mingjiu Jiang 7P with a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate in honor of the Ing Chang-Ki Goe Foundation and their continued sponsorship of the World Youth Goe Championship.  This year’s contestants are both students of Jiang and he will accompany them to Peng Hu, China for the tournament along with Paul Barchilon.  There Jiang will present the Certificate to Ing Ming Hao and Yang Yu Chia of the Ing Foundation at the opening ceremonies of the tournament.
Pictured l-r: Dr. Alfred Lee, Vice-President San Francisco Go Club, Senator Leland Yee, Ph.D., and Mingjiu Jiang 7P; report/photo by Ernest Brown

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Categories: U.S./North America
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YUSUKE OEDA 9P: 1935-2010

Monday July 26, 2010

Yusuke Oeda 9P has died. Born in 1935, he was a student of Nobuaki Maeda, and was Michael Redmond 9P’s dojo mentor. “In addition to his work with young players, he was a prime mover in international go,” says Barbara Calhoun, former director for the International Go Federation. “Through his efforts, the Meijin Tournament came to New York City for the first time, in 1987, and many other such exchanges have followed.” Oeda was a major organizer of the annual World Amateur Go Championship, as well as the IGF. “Mr Oeda was a skilled teacher of professional students,” Michael Redmond tells the E-Journal. “He created a strict and go-centered environment that pushed his students to professional strength. In my case, my years spent living in his house were vital for my future success as a go player. Mr Oeda was also generous with his knowledge of the fine points of Japanese language and culture, and he gave me a basic understanding of the country that I live in.” Adds Calhoun, “He was an emotional man who could relate to and communicate with people culturally different from him. He seemed to thrive on traveling and networking. A natural for the work he was doing.”
- Chris Garlock; photo courtesy Sensei’s Library

Mr Oeda was a skilled teacher of professional students,” Michael Redmond tells the E-Journal. “He created a strict 

and go-centered environment that pushed his students to professional strength. In my case, my years spent living in his house were vital for my future success as a go player. Mr Oeda was also generous with his knowledge of the fine points of Japanese language and culture, and he gave me a basic understanding of the country that I live in.” Adds Calhoun, “He was an emotional man who could relate to and communicate with people culturally different from him. He seemed to thrive on traveling and networking. A natural for the work he was doing.”

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Categories: World
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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Kicking It With The Kids

Saturday May 29, 2010

“I almost got beat by a 6-year-old!” exclaimed Mexico’s Emil Garcia Bustamente. None of the other players in the room responded: they were too busy battling with other pint-sized go-terrors. Friday’s 6th round had just concluded a few hours previously, but the casual player’s room was jammed with WAGC players taking on young dan students from the Hangzhou Go Association who were equally eager to take on the world’s best amateurs. The kids played with blazing speed as the older players – even 17-year-old Thomas Debarre of France was an oldster compared to the six- and seven-year-olds — muttered their disbelief – and appreciation — in a dozen languages.
- Chris Garlock, photos by Garlock (l) & John Pinkerton (top right)

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THE TRAVELING GO BOARD: HANGZHOU’S TOWER OF GO

Thursday May 27, 2010

The Hangzhou Tian Yuan Tower (l) is a go player’s dream come true. Basically, once you step through the front door, you never have to leave again. Like upscale hotels around the world, the Tian Yuan contains well-appointed rooms and several different restaurants featuring Chinese cuisine, but this special place also include facilities for playing and studying go. To dispel any doubts about the building’s go theme, the fountain in front features a large go bowl and stones, a wall in the main lobby (below) has a huge go problem with the names of famous Chinese go players engraved on the stones, and the main restaurant is housed in a massive go bowl spinning slowly atop the building, providing dramatic – if hazy – views of the area’s famous lake district, as well as the rapidly burgeoning Qianjiang New City, a brand-new Central Business District that is planned to be the political, economic and cultural center of the Hangzhou city of the future. Completed just three years ago in 2007, the Tian Yuan is owned by the Hangzhou Go Association, which uses the first ten of the building’s 37 floors for go-related activities and rents out the rest to the hotel and other tenants. The Association’s administrative offices and go classrooms – called “combat rooms” in English – are on the fourth floor, along with an extensive wood-paneled library (l) of go books in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The Association has already hosted a number of professional tournaments since the Tian Yuan opened – the facility is designed and equipped to handle the special needs of go tournaments as well as hundreds of players, officials and media — and the finals take place in the Ling Long Hall (r), a well-carpeted room on the fourth floor with low tables and leather-cushioned chairs. Down the hall, in Room 406, the Hangzhou Go Team – comprised of 10 pros who live at the Tian Yuan — trains for their tournaments. Next door, in Room 405, local go students play and study in the evenings. Tucked away in Room 410 is a go store (l) run by Yawei “Robert” Wu, who owns a factory in Hunan province that supplies a chain of nine such go shops across China. Here you’ll find everything from an inexpensive paper board to gobans made of bright yellow new kaya and his top-of-the-line board, a traditionally-carved Chinese-style board made of glossy dark wood that’s been buried for 80,000 years and sells for nearly $900 (though bargaining seems to be expected). A go museum is slated to open later this year, containing historic go boards and stones, pictures of famous Chinese players and more, including the oversized world map signed by all the players at the 31st WAGC. There are additional training rooms on the third floor, and several floors of hotel-style rooms for the pros and resident students, as well as visiting groups like Feng Yun 9Ps annual summer school, which is set for July this year. It’s possible to arrange a visit as an individual, but guide Lang Qin Fang says the cost would likely be prohibitive and they encourage those interested to instead join or organize groups such as Feng Yun’s. Although the area surrounding the Tian Yuan Tower is still very much a work in progress – restaurants and other cultural attractions are a cab ride away in the old downtown — the many attractions of Hangzhou’s West Lake District may prove irresistible for even the most dedicated go player.
- Chris Garlock; photos by John Pinkerton

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ROUND 1 HIGHLIGHTS: Thailand Surprises Romania, Canada Routs Russia

Wednesday May 26, 2010

Here are highlights of James Davies’ Ranka Online report on the first round at the WAGC: Kamon Santipojana 4d of Thailand surprised Lucian Corlan 5d of Romania when the 21-year-old Thai student took command of the game early…As previously reported (NO SURPRISES AT TOP IN PRELIM 1ST-ROUND WAGC RESULTS), Canada’s Yongfei Ge 7d defeated Alexey Lazarev 6d of Russia when the closely-matched game turned into a hard-fought rout, with Ge beating Lazarev by 24.5 points…See below for the game, with commentary by Michael Redmond 9P (at left with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock). The evenly-matched contest between a pair of 3-dans from Mongolia and New Zealand also turned into a rout when the Chinese-born New Zealander, 15-year-old Kaikun Xie, easily forced opponent Oyutbileg Tsendjav to resign. Boonping Teng of Malaysia “outplayed me in the first part of the game” said the United Kingdom’s T Mark Hall, complaining of severe jet lag, ‘but then he made a blunder in a ko fight at the very end.’…The game between Csaba Deak of Brazil and Daniel Baumann (r) of Switzerland, both ranked 1-kyu, took a similar course, when Deak also “blundered (in the end) and had to resign.”…Perhaps the last closely-matched first-round game was also fought between kyu-level players John Gibson (2-kyu) of Ireland and Carlos Leon Rios Joels (1-kyu) of Peru. ‘I’m going to play quickly because I’m hoping to exploit my opponent’s nervousness at being in his first world championship,’ said Gibson. Click here for Ranka Online’s complete report. photos by John Pinkerton

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