American Go E-Journal

Fan Hui: AlphaGo Makes Us Proud to be Go Players

Thursday August 4, 2016

Demonstrating the continuing fascination with all things AlphaGo, it was standing-room-only on Thursday2016.08.04_aja-fan-thank-you-IMG_0272 afternoon at the US Go Congress when Fan Hui 2P presented a detailed commentary on Game Five of the AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match. Blending his trademark self-deprecating humor and intense commitment to the game, Fan — who was the first pro to play AlphaGo in October 2015 — illustrated some of the key parts of the game with ideas and comments he’s gleaned from reviews with many other professionals including Gu Li 9P, as well as AlphaGo’s own estimates of where Lee Sedol should have played. Although many of the proposed moves were not terribly sure in Fan’s estimate, he joked that “One thing for sure is that AlphaGo thinks it’s good for white, so I think so too,” drawing a laugh from the audience.

DeepMind is due to release commentaries on games one and two as well in the coming weeks, for which Fan gave brief trailers. In conclusion, Fan 2016.08.04_aja-fan-sign-lids-IMG_0281said AlphaGo had not just changed the course of go history, but the day-to-day lives of go players around the world. “Before, when you told friends or family members you play go, they’d look at you in puzzlement and ask what go is. Now they know it’s the game in the famous ‘Man versus Machine’ match. Now you can be proud to say ‘I am a go player.’”

In a brief presentation before the lecture, American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock and AGA president Andy Okun made both Fan and AlphaGo programmer Aja Huang honorary members of the E-Journal team “in appreciation for your incredible work publicizing go to a global audience,” presenting them with E-Journal caps. They — along with Garlock — were also given letters by the Empty Sky Go Club’s Steve Colburn from members of go clubs in Upstate New York thanking the entire AlphaGo team for making go “worldwide headline news” and “breaking a barrier that has not been seen in the world of go until now.” Huang and Fan then signed the lids of two go bowls that will be auctioned off at the Congress closing night banquet to benefit the American Go Foundation.
- Andy Okun; photo by Todd Heidenreich


Behind the Scenes at the US Go Congress: Matthew Hershberger

Thursday August 4, 2016

One of the workers behind the scenes at this year’s US Go Congress is US Open and US Open Masters Tournament 2016.08.04_hershberger-IMG_0516Director Matthew Hershberger. Often working until the wee hours of the morning to prepare the next day’s pairings and then working through the afternoons to pair the US Open Masters tournament that evening, Hershberger pairs over 200 games per day. He doesn’t remember when he first learned about go, since there were a lot of strategy games around his house growing up. Then he discovered Hikaru No Go. “It was a bit of a feedback loop,” Matthew says, “I started reading Hikaru No Go because I was interested in go, then that made me realize that I could actually learn and play online.” His first Go Congress was the European Go Congress in Finland, and then he ran his own Congress in 2014 in New York City. He enjoys tournament play the best because of the ability to completely focus on go without distraction. This led him to get some experience running local tournaments, and now a local in Boston himself, he stepped up to the plate when the 2016 Boston team was looking for a US Open director. His calm and congenial manner mask how much work he successfully completes on a day to day basis here at Go Congress, managing over 400 go players in competition for some of the US Go community’s top prizes.
Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison; photo: Hershberger mentally pairing the next round; photo by Chris Garlock

Crazy Go: Benson’s 19 Variations

Thursday August 4, 2016

“Crazy go. It’s insane!” The 19 variations of go available Tuesday night at the US Go Congress have grown from just two that 2016.08.04_Crazy Go - Karoline LiTD Terry Benson played at a Go Congress in Cambridge, England in 1976; Rengo Kriegspiel, a game of pair go where none of the four players can see each other or the board, and a variation of team go involving three-player teams and a lot of beer. Benson’s lineup on Tuesday included Rengo Kriegspiel, Joker Go, Blind Go (where both players are blindfolded, not just one as per Bao Yun), Galactic Go, and Zen Go, which is a three-person go game, which means that every turn you play for the opposite color. “In terms of actual instruction in go, Zen Go is the best,” says Terry. “You have to change your perspective each turn!”
report/photos by Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison

Why We Play: Aniket Schneider 1D, Anna Wegiel 15k

Thursday August 4, 2016

Aniket Schneider 1DAniket Schneider
Age: 31
Lives in: Boston, MA
Home Club: Massachusetts Go Association
Years playing go: 14
Favorite thing about go: “Exploring the space of probabilities after the fact… We moved through this landscape of possibilities and just seeing where else we could have gone in the game. In many ways I play games of go so that I have something to analyze later, not analyze so I can play more games. It’s also why I enjoy go problems so much.”

Anna WegielAnna Wegiel
Age: 25
Lives in: Warsaw, Poland
Years playing go: 1
Favorite thing about go: “I like the elegance of it and I like the satisfaction that comes with it. And I like that you’re really learning a lot very quickly. Mostly I play with my friends, so it’s not really a learning thing, it’s just for fun. I feel I’m starting to be interested in it during this tournament. After three games that I’ve already had at this tournament I feel I know a lot more about this game.”

- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress  



Ilya Shikshin 1P Reclaims European Championship

Thursday August 4, 2016

Ilya Shikshin 1P has won the 2016 European Championship title, defeating Ali Jabarin (1p, Israel) at the 60th European Go2016.08.04_Ilys Shikshin-egc-champCongress in St Petersburg. This is Shikshin’s fourth European Championship and the win makes the Russian the third most successful European player, in terms of all titles won, behind Guo Juan and Alexandr Dinerchstein. Fan Hui had won the last three years but has been at the US Go Congress this week. Shikshin said he was “delighted” to reclaim the title, noting that “All the matches were memorable in their own way. I had to be enormously involved in my games and when you are involved, the matches become very emotional.” Lucas Podpera (Czech Republic) took third place, beating Mateusz Surma in the play-off.

Click here to see video of commentary on the final by Wu Hao 2P and Li Cong 3P with Vadim Efimenko 3d.

- Daria Koshkina, special correspondent to the E-Journal at the European Go Congress

Categories: Europe

Cheng Defends Redmond Cup Junior; Senior Division Tied

Wednesday August 3, 2016

IMG_20160731_15442910-year old Ary Cheng 4d (r) swept the Junior Division Finals to defend his Redmond Cup title. Despite falling to 12-year old Luoyi Yang 4d (l) in the preliminaries, Cheng bounced back in the finals, seemingly unfazed by his opponent’s strength. In game 1, Cheng  utilized the slightest bit of aji in a corner to start a large ko, after which he was able to kill a group on the side and cruise to a victory. Yang fought back in game 2, however, with a huge fight developing in the center of the board as Cheng aggressively tried to kill a dragon. While there was a decisive opportunity to launch a counterattack and seal the game, Yang, perhaps slightly fatigued by jet lag, having arrived at Congress from China just one day before the first match, made a crucial mistake during byo-yomi giving Cheng the chance to close out the series. Both players will receive trophies at the banquet at the conclusion of Congress, with Cheng receiving $300, and Yang receiving $200.

In the Senior Division, 16-year old Albert Yen 7d is intent on defending his title. Yen stumbled in game 1, after making a severe miscalculation early in the game. His opponent, 14-year old Jeremy Chiu 6d, capitalized immediately on the error to kill a large group and essentially end the game. Switching his strategy to a moyo-based opening in game 2, Yen was able to take a territorial lead after Chiu made a slow move when invading Yen’s framework. Game 3 will occur tomorrow, 8/4, at 3 pm EDT, and will be broadcast live on KGS, Youtube, and Twitch with commentary by Gansheng Shi 1p and Andrew Lu 7d.  Videos of the earlier matches are below.

Game 1 Commentary by Jennie Shen 2p and Lionel Zhang 6d

Game 2 Commentary by Stephanie Yin 1p and Michael Chen 8d

The Redmond Cup is a premier youth tournament named after Michael Redmond 9p for dan players under the age of 18. Players compete in an online preliminary tournament in April to determine two finalists in both a Junior (under 13) and Senior (under 18) division. Finalists are given a free trip to the US Go Congress to compete in a best-of-three finals. -EJ Special Report by Justin Teng.  Photo by Paul Barchilon.

“Blindfold Go”: A Game Recorder’s Perspective

Wednesday August 3, 2016

by Dennis Wheeler2016.08.03-blindfold-bao-IMG_0508

Monday was the usual non-stop super busy day for the E-Journal staff, with morning rounds from 9a-1p, evening rounds from 7p-11p and the usual “stuff as assigned” in between. For many years I’ve been one of the handful of top-board game recorders at the morning US Open Masters games, but this year we have a crew of five recorders, so I’ve been managing the recording team, which is great, but to be honest I was missing game recording. So when I was asked to be the game recorder for the Blind Go exhibition match Monday afternoon between Bao Yun 7d and Eric Lui 1p (apparently I have established a reputation for being good at it, especially after a Chinese article was published last year), I was both thrilled and honored. Bao Yun is famous for setting the world record for playing and winning five simultaneous games while blindfolded.

As experienced as I am at recording games, I’ve never had to call out the move coordinates to the players before. Turns out it’s not as easy as you might think. Game recording is easy — you just click the mouse in the same location that the players place a stone, but for this game I had to carefully check the coordinates, recheck to be sure and then check once more to be absolutely certain before calling them out so that Bao Yun, sitting next to me with a bright blue blindfold, could consider his move.

2016.08.03_blindfold-go-IMG_0510It felt to me like Eric Lui had a strategy in mind to try and trip up Bao Yun. It was quite impressive to be sitting at the same table with them both, Bao Yun blindfolded and with his back to us. He’d call out the coordinates of the move he wanted to play, and I’d place it on the board for Eric. Eric would play his move, and I’d call out the coordinates for Bao Yun. I also pressed the clock for Bao Yun and would occasionally call out the remaining time. Of course, the Ing clocks called out the time once we got into byo-yomi. Impressively, the game went all the way to counting, including filling all the dame.

I couldn’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for Bao Yun to keep all those coordinates in his head for a full game, and I was especially worried about a “misclick” if I gave him the wrong coordinates, which I did once. Bao was of course expecting the actual move, so he adjusted easily enough after I said “oops.”

Mingjiu Jiang 7p was across the large open room giving a blow by blow commentary for a good size audience of Go Congress attendees, but far enough away that he was out of our earshot. In the end, Eric managed to win by a small margin. Though apparently we forgot to announce the ruleset to be used, which sparked a brief discussion as to the exact score, though the one point difference would not have changed the result. Black won by 5.5 by AGA counting. Click here to download the game record.

Special thanks to both Peter Armenia and Peter Gousios for helping relay and verifying the coordinates for my fading hearing in the loud open room.
- photos by Chris Garlock

“Global” Go Teaching Concepts Shared

Wednesday August 3, 2016

Myungwan KimA highlight of the US Go Congress is the teacher training program. At Myungwan Kim 9p’s Tuesday afternoon lecture on teaching opening theory, Kim (right) said that one of the most important things players need to develop is evaluation, both global (whole board) and local (small area) evaluation. “If you are winning globally, or if you are weak locally, how should you play?” he asked the crowd attending the teaching seminar. “Defensive,” he told us after we shouted out a few answers.  He also shared a mathematical approach to deciding between invading a territory or reducing it from the outside, in which the player calculates how many points he or she can let the opponent have and still win. If the opponent will make too many, invade.  Otherwise, play from the outside.  “That’s how you will find exactly how Lee Sedol will play,” explains Kim, “It’s not that difficult. But if you don’t have this type of theory, how can you find what he played? It’s way more difficult.” He also had something to say about losing stones. “The difference between sacrifice and giving up is whether you planned it or not,” he argued, getting a laugh from the crowd. Kim’s next teaching lecture is on Thursday, 8/4, at 1pm.

Antoine FenechAntoine Fenech of Strasbourg, France, came to the US Go Congress specifically to exchange teaching ideas with American go clubs and for the seminars for go teachers. Kim’s Tuesday talk was Fenech’s first teaching lesson. “We don’t have this in Europe,” he said afterwards. Fenech (left) is a middle school math teacher who’s also a 5 dan go player. He runs programs in 10 primary schools in the city and teaches kids from 6-13 years old, a program started by his father in 1982, and responsible for training up many strong players. Fenech himself is a product of that program. “The most important thing is that the kids have fun” so that they come back, he said. Asked whether there’s a secret to teaching go he’d like to share with teachers in America, Fenech said that “We have a method to teach go very fast. In like five minutes, they can learn the real go game. And then after that, we don’t need to talk to them anymore, they can just play with each other. I have some kids who play every week and who just play together and I just taught them for five minutes the first day. If they’re already happy playing a lot with each other, then they don’t need someone to tell them more.” But that doesn’t mean the Strasbourg go program isn’t going to produce strong players. “I have some kids who want to improve, who want to play with me,” Fenech explains. “The new generation, we hope that some of them will become stronger, become the best French players.” The Strasbourg go club also developed a website so that kids can keep playing.

- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress

Behind the Scenes at the US Go Congress: An Army of Volunteers

Wednesday August 3, 2016

While the two dozen professional players and the many tournaments, lectures and simuls at the US Go Congress rightfully
2016.08.02_volunteer-IMG_0547claim most of the attention at this popular event, none of it would be possible without the small army of volunteers that keep everything going and on schedule. More than forty volunteers — ubiquitous in their bright orange Congress shirts — are helping out, according to Congress Director Walther Chen. “They’ve put in so many hours,” he says, “and I know they put in even more hours than I know about, so it’s amazing how much work goes into Congress.” In addition to all the pre-Congress work, registering, housing and feeding hundreds of go players, volunteers also re-set the huge main playing area and Strong Players Room each night, so that attendees see a neatly-organized playing area each morning. Chen says he was able to take on directing the Congress thanks to a community of active go players organizing tournaments and club meetings in the Boston area. Andrew Hall, Event Coordinator and Director of the Evening Tournament, helps organize local go club meetings on Thursdays. “One day I heard Andy Okun was getting dinner with Walther Chen to discuss possibly running Congress in Boston,” Hall said. While we’re talking, an attendee comes by to ask about accessing the wifi and Hall answers before continuing his story. “They went to dinner, and I got an email saying I was running the Congress with them.” Youth Director Devin Fraze, a math teacher from Ohio, explains that “when Fritz Balwite and Paul Barchilon were transitioning out of running the Congress Youth events, they asked me if I’d do it, so I stepped up. I love to see some new energy come to the organizing side of Congress and just to (be able to) give back to this wonderful event.”
- report by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress; photo by Chris Garlock 

US Go Congress Updates: Ito & Bao Headed for Showdown in US Open Masters Thursday; Pro Game Commentaries; Schedule & Tourney Updates

Tuesday August 2, 2016

Ito & Bao Headed for Showdown in US Open Masters Thursday2016.08.03_bao-kenryo
And then there were two. Kenryo Ito 1P and Yun Bao 7D are the only undefeated players after five rounds in the US Open Masters. Bao (left) defeated Andy Liu by 2.5 points in a hard-fought Round 5 game Tuesday morning in which Liu had an early advantage but lost it when he mistakenly thought a move was sente. Ito beat Zheng Xiangnan in a Round 5 game that was just 114 moves but ran well into the lunch hour. Ito (right) and Bao will go head to head in Round 6 on Thursday. Complete US Open Masters results and top-board game records here. And click here for the US Open crosstab.

US Open Broadcast Schedule: Wednesday is the traditional Day Off, so there will be no live broadcasts. The broadcasts will resume Thursday morning.

2016.08.03_girls-Jessica Wu and Taylor ShuPro Game Commentaries
US Open Round 4 Board 1 Pro Commentary on KGS by Yilun Yang 7p (sgf)
US Open Round 2 Board 3 Pro Commentary on KGS by Feng Yun 9p (sgf)
2016 US Open Masters Round 3 Board 1 Cathy Li and Justin Teng KGS Commentary (sgf)
2016 US Open Masters Round 3 Board 4 Cathy Li and Justin Teng KGS Commentary (sgf)
2016 US Open Masters Round 5, Xiangnan Zheng 7d (W) vs Kenryo Ito 1p (B), w/Stephanie Yin 1p on KGS (YouTube)
2016 US Open Masters Round 5, Tony Tang 7d (W) vs Zirui Song 1p (B), w/Stephanie Yin 1p on KGS (YouTube)
2016 US Open Masters Round 5, Danny Ko 7d (W) vs Ryan Li 1p (B), w/Stephanie Yin 1p on KGS (YouTube)

2016.08.03_girls-Jessica Wu and Taylor ShuUS Go Congress Tournament Schedule: Wednesday 8/3
9:00a: Diehard
7:00p: Evening League, night 4

Senior Cup
Click here for the latest crosstabs from the Senior Cup.

Women’s Tournament
Click here for the latest crosstabs from the Women’s Tournament.

Under 16 Girls Championship
Taylor Shu 6d and Gabriella Su 6d will face off on Thursday 8/4 to decide the Under 16 Girls Champion. Taylor defeated Jessica Wu 2d and Gabriella defeated Melissa Cao 4d on Tuesday afternoon in the semi-final. photo: Jessica Wu and Taylor Shu in the first round Monday

Evening League
In night two on Monday, 66 players showed up to play a total of 60 games between 7pm and midnight. Vo Nhat Minh 2d is the current defending champion at the top of the ladder.

report by Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison; photos by Chris Garlock except for Under 16 Girls Tournament (bottom right) by photo by Ted Terpstra.