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New AGA Pro To Play in First Korean Tournament

Saturday June 15, 2013

Gansheng Shi 1p, who qualified with Andy Liu 1p as an AGA pro in last year’s certification tournament, is scheduled to play in his first Korean pro tournament, the KT-Olleh Cup, on Monday June 17th.  The young Canadian will play alongside Korean professionals and even receive a small game fee for playing.  Top prize in the tournament is $100,000.  The KT-Olleh is one of five tournaments that the Hankuk Kiwon (KBA) agreed to allow newly certified AGA pros to play in, and the first to start since Shi traveled to Korea last month. The next scheduled of the five is the Samsung Cup in August.  “My goal in tournaments would be to win at least one game but it seems very difficult,” Shi told the EJ.  Shi is studying at the Choong-Am Dojang in Seoul, with travel support from the AGA and tuition support from the KBA.

Shi says he is enjoying Korea, Korean food, and some new friends. He describes the Choong-Am as a “really quiet nice place to focus on go,” although he had difficulty adjusting at first. “I started off in league C … The first 2-3 weeks were really bad and I had a horrible losing record of something like 3-9, then I managed to stabilize in the league and was able to stay in league C without being moved to league D.  The new month just started and I have been doing great so far, winning most of my games and I really hope to move to the next league after this month.”  Shi fills his days with self-study of pro games and life and death until lunch, a game and then review with a teacher in the afternoon, more self-study and some exercise, and then a game after dinner. “I do feel like I’m progressing, because I have been improving in my record and winning a lot of games lately. Perhaps that is just me stabilizing but I do feel that I am learning a lot in the dojang.”  -Andy Okun.  Photo: Shi playing a simul at the Spring Go Expo earlier this year, from The Surrounding Game’s Facebook Page.

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UK Taps Shodan Challenger Chris Bryant to Reverse Team Fortunes

Thursday June 6, 2013

A new captain has been appointed to head up the British team for the online Pandanet Go European Team Championship 2013 following the UK’s demotion to the C League, after they failed to win a single game last season (A League Finalists Set in European Team Championship 5/10 EJ).

Chris Bryant 1d (pictured), a 23-year-old software engineer from Bury, who plays at St Albans Go Club, has been charged with reversing the team’s fortunes and his personal go history speaks of a man with the resolve to achieve his goals. Bryant learned go in February 2011 and early on made a commitment to try and reach dan grade within a year, signing up for the British Go Association (BGA)’s Shodan Challenge, where ambitious players are supported in a formal attempt to reach a specified higher grade within one year.

The puzzle-loving Bryant attributes his go success to solving an estimated 10,000 tsumego problems in a year — including about 1,000 in the first week alone, bringing him to 13-kyu — and in fact has only played about 300 actual games.

Bryant not only took the Challenge and met it, but also displayed his organizational flair by running the Shodan Challenge in 2011 – 2012 for the BGA. At that time there was an individual mentoring system, but this was difficult logistically and as Bryant explains, “The way [it] works at the moment is that there is a forum/Google group where people can post up games to be reviewed”. The BGA has also held closed teaching events for stronger players to improve. Bryant has already identified and made contact with more than the maximum pool of twelve (minimum six) strong players from which four will be selected for each round .

Outgoing captain Andrew Simons 4d continues to play a part in strengthening British go talent by giving lectures most Thursdays at 8pm in the British Room on the KGS go server. Bryant said of the lectures,  “These have helped a lot of people; it’s the kind of thing that I’d love to see more of. I give lectures myself, though mostly on Second Life – we have a go playing location there called Kido Province

As for future ambitions, Bryant said, “I’d like to become British Champion one day – going to need lots more tsumego for that though ;). I’ve never had a dedicated teacher but there have been a few people who I’ve got advice from and I’m really appreciative of that. One of the things I like most about go is that strong people seem eager to teach others, and so the trend continues as those players themselves become stronger!”

This year’s Championship starts in September.

- Tony Collman

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Categories: Europe,Go News
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KBA Donates Free Beginner’s Book to AGA

Thursday May 23, 2013

With the publication of Falling in Love with Baduk: Play a Game in One Week, The Korea Baduk Association has taken yet another important step to support Western go.  Written in both Korean and English by Dahye Lee and Jihee Baek, two young Korean pros, this is a book aimed at beginners, and especially Westerners. “People with different skin colors and different languages can understand one another when seated across the Baduk board,” they write.  “It thrills us to imagine a view of Easterners and Westerners playing the game together.” This is a valuable book for serious newcomers of any age. Basic principles are broken down into seven simple lessons, presumably one per day, with dozens of problems illustrating each day’s lesson. Ms. Lee will attend this year’s US Go Congress and will participate in the AGA’s first teacher training program. The book is ideal for classroom situations too, and can be used as a manual for non-players who find themselves running go programs at libraries or schools.   The book is available as a free download from the AGF website here, it is 86 mb, so expect it to take a little time.

The text in Falling in Love with Baduk appears side by side in Korean and English, following a style developed by Korean publisher Oromedia. Perhaps Oromedia had an uncredited role in developing this book. Oromedia’s Speed Baduk series (9 volumes) has been all-English, but their other books feature side-by-side presentation of the same material in English and Korean. Examples include Korean Style of Baduk, the Think Like a Pro series ( 2 volumes), the 100 Tips for Amateur Players series (3 volumes ), Inspiration of Pro and Creative Life and Death (2 volumes), all available from Yutopian. Here, as in the other bilingual books, it’s fun to see what the authors have to say in both languages on the same page, especially for language learners. The English text uses Korean terminology for concepts lacking an English equivalent, rather than the terms of Japanese origin that Western players learned from the first generation of English go books. For instance, the position known as “atari” is called “dansoo.” The emergence of Korean-based synonyms may further bewilder newcomers who are already struggling to grasp the vast, abstract nature of the game itself. But in the end, it all adds to the ineffable richness of the game. The worldwide community of players has been unable to agree on a single set of rules. There is not even agreement on what the game should be called; we are unlikely to produce a universal lexicon any time soon. Confused readers can always consult Prof. Chi-hyung Nam’s Contemporary Go Terms, if they have one handy, but the question remains – if you want to tell your opponent that their stone is about to be captured, what should you say? -Roy Laird

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Deadline May 31 for China Collegiate Trip

Monday May 20, 2013

Two years ago, the Shanghai Ing Chang-Ki Wei-Chi Education Foundation hosted a group of 11 American college students to participate in a week long go summer camp in China.  This year, they are hosting a new event in Shanghai, July 7-13, and inviting college students from America to compete in an international tournament.  Students from 50 different colleges will be invited, and  attendees will also have a chance to explore Shanghai and Hangzhou, while  learning a bit more about a culture that is on the opposite side of the world.  Organizer Michael Fodera reports that  “housing, food, travel within China, and Ing sponsored tourist trips are all free.  All ranks are welcome, even beginners as week as 20kyu.  The tournament is not just limited to college students; college or university faculty members are also eligible. Though they will have to compete in the open section, which will be full of  top amateur players.”  To register for the event, visit the American Collegiate Go Association website. Photo by Will Lockhart: American students vs Fudan and Jiaotong University students, from the 2011 trip to China.
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Korean Pro Moonyong Choi 6P Visits Bay Area

Sunday April 7, 2013

 

Moonyong Choi 6P spent a week visiting school and youth go clubs in the California Bay area, March 18-24. The Korean Baduk Association (KBA) sent Choi to see first-hand what go programs in America are like, and he is currently in the Los Angeles area visiting programs there as well. “It was really fun,” reports Patrick Wang, of Hyde Park Middle School in Cupertino, “the pro introduced himself, told us how he started playing, why he played, and how he went pro. After that, we asked him questions like how many tournaments he had won or how to improve. Then he played four people at once with nine handicaps on 19×19 and five handicaps on 13×13. Our school teacher even let us stay after lunch to finish the games! To end it off everyone asked him for his autograph.” Choi also visited Meyerholtz Elementary, Valley Christian High, and Berryissa Chinese School, all in San Jose, before finishing up his trip with a visit to the Santa Clara Youth Go Club. At all of the locations, Choi spoke to the children about his challenges in becoming a pro. “I studied for five years at the go school and became an insei which is a preliminary professional. During the course I lost a lot of times, especially games that I was ahead but lost in the end game. Sometimes I cried a lot and felt depressed,” said Choi, “Did you ever lose a game that you thought you had won? Did you hate your opponent for that? However, you don’t have to hate the person. Because you’re the one that made the mistake . We are all in the learning process. Correcting the mistakes and playing better the next time is what is important.”

Choi’s top tips for new players are “First of all, don’t be afraid of losing the game. I myself have played more than 20,000 games and lost half of them. There is a saying that ‘losing means learning’. It’s ok if you lose but knowing the reason and correcting it is how you take your skills to the next level. That’s why having a good teacher is essential. Second, being modest or having a humble attitude is good. There are lots of people that play better than you. You are in the learning process. Learning from your weaker opponent’s mistakes and from your stronger opponent’s good moves will make you a better person the next day. Third, enjoy the game. When you’re playing you always have to do the best you can. Think as much as possible. This is a war game. But once it’s over admit the results and try hard to find better moves. The more you love the game and dedicate yourself to it, the better player you will be.” His advice was well received, and Yanping Zhao of the Santa Clara Youth Go Club reported “It was a wonderful visit to our club. Mr. Choi, and our club members all had a very good time! About 15 kids came to the club to meet the pro. Mr. Choi was very kind to play a teaching game with almost every one of the them. He played several rounds, each round with four or five kids at the same time. During the breaks between the rounds, we had pizza and the pro chatted with kids. At the end, the kids signed a thank you card to express their appreciation. The kids all hope to meet Mr. Choi again and more pros in the future!” The visit was part of a larger outreach to support new programs in America, and was arranged by Myungwan Kim 9P. More pros will be visiting soon, and future trips will be scheduled in other areas of the country if all goes well.
-Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Yanping Zhao: Moonyong Choi 6P plays a simul at the Santa Clara Youth Go Club, in California.

 

 


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Lee Sedol Says Andy Liu “Stronger Than I Had Anticipated”

Sunday January 27, 2013

With the technical glitches solved, the twice-delayed game between Lee Sedol 9P and new American pro Andy Liu 1P took place Saturday morning on go9dan.com. Lee won by resignation but said that “Andy is much stronger than

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I had anticipated,” adding that AGA President Andy Okun “must be really happy about how strong the AGA pros are!” Okun responded that “we really pleased and proud of our new pros. We are also grateful to Lee Sedol for giving them a chance to hone their skills and learn from such a champion.” The second round in the AGA-Europe Pros vs. Lee Sedol Lee 10-Game Series is likely to be held next weekend; stay tuned for details.

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Categories: U.S./North America
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New Documentary Tracks Chess, Challenge and Championships at a Brooklyn Middle School

Thursday November 15, 2012

by Dr. Roy Laird
At Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, three out of every four students qualify for free lunch, but when it comes to spirit, support and  pure brain power, some of them have plenty of resources. In fact, as we learn in Brooklyn Castle, the award-winning new documentary from Kelly Dellamaggiore, IS 318 is home to some of the strongest young chess players in the country; the school’s teams have brought home nearly 30 national championships. As a longtime proponent of go in the schools, I found the film to be an inspiring reminder of what mind sports can do for kids. Brooklyn Castle follows five members of the 2009-2010 team, each with their own goal.   Rochelle Ballantyne wants to be the first African-American female Master level (ELO 2000) player (11/18 update: she made it, with a new rating of 2057 following the recent World Youth Chess Championship in Maribor, Slovenia). Patrick Johnston, on the other hand, just wants a positive result so he can raise his ranking out of the 400s. (Spoiler alert: chess seems to help him with some attention issues he had in earlier grades; he emerges from middle school as an honor student.) As the students pursue their dreams, we are reminded that behind every dream is a team. With support from the school’s budget, fundraising efforts and help from foundations such as Chess-In-The-Schools, school staff go far beyond the call of duty, for instance taking 57 players of all levels to the National Championship in Dallas. That’s 57 potentially life-altering experiences right there. Chess-loving children apply from far and wide because they know that all sixth grade students are required to take at least one period of chess per week; in seventh and eighth grade it becomes an elective, but students can schedule up to seven periods of chess per week. We also meet the players’ families and see the crucial role their support plays. The team’s toughest opponent turns out to be a succession of budget cuts that threatens to take them out of a national competition they know they can win.  Hurry if you want to see it in theaters, although the low-tech sound and video quality may be better suited for a smaller screen. You can also read about the school at length in How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.

Brooklyn Castle – in theaters now — vividly highlights the benefits of school-based mind sports programs. (Post-film progress report: As reported in The New York Times earlier this year, five players from IS 318 achieved the equivalent of a college baseball team winning the World Series, becoming the first middle school team to win the National High School Championship!)  Go is also a wonderful arena for this kind of growth and development, in some ways even better than chess. If you’re thinking of starting a go program in your community, The American Go Foundation can help you with free equipment, matching funds, mentoring and much more – you’ll be surprised how easy it can be, and how rewarding for teacher and student alike.
- Laird, a former President of the American Go Association, currently serves on the Board of the American Go Foundation and manages school-based mental health clinics for The Children’s Aid Society in New York City.

 

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Categories: U.S./North America
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New in Print: Commented Games of Lee Sedol (Volume I)

Sunday September 23, 2012

by Roy Laird
What does the world’s top player do when he’s not playing go? In the case of Lee Sedol, the answer turned out to be: write wonderful go books. In June 2009 Lee abruptly retired from tournament play in a dispute with the Korean Baduk Association, which was later resolved. During the break, as Lee reflected on his career, he reviewed several of his most important games in detail with his sister Lee Sena, a former female amateur Myeongin (Meijin), who had just returned from a long stay in Australia. Three books emerged from this collaboration, and, as we reported last week, the first  has just been published in English by Baduktopia as Commented Games of Lee Sedol I. In unparalleled depth, Lee explores his first title-winning game in 2000; his loss against Lee Changho in the 2001 LG Cup; and the game with which he won his first international tournament, the 2002 Fujitsu Cup.  Using dozens of game records and hundreds of explanatory diagrams per game, Lee takes us through each contest step by step, with more than 100 pages of analysis per game. As a mid-level player, I was slightly daunted to find that the very first page of analysis explains why Lee decided, at move 6, to avoid a 30-move variation of the hard-to-fathom takamoku taisha variation. But as I kept reading, I also found clear and insightful points on many different levels. There’s something for everyone in these wide-ranging game analyses. The large format, open layout and use of multiple game records – some contain only two or three moves — make everything so easy to follow, you may not even need to play along on a real board. Lee also offers personal reflections on subjects ranging from his life growing up on a farm on Bigeum Island off the southern coast, to his thoughts and feelings during and after the games. Lee’s father was a crucial figure and great go aficionado — we learn that he even included the word “Dol” (“Stone” in Korean) in his children’s names.  (“Sedol” means strong stone.) With more than 300 7.5”x10” pages in quality paperback form, it’s a hefty volume, with a price to match – over $40. But if the best way to improve is to study professional games, this is the most thorough discussion ever in English of play at the highest level. It’s found a home on the top shelf of my library with Invincible and those great classic game review books that John Fairbairn has been putting out lately. I’m looking forward to Volumes II and III.
photo: Lee Sedol with his daughter in 2008

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Hikaru Author Hotta Yumi Interviewed

Monday September 3, 2012

Hikaru no Go author Hotta Yumi was interviewed on film at the International Go Symposium on August 5th, 2012. For those who missed the live stream,  the Tiger’s Mouth website has printed the entire text of the interview.  The AGF is currently editing the videos from the symposium, all of which will be available online at a later date.  A few choice highlights from the Hotta interview are below, you can read the full article here.

On how the series began, Hotta says “I wanted to learn go, so I paid a go school and started to attend classes once a week with a pro. He was mean, and never let the students win the teaching games. This was frustrating to me, because I was thinking ‘Why am I paying to lose all the time?’ I wished that I had a guardian angel or a ghost that could help me beat him really bad. It was at that moment that Hikaru no Go was born.”  When asked about how go has affected her life, Hotta replied: “Honestly, I had no idea that so many kids would want to learn how to play go. Not just in Japan, but all over the world. Especially kids in other countries where there aren’t many teachers or resources for playing go. Nowadays many more kids can play go thanks to the efforts of teachers, professionals, and groups that are helping to bring go to kids around the world. For my own life, Hikaru has made it very hard for me to attend go tournaments. So many people will watch over my shoulder during my games, and I’m not a very strong player so it is very embarrassing!” – Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Translation by Akane Negishi and Solomon Smilack.  Photo: Hotta Yumi, by Paul Barchilon.

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AGF Twitter Feed

Monday July 2, 2012

Part of the new AGF website is a Twitter feed, which drew the attention of  #Engage365 for an interview with AGF VP Paul Barchilon last week.  Learn more about the redesign, and the AGF’s goals in the transcript of the interview here.  The AGF hopes to build a voice on Twitter, by sharing information about new Go clubs and resources nationwide.  Interested readers can follow the AGF at AGFgo on Twitter.

 

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