American Go E-Journal

Record turnout at San Diego Go Club winter soiree

Sunday December 10, 2017

Setting an all-time record, more than 50 people attended the San Diego Go Club’s “winter” soiree at club president Ted 2017.12.10_san-diego-DSCN4777Terpstra’s home on Sunday, December 3. The quarterly event, which features AGA-rated games and pizzas has become a southern California go fixture for the last seven years. The soiree enables go enthusiasts from the several go clubs in southern California to play self-paired games and socialize in a pleasant surrounding. Players aged 7 to over 70, ranging from beginners to professionals came to 2017.12.10_san-diego-DSCN4781 2play, hailing from Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, UCSD, North County Go Club, San Diego east county, the Chinese bookstore in San Diego and the regulars from the San Diego Go Club. People started coming at 11:30 a.m. and some stayed until 8:30 p.m. analyzing games.

Free pizza, thanks to the AGA rewards program, cake (thanks to a donation) and beverages (thanks to the president) were served to all who stayed to socialize at 5 p.m.

Best quote of the day: “The president needs to buy a larger house.”

photos by Ted Terpstra


Prevailing over drum ensemble, Trevor Morris tops Boston Winter Open

Sunday December 10, 2017

Nearly three dozen players — 32 to be exact — ranging in strength from beginner to 6d, made their way to the Stratton Student Center at MIT to participate in the Boston Winter Open on December 2. The tournament was divided into two divisions, a 12 person Open Division with dan players playing even games, and a 20 person Handicap Division with kyu players playing handicap – 2 games.

Open Division players competed for cash prizes and our winners were: 1st place Trevor Morris, 6d (4-0), 2nd place David Cho, 5d (3-1), and 3rd place Qingbo Zhang, 5d (3-1).

Handicap Division prizes were awarded to those with 4-0 and 3-1 records. Our winners were: Adam Prescott, 9k (4-0), Jin Greene, 12k (3-1), Eva Casey, 5k (3-1), Michael Scudder, 2k (3-1), and Matt Clarke, 2k (3-1).

This tournament was made particularly unique due to the surprising addition of live music starting in the middle of the third round. The source turned out to be a Senegalese Drum Ensemble participating in MIT’s World Music Day in the auditorium beneath the playing area. In investigating the event, we discovered it would last through our final round and were kindly given a box of ear plugs. We also confirmed the hypothesis that go tournaments and drums do not go well together (in case you were wondering). Fortunately our players are awesome and seemed mostly amused. We will try to be more aware of adjacent events for future tournaments.
Neil Ritter


Thanks to everyone for coming and to the MIT Go club and the MGA for organizing!


AlphaGo Zero-AlphaGo Master: A similar “taste” but things turn sour quickly

Friday December 8, 2017

“AG Zero and the Ke Jie version sort of resemble each other, in the way that they play around the 3-3 invasions, and there’s a 2017.12.08_ag-ag-zero-master-3‘taste’ to their play that’s quite similar,” says Michael Redmond 9p in his third commentary on the AG Zero games. “That said, the Ke Jie version tends to jump into fights more quickly and that’s very exciting, but in the Zero version, there’s a lot of hidden reading, like we saw in Game 2. Just as Master did against human players, Zero is controlling the game to a much greater degree, and a lot of the reading is not actually coming out on the board.”

“In this game, Master has black again and will be playing a lot of moves towards the center,” Redmond says. “So there are lot of stones floating around in the center of the board and looking kind of neat. I think Master had a good opening in this game and then there’s one move I really don’t like, that’s really the turning point of the game. And just like when I’m playing a formidable player, I find that just one move can turn things very sour quite quickly.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock, and see below for the sgf commentary. To support this content, please consider joining or renewing your membership in the American Go Association; click here for details.

Video produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf files were created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.


Google’s AlphaZero destroys highest-rated chess engine in 100-game match

Thursday December 7, 2017

Chess changed forever today. And maybe the rest of the world did, too.2017.12.07_alphazero-stockfish

A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against the top Go player, the artificial-intelligence program AlphaZero has obliterated the highest-rated chess engine.

Stockfish, which for most top players is their go-to preparation tool, and which won the 2016 TCEC Championship and the 2017 Computer Chess Championship, didn’t stand a chance. AlphaZero won the closed-door, 100-game match with 28 wins, 72 draws, and zero losses.

Oh, and it took AlphaZero only four hours to “learn” chess. Sorry humans, you had a good run.

That’s right — the programmers of AlphaZero, housed within the DeepMind division of Google, had it use a type of “machine learning,” specifically reinforcement learning. Put more plainly, AlphaZero was not “taught” the game in the traditional sense. That means no opening book, no endgame tables, and apparently no complicated algorithms dissecting minute differences 2017.12.07_michael-adams-demis-hassabisbetween center pawns and side pawns.

This would be akin to a robot being given access to thousands of metal bits and parts, but no knowledge of a combustion engine, then it experiments numerous times with every combination possible until it builds a Ferrari. That’s all in less time that it takes to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The program had four hours to play itself many, many times, thereby becoming its own teacher.

“It’s a remarkable achievement, even if we should have expected it after AlphaGo,” GM Garry Kasparov told “It approaches the ‘Type B,’ human-like approach to machine chess dreamt of by Claude Shannon and Alan Turing instead of brute force.”

You can read the full paper here. GM Peter Heine Nielsen said that “After reading the paper but especially seeing the games I thought, well, I always wondered how it would be if a superior species landed on earth and showed us how they play chess. I feel now I know.”

After the Stockfish match, AlphaZero then “trained” for only two hours and then beat the best Shogi-playing computer program “Elmo.”

“[This is] actual artificial intelligence,” said Nielsen. “It goes from having something that’s relevant to chess to something that’s gonna win Nobel Prizes or even bigger than Nobel Prizes. I think it’s basically cool for us that they also decided to do four hours on chess because we get a lot of knowledge. We feel it’s a great day for chess but of course it goes so much further.”

Excerpted from Mike Klein’s December 6 report on photo: Deepmind’s Demis Hassabis (right) playing with Michael Adams at the ProBiz event at Google Headquarters London just a few days ago. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

AlphaGo doc now available to rent or buy

Wednesday December 6, 2017

“AlphaGo,” the 2016 documentary about the historic AlphaGo-Lee Sedol match, is now available on the Google “Play” store for2017.12.06_alphaGo-movie rental and purchase.
“AlphaGo” chronicles a journey from the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind, to Seoul, where a legendary go master faces an unproven AI challenger. As the drama unfolds, questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What will it teach us about humanity?

“This is such a beautiful telling of this historic moment,” comments Ben Murdoch on the site. “An intimate and at times tense portrayal of a milestone moment in AI history. Captivating!” says Marek Barwiński.

Danny Ko takes over from Roy Schmidt as AGA Treasurer

Wednesday December 6, 2017

After nearly seven years as Treasurer for the American Go Association, Roy Schmidt (right) has passed the ledgers to Daniel Daehyuk2017.12.06_Roy-Schmidt Ko.

Both urge anyone sending paper correspondence — especially membership forms and checks — to use the new address: Treasurer, AGA, PO Box 3678, Gardena, CA  90247.

“Organizers, if you have a supply of membership forms printed for use at 2017.12.06_Daniel-Daehyuk-KOyour next tournament, you can still use them,” says Ko (left), “but make sure to mail them to the new address to avoid a delay in rating your event.  Revised forms are already available on the AGA website for download.

“If tournament participants see organizers using a form with the Portland address at the bottom, ask if they are aware of the change of address, and point them to the AGA website for current contact information,” Ko adds.

Schmidt began playing go in Taiwan in the mid 1970s. “I became an honorary life member of the Taiwan Go Association as appreciation for a translation of the Ing rules.  In 1976 I was the referee for a Telex match between Taiwan and the USA using Ing rules for the first time internationally. Keeping it in the family, I married a go friend’s sister.” After years of organizing local clubs and tournaments back in the States, Bob Barber nominated Schmidt for the AGA Board.  After four years on the board he took a break and then returned as Treasurer. “Back to local now, I am directing a tournament in Portland in January,” Schmidt says.

Danny Ko learned go at the age of five from his parents in Korea and started actively playing at the age of 15 at local go clubs in his hometown. “After finishing the mandatory military service in Korea, I moved to the US in 1998 for my college education.  Since then I have casually played go in local Korean Go clubs in the LA area. In 2006, I have joined American Go Association (AGA) and started playing at AGA tournaments. After playing in numerous domestic and international events for many years, I have decided to contribute to the American go community in different way.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have had such dedicated, responsible and diligent volunteers take on the critical role of Treasurer,” said AGA president Andy Okun. “Both deserve the thanks and appreciation of every AGA member, to which I add my own, along with best wishes for Roy and anticipation of great work in the future with Danny.”




AGA YouTube channel hits 10,000 subscribers

Tuesday December 5, 2017

The American Go Association’s YouTube Channel hit the 10,000 subscriber mark this week. “This is an awesome number to hit 2017.12.05_aga-youtube-10,000-screengrabfor a channel,” said the AGA’s Steve Colburn. “We are reaching almost every country on the globe,” added AGA president Andy Okun, who credited Michael Redmond 9P — whose AlphaGo video commentaries with American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock have been hugely popular this year –as well as pr2017.12.05_aga-youtube-10,000-colburnoducers Andrew Jackson and Michael Wanek “for growing and expanding our coverage of this game.”

Noting that “10,000 represents four times the current AGA membership right now,” Okun urged fans of the channel to join the AGA to support ongoing coverage.

To celebrate the achievement, Colburn (left) made a brief video that should not be attempted at home.

Eric Lui 1P on AI impact on opening theory

Tuesday December 5, 2017

“At the Bay Area Go Players 2017 workshop in Berkeley, California Nov. 18-19, Eric Lui 1p presented a fascinating and2017.12.03_eric-lui-analyzes extensive coverage of the impact of AI on current go opening theory in addition to the staples of game analysis and tsume-go drills,” reports Steve Burrall.

photo: Lui analyzes a game for Mish Awadah (left), president of the SF Go Club; photo by Steve Burrall

Ryan Li wins Gotham tourney

Monday December 4, 2017

Ryan Li 1P (right) won the recent Gotham Go Tournament, held November 18 in New York City. The handmade ceramic bowls went 2017.12.03_gotham-Lockhart-Lito Tianning Dia via random draw of all first place winners. Other winners in the Open section were Michael Chen (2nd), Alan Huang (3rd) and Ben Lockhart (4th, at left).

Other first-place winners were: High dan: Qingbo Zhang; 1d-2k: Tianning Dia; Single-digit kyu: Brian Ye; Double-digit kyu: Richard Chalfant.

Click here for more photos.

- report/photo courtesy Peter Armenia

Go Classified: Go Equipment Collection Liquidation Sale

Monday December 4, 2017

Go Equipment Collection Liquidation Sale: 17 boards $7 to $200, 6 pairs of bowls $25 to $80, 7 sets of stones $15 to $130, plus software and small complete go sets.  Call Donald at 304-820-3167 or email and I will send you descriptions and photos.  Payment by Paypal or credit/debit card OK.

South Texas Players Wanted: “I am looking for live players in the McAllen or Harlingen Metropolitan areas in South Texas.  I am fairly new (about 18 kyu) but would like to find others who enjoy this incredible game.  Please contact me at” 

Classifieds are free! Email

Categories: Go Classified