American Go E-Journal

Eric Lui 1P Sweeps Moon Cha Memorial

Sunday September 10, 2017

Honoring the memory of Moon Cha, 35 players participated in the Moon Cha Memorial tournament at the National Go Center on September 9. 2017.09.10_moon-cha-tourneyKeith Arnold shared some introductory remarks about the legacy of Moon Cha, one of the first to popularize go throughout the greater Washington DC area.

Eric Lui 1P continued his undefeated sweep of NGC tournaments to take first place. Other division winners were: Joel Cahalan 2D (3-1), Bob Crites 6K (4-0), Joon Lee 9K (3-1), Alvin Pee 15K (4-0), and Qidi Xu 16K (4-0). The annual Pumpkin Classic will be the next tournament at the NGC on October 28.

- report by Gurujeet Khalsa, photo by Nate Eagle


Categories: U.S./North America

Seeking pro or amateur US rep for Bingsheng Cup

Sunday September 10, 2017

The 8th Qionglong Mountain Bingsheng Cup, a women’s weiqi tournament, is seeking a representative from the US. The tournament will be held November 5-11 in Suzhou, China. Professional and amateur women interested in representing the US in this event should send an e-mail to Please reply no later than Friday, September 22nd so that we may run a preliminary tournament among the interested players.
- Jeff Shaevel, AGA National Tournament Coordinator

Your Move/Readers Write: AlphaGo is unbeatable; get over it

Sunday September 10, 2017

“Apparently, some people believe that someday a human will be able to defeat AlphaGo,” writes Joel Sanet. “It’s not gonna happen. The reason is biological, not technological. No human being is capable of thinking about the game the way AlphaGo does. AlphaGo’s way of thinking is better than the human way; ergo it is no longer possible for a human to beat AlphaGo. We human beings are not capable of considering a choice of moves by determining a concrete number for each called “the probability of winning” then choosing the one with the highest value, but this is what AlphaGo does.

“Thinking that it is possible for a human to win now is due to anthropomorphization, the application of human attributes to something that is not human, a process rampant in the go community. I have heard people say, ‘AlphaGo likes the early 3-3 invasion’ or ‘He (or she) likes thickness.’ AlphaGo can’t ‘like’ anything because it has no emotions. It plays the early 3-3 invasion because it maximizes its probability of winning in certain openings. Also, as far as I know, AlphaGo has no concept of thickness. It has nothing to do with how AlphaGo derives its moves. Furthermore, AlphaGo is not a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. AlphaGo is an ‘it’.

To attribute thinking to AlphaGo is also a mistake. I wrote that it chooses the option with the highest probability of winning. It doesn’t “choose” anything because it isn’t self-aware. AlphaGo receives input, does what it is programmed to do, and produces output. To me this is more akin to a human knee jerk than to true thought. A doctor’s percussion hammer causes sensory neurons to fire off a signal to the spinal cord where it is processed and returned to the knee via motor neurons without intercession of the brain. This is analogous to AlphaGo’s input-programming-output. AlphaGo’s programming is immutable. The day AlphaGo changes its own programming is the day I’ll say it thinks.

Nevertheless, humans can learn from AlphaGo. We have learned that the shoulder hit is a lot more useful than anyone thought. AlphaGo’s new 3-3 invasion joseki makes sense so we can benefit from that, but I advise you not to do the early invasions until you are able to read the rest of the game to the end.

Alphago’s supremacy over humans is no reason to feel that studying go is a dead end. Your study is de facto open-ended because you will never reach the end of it. People study go to improve, not to become the strongest player on the planet.”

AlphaGo vs AlphaGo Game 6: Flexibility and a bias for complications

Sunday September 10, 2017

“In this game AlphaGo shows its flexibility when Black abandons a running fight and tries to control the open lower side of the board instead,”2017-09-10-alphago-game-5-video says Michael Redmond 9p in his game commentary on AlphaGo-AlphaGo Game 6. “In the second fight of the game, White deals with two weak groups masterfully. Finally, Alphago shows its bias for complications when White allows a dangerous ko in the corner.”

Click here for Redmond’s video commentary, hosted by the AGA E-Journal’s Chris Garlock. As usual, the commentary in the sgf file here includes variations not covered in the video commentary, and the sgf commentary includes additional comments transcribed from the video.

The video is produced by Michael Wanek and Andrew Jackson. The sgf file was created by Redmond, with editing and transcription by Garlock and Myron Souris.


Power Report (3): Takao makes good start in Meijin title match; Women’s Meijin tournament gives up league; Promotions

Friday September 8, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.09.06_Takao wins Meijin 1

Takao makes good start in Meijin title match: 
The first game of the 42nd Meijin title match was held at the Conrad Osaka, a Western-style hotel in Kita Ward, on August 30 and 31. Unusually for a Japanese title game, the players were seated at a table. The big interest in this series is whether Iyama will achieve his second grand slam. He has kept all his other six titles, usually winning the title matches 2017.09.06_end of Meijin 1 Iyama Leftcomfortably, but there is no guarantee he will get another chance like this. His opponent, Takao Shinji Meijin (right), will be just as determined to defend his title, one big factor in his motivation being his age: having turned 40, he can’t count on many more chances to win a big-three title.
Iyama (left) drew black in the nigiri. Not surprisingly, the game featured continuous fighting that got more and more complicated as the game went on, making it impossible to summarize it. Takao made a very skillful sacrifice that seemed to give him the initiative in the center. He successfully parried desperate attempts by Iyama to catch up and ended up with a half-point win. The second game will be played on September 12 and 13.

Women’s Meijin tournament gives up league: The pairings for the 30th Women’s Meijin tournament were published in the latest Weekly Go issue, and it was announced that the seven-player league system adopted for the 21st to the 29th terms had been abolished. The final section of the tournament will revert to the standard knock-out format with 16 participants. The reason is that will give more players a chance to become the challenger.

To 3-dan: Onishi Ryuhei (40 wins, as of August 22), Kikkawa Hajime (as of September 1)
To 2-dan: Oomote Takuto, Otake Yu (30 wins, both as of August 25)

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Power Report (2): Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Ichiriki to challenge for Oza and Tengen; DeepZenGo wins computer tournament

Thursday September 7, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo: 
She may have lost some titles to Fujisawa Rina recently, but there is no doubt that Xie Yimin (reverting to Pinyin spelling) remains one of the top two women players in Japan. In the final of the 36th Women’s Honinbo tournament, held on August 17, Xie (W) beat Yoshihara Yukari 6P by 5.5 points, so she has a chance to wrest back one of her lost titles. The title match starts on September 27 and features the same pairing for three years in a row.

Ichiriki to challenge for Oza and Tengen: Ichiriki Ryo made his debut in top-seven title matches when he challenged Iyama Yuta for2017.09.06_Oza chall Ichiriki left Shibano R the Tengen title last year. He won the second game but lost the match 1-3. This year he has earned himself two chances to take revenge.
First, in the play-off to decide the challenger for the 65th Oza title, held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on August 25, Ichiriki (B, at left) beat Shibano Toramaru (right) by 1.5 points. The senior player (Ichiriki turned 20 in June) prevailed over the junior one. If Shibano had won, he would have become the youngest player to challenge for a top-seven title. (By the way, after this result the two shared first place in the most-wins list, Shibano with 33-8 and Ichiriki with 33-9.) The first game of the title match will be played on October 20.
On August 31, the play-off to decide the challenger for the 43rd Tengen title was held at the Nihon Ki-in and it pitted Ichiriki against the 38-year-old Yamashita Keigo. This was the same pairing as last year, and the result was the same, a win for the younger player. Taking black, Ichiriki won by 4.5 points. The first game will be played on October 11.

DeepZenGo wins computer tournament: A new tournament, the Zhongxin Securities Cup World Electric Brain Go tournament, has been founded in China to decide the world’s top go-playing program, and the 1st Cup was held in Ordos in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in China, on August 16 and 17. In the final, the Japanese program DeepZenGo, often referred to just as Zen, beat CGI of Chinese Taipei. With the retirement of AlphaGo, DeepZenGo can claim to be the world’s top AI go program, but in the preliminary round it actually came third, losing to both CGI, which was top with 5-1, and Absolute Art, the to Chinese program, which was 4-1. These losses led Kato Hideki, the main programmer of Zen, to make some changes in its settings, and that secured success in the final round. (Zen beat Absolute Art in the semifinal.)

Tomorrow: Takao makes good start in Meijin title match; Women’s Meijin tournament gives up league; Promotions

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

DeepZenGo wins all-AI go competition

Wednesday September 6, 2017

At an all-AI go competition held in China, Japan’s DeepZenGo took first place and then bested top Chinese pro Kong Jie 9p, who was being assisted by one of the AI runners up, CGI, from Taiwan. Jie was able to choose which AI to use as an assistant, and opted for CGI over the Chinese system FineArt, which had come into the tournament as a favorite. Among the 12 contestant systems, one North American entrant, MuGo by Brian Lee, came in 11th. MuGo was only six or so months old, and not that strong yet, but Lee was pleased to play against other systems, and preparing for this event with a short lead time was good motivation to work harder. “It was good to have a goal. I’d been working on it alone for four months, and it’s difficult to construct imaginary castles when there’s no one looking at it but yourself.” Scheduling conflicts kept other North American Go programmers, like Dave Fotland, away and Facebook has not been working on its system actively. The AlphaGo group did not attend, with the final versions of AlphaGo having retired from competition after the match with Ke Jie 9p in May. The competition took place in Ordos City, China, at the first ever Chinese Go Congress, a well-attended event that brought together 5,000 mostly amateur attendees, according to organizers.
- Andy Okun, Special Correspondent


Categories: China,Computer Go/AI

The Power Report (1): Hsieh and Iyama pair win Pair Go tournament; Ichiriki wins Kisei S League; Youngest member ever of Honinbo League

Wednesday September 6, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.09.06_pair-go

Hsieh and Iyama pair win Pair Go tournament: The Pair Go World Championship Stars Tournament 2017 was held at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo, on August 12 and 13 and was won by the pair of Hsieh Yimin and Iyama Yuta, representing Japan. In a sense, this tournament is a successor to the Pair Go World Cup 2016 Tokyo, which was held in Shibuya last year and was a great success with go fans. It is actually in two parts. The first part, the Stars Tournament, was a mini-knockout tournament in which two pairs from Japan and one each from Korea and Chinese Taipei took part. The winners are to play the winning pair from last year’s World Cup in the second part of the tournament, called the Masters Match, in October.

The luck of the draw saw the two teams from Japan play each other in the first round. The pair of Hsieh Yimin 6P (spelling is a mixture of two romanization systems but follows the Nihon Ki-in HP) and Iyama Yuta 9P (B) beat the pair of Fujisawa Rina 3Pand Hane Naoki 9P by resig. In the other first-round game, Choi Jeong 7-dan and Park Jeonghwan 9-dan (W) from Korea beat Hei Jia-jia 7P (also known as Joanne Missingham) and Chen Shih-yuan 9P of Chinese Taipei by resig. In the final, Hsieh and Iyama (B) beat Choi and Park by resig. First prize was ten million yen. Hsieh and Iyama will meet the World Cup-winning pair of Yu Zhiying 5P and Ke Jie 9P in the Masters Match. Hei and Chen (B) beat Fujisawa and Hane by 5.5 points in the play-off for 3rd place.

Like last year, a competition in solving life-and-death problems was also held. The four human pairs competed against the Pandanet life-and-death AI program Panda Sensei in solving five problems. The time allowed for the super-difficult problems was ten minutes each. Panda Sensei won easily, like last year, with four correct solutions in the fastest time. Choe and Park came second, with one correct solution, and Hsieh and Iyama third (they solved the same problem, but the Korea pair was a little faster). What is notable, however, is that Panda Sensei was unable to solve one problem.

(Even in Japan, some fans commented that the winning team above is only half Japanese, as Hsieh is Taiwanese, but it has long been established that players can represent the country of their professional affiliation.)

Ichiriki wins Kisei S League: Two games in the S League of the 42nd Kisei tournament were held on August 10. Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and Murakawa Daisuke 8P (W) beat Cho U 9P, also by resig. As a result, there were four players on 2-2, namely, 2017.09.06_Honinbo league Kyo left Shibano rightKono, Yamashita, Murakawa, and Cho U, which meant that Ichiriki Ryo 7P, on 4-0, became unbeatable with one round still to be played. The other league member is So Yokoku 9P, who is on 0-4. Ichiriki secures a place in the play-off to decide the challenger; he needs only one game in the best-of-three, so he has a good chance of meeting Iyama in the title match.

Youngest member ever of Honinbo League: The four vacant places in the 73rd Honinbo League have been decided. Two of the final play-offs were held on August 17. In one, Kobayashi Satoru 9P (B) beat Terayama Rei 5P by resig.; in the other, Ida Atsushi 8P (W) beat Ichiriki Ryo 7P by half a point. Kobayashi will play in his fifth Honinbo League and Ida in his fourth.
The third place was decided on August 31. Playing black, Yo Seiki (Yu Chengqi) 7P beat Yoda Norimoto 9P by 2.5 points. This will be Yo’s fourth Honinbo League.
The last place was decided on September 4, when Shibano Toramaru 7P (right) beat Kyo Kagen (Xu Jiayuan) 4P (game details not yet available to me). At 17 years nine months, Shibano is the youngest player to win a seat in the Honinbo League. He has been a pro for three years exactly, so he is also the quickest. (The record for all leagues is held by Ichiriki Ryo, who got into the Kisei League aged 16 years nine months. The new league starts in October; many fans will be looking forward to Shibano’s debut, as he is not only the strongest high-teen player in Japan but also has an aggressive, individualistic style.
Tomorrow: Xie to challenge for Women’s Honinbo; Ichiriki to challenge for Oza and Tengen; DeepZenGo wins computer tournament

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

2017 Cincy/Tristate Go Tournament held in Mason, OH

Tuesday September 5, 2017

On August 26, go players gathered in Mason, Ohio, for the 3rd annual Cincy/Tri-state go tournament. The tournament, generously sponsored 2017.09.05-CincyGoTournamentby the Asian Pacific American Forum of General Electric and the Confucius institute of Miami University attracted about 40 players from major cities of Ohio and neighboring states including Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan. Also on hand was a graduate student from George Washington University who traveled all the way from DC to southwest Ohio just to enjoy meeting new friends while playing go.

Eight-year-old Stephanie Tan from Indiana swept with an impressive four wins and was placed top youth in Division C. College student Soren Jaffe of Cleveland Ohio, defeated University of Cincinnati exchange student Feifan Jia (5D) of China in the fourth round (de facto the final game). Other winners of the tournament include: Haoze Zou (5D, youth division A) from Mason, Ohio; Chris Martin (4K, adult Division B) from Louisville, Kentucky; Jonathan Luo (8K, youth Division B) from Mason, Ohio; and Dave Olnhausen (15K, adult Division C) from Toledo, Ohio.

Mason is located in the northeast corner of greater Cincinnati area. Mason was named one of the best places to live in the United States several times by Money magazine and CNN. Mason is home to Kings Island amusement park and home of the Western & Southern Open, one of the world’s top tennis tournaments. It’s the third year the go tournament was hosted here by Mason Go Club and Huaxia Chinese School at Mason.
- report/photos by Frank Luo

Categories: U.S./North America

Join the AGHS; Zhang and Ho New Presidents

Tuesday September 5, 2017

aghs logo“Join us now if you want to take on a leadership role in nurturing the next generation of go players in America,” says new American Go Honor Society (AGHS) Co-President Sammy Zhang.  “Our mission is to spread and promote the game of go among youth in the US.” The AGHS runs the School Team Tournament and the Young Lions, two of the largest youth tourneys in North America. Zhang and Brandon Ho are the new Co-Presidents, while Terry Luo will serve as Vice-President. All of the other officer positions are available.  Fill out the application here  and email it to aghspresident@gmail.comApplications are due by September 17th and officers will be selected by the end of the month.