American Go E-Journal

Bitcoin.io: A New Server With Unique Prizes

Sunday March 9, 2014

What do you get when you cross the world’s oldest game with the newest form of currency? A bitcoin go tournament, such as the ones being organized online every week at Bitcoingo.io. “Bitcoins are an ideal currency for an international game like go,” founder Steven Pine told the EJ.  “It allows students and teachers to connect and transact without concern for currency exchanges or waiting on a check or wire transfer to clear. The same is true for tournaments. I think the currency has lots of potential to transform the go community in many positive ways.”

Anyone can sign up, enter a tournament and begin playing on Bitcoin’s own Python/mySQL-based server. Komi is 6.5 points, and each player starts with 15 minutes; there are five 30-second overtime periods. Territory counting is used but no full rule set has been formally adopted. A tournament win earns the victor at least one point, depending on how many points their opponent has. A new tournaments starts, and the old one finishes, at midnight each Saturday. The self-paired “most points” format favors active competitors, so if you plan to play to win, you may need a comfy chair. The winner of the February 10 tournament had 78 points.

Bitcoins are notoriously unstable – last week it was discovered that as much as 5% of the total bitcoin money supply had been stolen from a prominent exchange without detection several years ago; the exchange declared bankruptcy. (NY Times 2/25/14) If you plan to convert your winnings to real-world money you may face a challenge. The weekly pot has been 6,000,000 “satoshis” but before you start planning your retirement, you should know that it breaks down to about $40 depending on the bitcoin’s daily value relative to the USD. (On 3/1/14 one bitcoin was valued at $556.85 on Coindesk, which monitors exchanges, down more than ten percent from just ten days before.) “Although the ‘satoshi’ – the smallest fraction of a bitcoin that can be transacted, currently .00000001th of a bit coin —  is not well-known, we decided to use it as a base unit to drive home the point that bitcoins are easily divisible and can facilitate micro payments,” Pine said. “Some services talk about ‘millibits,’ but we thought it would be more fun for people to win like 1,000,000 satoshis.” Pine and cofounder Jonathan Hales are underwriting the prizes themselves, hoping that tournament and teaching fees will make the site revenue positive.

If you check it out, bear in mind that it’s a work in progress.  Traffic is very low; a private room on an established server would probably bring in more users. But if you enjoy checking out new servers, Steven and Jonathan will appreciate your visit!
- Roy Laird 

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Tournament Boosts Membership

Sunday March 9, 2014

In “a nice little follow-up” to the recent New Jersey Open, organizer Rick Mott reports that “We got 22 new members and 34 renewals, for a total of 56 memberships out of 135 total attendees.” Of those, Mott notes that “almost half – 26 — were youth memberships.”
photo by John Pinkerton 

Categories: U.S./North America
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Progress Reported on Project to Bring Cuban Delegation to U.S. Go Congress

Saturday March 8, 2014

“We are making good progress toward bringing a group of Cuban go players to this year’s U.S. Go Congress,” (Cuban Delegation Invited to US Go Congress 1/20/2014 EJ) reports Bob Gilman, who has been organizing the project. Three Cuban players have accepted the invitation to attend, and fundraising for the project is nearly complete. “Go has been the bridge for us to learn about many cultures, places, and especially good people, for whom friendship and respect are most important values,” says Rafael Alberto Torres Miranda 2D (at left in photo), one of the invitees and President of the Academia Cubana de Go. The other players invited are  Carlos Alberto Perez Palacio 5D and Roilan de la Torre Marrero 5D. The Cubans have their passports now and are working with the Cuban Sports Ministry to obtain US visas.  

The visit will return the hospitality the Academia extended to a group of US players who played there in February 2013. Because the Cubans cannot afford the travel costs themselves, Gilman, working through the American Go Foundation, has been raising money to sponsor the visit. There is a brief video on the project here. “We estimate we will need about $6,000,” says Gilman, “and we are nearly there, but still need some additional donations.” Those interested in supporting the project can make out a check to the American Go Foundation (with “CC2014” in the memo field); include your email address so that Gilman can acknowledge donations as they are received.  Send checks to: Robert D. Gilman, P.O. Box 40020, Albuquerque, NM 87196-0020. “I will  hold them uncashed until the Cubans have their visas, probably in April. At that point I’ll inform contributors and send the checks on to the AGF for cashing.” For more details on the  project, email bobgilman.aga@gmail.com.
photo by Andrew Okun 

Categories: U.S. Go Congress
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Go Quiz: Earliest NJO Appearance

Saturday March 8, 2014

Lee Sedol did not need this kiss for luck from his daughter before the first game of his historic jubango with Gu Li, but perhaps it carried over to the second, where he was fortunate to come from behind.  Five out of six of you who ventured into the scary world of no multiple choice did not need luck either, correctly identifying the other pro in last week’s photo (left). “Easy.” comments Brian Kirby,” That’s Cho Hanseung (Hansung) 9P. He’s the current Kuksu, recently beating out Lee Sedol to defend his title. Mr. Cho doesn’t get as much press as Mr. Sedol, but he actually became pro the same year (1995).” Congratulations to Dong Wei of Austin, Texas, our winner this week, selected at random from those answering correctly.

THIS WEEK’S QUIZ: Congratulations to Paul Mathews and Rick Mott for their wildly successful 55th New Jersey Open, attracting a record 125 players March 1-2 in Princeton (including 22 new members and 34 renewals). The oldest continuous tournament in the US (second oldest is the Maryland Open: the 41st is coming up on May 24-25; see you there!), the NJO gathered go players from all over the East Coast.  An informal but 99 44/100% accurate poll of this year’s attendees taken by your quizmaster confirmed the answer to this week’s question: of all those playing in this year’s New Jersey Open, one player held the record for the earliest NJ Open appearance. Did he play in his first NJO in 1973, 1975, 1977 or 1986?  Click here to submit your answer; bonus points if you name the player correctly.

Categories: Go Quiz
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Go Game Guru Publishes MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango Game Commentary

Saturday March 8, 2014

Go Game Guru has just published an excellent detailed game commentary by Younggil An 8P on the second game of the MLily Gu vs Lee Jubango, which was played on February 23 on the outskirts of Shanghai. “Many people expected that Gu Li (right) would have something of an advantage in this match,” says An, “because most of the games will be played in China. However, it doesn’t seem like Lee Sedol is affected by that so far…Actually, it looks like Gu Li is under quite a bit of pressure from his fans and the Chinese media.”

Categories: World
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Go Spotting: Teen Wolf

Friday March 7, 2014

MTV’s popular drama Teen Wolf features go prominently in the latest episode The  Fox and the Wolf.  Part of the episode is set in a Japanese internment camp, during the second World War, and a character named Satomi uses go throughout the episode, to help control her emotions.  “You take too frequently, and you take too much,” Satomi tells a younger woman, in a conversation at the go board that is as much about stealing supplies for sale on the black market as it is about the game. “The young fox always knows the rules so she can break them, the older  wiser animal learns the exceptions to the rules,” says Satomi as she captures a stone.  The entire episode can be streamed on the MTV website here, go first appears in the episode at the 9 minute mark. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: Satomi studies the board, from Teen Wolf Episode 21.  

School Teams Deadline March 14th

Tuesday March 4, 2014

“The 2014 AGHS School Team Tournament is right around the corner, March 22 and 29,” reports tournament organizer Calvin Sun 1P. “Don’t miss the largest annual youth competition in North America. Registration will end on March 14th, so form your teams quickly!  Teams will consist of three players and an optional substitute player. There are thousands of dollars in prizes, and your team can win a prize either by doing well or simply playing all your games,” adds Sun. For more information about the schedule, prizes, and rules, please visit the AGHS website . Registration is here.  All questions should be addressed to aghsregister@gmail.com. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

U.S. Go Congress Website Update

Tuesday March 4, 2014

The 2014 U.S. Go Congress website is undergoing some testing today and may be offline at times. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Categories: U.S. Go Congress
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Double Victory for Cornel Burzo at British Go Congress

Monday March 3, 2014

At the British Go Congress in Bognor Regis, England, Cornel Burzo 6d (right) of Baia Mare, Romania first won the British Lightning on Friday February 28, then followed it up with a sweep of the six-round British Open, March 1-2. In all, 61 players took part in the Open, including nearly 25% from mainland  Europe and beyond. Prizes were awarded in eight separate divisions based on grade, and the runner-up in the first division, Robert Rehm 5d of the Netherlands, also took first prize in the second division, with Bei Ge 5d (UK ) runner-up. Click here for the British Go Association’s (BGA) report giving full list of divisional prize-winners and here for full tournament results. The Stacey Grand Prix, which bestows the Terry Stacey Memorial Trophy on the player with most wins above the McMahon bar in tournaments since the previous Congress, went this year to Toby Manning 2d.

The Congress also took in the BGA’s Annual General Meeting on the evening of  Saturday March 1 and rounded off on Monday March 2 with a teaching day featuring Japanese Nihon Ki-in professionals Minematsu Masaki and Kobayashi Chizu, who have also been teaching and reviewing throughout the weekend.

Meanwhile the European Youth Go Congress, running in parallel at the same venue with eighty-nine players in three age divisions, also finished March 2. The tournament continued at presstime and will be reported soon, but the impatient may click here for full results.

Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal; photo courtesy of European Go Congress 2014 website.
Update (3/8): there was no communal meal on March 1, as previously reported. 

Secret Weapon Shi Yue Leads China to Victory at 15th Nongshim Cup

Monday March 3, 2014

China and Korea were the final contenders in the 15th Nongshim Cup after Japan was knocked out at the end of round 2. In round 3, Korea’s Park Junghwan 9p defeated China’s Tan Xiao 7p and Zhou Ruiyang 9p and Korean fans relaxed, thinking Park had secured the cup like last year. However, China’s secret weapon Shi Yue 9p defeated Park in 133 moves. This seems to be a familiar pattern, as Park has only bested Shi once in their five game history.

The Nongshim Cup is a team tournament between China, Japan, and Korea. Since its inception, Korea has won 11 times. This year’s victory puts China at three wins while Japan has only won once.

For more information including photos and game records, please visit Go Game Guru.
— Annalia Linnan, based on a longer article by Go Game Guru; photo courtesy of Go Game Guru