American Go E-Journal

Go Spotting: Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon”

Monday March 17, 2014

The novel “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson “has a 2-page scene involving a go board and a rambling digression using go as a metaphor in the middle of its 1100+ pages,” reports David Doshay. “Cryptography is one of the main themes of the book.” Doshay warns that “this book is not for folks bothered by swearing.”

Categories: Go Spotting
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Japanese Professionals Minematsu & Kobayashi Tour UK

Sunday March 16, 2014

The recent European Youth Go Championship (EYGC) and British Go Congress held in Bognor Regis, England saw Japanese professionals Minematsu Masaki 6p and Kobayashi Chizu 5p visiting the UK under the auspices of the Nihon Ki-in. As previously reported (Podpera Takes Top Prize at European Youth Go Championships, 3/9 EJ), they gave teaching sessions  and reviewed games throughout the long weekend, finishing off on Monday March 4 with a full teaching day for adults as the European youth battled out the final rounds.

Additionally they both paid a visit on Thursday February 27, the evening before the start of the EYGC, to the Oxford City Go Club where Harry Fearnley had assembled 13 players from 20 kyu to 5 dan. They initially divided into two teams to play one against the other, each member of a team taking two consecutive turns before handing the baton to the next, and the pros used the moves in this game to make teaching points. After that, each pro took on 6 participants in a simul (right). Click here for Harry Fearnley’s full report of the Oxford visit, including more photos and the record of Fearnley’s game against Minematsu.

After the EYGC, Kobayashi alone went on to visit two more UK clubs: North London Go Club in Hampstead on Tuesday March 4 and Edinburgh University Thursday March 6.

I caught up with her at the North London venue, where 11 attended, from beginner to 6d. Club Secretary Michael Webster was our host. Proceedings started with a similar exercise to that at Oxford, but with only about eight present initially, we formed one team to play by turn –two moves each — against the pro while she made observations about our moves (left). This gave time for a couple of latecomers to find the Parish Church tucked away in the back streets of Hampstead, and we all then went on to look at some joseki, before most of us took on Kobayashi individually in a simul. During the simul she helpfully suggested better moves and at close of play made general suggestions about how I could play more effectively.

Between times I got the chance to ask Kobayashi her impressions of UK go and the EYGC in particular. She has long had a mission to spread the game and Japanese go culture in the western world, especially Europe, and particularly focusing on the young. In 2007 she lived in Vienna  and has also spent time in Berlin and Paris, where she was heading after the UK tour. In 2008 she was appointed Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange for the Japanese Government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs and later also became a director of the Nihon Ki-in. Talking about her work, she likened the promotion of go culture to the cultivation of a garden. She mentioned points of go etiquette during the evening too, such as opening an even game as black with a play to the top right corner and not rattling the stones in the bowl whilst thinking. She told me she saw much promise amongst the young players at the EYGC – some of whom, such as new Under-20  European Champion Lukas Podpera, she had already met – but emphasised that those aspiring especially to pro status should take professional go tuition at the earliest age possible. She related how her father, a strong amateur, had applied for insei at age 19 but was told, “too late.” For that reason he sent his children to learn young, with Kobayashi Chizu herself starting at age 6. She studied under Kitani Minoru and she and two of her brothers, Satoru and Kenji all became professionals. Of Oscar Vazquez 2d, Under-12 European Champion, she said he was “very calm” and had a reputation for “never making mistakes”.

The next day, Kobayashi took the long train ride north to Edinburgh in Scotland, where she appeared on the evening of Thursday March 7 at the Appleton Tower of the University. Boris Mitrovic, a postgraduate research student at the University’s School of Informatics and a challenger for the British Go Championship last year, hosted. There 15 sat around a single board (right), starting off with the same two-moves-each against Kobayashi exercise as at N. London, as she commented with instructive criticism. They then solved a few tsumego together, after which three or four pairs of the attendees each played the first few moves of games which became the subject of the pro’s comments. At the end of the evening – and the tour – Kobayashi was taken for a meal at the Favorit restaurant.

Click here for Kobayashi’s own photo album of her UK visit.

Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal. Photos: Minematsu considers his next move against Harry Fearnley, by Oxford club member; Francisco Divers contemplates the position as Michael Webster looks on, while Kobayashi smiles at a comment by another onlooker, by Tony Collman; Katherine Power makes one of two consecutive moves for Kobayashi’s consideration at Edinburgh University, by Boris Mitrovic.

Categories: Europe,Go News
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Go Spotting: Disney Go

Sunday March 16, 2014

Anton Ninno spotted this mysterious sky-writing recently outside the Japan Center at Disney Epcot in Orlando, Florida.

Categories: Go Spotting
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Upcoming European Tournament: 6th Strasbourg International

Sunday March 16, 2014

The 6th Strasbourg International Tournament will take place May 24 and 25 at the Collège Saint-Etienne. In addition to the main tournament, players may enjoy asian game demonstrations and an all-you-can-eat dinner on Saturday. There will be cash prizes for the top players and the top player with three wins. Registration is free for players below 10kyu and younger than age 18. The registration fee for all other players is 15 EU. For more information about the tournament including rules and full schedule, visit the official 6th Strasbourg International website.
—Annalia Linnan; for complete listings, check out the European Tournament Calendar

Go Quiz: Most Rated Games

Sunday March 16, 2014

Last Week’s Quiz: Only one of you picked 1973 as the year of earliest New Jersey Open attendance in the field two weeks ago. Jeff Rohlfs (right) was working at Bell Labs when he attended the event held at his work location. The longtime player now lives in suburban Maryland. Brian Kirby, who is quickly becoming the new Phil Waldron of the quiz, missed the answer but correctly placed your quizmaster as making his first appearance in 1986, and did come up with Jeff as the possible winner. Another of Brian’s possibles, Ted Terpstra, good-naturedly complained that our blurb about the event attracting players from “all over the East Coast” failed to mention his visit from San Diego (though actually Ted was mentioned in the EJ’s first-day report, New Jersey Open Attracts Record Crowd for First Day of Play 3/1 EJ). Event organizer Paul Mathews also attended Opens when it was held at Bell Labs, but not as early as Jeff.  Congrats to our sole correct answerer, quiz vet Reinhold Burger (although his nominee was Hal Small)

This Week’s Quiz: Last week’s question was fun but obscure, so this week, with Spring Training in the air, try this softball grand-daddy of US go queries: Who is the current AGA record-holder for most rated games (records going back to 1991)? Is it Martin Lebl, Chuck Robbins, Steve Barberi or Jeff Horn?  Click here to submit your answer.

- Keith Arnold, HKA

 

Categories: Go Quiz
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New on the AGA Website: Classic Chinese Problem Collection

Sunday March 16, 2014

Guanzi Pu (Sensei’s Library), a classic Chinese problem collection from 1660 of 1473 problems has just been added to the Learn Overview page, based on a post on L19 . It is one of the problem collections that is considered high dan/pro level, although it may be the easiest of those. Some problems are easy at the beginning, but ramp up. Includes a PDF with multiple problems per page, but doesn’t include the solutions, typeset by pwaldron. Also includes a PDF (ebook) version that includes all 1473 problems (plus a few extras) and answers from p2501 on L19.
- Greg Smith, AGA website team

San Diego Club Promotes Go at Cherry Blossom Festival

Saturday March 15, 2014

The San Diego Go Club manned a go booth on May 8 at the 9th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. “On a perfect San Diego sunny spring day in the 70’s,thousands crowded into the expanded garden,” reports club president Ted Terpstra. The club introduced go to the passersby and played demonstration games. Comments ranged from “What is that interesting game?” to “You play go in America! I am a Chinese level four player.” Several new members were signed up for the club.

Categories: U.S./North America
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Teen Wolf Update: Michael Redmond 9P is the Nogitsune

Saturday March 15, 2014

Turns out the board position in episode 22 of Teen Wolf (EJ 3-12-14) is from a real game. “I had the pleasure of setting up the go board for this scene, and I got paid for it too,” reports 2012 AGF Teacher of the Year Joe Walters. “The empty triangle is a real move. The game was between Michael Redmond 9P and Chino Tadahiko 9P on March 15, 2012, in the B section of the Meijin. I set the game up for the scene sometime before Xmas last year, they provided the board and stones. I did it on the floor in the room where they shot the scene, but not on the tree stump where they used it in the final scene. Someone took pictures of the board, and they duplicated the setup when they shot the scene later on. They just wanted a game that looked real, so I selected that one because it was by an American 9 dan pro and had only a few moves,” said Walters.

The game itself had been offered as a commented record by Michael Redmond, and appeared in the members edition of the E-Journal.   “The empty triangle, white 140, was just a normal endgame move,” Redmond tells the E-Journal. “Although good shape is advantageous even in the endgame, correct reading and calculation becomes much more important and as the board becomes crowded with stones, so-called ‘bad shapes’ become more likely and can often be the correct move, as in this case. Looking for good shape in this game, I would have chosen black 97 because, although I say it myself, it was an inspired and well-calculated move with which I forced the sequence that secured my win.” The timing in the episode of Teen Wolf is pretty good, as white actually resigns the move after the empty triangle, which coincides with Stiles sweeping the stones off the board, and also means the Nogitsune was playing Redmond’s moves. “I am glad to know that my games are getting this extra chance to be viewed by a non-playing audience,” adds Redmond. “It is great that go is now being used more in movies and other such media, and it is always exciting to see that reported in the AGA E-Journal.”  This week, as a special bonus for non-members, the E-J is providing Redmond’s commentary on his game record.  If you would like to receive exciting games like this in your e-mail every week, join the AGA as a full member here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor 

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On Studying With Kaz

Saturday March 15, 2014

by Steve Berthiaume

If you’ve been a subscriber to the Members’ Edition of the E-Journal, you’ve probably seen the occasional feature, “Lessons with Kaz.”  I always liked the style of these features, how Kazunari Furuyama (right) often suggests different moves for players of different abilities, or rates the severity of mistakes by assigning a dollar level to them, so I recently began taking lessons from him online. 

Kaz’s teaching methods appeal to me as an adult player, because he understands that the adult mind learns differently than that of younger players.  This is not to say that adults don’t have the same potential to improve, and Kaz has seen many of his adult students progress from mid-kyu to dan level under his tutelage.

For the first lesson, Kaz has his students submit 11 games for review, 10 that he looks through to get a sense of the player’s strengths, weaknesses and habits, and then a game which he reviews with extensive commentary and variations. Accompanying this review is a set of 25-30 problems.   Sometimes in place of some of the problems, Kaz will send a group of related problems that explain a concept in great detail.  An example of this would be Kaz’s “Peeps” or the “On Fighting” series that have been recently featured in the E-Journal. For subsequent lessons, Kaz asks that students continue to send recent games, so he can keep track of the student’s tendencies and address any issues that come up.

This is precisely the kind of instruction that appeals to me. I have a shelf (and now IPad) full of go books that — with the exception of a few recent books — always seem to be over my head after a few pages; I feel they are often geared to professional players who don’t make kyu-level mistakes, and feature commentary that leaves me scratching my head.  Instead, Kaz stresses basic, strong shapes that have broad application throughout the game, and repetition in various configurations that really allows the concepts to sink in.  He avoids complicated josekis, choosing simpler ones that also teach good shape and tesuji, and have broad application throughout the game.

Since starting lessons with Kaz, I have felt more in control of my games, able to remain calm and play moves that I knew were solid, as well as take advantage of opponent’s mistakes, particularly in 3-3 corner invasions.  This allows me to spend more time thinking about other aspects of my playing, and has greatly increased my enjoyment and fascination with this game that seems to be taking over my life.
- Steve Berthiaume is a 15-kyu who plays at the Milford Go Club in Milford, Massachusetts. Email cickazu@gmail.com  for details on studying with Kaz. photo by John Pinkerton

UK Preview: 3rd Isle of Skye Tournament This Weekend

Thursday March 13, 2014

One of the most beautiful and romantic UK tournament locations must surely be the Isle of Skye in Scotland’s Western Highlands, which this weekend, March 15-16, hosts the 3rd edition of its two-yearly tournament (alternating with the two-yearly Isle of Man Go Week). Despite its remoteness from most of the UK, 30 have already registered including Britain’s strongest native player, Matthew Macfadyen 6d, who rarely competes these days but who also entered – and won – the first two Skye tournaments.

Although the island’s economy was formerly dominated by crofting, these days tourism is its key money-spinner. Tournament organizer Carel Goodheir tells us that, for reasons which are not entirely clear, about 6,000 Chinese visit every year now, which is approximately twice the population of the largest settlement, Portree, where the tourney is held. So far none of them have entered but he hopes to find a way to bring the tourney to their attention in the future.

Forty years ago, when Goodheir first moved to the island, he estimates about 80% of the inhabitants  spoke the Scottish Gaelic as their main language, but nowadays less than 40% can speak it. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, a public higher education college in Sleat, Skye, is the world’s only educational establishment using Scottish Gaelic as the medium of instruction. If you’ve never heard the language – which in 2000AD also had about 1600 speakers in the US, and  currently has over 2300 in Canada – check out this short (2′ 15″) BBC Alba (Gaelic service) TV report on the 1st Skye tourney in 2010, featuring Neil Mitchison explaining the game in Gaelic, and believed to be the only BBC coverage to date of a go tournament. The clip opens with co-organizer John Macdonald at the board playing Aideen O’Malley, a director of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Click here for full tournament details

Report by Tony Collman, British correspondent for the E-Journal. Photo: Carel Goodheir mooring his boat at Portree with Honey the dog,  Old Man of Storr in background, by Ruth Goodheir