American Go E-Journal

Game Over? AlphaGo Beats Pro 5-0 in Major AI Advance 

Wednesday January 27, 2016

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In a stunning development, the AlphaGo computer program has swept European Go Champion and Chinese professional Fan Hui 2P 5-0, the first time that a go professional has lost such a match. “This signifies a major step forward in one of the great challenges in the development of artificial intelligence – that of game-playing,” said the British Go Association, which released the news on January 27, based on findings reported in the scientific journal Nature this week (click here for the video, here for Nature’s editorial, Digital intuition and here for Go players react to computer defeat). NOTE: This story was posted at 1p EST on Wednesday, January 27; be sure to get the latest breaking go news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

“AlphaGo’s strength is truly impressive!” said Hajin Lee, Secretary General of the International Go Federation and a Korean go professional herself. “Go has always been thought of as the ultimate challenge to game-playing artificial intelligence,” added Thomas Hsiang, Secretary General of the International Mind Sport Association and Vice President of International Go Federation. “This is exciting news, but bittersweet at the same time,” said American Go Association president Andy Okun. “I think we go players have taken some pride in the fact that we could beat the best computers. Now we’re down to Lee Sedol fighting for us.”

2016.01.27_hui-fanGoogle DeepMind, the British artificial intelligence company which developed AlphaGo, has issued a challenge to Lee Sedol 9P from South Korea, the top player in the world for much of the last 10 years, to play a 5-game, million-dollar in March. “I have played through the five games between AlphaGo and Fan Hui,” said Hsiang. “AlphaGo was clearly the stronger player. The next challenge against Lee Sedol will be much harder.” While Hajin Lee agreed, saying “I still doubt that it’s strong enough to play the world’s top pros,” she added “but maybe it becomes stronger when it faces a stronger opponent.” Fan Hui (left) is a naturalized French 2-dan professional go player originally from China. European Champion in 2014 and 2015, Fan is also a 6-time winner in Paris as well as Amsterdam.

Just as the Kasparov/Deep Blue match did not signal the end of chess between humans, “so the development of AlphaGo does not signal the end of playing go between humans,” the BGA pointed out. “Computers have changed the way that players study and play chess (see this 2012 Wired article), and we expect something similar to occur in the field of go, but not necessarily as assistance during play. It has been recognised for a long time that achievements in game-playing have contributed to developments in other areas, with the game of go being the pinnacle of perfect knowledge games.”  Added Okun, “go has for thousands of years been a contest between humans and a struggle of humans against their own limits, and it will remain so. We still cycle in the Tour de France, even though we’ve invented the motorcycle.”

The BGA noted that that achievements in game-playing technology have contributed to developments in other areas. The previous major breakthrough in computer go, the introduction of Monte-Carlo tree search, led to corresponding advances in many other areas.

Last year, the Facebook AI Research team also started creating an AI that can learn to play go and earlier today Mark Zuckerberg reported on Facebook that “We’re getting close, and in the past six months we’ve built an AI that can make moves in as fast as 0.1 seconds and still be as good as previous systems that took years to build. Our AI combines a search-based approach that models every possible move as the game progresses along with a pattern matching system built by our computer vision team.”

In a related story, computer scientist John Tromp last week revealed the number of legal go positions, “weighing in at 9*19=171 digits.” Read more here.

Game 1 of the AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui 2P match appears above right. Click below for the match’s remaining game records:
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 2
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 3
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 4
AlphaGo vs. Fan Hui, game 5

Update (11:44pm 1/27): Myungwan Kim 9P will analyze the games played between Fan Hui and AlphaGo during a live stream on the AGA YouTube Channel and TwitchTV this Friday; more details will be posted at 7a EST.

 

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Players Wanted for Chunlan Cup Online Playoffs

Wednesday January 27, 2016

The AGA has received a request to send a professional player to China for the 11th Chunlan Cup Selections March 25-28. Opening ceremony is on March 25th. This is the first section of the tournament and players will participate in the other sections if they advance on a date TBA. Airfare, food and lodging will be covered by the organizers. In addition, the minimum prize, for those who lose in the first round, is $2,000 pre-tax. The online play-offs will take place on the weekend of Feb. 20-21 on KGS. Eligibility: US/Canadian citizen, professional player, must meet AGA/CGA eligibility requirements. Must be able to play in the online tournament. Interested players should respond with their names, best form of contact, and KGS IDs before Feb. 10th. If there are multiple interested players, an online play-off will be held. Please send email responses and questions to cherry.shen@usgo.org

Jasiek Releases “Positional Judgement 2 – Dynamics”

Wednesday January 27, 2016

Robert Jasiek has released his 12th book, “Positional Judgement 2 – Dynamics.” Targeted at players 5 kyu to 5 dan, the book focused on “the 2016.01.27_PositionalJudgement_2_Cover_smalldynamic aspects of the middle game (influence, aji, fights etc.) and the related positional judgement with theory and examples,” says Jasiek. “While territory characterises peaceful positions, our assessment of dynamic positions includes reductions, aji, potential, influence, thickness and fights. The general theory applying to these concepts raises the quality of our middle game and enables our very profound positional judgement.” 276 pp., EUR 26.50 (book), EUR 13.25 (PDF). Click here for sample pages, a review, and all of Jasiek’s books.

U.S. Rep Sought for Bailing Cup

Tuesday January 26, 2016

Online play-offs to determine the U.S. rep to the 3rd Bailing Cup will take place on the weekend of February 6-7 on KGS. The AGA has received a request to send an amateur player to Beijing, China (China Qiyuan) for the 3rd Bailing Cup in March 11-15th. All expenses (travel, lodging, local transportation, and food) will be afforded by players. Players will compete in one of 48 pools and will qualify for the major competition if they take the top place in their assigned pool.

Eligibility: US/Canadian citizen, must meet AGA/CGA eligibility requirements. Must be able to play in the online tournament* and the major tournament sections if player advances. Interested players should email their names, best form of contact, and KGS IDs to cherry.shen@usgo.org before January, 31st. If there are multiple interested players, an online play-off will be held. Dates for the first, second and third rounds are June 28th to July 2nd. The fourth round will be held August 25th to 30th and the final competition will be September 20th to 22th and December 14th to 17th

*Note: This selection tournament applies to amateurs only.  Any professional players may directly register with Bailing Cup and participate in the preliminary round.
- Cherry Shen

Amateur Pair Go report

Sunday January 24, 2016

Korean pair Jeon Yujin-Song Hongsuk won the 26th International Amateur Pair Go Champion in Tokyo held December2016.01.24_pair-go2 5-6 at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont. Amy Wang 4D and Danny Ko 7D represented the United States. It was the second time the two had represented the US. “Amy represented in 2013 and I represented in 2014, so we pretty much knew the drill,” says Ko.

There were 32 teams including 12 Japanese pairs. “We drew a difficult first round match-up and fell to one of the strong Japanese pairs (7 Dan male and 6 Dan female) on Saturday morning (Dec 5). The game was somewhat competitive but we fell behind after a mid-game fight and lost about 10 points.”

2016.01.24_pair-go1After the first round, players and guests prepared for the goodwill game wearing national costumes. “Amy and I decided to wear ‘old western’ costumes. It was a great chance to meet other players and guests. I paired with a 6 Dan Japanese lady and played against Hajin Lee 3P and a Japanese 6-dan male player (left). It was my first time to play Hajin although we have been good friends for many years.”

“Sunday morning, we played Indonesia in the second round. We led the game with comfortable margin and won the game by resignation,” Ko told the E-Journal. “We drew the one of Japanese pairs (7-dan male and 5-dan female) again in the third round. The game was very competitive and both teams had many chances throughout the game. We pretty much lost the game at the last fight and lost about 5 points.”

In the 4th and 5th rounds, the US team played Mongolia and Finland. winning both games in less than 100 moves by resignation. Their 3-2 result  resulted in 16th place for the US. “The result was a little disappointing since we were hoping to win four games,” says Ko. “But we played very competitively against two Japanese pairs so it was not a bad performance. Click here for complete results.

 

The Power Report: Judan challenger: Iyama or Yo; Meijin League Update; Lead shared in Honinbo League; Women’s Meijin League concludes; Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense

Thursday January 21, 2016

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal2016.01.21_40kisei1_4

Judan challenger: Iyama or Yo: The new tournament year at the Nihon Ki-in got off to a good start on January 7. Most of the interest focused on the semifinals of the 54th Judan tournament. The Judan is the only top-seven title Iyama Yuta doesn’t hold; if he becomes the challenger, he has a chance of achieving a simultaneous grand slam. In his semifinal, Iyama (B) beat Imamura Toshiya 9P by resignation. His opponent in the play-off to decide the challenger to Ida Atsushi will be Yo Seiki 7P of the Kansai Ki-in. In his semifinal, Yo’s opponent, Shida Tatsuya 7P (B), forfeited the game because of an illegal move when he recaptured a ko immediately, without making a ko threat. (To be precise, Yo’s ko threat was a ko capture in a position that was a double ko; Shida, who was in his last minute of byo-yomi, should have captured the other ko.) Last year Yo lost the play-off to decide the Oza challenger to Iyama, so he will be seeking revenge. This chance comes on January 21.

Meijin League Update: The first game of the second round of the 41st Meijin League was played on January 7. Ko Iso 8P (B) beat Hane2016.01.21_meijin-league Naoki 9P by resignation. At this point, Ko, on 2-0, took the provisional lead. On January 11, Takao Shinji 9P (B) beat Kono Rin 9P by resig. and joined Ko in the provisional lead.

Lead shared in Honinbo League: The first game in the fourth round of the 71st Honinbo League was played on January 7, with Ichiriki Ryo 7P (B) beating Yamashita Keigo 9P by 4.5 points. On January 14, Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Motoki 2016.01.21_honinbo-leagueKatsuya 7P by resig. This was Motoki’s first loss, so he now shares the lead with Yo; both are on 3-1. Takao also has only one loss, so he has a chance of joining them in the lead.

Women’s Meijin League concludes: The final round of the 28th Women’s Meijin League was held on January 7. Aoki Kikuyo 8P had already won the league in the fifth round, but she won her final game as well to finish with a perfect score. Results: Aoki (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 3P by resig.; Okuda Aya 3P (B) beat Kato Keiko 6P by resig.; Suzuki Ayumi 6P (B) beat Mannami Nao 3P by 2.5 points. The title match with Xie Yimin will start in March.2016.01.21_womens-meijin

Iyama makes good start in Kisei defense: The first game of the 40th Kisei title match was held at the Konjakutei inn in Higashiyama Hot Spring in the city of Aizu-wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture on January 14 and 15. The defending champion Iyama Yuta (aged 26) drew white in the nigiri to decide the colors. The challenger Yamashita Keigo 9-dan (aged 37) made a positive start, playing aggressively in the opening. The game was decided by a ko fight in which Yamashita sacrificed a group in order to win a ko started after White invaded a black position. Iyama took the lead in this exchange and hung on for a win, rebuffing some do-or-die attacks by Black. Yamashita resigned after 202 moves. The second game will be played on January 28 and 29.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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Dallas Tournament Aims to Build Go Community in South Central US

Thursday January 21, 2016

The upcoming South Central Go Tournament in Dallas February 13-14 “aims to bring together players in the south central part of the country to2016.01.21_dallas-tourney enjoy a weekend of competition, and to build a sense of community amongst one another,” says organizer Bob Gilman. As of January 18, 22 players have registered, 14 from Texas and 8 from other states. Find more information on Facebook. Note that there is a special rate at the Residence Inn, Plano, Texas for players coming from out of town. This rate is available through January 22. Also, provided there are sufficient registrations, players will get access to video reviews of selected games by prominent teacher In-seong Hwang. Registration for the tournament is open here. For more information comment on Facebook or write Bob Gilman.

Categories: U.S./North America
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One Week Left to Register for Kyu Championships

Tuesday January 19, 2016

0807151354Registrations for the North American Kyu Championship (NAKC) are due by January 26. Any kyu players under the age of 18, from Canada, the United States, or Mexico are welcome to join. Junior (under 13) and Senior (under 18) players will compete with each other, but crystal trophies will be awarded to both the best Junior player and the best Senior player in each bracket – all the way down to double digit kyu. The winner of the top bracket will also be allowed to join the Redmond Cup, a youth tournament traditionally only open to dan players. Thanks to the AGF, any participant who competes in every round, win or lose, will be eligible for the choice of a $400 scholarship to the summer AGA Go Camp or a $200 scholarship to the 2016 Go Congress. All four rounds will be held on KGS on January 30. For more details, visit the NAKC’s official Rules and Format page. To register, click here-Story and photo by Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth editor. Photo: Kyu players honing their skills at the 2015 US Go Congress in St. Paul.

 

City League players in the AGA Pro Exam

Tuesday January 19, 2016

2016.01.08_lui-ye-finalThree of the eight competitors in the recent 2015 AGA Professional Qualifying tournament are players from the AGA City League. They are tournament winner Eric Lui 1p of the Greater Washington team, Aaron Ye (Bay Area team) and Jeremy Chiu (San Francisco 1 team). Ye (right) gave Eric Lui (left) a tough challenge in the final matches of the tournament. Other professionals who play in the AGA City League are Ryan Li 1p (2014 AGA professional, Canwa Vancouver 1 team), Tim Song 1p (Greater Washington), and Huiren Yang 1p (Boston).
- Steve Colburn; photo by Chris Garlock

AGA City League’s 3rd Round Set for Sunday January 24th

Monday January 18, 2016

pandalogo-4885cf7392ac5bc75a68d553b7287b04Round three of the AGA City League will take place this Sunday, January 24 at 3p EST. Throughout the day you can catch your local and favorite players from around the US and Canada. Check the schedules for each league to see when they are playing: League ALeague BLeague C.

Round three will have a game review from Hajin Lee 3p. Watch all of the live coverage on Pandanet app on your WindowsOSX, linux 32bit and 64bitiOS, or android. Games will be played in the ‘AGA City League’ and ‘AGA City League (Manual)’ Rooms.
- Steve Colburn