American Go E-Journal

New in Print: Commented Games of Lee Sedol (Volume I)

Sunday September 23, 2012

by Roy Laird
What does the world’s top player do when he’s not playing go? In the case of Lee Sedol, the answer turned out to be: write wonderful go books. In June 2009 Lee abruptly retired from tournament play in a dispute with the Korean Baduk Association, which was later resolved. During the break, as Lee reflected on his career, he reviewed several of his most important games in detail with his sister Lee Sena, a former female amateur Myeongin (Meijin), who had just returned from a long stay in Australia. Three books emerged from this collaboration, and, as we reported last week, the first  has just been published in English by Baduktopia as Commented Games of Lee Sedol I. In unparalleled depth, Lee explores his first title-winning game in 2000; his loss against Lee Changho in the 2001 LG Cup; and the game with which he won his first international tournament, the 2002 Fujitsu Cup.  Using dozens of game records and hundreds of explanatory diagrams per game, Lee takes us through each contest step by step, with more than 100 pages of analysis per game. As a mid-level player, I was slightly daunted to find that the very first page of analysis explains why Lee decided, at move 6, to avoid a 30-move variation of the hard-to-fathom takamoku taisha variation. But as I kept reading, I also found clear and insightful points on many different levels. There’s something for everyone in these wide-ranging game analyses. The large format, open layout and use of multiple game records – some contain only two or three moves — make everything so easy to follow, you may not even need to play along on a real board. Lee also offers personal reflections on subjects ranging from his life growing up on a farm on Bigeum Island off the southern coast, to his thoughts and feelings during and after the games. Lee’s father was a crucial figure and great go aficionado — we learn that he even included the word “Dol” (“Stone” in Korean) in his children’s names.  (“Sedol” means strong stone.) With more than 300 7.5”x10” pages in quality paperback form, it’s a hefty volume, with a price to match – over $40. But if the best way to improve is to study professional games, this is the most thorough discussion ever in English of play at the highest level. It’s found a home on the top shelf of my library with Invincible and those great classic game review books that John Fairbairn has been putting out lately. I’m looking forward to Volumes II and III.
photo: Lee Sedol with his daughter in 2008

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The Traveling Go Board: The Zen of Turn-Based Go

Sunday September 23, 2012

By Lee Frankel-Goldwater 

Morning can be open, glorious and bright. It can also be foreboding, especially if the day ahead holds worries, uncertainty and concerns.

Then there’s go. Open-ended yet with clear purpose. A desired result but sometimes an unclear path. Freedom within boundaries. Everything looks black and white, but often it isn’t. Yet always a sense of focus, of peace, at the challenge as everything else melts away.

Which brings me to the Online Go Server (OGS). When I first discovered the turn-based OGS and the accompanying Android app I was overjoyed at having finally found a way to keep up my playing in the context of a busy life. On the bus, go; on the train, go; in the middle of a cross walk, go. I soon became obsessed with the new playing medium, so much so that sometimes I would wake up, hit the alarm, and open my games.

After a few days, I noticed something lovely; I felt more focused, more at ease, and clearer than in some time. Morning tummy and foggy thoughts had evaporated, replaced by a satisfying sense of accomplishment before my first cup of tea.

As a yoga and meditation practitioner I’m well-versed in the maxims of getting up early to practice, the value of a morning run, the teachings that creativity first thing in the morning can return benefits for the whole day, but even so, I was startled to discover how rewarding a little turn-based morning go turned out to be.

In researching Blue Zones, the areas of the world with high longevity populations, I have learned that a sense of purpose for waking up in the morning is a key to health and happiness. And while my initial fervor for instant morning go has now waned a bit, the lesson has not.

Lee Frankel-Goldwater is a freelance author, designer, traveler, and teacher who blogs at www.HolisticPanda.com Click here for more on Internet go, including turn-based go.  

Categories: Traveling Go Board
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Go Review: Pro Game App Released; Two Books for Advanced Players

Friday September 21, 2012

Pro Game App Released: Canadian software developer Wei Cheng has just released “Weiqi2Go,” an Apple iOS app aimed at bringing the latest professional games from Asia into the hands of North American go fans. “Many of us (are now) forced to stay up late watching games on Tygem or other go servers which is neither good for our family life nor good for our work the next day,” Wei Cheng says. Weiqi2Go — $4.99 in the App Store — currently includes about 500 professional games from the past year. On the plus side, there are 650 pro games from 2011 and 2012 tournaments, and the app has handy auto-play and numbered-move options. Minuses: the app’s game interface is a bit clunky at this point: the board and stones are small and cannot be enlarged, and the forward and back arrows are not terribly responsive. Also, virtually all the game and player names are in Chinese, so for those who don’t read Chinese it’s difficult to know what you’re looking at. Apparently you can search using names in English but as all the game info is in Chinese it’s not much help. Wei Cheng suggests this is a feature, not a bug, telling the EJ that “Serious student(s) of go would be interested in the game records without paying attention who played them, as long as they are played by top pros.” Bottom line: great idea, decent execution but has some serious drawbacks for non-Chinese players; plenty of room for improvement in future updates. Note: there’s no extra charge as the games library is updated.

Two Books for Advanced Players: Two books recently came our way from Hinoki Press – The Ins and Outs of Life and Death and The Art of Positional Analysis (both available from Yellow Mountain Imports and both translated by Robert Terry). All professionals recommend studying life and death problems to get stronger – among other things it improves your reading ability – and Ins and Outs is a valuable addition to any serious student’s collection. Examining life and death problems from a variety of perspectives, including the artistic, Ins and Outs 150 problems are drawn from the pages of Kido Magazine, the famous publication from the Nihon Ki-in, and feature legendary tsume-go masters like Maeda Nobuaki, the ”God of Life and Death Problems” (including a fascinating examination of his career and one of his teaching essays), Mimura Tomoyasu, 15 masterpieces from the inimitable Fujisawa Shuko and six of the late Hashimoto Utaro’s compositions. As a special bonus there are ten problems selected by professional players as the best of all time. In and Outs is on sale for $20 but note that it’s correctly filed under “Advanced” go books; definitely not for beginning or intermediate players!

Ditto with The Art of Positional Analysis (also on sale for $20), a collection of high-level game analyses, first published as a series of articles in Kido Magazine. The 323-page book addresses the question of where this is the time to be aggressive, or to consolidate the lead by looking at a dozen games analyzed by Kobayashi Koichi, 12 more with commentary by Takemiya Masaki, as well as the five games of the 11th Kisei Title match. “Positional judgment requires more than intuition,” notes Yellow Mountain, “it requires a reasonable amount of analysis and the discipline to alter course accordingly.” This book enables the advanced player to see that analysis in action.
- Chris Garlock
Got review? We’d love to hear your thoughts on go software, apps, books and equipment! Email journal@usgo.org and let us know what  you’re interested in reviewing.

Jan Simara 5D Wins Brno Euro Go Cup; Vanessa Wong 5D Wins Euro Women’s Championship

Monday September 17, 2012

Jan Simara 6D (CZ) won the European Go Cup Brno 2012 held September 7-9 in Brno, Czech Republic. Vanessa Wong  5D (UK) won the European Women’s Go Championship, held in Brno the same weekend. Other top winners in the European Cup were Pal Balogh 6D (HU) in second place and Lisy Pavol 6D (SK) in third; click here for full results. Other top winners in the Women’s Championship were Rita Pocsai 5D (HU) in second and Natalia Kovaleva 4D (RU) in third; click here for full results and here for a photo album.
- reported by Martin Kovařík

Categories: Europe
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AGF College Scholarship

Monday September 17, 2012

Applications are now being accepted for the American Go Foundation college scholarship.  One of last year’s winners, Rachel Daley (at left), writes: “I found that I was better at teaching the game than actually playing. Without even realizing it, I became more confident with strangers. . . . Go also taught me how to be comfortable in a room where I was the only female. I saw [the male players] as my peers and rivals instead of some different entity. This gave me the confidence to never feel intimidated by the male majority in my science and math classes. . . . I realized that this is how society changes – not by a sudden huge wave but by individuals not accepting degrading stereotypes and moving forward despite them.” The AGF Scholarship recognizes high school students who have served as important youth organizers and promoters for the go community . To apply, download and complete the application form here. Applicants should describe their accomplishments and volunteer work in a short essay. Letters of recommendation may also be included. Students whose enthusiasm and ambition have helped spread go in under-served areas will be given special consideration. Strong players who spend much of their time voluntarily teaching will also be considered, although the award focuses on promoters and organizers who have made substantial contributions during their go career. A report on last year’s winners can be found here. - Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.

New Turn-Based Go Server Comes to U.S.

Monday September 17, 2012

The world of turn-based servers – the modern equivalent of postal go – has expanded with the addition of the International Network Go Organization (INGO). INGO, based in Japan, launched back in May 2011 and has since expanded to China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, Germany and England.  “We think we should invite the United States now,” says INGO Chairman Isao Yamashita. The advantage of turn-based go (TBG) is that “A player can think long or short as he likes,” notes Yamashita. “Thus a game may take a month or longer depending on the total number of moves of a game or how frequently each player sends his move.”  Many turn-based players play multiple games simultaneously. Links to INGO and other TBG servers – as well as real-time servers – can be found on the AGA’s Internet Go page.

This Week’s Go Calendar: Livermore, Santa Fe, Raleigh, Seattle

Monday September 17, 2012

September 22: Livermore, CA
Vintage Go, 2012
Lynda LoDestro lodestro@llnl.gov 925.422.6780

September 22-23: Santa Fe, NM
Chamisa Flower Go Tournament
Robert Cordingley rjcord1@gmail.com 281.989.6272

September 23: Raleigh, NC
Triangle Memorial Go Tournament
Paul Celmer pcelmer@earthlink.net 919.610.0927

September 23: Seattle, WA
Seattle Go Center Anniversary Tournament
Brian Allen manager@seattlego.org 206.545.1424 206.632.1122

Get the very latest tournament information.

Categories: Calendar
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SmartGo Books Releases 3 Kiseido Classics

Monday September 17, 2012

SmartGo Books now includes three classics from the much-requested Elementary Go Series (Kiseido). “Life and Death” and “Tesuji,” both by James Davies, and “Attack and Defense” by Akira Ishida & James Davies. “These are books you read and re-read as you get stronger,” says SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf. Other recent additions include the first two volumes of Yilun Yang’s “The Workshop Lectures” (Slate & Shell), with chapters on when to tenuki, choosing the direction of attack, how to invade, pincers, extensions, and more. Click here for details. SmartGo Books is a free app for iOS (iPad & iPhone), with 42 go books now available for in-app purchase.

Go Spotting: Gosei Sentai Dairanger

Monday September 17, 2012

Gosei Sentai Dairanger which he describes as “Japanese Power Rangers with a much darker look.” In the show, a boy named akomaru is in trouble with a big guy named Gouma. “In the beginning of the scene we see the edge of a wooden floor goban with very dark go bowls. Later in the scene you can see Gouma placing stones on the board.” This is Albert’s second go spotting – his previous one was Bruce Lee and Go  9/25/2011 – if you spot go, be sure to let us know at journal@usgo.org!

Shotwell Discusses Use of Weiqi Strategies In Politics

Sunday September 16, 2012

In the new Appendix VII of his “Speculations” article in the Bob High e-Library, longtime go writer Peter Shotwell takes a closer look at financier Mark Spitznagel’s recent guest Forbes column “The Grand Shi Strategy of Ron Paul” (Ron Paul Using Go Strategy to Advance Agenda at GOP Convention? 8/26 EJ).  Spitznagel likened the political strategies of losing presidential candidate Ron Paul to the weiqi strategy of shi, the building of initial influence for future profits instead of going for immediate gain. “The quintessential metaphor for shi is water,” wrote Spitznagel, “flowing ever downward in the most naturally powerful and effective way, ultimately overcoming everything in its path. Paradoxically, it is one of the softest and yet strongest forces in nature.” The fascinating workings, aims and political uses of this strategy throughout Asian history are quite extensive and complex, and Shotwell’s 8-page article fills in the gaps for those who are interested.
- photo courtesy How-To Geek

 

Categories: U.S./North America
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