American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: A Good Week for Yuki; Takao Takes Sole Lead In Honinbo League; Gu Li Wins Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-Off; 38th Kisei Leagues

Monday April 1, 2013

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the American Go E-Journal

A Good Week for Yuki: The last week of March was undoubtedly one of the best of Yuki Satoshi 9P’s career.  On the 23rd, Yuki (right), the top player of the Kansai Ki-in, defeated Takao Shinji 9P in the final of the 8th Daiwa Securities Cup. Taking black, Yuki won by 3.5 points. As of this term, the Daiwa Cup, a tournament played on the internet, was upgraded to an official title, which means two things. First, it was opened to participation by Kansai Ki-in professionals, which gave Yuki his chance. Second, it is now included in the tallies of official titles won by a player. Just for the record, Yuki’s predecessors (in order) are Takao, O Meien, Takao again, Kono Rin for the 4th and 5th cups, and Iyama Yuta for the 6th and 7th (none of these players can include the cup in their official tallies; that makes a difference, especially for someone like Iyama, who, on present form, can be expected to challenge Cho Chikun’s all-time record of 72 titles). First prize is 3 million yen (about $32,000).

The next day, Sunday the 24th, the final of the 60th NHK Cup was telecast on NHK educational TV. Taking white, Yuki defeated Iyama Yuta by 9.5 points to win the NHK Cup for the fourth time and twice in a row for the second time.
This game would actually have been played a week or two before telecasting. Yuki’s win put an end to a losing streak against Iyama of ten games in a row.His last previous win was in the final of the same tournament in 2010, when he won this title for the first time.

Ironically, Iyama had enjoyed much better form in the NHK Cup up to the final, scoring decisive wins over Komatsu Hideki 9P, Mizokami Tomochika 8P, Hane Naoki 9P, and Kono Rin 9P. In contrast, Yuki struggled, almost losing to Kurahashi Masayuki 9P before he pulled off an upset, beating Akiyama Jiro 8P by half a point, and then needing all his patience to prevail in tough games with Murakawa Daisuke 7P and Yamada Kimio 9P. Yuki dominated the final however, as Iyama chose a slightly unreasonable variation early in the game and got a bad result; he admitted later that he wasn’t really in the game after his opening setback.

Both players will represent Japan in the TV Asia tournament, usually played towards the end of spring.

Yuki’s third success was his win in the second game of the 51st Judan title match on the 28th. This evened the series and kept alive his chances of taking his second top-seven title. The game was played in Tamana City in Kumamoto Prefecture. Taking white, Yuki won by 2.5 points. The third game will be played on 4 April.

Takao takes sole lead in Honinbo League: 
After the first five rounds, only two players were left undefeated in the 68th Honinbo League: Takao Shinji 9P (at left) and Cho U 9P, who are both former Honinbos. The winner of their 6th-round clash, held on March 27, would take a big step towards becoming the challenger to Iyama Yuta Honinbo. Both sides played very fast for such an important game. Cho, in particular, took almost no time on his moves. He seemed to make the better start, but in the middle game Takao made a skilful sacrifice, then took advantage of his superiority in ko threats to start a ko fight that clinched the game. In the end, Cho, who played black, had to resign.

In the final round, Takao plays Imamura Toshiya 9P, who is on 2-4, and Cho plays Yamashita Keigo 9P, who is on 4-2. Whatever happens, Takao will at least make a play-off.

Gu Li Wins Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-off: Cho U played his Honinbo League game on a Wednesday instead of the usual Thursday because he had to play the 14th Agon Kiriyama Cup Japan-China play-off on Saturday, March 30. The extra rest day didn’t help: for the 10th year in a row China won this play-off.

This year it was Japan’s turn to host the play-off. The last international event held in Japan, the International Amateur Pair Go Championship in November 2012, was boycotted by China to show their displeasure with the Japanese government’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands, but fortunately Gu Li (right) turned up for this game. Taking white, he won by 4.5 points to score his fourth victory in the play-off. After winning the first four play-offs, Japan has been outclassed in this play-off.

38th Kisei Leagues: The four vacant seats in the upcoming Kisei Leagues have been decided. They have gone to Yamashiro Hiroshi 9P (making an immediate comeback after being eliminated in the previous league), 25th Honinbo Cho Chikun, Kiyonari Tetsuya 9P, and Murakawa Daisuke 7P. Murakawa, the top player of his age group at the Kansai Ki-in (he is 23), is making his debut in a league. Kiyonari, also from the Kansai Ki-in is playing in his second Kisei league.
Longtime go writer John Power is a veteran author, translator and compiler of go books and magazines.  

Categories: Japan,John Power Report

Your Move/Readers Write: Happy April Fools’ Day

Monday April 1, 2013

“And a Happy April Fools’ Day to all the eJournal team! (Exciting Crop of New Go Books Discounted 50% Today Only 4/1 EJ)” writes Jean DeMaiffe. “ I can hardly wait to fill in my go library with your excellent selection of discounted books today.  I cannot begin to tell how excited I am to see that someone has finally written a definitive book on the value of the 1-1 point in the opening.  I can’t wait to share it with my students.”

Kerwin Retires from Nihon Ki-in (But Not From Go)

Sunday March 31, 2013

James Kerwin 1P, the first Westerner to become a professional player at the Nihon Ki-in, has retired as of 31 March. A disciple of the late Iwamoto Kaoru 9P, Kerwin became professional 1-dan on February 14, 1978. The following year he won the 1-dan section of the Kisei tournament. Although he went back to the US to teach a couple of years later, Kerwin had retained his affiliation with the Nihon Ki-in. “I was informed that they now have a mandatory retirement rule, so I obliged,” Kerwin tells the E-Journal. “While I have retired from the Nihon Ki-in, I have not retired from go.”

“I have the deepest gratitude to the Nihon Ki-in for training me in the game I love so much and for accepting me as one of them,” Kerwin said in a note accompanying his official retirement letter. “During the years I lived in Japan I gained the greatest respect for the Japanese people and a love of their culture and art. I came to Japan because I could not reach my potential as a go player in my own country. When I returned to the United States, I wanted to help advance the level of teaching in the United States so other players could reach their potential without living abroad. Even today American players cannot reach their full potential here, but they can come much closer. I am pleased that I could contribute to that advance in a small way, and the Nihon Ki-in made that possible. I must also say the many efforts the Nihon Ki-in has made to assist Western go players are extraordinary.”

Three other players retired on the same day (which is the end of the financial year in Japan). They included Haruyama Isamu 9P, known in the West for his frequent instruction tours and for co-authoring a classic Ishi Press/Kiseido book Basic Techniques of Go.
- John Power; photo courtesy Nihon Ki-in

Video: Chang Hao 9P on His Game with Andy Liu 1P

Sunday March 31, 2013

Steve Colburn has posted a short (2:43m) video of Chang Hao 9p’s comments on his recent game with Andy Liu (Game Commentary: Chang Hao 9P – Andy Liu 1P 3/23/2013 EJ) at the ACGA Spring Expo. “I wish I had gotten Andy as well but he was too quick,” says Colburn. “Andy first commented that ‘this was the most terrifying game I’ve ever played.” He also notes that “One missed translation from (Chang Hao’s) speech is ‘I would like to see more American go players in international tournaments in the future.” The ACGA held this event March 23-24 at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. Chang Hao’s translator was Yi Tong. photo: Chang Hao (left), Yi Tong and Andy Liu (right)

Categories: U.S./North America

British Online League Kicks Off 5th Season

Sunday March 31, 2013

The British Online League’s fifth season opened on March 22. Eighteen teams of three players each, loosely organized geographically, will compete in three divisions through the end of the year in the “British Room” on KGS. The league was established in October 2009 to encourage interaction between players in different areas of the country and online play among members of the British Go Association (BGA), though only team captains need be members. There is a prize for the winning team in each division, funded from entry fees. The first division winner, which last season was Edinburgh, also holds the GoGoD Shield and each player in that team wins a GoGoD disk as part of their prize. The league is organized by John Collins on behalf of the BGA.
- Tony Collman, Correspondent for the E-Journal, based on reports on the BGA website 

Categories: Europe

Exciting Crop of New Go Books Discounted 50% Today Only

Sunday March 31, 2013

Leading go publishers are releasing a number of exciting new books that already seem destined to be classics in the field. Go Seigen’s 1-1 Point Modern Opening Strategy has just been published by Slate & Shell, based on a manuscript that had been thought lost for years. “Go’s deep but straightforward analysis of the power of the 1-1 point opening may well revolutionize opening theory,” says S&S. Adding to their legendary “Get Strong” series, Kiseido  is offering Get Strong at Gote, which “explores the subtle strength of refusing to take sente.” In a related volume, Kiseido is re-releasing The Art of Aji Keshi, long out of print but back by popular demand “for players who want to master the ability of eliminating absolutely all play in a given situation.” From Yutopian comes a pair of books for players looking to make the jump to the next level. Making Bad Shape and All About Heaviness are “encyclopedic references no serious go player will want to be without,” promises Yutopian. Finally, SmartGo Books is releasing four brand-new books by the prolific 9-dan professional Michael Redmond — How To Die In Gote, The Joy Of Being Thick, The Wrong Direction and 21 Kyu in 21 Days – in 14 different apps and online platforms. A 50% discount is being offered on all the books above in a special 1-day offer that expires at midnight on April 1.
- David Stevenson

KGS and EuroGoTV to Broadcast Paris Go Tourney Games This Weekend

Thursday March 28, 2013

Paris is lovely in the springtime and especially so for go players, with the 41th Paris International Go Tournament taking place this weekend at the Lycée Louis Le Grand. With over 200 players are already registered, the 3-day tournament is one of the largest go events in Europe and is set for March 30 through April 1; click here  for details and to register. Fans can also follow top-board action on KGS and on EuroGoTV.

Categories: Europe

Registration Still Open for KGS Meijin March Qualifier

Thursday March 28, 2013

Registration is still open for this weekend’s KGS 2013 Meijin tournament qualifier, which is once again sponsored by SmartGo. The February qualifier featured “many exciting games and drew more than 350 observers,” reports KGS admin Akane Negishi.  The single-elimination qualifier will be held March 30-31 on an Asian/European daytime schedule (Round 1 starts at 6a EDT/3a PDT). Click here for details and to register; deadline is March 30 10:03a (GMT). 

Categories: World

Your Move/Readers Write: Mac Go Suggestions

Thursday March 28, 2013

“A good program for playing go on Mac is Goban,” (Your Move/Readers Write: Mac Go? 3/25/2013) suggests Porter Howland. “It also works very well as a stand-alone .sgf reader, and I believe it can be used to play online. Goban and its underlying game engine are both open source and distributed freely under the GNU General Public License. Currently, the GNU Go engine is not the strongest; newer engines implement recently discovered algorithms that are more efficient. For example, the Many Faces of Go game engine by David Fotland.”

“For a real beginner, you can’t do much better than Anders Kierulf’s Go Kifu, for iPad (about $10),” writes David Erbach. “For desktop machines, Goban has the gnugo engine behind it, with a very nice interface. It’s plenty strong for a program, but doesn’t have Kifu’s tutorial mode, so it’s not quite as nice as a teaching tool.”

In addition to GNU Go, Ke Lu suggests PANDA-glGo; they’re both available on the IGS Pandanet site. Peter St. John flagged Wikipedia’s listof computer go playing programs and of course there’s always the AGA website’s go software page.

There was also a response posted in the AGA Google+ Community (which now has 164 members) from Ryan Case, suggesting Sen:te software.






Gansheng Shi-Lee Sedol Match Postponed

Wednesday March 27, 2013

The game this Saturday between Lee Sedol 9P and Gansheng Shi 1P has been postponed “while we move go9dan’s main server to Hong Kong this weekend,” reports Michael Simon. The match will likely be rescheduled for Saturday, April 13 at 10p. Lee is 7-0 in the AGA-Europe Pro vs. Sedol 10-Game Series.