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Teachers at the 2012 International Go Symposium

Tuesday November 27, 2012

The 2012 International Go Symposium in Black Mountain, North Carolina attracted leading scholars and researchers from around the world for two days of presentations and discussions on the many aspects of the game of go. Dozens of hours of footage have now been edited down and posted online to accompany the conference papers. This 3-part series covers highlights of Symposium presentations by teachers, scientists, historians and anthropologists.

Games may be a major key to learning, suggested keynote speaker Nolan Bushnell (right) at the 2012 International Go Symposium, August 4-5, 2012. The entrepreneurial wizard behind products as diverse as Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, Bushnell is now applying principles such as “thalamic engagement” and “spaced repetition” to develop Brainrush, a game-based learning app that aims to help students learn all kinds of material more effectively. Mexican Go Assoiation President Israel Rodriguez offered some interesting speculations on the nature of the barriers to developing a go culture. Yet go is a superb medium for growth and development, as Dr. Roy Laird – a clinical social worker who manages treatment programs for The Children’s Aid Society in New York City and former President of the American Go Association – explores in his talk “Play Go And Grow,” about the unique aspects of go that favor positive development, and some interesting recent research on go and the brain. While go is popular in Asian communities and has developed a growing base among Caucasians in the West, its presence is very limited in other Western cultures. In Playing Under and Pushing Through the Stones, Roxanna Duntley-Matos, a member of the Western Michigan University School of Social Work faculty, describes how she used go as a tool for “emancipatory education” with the Ann Arbor Hispanic community, promoting leadership, camaraderie and success among a marginalized minority. At the upper end of the learning spectrum, Peter Schumer described a for-credit course on go  that he has taught at Middlebury College for years, offering tips on everything from curriculum development to teaching style. In “How Rules, Terms and Attitude Help or Hinder the Game,”, American Go Foundation (AGF) President and AGA Rules Committee Chairman Terry Benson (left) urges a rethinking of what it means to “play go,” and what we teach. Peter Freedman, an experienced go teacher from the Portland area, looked beyond simply teaching children the game to how to help them develop a lifelong love for go, while go teacher Siddhartha Avila’s Mexican school is committed to teaching through the arts. On a practical level, AGF VP Paul Barchilon  outlined some of the many ways that the AGF can help aspiring organizers in the US. Laura Martinez ended the go teacher’s panel, and the conference, by unveiling the winners of The Second International Go Art Contest.

The AGA and the 2012 US Go Congress are extremely grateful to the International Go Federation for financial support that made this event possible, and to the American Go Foundation for additional support.  All presentations can be found at the Symposium’s YouTube channel. In addition, links to all the videos and to associated papers, links and contact information be found at the Symposium website. NEXT WEEK: Historians and anthropologists at the Symposium.

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Categories: U.S./North America
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Tesuji Battle in 16th China-Korea Tengen

Monday November 19, 2012

An Younggil 8P reviews the deciding game between Choi Cheolhan 9P and Chen Yaoye 9P at the China-Korea Tengen in September. In this game commentary from Go Game Guru, the tremendously exciting game features two opposing styles of play, Chen’s solid and territorial style and Choi’s thick, fighting style.

This game involves beautiful tesuji and unorthodox moves at every turn, and comes down to the wire with two desperation kos to finish the game.

Chen won the first match in this best-of-3 series, so Choi was fighting for his life, as well as looking for revenge since he fell to Chen last year 2-0. He is 1-8 against Chen all-time – losing the last seven games in a row.
- Adapted from a report on Go Game Guru; edited by Ben Williams

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Categories: Game Commentaries,World
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Chinese Professional Go Player and Pioneer Chen Zude Dies

Saturday November 3, 2012

Chen Zude, one of the first Chinese nine-dan professionals, died of pancreatic cancer in Beijing on November 1. He was 68.

“Though we’ve lost one of the go world’s brightest lights,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “We’re fortunate that Chen Zude inspired so many to follow in his path, leaving a community that, while saddened by this loss, is larger and stronger than ever.”

Credited as the first modern Chinese player to defeat a Japanese nine-dan (Iwata Tatsuaki) in an even game, Chen grew up during the “Cultural Revolution” era and was a self-taught player as well as a politically savvy go promoter, bringing the game from the status of “bourgeois decadence” to that a mind sport of national pride.  He is often considered the father of modern go in China and as go became integrated into the sports ministry in China, Chen was selected as the first president of China Qiyuan when it was established in 1992 to promote go as a profession.  He continued in that position until 2003 when it was passed on to Wang Runan.  Chen was also the first president of the Chinese Weiqi Association, a body that represents go on the international scene. In 1980, when Chen was playing in the “Xintiyu Bei” (New Sports Cup), he vomited blood and was diagnosed with stomach cancer, which he battled for 32 years.

“Because of his health, Chen never visited the US, but he often expressed his hope that the West would get to appreciate the fascinating game to which he devoted his life,” reports  International Go Federation (IGF) vice president Thomas Hsiang, who met Chen in Beijing in 2008.  “He always gladly hosted visitors from the West, giving them copies of his books and offering the full cooperation of China Qiyuan.” Chen’s study of fuseki “triggered the systematic study of fuseki both in China and Japan,” adds Frank Fukuda. “He also advocated and emphasized the cultural aspects of go, saying that it would bring peace and help people conduct themselves well.”
photo: Chen (second from left) in 2008 with Thomas Hsiang (second from right), Hua Yigang (then president of the China Qiyuan) and Hsiang’s wife, Joy (left).

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The Spirit of Play: “I’m Stuck”

Monday October 29, 2012

There are countless books, dictionaries and other materials aimed at expanding knowledge in go. But Argentinian champion and teacher Gabriel Benmergui 6D says that “what most of these resources don’t take into account is that there are many things that happen to the players, before, during and after the game that have just as much effect on the result.” In this new column for the E-Journal, Benmergui goes beyond tactics and strategies to look at the player, with a goal of helping develop “an unshakable spirit.” This article is dedicated to Benmergui’s first teacher, Franklin Bassarsky, “the greatest teacher I could ever become,” who recently passed away. “He was Argentina’s greatest go teacher,” says Benmergui, “creating generations and generations of go players here.”

A common situation for go players is the feeling of not moving forward or improving, of being stuck. The reality is that most players go through this phase, and there are actually well-known rank barriers, located around 9k, 5k and 2k, ranks that hold unusually high concentrations of players. In Lessons in the Fundamentals Kageyama 7P said “You can identify when you are stuck when you find yourself playing for fun, with disregard of the outcome. Maybe you even read books but they don’t help you improve. You also rarely review the games you play.”

As a teacher I have seen many go players “plateau” like this. Their common denominator is a fear that they’ve peaked, that they’ve reached their maximum potential and that studying any further will be a waste of time. This usually happens when players are no longer improving naturally, as they tend to do between learning the rules up to around 10k, where just getting advice and playing was enough to steadily improve. The truth is that expecting to go up in rank with little or no effort is like expecting to lose weight without diet and exercise. So when people ask me “I’m stuck, what should I do?” I immediately respond “What are you doing to improve?” And it’s no surprise for me to hear “I watch and play games” as if that alone were an appropriate level of training.

My advice: Just do it! If you want to improve you have to be proactive. You have to set goals and perform a more rigorous training regime. Solve life and death problems, read books with the intention of putting in practice the knowledge gained. Take lessons. Remember that people improve at different speeds, but with effort everyone improves.

Gabriel Benmergui lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentinian Champion in 2011 and 2012, he has extensive international amateur tournament experience, representing South America twice at the World Student Oza, two-time Prime Minister Cup representative for Argentina, captained his country’s team in KABA’s World Team Championship in 2005 and was Argentina’s representative for the 2005 WAGC. Benmergui studied go in Korea, in Lee Sang-hun’s dojang, at Kim Sung Rae’s KBC and at BIBA (Blackie’s International Baduk Academy) and now runs the Kaya.gs Go Server. Photo graphic by Chris Garlock

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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.  

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Categories: Traveling Go Board
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Hikaru Author Hotta Yumi Interviewed

Monday September 3, 2012

Hikaru no Go author Hotta Yumi was interviewed on film at the International Go Symposium on August 5th, 2012. For those who missed the live stream,  the Tiger’s Mouth website has printed the entire text of the interview.  The AGF is currently editing the videos from the symposium, all of which will be available online at a later date.  A few choice highlights from the Hotta interview are below, you can read the full article here.

On how the series began, Hotta says “I wanted to learn go, so I paid a go school and started to attend classes once a week with a pro. He was mean, and never let the students win the teaching games. This was frustrating to me, because I was thinking ‘Why am I paying to lose all the time?’ I wished that I had a guardian angel or a ghost that could help me beat him really bad. It was at that moment that Hikaru no Go was born.”  When asked about how go has affected her life, Hotta replied: “Honestly, I had no idea that so many kids would want to learn how to play go. Not just in Japan, but all over the world. Especially kids in other countries where there aren’t many teachers or resources for playing go. Nowadays many more kids can play go thanks to the efforts of teachers, professionals, and groups that are helping to bring go to kids around the world. For my own life, Hikaru has made it very hard for me to attend go tournaments. So many people will watch over my shoulder during my games, and I’m not a very strong player so it is very embarrassing!” – Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Translation by Akane Negishi and Solomon Smilack.  Photo: Hotta Yumi, by Paul Barchilon.

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Your Move/Readers Write: The Elegant Hedgehog Pops Up Again

Saturday September 1, 2012

“My wife Kathy Kline’s book group recently read The New York Times best-seller The Elegance of the Hedgehog” writes Terry Benson. “Pages 112-114 in Muriel Barbery’s book (translated from the French) have a wonderful go reference.”

“The main character is a precocious 12-year-old girl who comments acerbically about the adults around her and knows more about go than the father of a friend who is making a movie of The Girl Who Played Go. She uses go as a philosophic metaphor, saying that ‘One of the most extraordinary aspects of the game of go is that it has been proven that in order to win, you must live, but you must also allow the other player to live. Players who are too greedy will lose: it is a subtle game of equilibrium, where you have to get ahead without crushing the other player. In the end, life and death are only the consequences of how well or how poorly you have made your construction. This is what one of Taniguchi’s characters says: you live, you die, these are consequences . It’s a proverb for playing go, and for life.’”
(Previously reported in GO SPOTTING: The Elegance of the Hedgehog 5/4/2010 and The Return of the Elegant Hedgehog 10/24/2010. NOTE: The novel was adapted into a film The Hedgehog (Le hérisson) released in the U.S. in 2011, starring Josiane Balasko as Renée Michel, Garance Le Guillermic as Paloma Josse, and Togo Igawa as Kakuro Ozu, with a score by Gabriel Yared. Click here to see a trailer)

 

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Enthusiastic Turn out in Metro DC for Weitang Liang 9P Event

Friday August 24, 2012

Chinese professional Weitang Liang 9P put on a brilliant display of technical virtuosity for a captivated audience of 50 go fans in a special event at the Rockville United Church in Rockville, MD on Tuesday August 14. “The strength of a professional player is definitely fascinating,” event organizer Zhiyuan ‘Edward’ Zhang told the E-Journal. “In the 6-on-1 simul, players as strong as 5 dan had five to nine-stone handicaps, yet only one Korean player — Insu Kim — was able to win.”

The event was a collective effort by the Capital Go Club of the American Go Association (AGA), the Great Falls Go Club, the Rockville Go & Chess Group (RGCG), and the Rockville Sister City Corporation (RSCC), and Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc.

Liang came to DC from his appearance at this year’s US Go Congress on behalf of the China Qiyuan and the Chinese Go Association. “I have heard that the go activities in the Washington DC metro area have been impressive and famous, and am very happy to spend the evening with so many American go players.” Click here for a video clip of the event by Tie-Hua Ng.

The event included a simultaneous exhibition involving six players (Robin Kramer, Gary Li, Tsann Yu, Ben Hong, Insu Kim, and Kevin Wang), a mini AGA-rated tournament, and an open forum for questions and game commentary analysis with Mr Liang, who learned to play go – or weiqi, as it’s known in China – when he was 10. In 1999 he became the 22nd player to achieve Chinese professional 9 Dan status, the highest professional level accorded. Mr. Liang’s go style is described as straightforward, deep, stable, and sharp, and he’s known in the Chinese go community as “Long Life Sword.” Mr. Liang is the only 9-dan professional in the Shenzhen city of Guangdong, where he’s said to have inspired over a hundred thousand of players to learn the game.

The event attracted a diverse turnout of players, likely as a result of advertising via social networks and English, Korean and Chinese newspapers. “The event was a huge success,” said local organizer John Goon. “Not only did we see many new faces of local go players, but we also receive a professor’s inquiry about starting a go club at Howard University in Washington DC.”

In the AGA-rated tournament which ran at the same time as the 6-on-1 simuls with Mr. Liang, Liang Yu 7d scored 2-0 “with impressive wins over Juan Pablo Quizon 6d and Meng Lu 6d,” Tournament Director Todd Heidenreich reported.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Organizers: John Goon and Edward Zhang; Web Admin: Gurujeet Khalsa; Photographer: Yangang Li; Video: Tie-hua Ng; Transportation: Lin Lu, Xingyu Lu, Tao Wang, Binquan Wang; Reception: Xingyu Lu; Refreshments and Set-up: (Rockville Go & Chess Groups) Nick Nayfack, Todd Heidenreich, Juan Pablo Quizon, Craig Anderson, Nick Quizon, Diego Bigelow, Tim Bigelow, Joseph Huang and Rohit Gopal; Translators: Ching-Sung Chin (Great Falls Go Club), Sam Choi and Bingjib Huang (both also Rockville Sister City Corporation coordinators); Toastmaster and Signage: Edward Zhang.
photos by Yangang Li; click here for a complete photo album of the event. 

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Congress Updates: August 9: Andrew Lu Sweeps Congress Die Hard Tournament; California1 Leads Wisonet Team Tourney

Thursday August 9, 2012

Andrew Lu Sweeps Congress Die Hard Tournament: Nearly a quarter of the Congress attendees — 93 players — participated in the Die Hard tournament instead of taking the day off Wednesday. Andrew Lu swept all his games, going 4-0 in the top section to win the tournament. The other 4-0 players were: Sun Daqiang 2D, E-Journal Tournaments reporter Lee Huynh 1D, Anand Sathya 2K, Yin Zihang 3K, and Rohde David 5K.
- Andy Olsen, TD; photo: Lee Huynh (r) and friends study life and death problems Thursday night.

California1 Leads Wisonet Team Tourney: The California1 team led the Wisonet Cup State Team Go Tournament after the third round, with 3 major points. California II and Virginia were tied with 2 major points each, but California II’s minor score of 17 was ahead of Virginia’s 6. The winning team (most wins over losses) in each head-to-head match gets one major score point, and also earns minor score points based on the win-loss record for the team overall. The rest of the scores: New Jersey 1 major, 12 minor, New York no major, 8 minor, and North Carolina no major, 5 minor.

Fraser & Huang Win 13×13: Kalinda Fraser 8k won the 13×13 Kyu Division and Willis Huang 1D won the Dan Division on Tuesday night.
- Jim Hlavka, TD

 

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Android Go Programs

Wednesday July 25, 2012

It has been a while since the E-J reviewed go programs available on the Android platform, and given that not all of us have iPhones, I thought it was time to do an update.  I should note first that I love Apple, and have three Apple computers in my home.  However, I hate the iPhone and iPod touch for go.  Why? One simple reason:  the screens are so tiny it makes me go cross-eyed; as for the iPad, it is too big to fit in my pocket.  I have had several Android devices, and my current one is a Samsung Galaxy player with a 5″ screen.  It is small enough to carry easily, but big enough to see what I am doing.  Another advantage Android offers is that it is open-source, which means people can develop and change apps very quickly.  On the whole, I have found Android developers incredibly responsive, and three programmers actually changed their application based on user comments, in some cases overnight! I also have no need for a cell phone contract, or expensive data plans, what I wanted was a wireless only device, and I got mine specifically to record go games.  There are a ton of apps out there, so I thought letting our readers know which ones I found most helpful would be useful. A tip for searching, don’t bother with “go”, search for “baduk” or “weiqi” on the Google Play Store. I will review three game recording apps this week, and then review apps for Go Problems next week. I am not reviewing KGS for Android as it requires a data connection, so I can’t use it to record games if I don’t have internet access.  People who play on KGS, and want to do so on their phone, or watch games, will love the app though – it is beautiful and functions very well. Continue reading…)

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