American Go E-Journal

Your Move/Readers Write: Thanks & Kudos; Gripping Stuff; Bol, Not Vonk

Friday September 6, 2013

Thanks & Kudos: “Thank you, thank you, thank you to Roger Schrag, (Go Spotting: Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland 9/1 EJ)” writes Jean de Maiffe. “When I was in the Portland Chinese Garden in July, the board displayed appeared to have nothing whatever to do with the modern game of go. I almost wish I had taken a picture for the ‘then and now’ comparison. Kudos to whichever go player suggested the changes to the artist who had placed the stones attractively perhaps, but without knowledge of the game.”

Gripping Stuff: “Great coverage of the WAGC,” writes EJ British correspondent Tony Collman. “Gripping stuff. Thanks to Michael Redmond for the lucid commentaries.”

Bol, Not Vonk:
“The photograph accompanying the 9/1 news item ‘EuroGoTV Update’  is of Jan Bol, not Bert Vonk,” writes Jaap K. Blom.
We apologize for the error, which has been corrected.


The Traveling Go Board: The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Two Years Later

Thursday September 5, 2013

The agony of defeat and ecstasy of victory on the go board were put into perspective Thursday when the WAGC participants took a somber tour of South Sanriku in Miyagi prefecture, less than an hour from the tournament site in downtown Sendai, and one of the areas hardest-hit by the 2011 tsunami.

Although the region — a spectacular landscape of misty mountains, gently-waving rice fields, stands of bamboo, wide rivers and coastal views — has largely recovered since the disaster, the go players were uncharacteristically subdued as they took in the scope of destruction, with whole towns swept away. The three-story South Sanriku emergency center’s rusted skeleton bore mute witness to the towering wall of water that took the lives of so many; the few workers there who survived did so only by climbing the radio tower atop the building.

Most affecting was a visit to the Okawa primary school where almost every student and teacher perished. The once-thriving community is gone, the houses destroyed, completely erased from the earth, leaving only the gutted school as a sad memorial to the young lives lost here. As the buses rolled through under grey and drizzling skies, guides explained how this empty patch used to be a community center, that one was a hospital, another was a neighborhood. Roads once lined with houses are now vistas of weeds and the occasional flash of a wild sunflower or glimpse of a white crane standing on a solitary leg. The rubble is gone and new houses and buildings are slowly rising. The rivers flow past quietly. Life goes on.
- Chris Garlock; photo by John Pinkerton 

WAGC Daily Recap (Final): Wednesday, September 4

Wednesday September 4, 2013

As expected, Korea’s Hyunjae Choi 6D wrapped up his sweep of this year’s World Amateur Go Championships on Wednesday with solid wins over Ukraine’s Artem Kachanovskyi, who came in an impressive third — the first time Ukraine has been a top finalist — and Ilya Shikshin of Russia, who took a very respectable 4th place. In addition to a significant haul of trophies (left), Choi’s win gives him more than enough points to now become a professional go player (click here for Ranka’s interview). China’s Yuqing Hu took second place, Slovakia’s Pavol Lisy was fifth, King Man Kwan of Hong Kong was sixth, Serbia’s Nicola Mitic was seventh and Kikou Emura of Japan was eighth. Canada’s Bill Lin finished in 10th place and Curtis Tang of the U.S. placed 14th. Nepal’s Suresh Bhakta Kayastha gamely brought up the rear of the 62-player field, failing to notch a single victory. Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bukh won the Asada Fighting Spirit Prize and Suzanne D’Bel of Malaysia won a special prize from Takemiya Masaki “for showing originality and good sense”; Takemiya singled D’Bel out for playing her first move on the tengen, calling it “true Cosmic Style.”

Canada’s Bill Lin told the E-Journal that he was “a bit disappointed” in his results. “I had expected to do better, but it was a tough draw and I came up short.” Tang (right, in checked shirt) was philosophical about his performance, saying that “After losing to strong players I still got strong players but I guess that’s just how they paired it up. I tried my best. I had chances against Korea and then I had a good chance to win my seventh-round game against Romania and get a shot at a top-eight finish, but I messed it up.” Both players noted the grueling 2-rounds-per-day pace. “I made sure to get to the sauna every day to ease the pressure,” Tang said. Click here for full final results; here for selected game records and here for the player roster.
- Chris Garlock; photos by John Pinkerton 

Ranka Online WAGC Highlights: Wednesday, September 4

Wednesday September 4, 2013

Rounds 7 & 8 Reports: Click here for James Davies’ reports on the final rounds of the 2013 World Amateur Go Championship.

Round 7: Korea-Russia: Things Get Steadily Worse
Ilya Shikshin 7D (Russia) trades a large side for a center moyo but when Hyunjae Choi 6D (Korea) skillfully erases most of the moyo, Shikshin’s position turns out to be too thin and things get steadily worse…click here for the commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton.

Round 6: Russia-Japan: Losing an Advantage
Kikou Emura 7D (Japan) punishes an early overplay by Ilya Shikshin 7D (Russia), but slowly loses his advantage with slack moves and then falters in the endgame. Click here for the commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton.

Round 6: Canada-China: Two Missed Chances
After an even opening, Bill Tianyu Lin 7D (Canada) misses two chances to maintain the balance of territory and allows Yuqing Hu 8D (China) to get an unassailable lead. Click here for the commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton.

Round 5: China-Japan: The Cost is Too High
Kikou Emura 7D (Japan) wins every ko fight in this game with Yuqing Hu 8D (China), but the cost is too high. Click here for the commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, transcribed by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton.

PLUS: Liquorice, draniki or fried pizza? Players compare the food in Japan to what they’re used to at home. 

Fan Hui Wins French Open

Wednesday September 4, 2013

Fan Hui won the Open French Championship on September 25, near Perpignan in the south of France. There were 30 participants; Thomas Debarre took second, and Fred Donzet (left) was third. The selection for the 2014 WAGC will be at Rouen later this year, from the eight higher active players of the moment (although Fan is now a French citizen, as a professional he cannot represent France at the amateur event). Click here for more information (in French), including results and photos.
- Laurent Coquelet, French Correspondent for the E-Journal. NOTE: the player on the right is Cesar Lextrait, not Fan Hui, as originally reported. photo by Claire Rioualen.

Categories: Europe

Pandanet-AGA City League Season 2 Set; 9/15 Deadline to Join

Tuesday September 3, 2013

Preparations have begun for the second season of the Pandanet-AGA City League, with the first round set for Saturday, September 28. “This will be a full season with one round per month from September 2013 to June 2014,” says Karoline Li. Organizers are also looking for volunteers to help run the league. The new season’s schedule, rules and regulations will be updated on the Pandanet-AGA City League website. “The D League, in which teams have the largest range of strengths from kyu to dan players, will be a handicap league this season so as to make the games more enjoyable for all players,” adds (name). Any new teams looking to join the leagues must email team information to by September 15. Entry of teams into individual leagues will be handled on a case-by-case basis; while it may be possible for strong new teams to be placed into the higher leagues, no new teams will be placed directly into the A league. In order to enter the A league, a team must advance from the B league. If existing teams have any changes to make between seasons, email “The AGA is looking for volunteers to assist!” says Steve Colburn. “We need league managers to provide support for each individual league of six teams.” Anyone interested in helping out should email
photo: 2013 League champions Team Los Angeles with TD Jon Boley (left) and AGA Tournament Coordinator Karoline Burrall (r); photo by Phil Straus

Only a Passing Matter

Tuesday September 3, 2013

In the recent US Go Congress, there were a lot of exciting half-point games. There was also some confusion over AGA rules and passed stones. On the top two boards of the US Open on the same day, for example, one game finished with black winning by a half-point while on the other, white won by half a point. How could this happen? Here’s an updated explanation of AGA rules, originally published back in 1992 when the rules were new.

In an even game with 7 and ½ komi, if White must make the third pass at the end of the game, that stone does change the score (from the traditional territory count) but does not (except rarely*) change the apparent result. The reason is a matter of parity.

Under AGA rules players alternately fill in any dame and both pass one stone to indicate the end of the game. That’s a design feature of AGA rules to avoid language problems and end game confusion and has no effect on the result.

If Black plays the last stone on the board, White – under AGA rules – also hands over a third pass stone. Why and what is the effect?

When Black plays last on the board, the number of stones played by both players (not including pass stones) must be odd. Since the board is odd (361), the territory after filling in prisoners will be even. (Odd minus odd equals even.) So any difference in the scores of the two players must also be even: 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. (e.g. 33 – 27 or 32 – 26).

If White is behind by 6 points (territory count) and gets 7 ½ komi, White wins by 1½ . The additional pass stone prisoner reduces the victory to ½ point, but White still wins. If White is behind by 8 and gets 7 ½ komi, White loses by ½ point. The additional pass means White is down 1 ½ points – just a bigger loss.

And if White plays last on the board, there is no third pass stone and no issue.

*Note, if there is a seki (or a combination of sekis) with an odd total number of shared liberties, the parity of points on the board changes and the added White pass stone can appear to change the result in a 1 point game. The combination happens very rarely – less than 1/1000. The Congress game between Matthew (Zi Yang) Hu 1p (w) vs Yuhan Zhang 7d (b) (U.S. Go Congress Recap/Preview: Wednesday, August 7 8/6 EJ; click here for the game) is the first reported example since AGA rules were introduced in 1991. But the “change” is an illusion. AGA rules are designed to produce the same result whether counted by territory or area. The last pass stone does that and the 7 1/2 point komi compensates White for Black’s last dame advantage. In addition, if you counted by traditional territory rules with a 6 1/2 point komi, this game would end the same: White loses by half a point.
- Terry Benson, with Dennis Wheeler and Phil Straus; photos of the Hu-Zhang game by Chris Garlock 

Categories: U.S./North America

WAGC Daily Recap: Tuesday, September 3

Tuesday September 3, 2013

Korea’s Hyunjae Choi (left) virtually locked up the 2013 World Amateur Go Championship in the sixth round Tuesday afternoon with a solid 4.5-point win over China’s Yuqing Hu (right) for a perfect 6-0 record (click here for the game record with commentary by Michael Redmond 9P); Hu will almost certainly take second place. But with the two final rounds yet to play on Wednesday, the rest of the top slots are still very much up for grabs. Five-game winners include Ilya Shikshin of Russia (who beat Japan in the sixth round), Artem Kachanovskyi of the Ukraine (who defeated Finland in the 6th), Nikola Mitic of Serbia and Canada’s Bill Lin, who lost to Korea in the fifth round Tuesday morning and narrowly bested Chinese Taipei by 1.5 points in the sixth.

The win by Korea ends a two-year run by China, which won the WAGC in both 2012 and 2011. Kikou Emura’s back-to-back losses on Tuesday extinguished Japan’s hopes of recapturing the WAGC title for the first time since Satoshi Hiraoka won in 2006.
- Chris Garlock; photo by John Pinkerton 

Ranka Online WAGC Highlights: Tuesday, September 3

Tuesday September 3, 2013

Rounds 5 & 6 Reports: Korea’s Hyunjae Choi is an extremely quiet person. Drawing the black stones, he played the first move of the China-Korea game on the 3-4 point without making a sound, then pressed the clock button, equally noiselessly… Click here to read James Davies’ complete reports on Round 5 and Round 6.

Round 5: US-Singapore: A Fatal Weakness
Jia Cheng Tan of Singapore not only misses a chance to take a territorial lead at a key moment, but then overlooks a fatal weakness in his shape that costs him the game against Curtis Tang of the U.S. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the commentary.

Round 5: Korea-Canada: Building an Insurmountable Lead
Canada’s Bill (Tianyu) Lin doesn’t make any major mistakes in this undramatic game, yet Hyunjae Choi of Korea slowly but surely pulls ahead, building up an insurmountable lead. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the game commentary.

Round 4: Russia-China: Fast But Thin
A fast but thin move early on by Ilya Shikshin (Russia) 7d sets off a cascading series of fierce battles in which the attack changes hands several times. A good example of the kind of sustained concentration necessary for top-level play, even at amateur levels. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the commentary.

Round 3: Austria-Indonesia: Unorthodox
This game features an unorthodox opening by Sebastian Mualim 4d (Indonesia) that actually works fairly well up to a point. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9p, edited by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the commentary.

Round 3: Brazil-Belgium: No Errors, But…
In this game, though Thiago Shinji Shimada Ramos (Brazil) 3d makes no major errors, by move 72 Lucas Neirynck (Belgium) 4d has established a clear lead; here’s how. Commentary by Michael Redmond 9P, transcribed by Chris Garlock. Photo by John Pinkerton. Click here for the commentary.

What Else Would You Be Doing Today?
Jogging…playing soccer…painting…swimming…Mario Miguel Agüero Obando 1k (Costa Rica), Santiago Quijano Novoa 3D (Colombia) and Bill Tianyu Lin 7D (Canada) reveal what they’d be doing if they weren’t playing go. Click here  for John Richardson’s report; photos by John Pinkerton.

PLUS: Interviews with Romania’s Cornel Burzo and Erick Javier of the Philippines; Bacon, Eggs and Anti-Doping: Irish player James Hutchinson shares his thoughts on go as a sport, and new measures to prevent cheating.

WAGC Venue Exposes Go to Public Eye

Monday September 2, 2013

This year’s World Amateur Go Championship is being held in an interesting public venue, the the AER Building, the tallest building in Sendai. The 31-floor building houses retail stores, government offices and commercial business offices, so players — after passing a Starbucks, outside of which are tables for beginners to learn the game — take the escalators through a vertical mall — high-end clothing, jewelry and shoe outlets — to the fifth floor where there’s a game review area (photo at right), tables for pro simuls (at left), and the main playing area, where observers filter in to watch the action. One floor up is a large conference room which hosted a kid’s tournament on Saturday and an adult tournament on Sunday. All in all, there’s a bustling atmosphere at this year’s venue that brings the game of go into the public eye in an engaging way.
- Chris Garlock; photos by John Pinkerton