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“Creative” Osawa 4P Teaches at DC Event

Thursday April 4, 2013

A small but appreciative crowd turned out for an evening of go with Japanese 4-dan professional Narumi Osawa in Washington, DC on April 2 during the city’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Osawa’s free talk and simul at the Japan Information and Cultural Center (JICC) included a collaborative game with beginners — including a pair of young children — and a simul with seven pairs of players. “I found it creative that she let beginners take turns to play,” said local organizer Edward Zhang, “as well as teaching along the way when seeing an opportunity in the game. I also loved the Pair Go format of the simul, encouraging communication and collaboration. Her successfully getting students involved by asking many many questions is consistent with some other Japanese pros I met in Go Congresses.” Ms. Osawa is not only a pro from Nihon-Kiin, but also a special envoy of the Japanese government, which may account for the enthusiastic presence of the embassy’s Minister for Public Affairs Masato Otaka for the entire evening. As the visiting go players pondered moves during the simul, embassy staff clustered around a small board off to the side as they tried to solve life and death problems. “Special thanks to JICC director Izumi Seki, who initiated and organized this special event,” said Greater Washington Go Club organizer Haskell Small. Among those in attendance were former AGA President Allan Abramson and new AGA Board Chair Gurujeet Khalsa. Osawa will reportedly be in the US for two months before heading Brazil for a week.
- report/photos & collage by Chris Garlock

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Categories: U.S./North America
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“Something For Everyone” at First Spring Go Expo

Wednesday March 27, 2013

“The Spring Go Expo has something for everyone,” said organizer Michael Fodera as he announced the opening of the 2013 Spring Go Expo at Harvard University’s Student Organization Center at Hillel last weekend.

And so it did. Spread out across four connected areas in a student lounge, the Expo featured exciting performances, thoughtful presentations from a scholarly perspective and an exclusive 15-minute segment of the upcoming documentary film The Surrounding Game. The event was organized by The American Collegiate Go Association  (ACGA) and the  Harvard University Go Club and sponsored by the Ing Chang-ki Weiqi Association.

And for those who wanted it, there was plenty “real go,”  with a self-paired tournament, plenty of space for casual play and simultaneous play with top players ranging from Ing Cup winner Chang Hao 9P to America’s newly minted pros Andy Liu 1P and Gangsheng Shi 1PNarumi Osawa 4P, a Japanese pro currently touring the US, and US-based Chinese 1P Stephanie Yin also made generous use of their time, joining the others in simultaneous play and instruction.   Mid-level players also had the opportunity to play Chinese National University Champion John Xiao and American 7-dan Ben Lockhart. The first round of simuls began at 9a on Saturday.

“Many go events focus on tournament play, but we also wanted to include teaching, and exposure to other aspects of Asian life,” Fodera continued. “Go is considered one of the ‘Four Accomplishments’ in China, so let’s learn more about the others,” he said, yielding the stage to Shin Yi-yang, an accomplished player of the qin. Meanwhile, calligraphers from The Chinese Culture Connection demonstrated their art,  and drummers from The Rhode Island Kung Fu Club chased a  large dragon throughout the space as attendees enjoyed a free lunch. While self-paired and casual games continued, filmmakers Cole Pruitt and Will Lockhart presented a 15-minute of their exciting documentary scheduled for release later this year. After a lecture by Prof. Elywn Berlekamp on “Coupon Go,” Liu played an exhibition game against Hao, losing by only 3.5 points.

On Sunday, while younger players competed in a Youth Tournament, more than 50 participants played and recorded games that were then analyzed in small groups by the professionals. Peter Schumer reprised his college go course talk from this year’s International Go Symposium. (click here to view Schumer’s Symposium talk), and Thomas Wolf described his work studying “The Mathematics of Seki.” Pruitt, Lockhart, Fodera and all the ACGA organizers can take pride in a job in a job well done and extended grateful thanks to the Shanghai Ing Foundation, especially its director, Lu Wen Zhen, and the Secretary General, Ni Yaoliang, who traveled from Shanghai to attend the event.
- report/photos by Roy Laird; collage by Chris Garlock

 

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Blackie’s Baduk Academy to Offer Summer Camp in Korea

Friday March 15, 2013

Blackie’s International Baduk Academy (The Traveling Go Board 1/19/2013 EJ) will offer their first summer camp this June. “We hope that kids can join to our camp, but anyone is welcomed,” Kim Seung-jun tells the E-Journal. “No age or rank limit, just like in BIBA.” The camp will run June 24 through July 23 in Seoul, South Korea. In addition to helping students improve, the camp’s goals include facilitating cultural exchanges through the game of baduk (go). Highlights of the camp include game reviews and commentaries, studying life and death problems and professional games as well as games; teachers include Kim Seung-jun 9P, Diana Koszegi 1P, On So-jin 7P and Park Young-un 7d. Other activities include visiting the Hangkuk Kiwon and meeting with famous professional players, visiting the Kwon Gap Yong Baduk Academy in Seoul, as well as playing sports in a nearby park and visits to the sea. Click here for details and to register.
- photo courtesy BIBA 

 

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Categories: World,Youth
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Americans Win Brunei Friendship Match

Saturday March 2, 2013

The US has won the Brunei Friendship Cup, which was held Saturday Feb. 16th, on KGS.  Sponsored by the American Go Honor Society, and the Brunei I-Go Society.   “The match revived an earlier tourney last held in 2010, and renewed an international friendship with countries in Southeast Asia,” reports tournament coordinator Andrew Huang. This year’s event featured two teams from Southeast Asia, a team from Canada, and a team from the United States (selected by a qualifying event the prior week). The US team featured Aaron Ye 5d, Jeremy Chiu 5d, Louie Liu 1d, Sathya Singh 1k, Jeremiah Donley 4k, Joshua Song 12k, Eric Liu 3k, Kalin Bradley 6k, and Monsoon Shrestha 8k. In the end, the Americans were victorious after posting a 3-0 record, while SE Asia Team 2 (2-1) got second, SE Asia Team 1(1-2)  got third, and Canada (0-3) got fourth.  “Most importantly, some international friendships were made,” reports Huang, “and very exciting games were played (including a triple ko in the qualifying event). We look forward to an even more successful event next year.”  Full reports are here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo of Brunei players from xinwengolife.wordpress.com.

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54th New Jersey Open Set for March 2-3 in Princeton

Sunday February 17, 2013

The Princeton Go Club will host the 54th annual New Jersey Open the weekend of March 2-3, reports co-director Rick Mott. The 2-day, 5-round event has been running for more than half a century, and on the Princeton campus for 23 years. Registration is 9-10A Saturday, March 3. Email co-director Mott for full details at rickmott@alumni.princeton.edu.

Go has a long history at Princeton. The Princeton club was founded by Professor Ralph J. Fox of the Department of Mathematics in 1945, who continued to promote go in Princeton until his untimely death in 1973. Professor Fox brought a number of Japanese professionals to visit Princeton, and often hosted them at his house. His late wife Cynthia bequeathed some of his books, photographs and papers to the club archives.

Perhaps the most famous association of Princeton with go is an opening scene in the film “A Beautiful Mind”, depicting the life of Nobel laureate John Nash Jr., in which Nash is challenged to a game by a fellow graduate student.

The Princeton club hosted the fifth US Go Congress in 1989. The following year, the long-standing New Jersey Open, one of the earliest regional events in the US, moved to the Princeton campus where it continues to be held. The tournament has drawn up to 120 players from Virginia to Massachusetts, with occasional visitors from as far away as Europe and Asia.

Past NJO winner and former club president Zhaonian (Michael) Chen ’11 (AGA 7D) is the highest-rated player to date to be part of the Princeton community. He was part of the first group of students from the nearby Feng Yun Go School to reach college age. Freshman Zhongxia (Ricky) Zhao ’16, AGA 7D, also studied with Feng Yun (photo). “In recent years, we have had an influx of college club players, notably Stony Brook and Rutgers. This year, Cornell has told us they will be sending a group as well,” Mott tells the E-Journal.
photo: Feng Yun analyzing a top-board game at the 2010 NJO; photo by John Pinkerton 

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The Spirit of Play: “Nature vs Nurture”

Monday February 11, 2013

by Gabriel Benmergui

In my last column (The Spirit of Play: “What can I do to improve?” 12/31/2012 EJ) I discussed players who reach moderately high levels of play with little effort, especially regarding problem solving. Since those players often have a big effect on others, I think it would be valuable to delve deeper into the matter.

I find it damaging when I hear a strong player say “I got to X-Dan with little study. If you only play games and review you can get to X-Dan like me.” Such cases seem to prove that effort is a waste of time, but they’re really damaging because they discourage players from putting in the necessary work to improve.

The reality is that naturally strong players are quite rare. For each player that rather effortlessly reaches a moderately high level of play, there are thousands that do not. The “system” of just playing and reviewing simply doesn’t work for the vast majority of players. And despite their rapid improvement, these players are not really the clear success cases they seem; without proper effort they’re not going to reach the highest level they can achieve.

In the end, natural skill doesn’t really matter. It’s just not something you can control. What you can control is the effort and work you put into improving. Natural skill has a limit that effort does not have. We live in an age where one of the most renowned players of all time, Lee Changho 9P, fell extremely short in skill when compared to his teachers and his classmates, but through an immense amount of hard work Lee attained a place at the top of the world.

My Advice: For amateur players, go should first and foremost be about enjoyment. Do what pleases you most. However, if you want to improve, be ready to put some effort into it. Self-study, lessons, and reviewing your games will all help you get better. And when a naturally strong player crosses your path, learn what you can from them but ignore any advice that seems to offer an easy path to improvement. Slack training will never be better than proper study. But don’t take my word for it; here’s Lee Changho’s #1 tip to get stronger: “Solve life and death problems!”

Gabriel Benmergui lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentinian Champion in 2011 and 2012, he has studied go in Korea and now runs the Kaya.gs Go Server. Edited by Chris Garlock; photo by John Pinkerton

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The Traveling Go Board: Blackie’s International Baduk Academy

Saturday January 19, 2013

by Lisa Schrag As visiting Americans who help run the Bay Area Go Players Association, Roger Schrag and I wanted to see first-hand how go is taught in South Korea, a country where the population is as familiar with go (called baduk in Korean) as Americans are with chess.

We visited Blackie’s International Baduk Academy (BIBA), where we were greeted by friendly teachers Kim Seung-jun 9P “Blackie” (right) and Diana Koszegi 1P (left). Two years ago, they opened BIBA’s doors in the bustling Sanbon neighborhood of Seoul. The school only accepts international students, yet the system of learning go is traditional Korean. While a student there, you are living and breathing go with a daily schedule that runs from 11 in the morning to about 10 at night. All coursework is conducted in English, and people come  from places such as Canada, Singapore, France, Germany, Serbia, the U.K., and the U.S. Students may also attend events, meet pro players at tournaments, and visit the Korean Baduk Association.

“Even if you are at BIBA for a short time, the value is in learning how to study,” explained Koszegi. The pair told us that Korean go study focuses significantly on life and death problems. “Foreigners are weak on life and death,”  Koszegi continued. “They might come in as a 3d but play more like a 5k in life and death. Korean kids who are 3d play like a 5d in life and death.” Blackie plays go professionally in addition to teaching, and I asked him if doing so much teaching weakens his game. “You don’t get weaker teaching,” he responded.  “Maybe you don’t have as much time to study, but you don’t get weaker.” The key is to not overplay during teaching games. Instead, Blackie waits for opponents to make mistakes. There is a traditional Korean go school for children just down the hall from BIBA, and BIBA students sometimes connect with the kids there for competitive games. There’s also plenty of sightseeing available when you aren’t studying go or playing foot volleyball and soccer with the BIBA gang: palaces, parks, biking along the Han River… For more information, visit BIBA’s website. For more about Seoul, check out Visit Seoul. Photos by Lisa Schrag.

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Categories: Traveling Go Board
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Your Move/Readers Write: Programmers Advocating Go

Sunday January 6, 2013

“Recently I’ve discovered some information about programmers advocating go to their peers,” writes Steve Colburn, an IT professional and go organizer in Rochester, NY who’s also on the AGA website and EJ team. “The first one is a video from the Game Developers Conference in which Frank Lantz from the NYU Game Center gives a talk about Life and Death and Middle Pair: Go, Poker, and the Sublime  (reported in the 10/30 EJ). The second part is part of the Clojure community. The head of the community Rich Hickey advocates the playing of go to people who code in this language. I know of a few active Clojure programmers (Eidogo and IGS programmers) who are all go players. At this year’s Clojure Conj, Zach Tellman gave a talk about Playing Go with Clojure  right before the keynote. It’s great to hear go being publicized like this to our peers and those who do not know about go.”

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Janice Kim on Why Solving Go Problems Isn’t Boring (& Two Books to Read Now)

Wednesday January 2, 2013

Although I agree with most of the article on how to improve (The Spirit of Play: “What can I do to improve?” 12/31 EJ), I must — tongue firmly in cheek — object to the statement that solving go problems is ‘boring’.

When I was a student at the Korean Baduk Association, the protocol for solving a problem was that you had to be willing to stake your life that your answer was complete and correct. ‘Complete’ is key, as you definitely didn’t want to scramble for a reply if an alternate move in some sequence was suggested; the executioner may have itchy fingers. Solving problems to this day remains a high-octane, nail-biting affair for me, especially if it’s not much of a reading challenge, so tempting then to omit steadying the nerves and triple-checking. You can hold yourself to a higher standard when practicing, and everybody loses sometimes so the pressure is off when playing, so you might think it’s the actual competition that is the tedious part of go…”

Last (well, not really) thoughts. They don’t call the experts ‘practitioners’ for nothing. Janice’s brain cross-references with two suggested reads: The Little Book of Talent, questions-answered-from-real-world-not-author-agenda-practical-really-works tips for improvement in any endeavor, and the science fiction novel Ender’s Game, almost required reading on the American Cultural Experience syllabus. Spoiler alert the entire premise is this idea of thing-itself-is-a small detail or afterthought, the lead-up to the game, not during the game, is where the winner is decided.
- Janice Kim 3P; photo: Kim playing primary schoochildren at the Shuang Huayuan campus of the Beijing Chaoyang Fangcaodi International school on December 17; photo by Chris Garlock

 

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Go Spotting: Last Resort

Sunday December 30, 2012

“Go was just featured on a U.S. TV series!” writes Alicia Seifrid. The game was featured in the ABC series “Last Resort,” episode 10 (“Blue Water”), which aired last Thursday, December 13. “The series is about a renegade U.S. submarine crew on an island in the Indian Ocean,” explains Seifrid. “In this episode, a Chinese diplomat named Zheng visits the crew offering humanitarian aid. He meets with Captain Chaplin, who is wary of what strings might come attached with the aid. Zheng offers Chaplin his grandfather’s go board as a gift. When Chaplin says he prefers chess, Zheng says ‘In chess, the victor is the one who annihilates his opponent’s armies. In weiqi or go, victory goes to the one who can control the most territory with the fewest armies.’” Later in the episode, they play a game against each other, and Zheng catches Chaplin in a trap, “exactly what Chaplin fears might be the real-life situation if he accepts Zheng’s aid,” says Seifrid. She sent along this screencap of the board during their game, noting that “Chaplin is black and Zheng is white.”

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Categories: Go Spotting
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