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SmartGo Books 2.0 Released

Tuesday July 3, 2012

If you have an iPad or iPhone, reading go books just got even better. “SmartGo  Books 2.0 improves the reading experience by moving the controls more out of the way, always showing the chapter title (iPad) and page number (iPhone), and speeding up navigation,” reports SmartGo author Anders Kierulf. Three new books bring the total number of SmartGo book to 35, and Kierulf says he hopes to have five more books before the upcoming U.S.Go Congress.

The three new books:

  • “Get Strong at Life and Death” by Richard Bozulich ($8.99): Fundamentals of life & death, with 230 problems (Kiseido).
  • “More Go by Example” by Neil Moffatt ($6.99): Explore the thinking required to break through the kyu-dan barrier (Learn Go Press).
  • “Correct Joseki” by Mingjiu Jiang and Guo Juan ($7.99): Dealing with joseki mistakes, and how to select joseki for particular game situations (Slate & Shell; published in print as “All About Joseki”).

SmartGo Books is a free app you can download from the App Store, with books available as in-app purchases. Click here for more information.

 

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Joe Walters Named 2012 AGF Teacher of the Year

Thursday June 21, 2012

This year’s Teacher of the Year winner, Joe Walters of Pasadena, CA, learned go in the Navy. That is, he learned about go. “A buddy and I tried it and wound up bewildered, with two walls across the middle of the board,” Walters said.  “I didn’t really start to understand go until the Ishi Press books began to appear in the 1970’s.” Walters’ current rank is about 8K. Each year the American Go Foundation selects an outstanding go organizer as Teacher of the Year (TOTY). The recipient receives an all-expenses paid trip to the US Go Congress, where the TOTY leads a discussion among fellow organizers, sharing strategies and learning from each other.  After his stint in the Navy, Walters returned to civilian life and joined the staff of the Reiyukai (Spiritual Friendship Society), a lay Buddhist association. He suggested organizing a go club at the Center to attract visitors and promote interest, and the Go-For-Yu Club was born. Later, after a stint as the Director of the Reiyukai in the Philippines, he returned to Pasadena and founded the Yu-Go Club. “Jimmy Cha was a big help in the early days, along with Richard Dolen, Gun Ho Choi, and Bob Terry. Then when Yi-lun Yang came to town, things really started to take off.”

Four years ago, when Walters retired, he decided to use some of his newfound freedom to start a go program at his grandson’s elementary school. Before long, about 150 of the school’s 400 students were involved – ironically, his grandson was not among them. Starting with brief presentations during recess, the program soon moved to the lunchroom. “Most of the kids were finishing lunch in 15 minutes or so. The cafeteria doubles as the auditorium, so we set up go equipment on the stage. Being so visible, other kids wanted to play, and so it grew.” Each participant gets an index card marked with a Pokemon character of their choice, to record contact info, game results and so on. Setting up the program, Walters relied heavily on the Assistant Principal, who last year became principal of a nearby school.  Walters expanded his activities to that school, teaching and operating the program two days a week during lunch at each site. “The noise in the lunchroom makes it hard to teach, but we can’t meet privately because students cannot be alone; a teacher must be physically present at all times,” Walters said. The principals of the two schools are good friends and maintain a friendly rivalry between their schools, so when Walters proposed an intramural tournament last year, they jumped at the chance and even provided a traveling trophy. Four players from each lunchtime group – first/second grade, third/fourth and fifth/sixth – met in a two-round playoff last year, but a few no-shows marred the result.  This year, all interested players will participate. Walters ran the event with the help of local players Jeff McClellan and Reese.  This year they will offer lessons to the parents, ending with parent-child games for all who will participate. Next, Walters hopes to teach participants in a local senior center and perhaps arrange for some of his students to meet and play with the seniors. He also enjoys teaching beginners on KGS and can often be found in the Beginner’s Room as “Jodageezer”. “Go is such a great way to connect all different kinds of people,” he says.
 reprinted from Sensei: The American Go Foundation Newsletter

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Andy Okun Appointed President of AGA; Ted Terpstra is Executive VP

Wednesday June 6, 2012

West Coast go organizer Andy Okun (left) was appointed President of the American Go Association (AGA) by the AGA Board of Directors at its June 3 meeting. Ted Terpstra (right) of San Diego was appointed Executive Vice President. Their two-year term will begin on September 3rd. “Andy will be a great President,” said outgoing AGA President Allan Abramson, “and Ted is a welcome addition as EVP.” Okun has chaired the Board since 2010 and is a longtime organizer in the Los Angeles area. “In the decade since I took up this wonderful game, the American go community and the new friends I’ve made have enriched my life tremendously,” Okun told the E-Journal. “This is a chance for me to give back a little.  My thanks to my fellow board members for their confidence.” Ted Terpstra, president of the San Diego Go Club for the last five years, has been playing off and on since learning the game in the early 1970s and has taught many people to play in schools, after-school programs and even a Buddhist temple. He has been a NOAA meteorologist and worked in plasma physics research at Princeton and then General Atomics.

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Categories: U.S./North America
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Your Move/Readers Write: The Girl Who Played Go

Sunday May 27, 2012

“I saw this book today and thought the go community would be interested,” writes E-Journal reader Tina Zhang about Shan Sa’s 2003 novel The Girl Who Played Go. That sent us deep into the American Go EJournal Archive where we retrieved Roy Laird’s 7/15/2003 review:

GO REVIEW: The Girl Who Played Go
by Shan Sa; translated from the French by Adriana Hunter
280 pp.

In The Square of The Thousand Winds, a Chinese girl plays go. Serious go, toppling opponent after opponent. The time is the early 1930‘s and the Japanese are invading. Hearing that “terrorists” from the Chinese Resistance meet at the Square to plot their next moves, a Japanese soldier visits the square in disguise, to spy on them. Instead he falls into a game with the girl who plays go. They meet at the square day after day to continue this strangely compelling game. Meanwhile, we watch their lives converge toward a startling climax.

The award-winning author (at left) seems to know her Asian history and literature, and even fills us in with footnotes when the characters participate in major historical events, or discuss history. Attention to detail is so “granular” that the Chinese girl depicted on the cover is even holding authentic Chinese stones! (Chinese stones are flat on one side.) The writing is sprinkled with thoughtful little gems, but seems mostly halting and disjointed, and the occasional intrusion in the translation of Britishisms like “chivvying” is a bit jarring. Most of the chapters are only a few paragraphs long — just when we‘re beginning to immerse ourselves in a scene, it‘s over. Nonetheless, as often happens with good books, I am left with vivid memories and images, and thoughtful questions about the meaning of war. You have to admire the author‘s ambition. Through these gradually intertwining lives, one Chinese, one Japanese, she seeks to illuminate a dark era of occupation, torture and violent death, and to some degree she succeeds.

As a go player, I was happy to see the game presented as in a compelling, dramatic way. The Japanese lieutenant goes to the Square on a mission for his country and the Emperor, but finds himself hopelessly seduced by go. He confesses to his Captain, who shows his understanding by quoting the Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zi: “When you lose a horse, you never know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.” In the end, the game becomes the means by which two minds meet in a profound, life-altering way.

This novel takes its place in a growing lexicon of “go stories”. The ongoing, periodically adjourned game that progresses through most of the book invites comparison with Kawabata‘s The Master of Go, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. After the degrading portrayal of women in Sung-hwa Hong‘s tough, dark First Kyu, it‘s nice to see a woman who is not just the central character, but clearly the master of a her fate — and a strong go player to boot!

Most of all, The Girl Who Played Go brings to mind the classic film The Go Masters, a historic Chinese-Japanese film that has been called “an Asian ‘Gone With the Wind.’ ”
- review by Roy Laird

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“This is a Pilgrimage”: Kids Write About Go Camp

Monday May 21, 2012

With the deadline for early registration coming up on May 28, kids across the country are signing up for the AGA summer go camp.  “To me this is not a vacation: this is more like a pilgrimage that I need to take, not just for fun or to improve my skills, but as a young go player who wishes to be a part of the go community as much as possible,” writes Marcus Gould. The AGF is committed to helping youth who want to go but can’t afford it, and is holding a fund raising drive to support the camp.  Youth must write an essay if they want a scholarship, and their passion is evident from their submissions. “I want to go to the AGA Go Camp in order to advance my own game, and to meet other people who love go as much as I do.  Lately, I haven’t had too many chances to play go in real life, as opposed to online.  I see this as an awesome opportunity to play other players my level in real life,” writes David Gillule.  “My plane ticket is all the way from Salt Lake City, and is more expensive than the camp itself; it’s my summer job that’ll be paying this off,” writes Benson Merrill. The camp will take place the week before the Go Congress from July 28 to August 4 and will be held at the same location, the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  AGF needs based scholarships are  available for players who can’t afford the full cost, and youth who played in the USYGC are eligible for a $400 scholarship to camp.  More details on AGF scholarships can be found here.  Sign up before May 28 and save $50 off the price of camp.  Details are on the camp website. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo: Kids take a break from studying to bury one of their counselors in pillows, photo by Amanda Miller (who is at the bottom of the pillow pile) from the 2010 Go Camp.

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WAGC Short Takes: Yuan Zhou on Tygem & the U.S. Pro System; Nihon Ki-in Teams up with Cho U on New Go App; In the Gardens of the Guangzhou Chess Institute; A Glimpse of James Davies

Tuesday May 15, 2012

Yuan Zhou on Tygem & the U.S. Pro System: Yuan Zhou 7d warmed up for his World Amateur Go Championship appearance by playing on the Tygem server, where he told the E-Journal that “It was very easy and fast to get good games.” Heading into his fifth-round game against the UK’s Samuel Aitkin 4d, Zhou said he was pleased with his 3-1 record thus far, noting that his fourth-round win against Seizoh Nakazono 8d was the first time in WAGC history that the US had prevailed over Japan. He’s excited about the new American pro system now in development and looking forward to competing in the pro qualifier at the Maryland Open at the end of the month. “It’s so important for the future of American go,” Zhou said, “it will give hope to young American players that a go career is possible.”

Nihon Ki-in Teams up with Cho U on New Go App: Colorful cats, dogs and frogs danced on Taro Matsuo’s iPad as the Go World editor enthusiastically showed off the Nihon Kiin’s playful go app developed with top pro Cho U 9P. The new app features cute cartoon animals that guide a beginner through learning the fundamentals of go in a “fun and accessible way,” Matsuo said. Now available in the iTunes app store in Japanese (search for Nihon Ki-in or go), the hope is to release an English-language version later this year. The app joins other Nihon Ki-in apps including its tsume-go (life and death) app; IgoFree, for playing go in-person on an iPad, and e-publications including Go World, Go Weekly (featuring playable game records), and more than ten go books, “with two more due out next month,” Matsuo says proudly.

In the Gardens of the Guangzhou Chess Institute: Clouds of dragonflies flitted above us as we took in the view from the garden atop the Guangzhou Chess Institute. A waterfall burbled merrily nearby, giving a measure of relief from the oppressive heat. Built for the 2010 edition of the Asian Games, the Institute is a spectacular venue for go, chess and Chinese Chess events near scenic Baiyun Mountain, and includes two major playing halls, rooms for players and officials to stay in, and study rooms, as well as lush gardens and an impressive museum dedicated to the three games. The museum celebrates the Chinese origins of go, and the key figures in that history, from Ming emperor Yao, who legend says had it invented for his son, to Wu Qingyuan, known to the west as Go Seigen, the prodigy who triumphed so spectacularly in Japan, became one of the best players of all time and, with Kitani Minoru, broke away from the traditional opening patterns to develop modern go. Other Chinese go giants like Chen Zude, Nie Weiping and Gu Li are also highlighted, although all the museum text is in Chinese, leaving the western vistor to puzzle out things like the player’s names on the historical games on the walls (shown here by So Yokoku 8P). An exhibition of English-language panels covering much the same material were produced for the WAGC main playing area and perhaps will be displayed in the museum. The exhibits of boards, pieces and carved wood panels in the cool and shadowy museum are inviting in Guangzhou’s heat, but so too are the whisper of the breeze in the bamboo and rustle of the twisted pines in the Institute’s gardens, as the player’s stones click steadily along like cicadas in the trees.

A Glimpse of James Davies: James Davies does not flaunt his encyclopedic knowledge of the game of go, its history and players. It’s not his style. The author of elegant Ishi classics like An Introduction to GO, 38 Basic Joseki and Attack and Defense, who’s covering the WAGC for Ranka Online, Davies drifts about the playing area, seemingly aimlessly, keenly watching and listening, jotting down the occasional note, asking a quiet question or two of players exiting the playing area. Over six feet tall with a perfectly-trimmed bushy mustache that hides his expression but not the hint of a twinkle in his eyes, and always impeccably attired in a sports coat regardless of the oppressive heat, Davies’ comprehensive round-by-round reports and provide a keen eye for the telling detail, the way one player places his stones, the demeanor of another, the positional status of each game Davies turns his attention to. In another life, perhaps, the Baltimore native might have been a sportcaster, the kind with the true fan’s appreciation of the game and a gift for the sharp-eyed observation, dryly delivered.

- Chris Garlock; photos by John Pinkerton

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2010′s Top 20 Professional Go Players

Saturday May 12, 2012

For those of you who like to follow the professional go scene, An Younggil 8P (r) recently finished writing a year-long series of articles for GoGameGuru profiling the top 20 professional go players of 2010. Throughout the series, Younggil goes well beyond the usual historical details to write about players’ personalities and go styles, as well as recounting his own meetings with many of them. Younggil’s intention was to introduce his professional colleagues to a Western audience as humans, rather than just pro go players. He also shares many insights into the life of a professional go player and the go scene in Korea. It makes fascinating reading for any serious go fan.
The full list of bios includes: Lee SedolKong JiePark JunghwanChoi CheolhanKang DongyunHeo YounghoGu LiXie HeWon SeongjinLi ZheZhou RuiyangTuo JiaxiLee ChanghoQiu JunKim JiseokWang XiCho HanseungChen YaoyePark Younghun and Lee Younggu.

photo: Kong Jie (left) and Lee Sedol play in the final of the 23rd Fujitsu Cup (2010). 

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Salt City Tourney Takes the Cake

Monday March 26, 2012

A special attraction of the annual Salt City Go Tournament – scheduled for this Saturday, March 31 in Syracuse, NY — is the “go problem” cake baked by local go organizer Richard Moseson’s wife Chris. “Competitors are invited to fill out an entry form supplying what they believe should be black’s first move” to solve the life and death problem icing the cake, reports Moseson, and “a prize is given for one of the winning submissions at the end of the tournament,” although the cake itself is consumed at the conclusion of lunch. “We do give out 15 other prizes to game winners too, mostly books from Slate and Shell,” adds Moseson. The tournament derives its name from Syracuse’s history as the principle salt resource in the United States until 1900.
photo: 2011 tournament winner Phil Waldron (r) observes the cake preparation by Chris Moseson; photo by Richard Moseson

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Categories: U.S./North America
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Janice Kim Launches New Go Blog

Monday January 2, 2012

Janice is back! American professional Janice Kim 3P (at right), the popular go author, lecturer at many U.S. Go Congresses and former American Go Journal columnist (“Life in B-League”), has just launched a go blog. The idea of the Learn To Play Go blog, hosted by Kim’s  Samarkand.Net website, “is that if AGA members want to have one of their games analyzed and would email it to me in sgf format — along with any questions they have — I will identify it in the grand scheme, incorporate it in a weekly go tutorial blog post, and cast both players as ‘spy vs. spy’ for complete anonymity,” Janice tells the E-Journal. Send your sgf game records – and questions – to jkim@samarkand.net and be sure to put “sgf file” in the subject line and include your AGA membership number.

“Perhaps you are familiar with logic puzzles involving hats,” Janice suggests in the first post, What Hat Are You Wearing?  “No? For example, imagine there are 10 prisoners and 10 hats. Each prisoner is assigned a random hat, either red or blue, but the number of each color hat is not known to the prisoners. The prisoners will be lined up single file where each can see the hats in front of him but not behind. Starting with the prisoner in the back of the line and moving forward, they must each, in turn, say only one word which must be ‘red’ or ‘blue’. If the word matches their hat color they are released, if not, they are killed on the spot. A friendly guard warns them of this test one hour beforehand and tells them that they can formulate a plan together to help them survive within the given parameters. How many prisoners could you guarantee to save? While I was thinking about hats, I thought about how it might relate to go, and outlined in broad strokes my new Hat Theory in the comments of the go game below.”

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Two Weeks at the Lee Sedol Baduk Academy: Van Tran’s Journal (#2)

Monday November 14, 2011

July 8: Today, I woke up, got ready and went to the dojang a little early. I’ve started changing my style from the traditional peaceful play found frequently in the States to the somewhat reckless fighting style of the Koreans. I think it’s the best way to improve because it forces you to read further. I have also found that life and death problems are a huge part of Korean go because they come up so often in their games. Today I memorized a pro game on the recommendation of the headmaster. He says it’s not enough to go over a pro game; you have to memorize it in order to get a solid feel of the best move on intuition. I find pro games to be much more helpful now because when you memorize them you understand why professionals make each of their moves. It’s easy to gain two stones in strength by putting a purpose in each stone you play. Oh it’s  a good night because I won all my games today!
Photo (right): Dinner at the dormitory

July 9: Today is Saturday, which is kind of like a break day at the dojang. Everyone participates in a team tournament. On my team was Yu Minh and Masakito, a 7 year-old student from Japan. Both of them are 9d and aspiring professionals. I felt out of place and was given handicaps against the other players. I played a 9d insei with 6 stones and won. The next game I played with another 9d insei with 6 stones and won again. Our team won the tournament, but I knew I didn’t deserve to win because they were much stronger than me.
photo (left): Win some, lose some

Sixteen-year-old Van Tran spent two weeks in South Korea at the Lee Sedol Baduk Academy earlier this year and sent the E-Journal his report, which is appearing in the EJ this month. The high school junior lives in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas, has been playing for two and a half years and is “about 3 dan.”

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Categories: Youth
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