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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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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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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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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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