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US Youth to Play Japanese Insei

Sunday July 17, 2011

Ten of America’s youth players will compete in the first ever friendship matches with Japanese insei this coming Thursday, July 21st.  The insei are youth that are studying to become professionals in Japan, their lifestyle has been portrayed in the Hikaru no Go manga and anime, inspiring countless American kids to reach for the stars themselves.  Insei in classes B through D will compete, as will the top four high school players in Japan, according to Nihon Ki-in Overseas Coordinator Tom Urasoe.  The match has been organized by AGA Youth Coordinator Paul Barchilon, who chose the ten member US team based on both playing strength and dedication to the go community.  The matches will be held on the Japanese Yugen no Ma Go Server.  An English language version of the client is available at Wbaduk.com games will be held in the Japanese Go Room.  The US team, and a list of their opponents, can be found on Tigersmouth.org.  To observe the matches, download the client and create an id.  Matches will be held Thursday, July 21, at 5 pm PDT. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Image: insei characters from Hikaru no Go

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Balwit Named Teacher of the Year

Sunday July 17, 2011

Portland go teacher Fritz Balwit has been selected as the American Go Foundation’s Teacher of the Year. “My selection is a great honor,” says Balwit, “it has been a unique privilege to introduce go to children. They immediately recognize its magical properties, and are receptive to its aesthetic allure at an intuitive level. I have found that it brings people together in friendly collaboration based on respect and shared appreciation. I hope to continue working with kids in schools and to create a space at our local go salon where kids can discover the beauty of the game.  I teach go daily at Portland English Language Academy where I also teach English as a second language. We have a very lively group that plays for fun. Many of the Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese students are newly introduced to their traditional game. These are mostly younger adults and a few teenage kids. One kid- Shohei Jinno- came forward in a class and shyly mentioned his rating was 6 dan; he subsequently rolled over all Oregon players at the AGA tournament in Salem.”
Balwit started showing up on the radar in 2008, according to longtime organizer Peter Freedman: “For a number of years he had taught chess in the public schools, but about the time I met him he had recently fallen in love…with go.  He morphed his chess clubs into ‘chess/go clubs’, but in fact all his chess clubs became go clubs.  During 2008 he had clubs in seven schools.  As a result of his efforts over 125  children and youth were exposed to go, and 90 played in one of the school go clubs.  Fritz also ran several go camps during school breaks.”  Many of the programs Balwit launched in 2008 continued in the following years, and he is running five programs now.  “I’ve assisted Fritz teach at many of these schools,” adds Freedman, “I call him ‘the pied piper of go’ in Portland.  He has a magical way with children. He is gentle, funny, articulate, gives out tons of positive reinforcement, and continually amazes me with the way he explains go to children, making it more than a game.  He talks about how in go you must share, just as in life. When talking about building a wall, he remarked, ‘If you don’t play here there will be a little hole for a ferret to crawl through.  You don’t want a ferret running around in your house, do you?”  Actually, Fritz has two ferrets running around his real life house, along with three children ranging from elementary to middle school age, all of whom play go. One of them was his assistant in the go club he organized at her school.” Balwit has won an all expenses paid trip to the US Go Congress in Santa Barbara, where he will be honored at the awards banquet.  He will be speaking at the congress as well, in a special round table for teachers, and anyone who wants to work with kids, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 5:00 pm.  -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.  Photo by Fritz Balwit: Balwit (r) teaching his son Theo (l).
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Go Classified: Books for Sale

Monday July 11, 2011

All in very good condition! $15 – Basic Techniques of Go – hardcover; $20 – Modern Joseki & Fuseki, Volume 1 – hardcover (2-book set); $20 – Modern Joseki & Fuseki, Volume 2 – hardcover (2-book set); $40 – Strategic Concepts of Go – hardcover; $40 – The 1971 Honinbo Tournament – hardcover; $40 – The Middle Game of Go – hardcover; $40 – The World of Ki – hardcover; $10 – 38 Basic Joseki – paperback; $40 – Appreciating Famous Games – paperback; $40 – Attack & Defense – paperback ; $5 – Go & Go-Moku – paper; $5 – Go as Communication – paperback; $5 – Go for Beginners – paperback; $5 – How to Play Go – paper, spiral-bound ; $5 – In the Beginning – paperback; $40 – Invincible: The Games of Shusaku – paperback; $10 – Kage’s Secret Chronicles of Handicap Go – paperback; $10 – Les Bases Techniques du Go – paperback, French;$10 – Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go – paperback; $10 – Life & Death – paperback; $10 – Tesuji – paperback; $50 – The Breakthrough to Shodan – paperback; $10 – The Endgame – paperback; $10 – The Vital Points of Go – paper, spiral-bound; $10 – What’s Your Rating? – paperback. PLUS: Learn to Play Go, Volumes 1-5; sold as a complete set for $50 each. email antonninno@yahoo.com

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Categories: Go Classified
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GO SPOTTING: Go, Poker and the Sublime

Sunday July 10, 2011

When Frank Lantz thinks about games, he doesn’t play around. Lantz teaches game design at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, the School of Visual Arts, and the New School. He created games for Cartoon Network, Lifetime TV, and VH1 before becoming becoming the co-founder and creative director of Area/Code. His writings on games, technology and culture have appeared in a variety of publications. In a recent lecture on “Go, Poker and the Sublime” at a game developers’ conference (click here to view online), Lantz declared that games are an art form on a par with music, literature and film, perhaps even “the most important art form of the 21st century. Describing go to his mostly non-playing audience, Lantz comes up with some remarkably well-turned phrases, explaining how “Go is good at teaching itself to you,” “. . . at the border of the discrete and the continuous,” “. . . thought made visible to itself.” I especially enjoyed his riff explaining why “light” is better than “heavy,” yet “thick” is better than “thin.” Lantz goes on with a similarly eloquent description of poker, which he finds to be about “the alchemical transformative power of greed.” Looking at both games together, Lantz sees a contrast with video games that dominate today’s market. Go, poker and similar pastimes are more abstract, less reliant on make-believe – in short, they are games that grownups also play. They are infinite – players do not reach an end point as in narrative-based adventure and role-playing games. He exhorts the game developers in the audience to think big: “I want a game that I can play my whole life, that I can teach my son, and he will play his whole life.” Mostly known for the iPhone app “Drop7,” Area/Code has pursued other innovative “social gaming” ideas such as Macon Money,  an alternative currency “game” conducted in “RL” (real life) in Macon, GA; and Budgetball, a physical sport that also requires a certain degree of fiscal planning.  In January, Area/Code was acquired by Zynga, the social gaming giant behind Facebook megahits such as Farmville and Mafia Wars, giving Lantz an even bigger arena in which to realize his dream. With its emphasis on building, cooperation and balance, go has much in common with social media games like Farmville and Cafe World (another Zynga biggie) with the added spice of life-and-death struggle. If Zynga’s next games have bit more of a competitive edge, perhaps we’ll know why . . .
- Roy Laird

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GO SPOTTING: Yojiro Takita’s New Film

Saturday June 25, 2011

Yojiro Takita’s next film has an interesting historical connection to the game of go. Takita (r) – who won an Oscar in 2009 for Okuribito (Departures) – is adapting the novel ‘Tenchi Meisastsu,’ about a 17th century astronomer and mathematician. The film is an adaptation of To Ubukata’s novel of the same name, based on the life of Shibukawa, who later took on the name of his father, champion go player Yasui Santetsu, first head of the Yasui house. The novel has won literary awards in Japan on its way to selling 380,000 copies. It was published by Kadokawa, which is collaborating with Shochiku on the movie. Tenchi Meisastsu — which roughly translates as “insights into the universe” — is being shot at Shochiku’s Kyoto studio until the middle of August, and is slated for an autumn 2012 release.
- based on Gavin J. Blair’s story in The Hollywood Reporter, with thanks to Ramon Mercado for spotting the reference.

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Categories: Go Art,Go Spotting,World
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World Amateur Go Championship: Rounds 2 & 3

Monday May 30, 2011

THIS JUST IN: Click here for all the latest news from the 2011 World Amateur Go Championships (WAGC) live from Japan, including a report on Round 4 results, reported by our colleagues at Ranka Online, the bulletin of the International Go Federation.

Round 2 of the 2011 WAGC started just after 1:30 on May 29 with all players present. This time the bye went to Mykhailo Halchenko of the Ukraine. The player with the bye receives a teaching game from one of the referees, so Mykhailo 5D found himself playing Yasuhiro Nakano 9P at two stones. This was a tough challenge, and Mykhailo went down to honorable defeat by resignation.

In the real competition, six players now faced opponents of equal rank. The game between Thomas Debarre of France and Cornel Burzo of Romania, both 6D and hopeful of finishing in the top ten, was particularly intense. The winner, by 3.5 points, was Burzo, who earned a pairing against China’s Baoxiang Bao in the next round. In another duel of 6D players, Merlijn Kuin of The Netherlands triumphed over Franz-Josef Dickhut of Germany, and in a clash between two 7D players, Chinese Taipei’s Tsung-Han Wu overcame Canada’s Jun Fan. These four players are also expected to contend for places in the top ten.

At the 5D level, Kanh Binh Do of Vietnam picked up his first win by downing former European champion Zoran Mutabzja of Croatia. At the 1D level, Francisco Pereira of Portugal overcame Michael Galero of the Philippines, and Aliaksandr Suponeu of Belarus bested Manitra Razafindrabe of Madagascar. At the 1k level, Miroslav Smid of Slovakia scored a win over Mario Miguel Aguero Obanda of Costa Rica.

Unlike Round 1, round 2 produced some upsets. In one of the most unusual games of the afternoon, Kamil Chwedyna 4D of Poland used his patented second-line opening to defeat Viktor Lin 5D of Austria. In the closest game Salvador Larios 1k of Mexico squeaked past Hock Doong Ho 1D of Malaysia by half a point, and in the biggest surprise of the day, James Hutchinson 1k of Ireland upended Torben Pedersen 3D of Denmark.

Round 3: Once again most of the spectators chose to watch the game of the Japanese player, Hironori Hirata (in photo at right). Yesterday they had seen him sail serenely past opponents from the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and this morning they expected him to do likewise against Morten Ofstad from Norway. For most of the game it looked as if their expectations would be fulfilled, but the Norwegian 4D did not give up easily and his perseverance was rewarded: a critical mistake in a life-and-death situation forced the Japanese 8D to resign. Mr Hirata accepted defeat with good grace and bowed in apology to his onlooking supporters.

The spectators then moved into the outer playing area to watch the game between Chi-hin Chan of Hong Kong and Tsung-han Wu of Chinese Taipei, which was still in progress. The outcome was impossible to predict: both players are young and strong, both represent territories where go is booming among the younger generation, and the position on the board was tense. After a thrilling endgame it was Tsung-Han Wu, clad in blue jeans, a plaid shirt, and a black vest and sporting earrings, who walked away the winner by a point and a half.

In another 1.5-point finish, Choltit Rattanasetyut of Thailand defeated Xiang Zhang of Singapore. The Thai player led throughout the first half of the game, but victory did not come easily: the lead changed hands twice before the end.

These results left the players from Norway, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand undefeated. Joining them in the all-victorious group were Baoxiang Bai (China), Woo-soo Choi (Korea), Kamil Chwedyna (Poland), and Eric Lui (US), who defeated opponents from Romania, The Netherlands, Spain, and Slovenia in round 3. The Poland-Spain game featured another remarkable opening. Playing black, Kamil Chwedyna placed his first four stones in a pon-nuki shape in the center of the board; then he fought his way to a 6.5-point victory. In the next round the players from China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei will tackle the players from Thailand, the US, and Norway.
- James Davies, Ranka Online; edited by Jake Edge

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Readers Write: Kindle Go Update

Saturday May 14, 2011

“Any plans for a game of go version for Kindle?” wondered Dave Gagne here back in March (Kindle Go? 3/28 EJ). We’ve subsequently had two Kindle go sightings: Cristian sent us a link to Adrian Petrescu’s blog; Petrescu’s most recent post on May 5 says that “KindleGoban (r) and KindleChess will both be released this summer.” And  Mike Yankee reports that “all three volumes of Cho’s Encyclopedia Of Life And Death (as well as other tsumego collections) are downloadable as .pdf files here; these can be viewed directly on the Kindle although the diagrams are small.”
Keep us posted on these and other go news developments at journal@usgo.org

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4th Yuan Zhou Workshop Held in NC

Monday May 9, 2011

“Go is not just a a simple game,” said Yuan Zhou 7d (r) at the 4th Yuan Zhou North Carolina Go Workshop, held May 6-8 in Raleigh, North Carolina. “It is deeply connected to the philosophy of life. That is one reason why parents want their children to learn go. It teaches values and decision making skills that are important.” Fourteen people from the local clubs, Virginia, and Maryland participated in the three-day event. Zhou employed his characteristic combination of humor, philosophy, and rigorous game analysis to help elevate the games of players of all ranks, with particular emphasis on the need to understand the value and efficiency of each move. The workshop was sponsored
by the Triangle Go Group of Durham, North Carolina.
- Paul Celmer, Chapter Head, Triangle Go Group

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Categories: U.S./North America
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AGA Go Camp Confirmed for Summer Fun

Monday April 18, 2011

The AGA East Coast Go Camp has finalized details for this year’s camp, which will be held at the Madison Suites Hotel in Somerset, New Jersey, July 23-30. Mingjiu Jiang 7p and Yuan Zhou 7d will be the primary teachers.  Jiang, one of the driving forces behind the incredibly successful Bay Area (CA) scene, and organizer of the Zhujo Jiang youth tourney every year, has a proven track record with kids.  He counts some of the strongest youth in the country among his students.  Zhou, one of the most popular teachers on the East Coast, is also well known for his many books on go.  His deep insight into what kyu players are failing to see make his lessons all the more valuable.  “Students aged 8 – 18 are invited to spend a week playing go and making friends,” says camp director John Mangual.  “Double-digit kyus, upper-level dans, and anyone in-between can all participate. At previous camps, beginning players rapidly improved between 5 – 10 kyu levels in just one week, while advanced players improved their fundamentals and learned more about life and death, joseki and midgame fighting.   Our professional staff will make camp worthwhile for even the strongest amateurs.  The camp is an exciting chance to play go face to face, instead of just online,” adds Mangual. For more information, visit the camp page here, or e-mail Mangual at agagocampeast@usgo.org. - 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 last year’s camp. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.

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WORLD GO NEWS ROUND-UP February 8-14: Choi Cheolhan wins the Kuksu; Did Lee Changho resign too early?; Cho U and Yamashita Keigo advance to NEC Cup final

Monday February 14, 2011

Choi Cheolhan wins the Kuksu. Choi Cheolhan 9P (l in photo) added yet another title to his growing list this year by defeating Lee Changho 9P (r) by resignation in the fourth round of the 54th Kuksu on February 14. Choi won the series 3-1. This also marks an unfortunate milestone for Lee Changho, who is currently without a title. It’s the first time since the late 1980s that Lee has not held a single title. Did Lee Changho resign too early? In the 24th Fujitsu Cup preliminaries on Februrary 9, Lee Changho 9P lost to Won Sungjin 9P by resignation in the first round of play, thus eliminating him from the main tournament. This will be the first time since 1994 that Lee Changho has not participated in the main tournament. The controversy surrounding this particular game is the question of whether Lee resigned too early. Cyberoro is reporting that pros who have analyzed the game believe that Lee should not have resigned and are puzzled with his decision. Others cite Lee’s precipitous slide in performance over the past year, among other things like his recent marriage, as an explanation. For further updates on the controversy, see the discussion at Life in 19×19. Cho U and Yamashita Keigo advance to NEC Cup final. In the 30th NEC Cup semifinals, Cho U 9P and Yamashita Keigo 9P both won their respective matches against Kono Rin 9P, current NEC title holder, and O Meien 9P. Cho and Yamashita will now face one another in the final (date TBA). While Cho has participated in the NEC Cup title match three times and won it twice, in 2004 and 2007, this will be Yamashita’s first.
- JustPlayGo; edited by Jake Edge

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Categories: World
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