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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). 


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

Categories: U.S./North America

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 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.”


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.”

Categories: Youth

Ishi Press Founder Bozulich Dead at 75?

Monday November 7, 2011

Reports of the death of Richard Bozulich (at left), Ishi Press founder and the father of the English-language go publishing industry, began circulating on the Internet last Saturday. Originating from a post on GoGameGuru, the report of Bozulich’s death at 75 quickly spread across Twitter and other social media and became a focus of discussion on Lifein19x19. The GoGameGuru post was based on an extensive obituary emailed to GGG which was marked “Special to the Japan Times,” however, we have been unable thus far to either find the obit on the Times website or independently confirm Bozulich’s death through our sources in Japan. Stay tuned for further updates as more information becomes available.
photo: Richard Bozulich (at left) with Neville Smythe, President of the Australian Go Association (center) and go writer John Power at the 2008 World Amateur Go Championships; photo by John Pinkerton.



Categories: World

Teaching Go at the Anime Syracuse 2011 Festival

Monday October 3, 2011

by James Howard

It was a lot of fun teaching go at the recent Anime Syracuse 2011 Festival.  Ten of our members helped to teach at the festival. We were given a room with four 8′ tables, and had a minimum of 7 beginner sets and three full size sets throughout the day.  Several of our members brought along their go sets.  On one full size set we set up Richard Moseson’s “Basic Life and Death Shapes”.  Dick and Breck Borges brought some beginner go books, Eric Hookway brought along a beginner go book, Hikaru no Go vol.1, and a Hikaru no Go dvd, and Jim Gonnella also brought a Hikaru no Go manga.

A lot of people were dressed up at the festival.  It was really interesting seeing the various characters; some of the costumes were quite elaborate!  I joined in on the playful spirit and went as Hikaru (of Hikaru no Go), and Kathy wore anime cat ears and a tail.  I hope next year, we can have someone dress as Sai and Akira too.

Although there were slow periods (mostly in the morning), there were also periods where everyone was busy, and people had to wait or come back.  There were a few times when people looked interested as they slowly walked by, but didn’t stick around long enough.  I did my best to watch out for those people.  During those times when I walked around, I kept an eye out for them, and I did end up seeing and talking to some of them later on at various places throughout the festival.  I gave them some info about go and the club, and they ended up coming back later on for lessons and more info.

Some of those we taught came back and played several games against each other.  Some of them even played on the full-size boards.  And at one point, at least seven games were going on at once and I was really glad Anime Syracuse provided us with so much space.

Our presence definitely generated a lot of interest.  There were approximately 700 people at the festival and I’d estimate that we taught approximately 150 to 200 people.

Some of the people we taught – who came from places like Binghamton NY, PA, MA, etc — live too far away to come to our weekly club meetings but I think its important to remember that even if those people can’t join our club, they could join another club closer to where they live, which –by supporting go– indirectly helps us in a number of ways.  I told them about KGS, and how to find a local club on the AGA website

Overall I would say we reached a good number of people, especially local people.  There were at least a couple dozen very promising local area prospects. Eric, one of the very promising players Richard Moseson taught at the festival came to our club the following Monday night and did very well.

We definitely accomplished spreading knowledge about go, and also awareness of the Syracuse Go Club; it was a lot of fun and I believe well worth the effort.

Categories: U.S./North America

NEW IN PRINT 2011: A Mixed Bag

Wednesday August 24, 2011

by Roy Laird
During this year’s annual visit to the vendor room at the U.S. Go Congress, I added four new titles to my collection. I’m interested in pretty much anything John Fairbairn has to say, so I was excited to see that his ongoing partnership with Slate and Shell has produced two in which he focuses on a single important game played by Shusai , the last hereditary head of the Honinbo school. Old Fuseki vs. New Fuseki describes Shusai’s 1933 encounter with Go Seigen , while The Meijin’s Retirement Game covers the 1938 contest immortalized in Kawabata’s The Master of Go. Shusai’s opponent in that game was of course Kitani Minoru, who along with Go is credited with the creation of the revolutionary “New Fuseki.”  Fairbairn goes far beyond mere game analysis to tell the story of how these games came to be so important, placing them fully in the social and historical context of the time. There are “Timelines” outlining the lives of all three principals, and Old v. New contains an extended essay on the birth of “Hypermodern Openings.” Like Fairbairn’s other works, these books strengthen our appreciation for the deep sociocultural well we dip into each time we reach for a stone.

Another productive collaboration is that between S&S and Yuan Zhou. In addition to instructional material – my personal favorite is his small but powerful booklet, “How Not To Play Go” – he shares insights gained from a lifetime of studying the games of important players in his “Master Play” series. In five previous books, he has analyzed the style of seven top players through detailed discussion of two exemplary games – Go Seigen, Takemiya , Cho Chikun, Kitani, Kato, Lee Chang-ho  and Seo Bong-soo. In this year’s Master Play: The Playing Styles of Seven Top Pros, he takes a similar look at Sakata, Takagawa, Fujisawa Shuko, Rin Kaiho, Nei Wei-ping, Ma Xiao-chun and Cho hun-hyun. They say the best way to improve is to study pro games, and here we have a collection of games by some of the strongest players of our time.

Michael Redmond is also working with S&S to produce a new series of books for Western players on the opening. I saw a preliminary proof of Volume One, which will focus on the san-ren-sei opening. In the introduction, Michael says he intends this as “a textbook as well as a game collection.” Considering the Opening: San-Ren-Sei should appear in print before the end of the year.

On a more practical level, I found that I had somehow missed Volume 7 of Kiseido’s “Mastering the Basics” series, Attacking and Defending Moyos. This is the third book in English on the subject. Keshi and Uchikomi (2002; out of print) is organized as a dictionary, showing twenty standard reduction patterns and eighteen common invasion techniques. Reducing Territorial Frameworks (1986) focuses mostly on the “keshi” side of things.  Invading and Reducing Moyos co-authors Richard Bozulich and Rob Van Ziejst take a unique look at the subject by spelling out thirteen general principles, then illustrating these points through extended analysis of six carefully chosen games. The book ends with 151 problems.

Two problem-oriented series continued to grow this year, each serving a different purpose. Korean pro Cho hye-hyon was the youngest female, at eleven, to ever earn Korea professional credentials. In 2010 she became the world’s fourth female 9P. Her blog of challenging problems became so popular that last year she turned it into a book, Creative Life and Death; now she followed up with Volume Two. These books feature extended analysis of dan-level problems. At the other extreme, Oromedia’s Speed Baduk workbook series is now up to twelve volumes. Each book contains hundreds of problems breaking go down to its most basic elements, such as “hane at the 1-2 point.” Dozens of problems illustrate each point.  The workbooks themselves contain no answers – answer books are available separately for each three-volume unit. I also decided to pass up the 21st Century Dictionary of Basic Joseki,Takao Shinji’s update/rewrite of Ishida’s Joseki Dictionary, although I’m sure it contains valuable new material. I have Ishida, much of which is unchanged in the new edition, as well as Kiseido’s Dictionary of Modern Fuseki: The Korean Style. I also subscribe to Go World, where I see more discussion of modern openings than I can ever understand. If I didn’t have a joseki dictionary, though, this is the one I would get. Volume Two, completing the series, will appear early next year.

The long- rumored and anticipated Kiseido art book featuring ukiyo-e with go themes from the Pinckard collection, Japanese Prints and the World of Go, has finally appeared – and I’m sorry to report that it is a big disappointment. Unlike the rich, glossy covers of Go World, the prints seem faded and blurry. William Pinckard’s accompanying commentary in English and Japanese, on the other hand, is richly enlightening. Pinckard was a great scholar of go – click here to read his remarkable essay comparing go to the other ancient classic games, chess and backgammon. If you ever visited the Kiseido website’s “Art Gallery”, from which much of this material was drawn, you know how thoroughly Pinckard researched his acquisitions. I was looking forward to a beautiful book that could live on our coffee table – and I still am.


Park Junghwan Wins Fujitsu Cup, Breaks Record

Sunday August 14, 2011

Park Junghwan 9P (below) won the 24th Fujitsu Cup on August 14, defeating Qiu Jun 8P by resignation in 223 moves. The game, which was full of creative moves and severe fighting, ended in an enormous life and death struggle that Qiu lost. At just 18 years old, Park has not only taken his first major international title, but has also broken Lee Sedol Park Younghun 9P’s record as the youngest player to win the Fujitsu Cup. However, he is not the youngest ever to win an international title; that record is still held by Lee Changho 9P. En route to the final, Park also defeated Ogata Masaki 9P, Chen Shiyuan 9P, Piao Wenyao 9P and Iyama Yuta 9P. Qiu, for his efforts, will be promoted to 9P for reaching this final.
- Jingning; based on her original reports on the 24th Fujitsu Cup, at Go Game Guru. Photos: Upper right; Qiu Jun 8P (left) and Park Junghwan 9P. Below; Park Junghwan 9P holds the Fujitsu Cup.


Categories: World

SmartGo Books Releases Three More Books

Friday August 5, 2011

Just in time for the Go Congress, SmartGo Books has released three new books from Hinoki Press, reports SmartGo author Anders Kierulf (l). In Vital Points and Skillful Finesse for Sabaki, Yoda Norimoto 9P takes a look at sabaki, one of the most intriguing techniques in go. “In the hands of accomplished players it can seem like pure sorcery. At times the stones can appear to dance with life. While playing lightly hither and yon, the opponent’s forces can end up ineffective, over-concentrated and misdirected.” (220 pages, $8.99). And in Shuko: The Only Move — volumes 1 & 2 — Fujisawa Shuko looks at joseki, fuseki and the middle game. “The key word here is imagination and Shuko Sensei never tires of repeating that the essential factor in go is to think in creative ways.” Two books from Kiseido are currently in preparation; Modern Master Games: The Dawn of Tournament Go by Rob van Zeijst and Richard Bozulich and The Games of Fujisawa Shuko by John Power. The free SmartGo Books app runs on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and currently contains 13 go books available for in-app purchase. Click here for details.
- photo by Chris Garlock


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 games will be held in the Japanese Go Room.  The US team, and a list of their opponents, can be found on  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