American Go E-Journal

The Power Report: Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match

Monday May 29, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal2017.05.29_Hon2 Iyama

Iyama extends lead in Honinbo title match: The second game of the 72nd Honinbo title match was held at the Kumagai Family Residence in Oda City, Shimane Prefecture, on May 23 and 24. This residence is a large house that belonged to a prominent merchant family in the Edo period; it has been listed as a World Heritage Site and is now a tourist attraction. In the go world, Oda is known as the birthplace of Honinbo Dosaku. Taking black, Iyama Yuta (Honinbo Monyu) won by resignation after 110 moves. As the low number of moves would indicate, this was a one-sided win for the titleholder. Actually the challenger, Motoki Katsuya, did not make major blunders, but Iyama was able to exploit small chinks in his armor to take a firm grip upon the game. This may be more worrying for the loser than losing through an easily identified mistake. Motoki has some work to do before the third game, scheduled for June 8 & 9.

Promotion2017.05.29_O Keii
To 3-dan: O Keii (40 wins, as of May 26). O is the daughter of former Kisei O Rissei. She is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in.

Brilliant shogi newcomer: A brilliant new shogi star, Fujii Sota, has been gaining attention outside the shogi media and may be of interest to go fans. In shogi, you do not become a full-fledged professional until you earn promotion to 4-dan. Fujii qualified for 4-dan about five months ago at the age of 14, which set a new youth record. Since then, he has not lost a game and is now sitting on a winning streak of 19. That includes wins over some strong players, such as Habu 9P, who is the only player to achieve a simultaneous grand slam of the top seven shogi titles. Nineteen successive wins is already the seventh-best winning streak in shogi. There is no comparable achievement in go (of course, 1-dans are fully qualified professionals in go, so it would be hard for a go debutant to match Fujii). Shogi enjoys greater popularity in Japan than go, and Fujii’s success has created quite a stir in the media. Fifty members of the press turned up to report on the game that became his 19th win, on May 25. It was significant, because he qualified for the main section of the Ryuo tournament. Seven more wins in this tournament and he would become the challenger. Some observers have commented that in strength he is already one of the top ten.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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In surprise announcement, AlphaGo retires; DeepMind to release 50 self-play games

Saturday May 27, 2017

AlphaGo is retiring. DeepMind’s Demis Hassabis and David Silver made the stunning announcement as the Future of Go Summit wrapped up in Wuzhen, China, saying that the match against world #1 Ke Jie represented “the highest possible pinnacle for AlphaGo as a competitive program” and would be the AI program’s final match.2017.05.27_alphago

“The research team behind AlphaGo will now throw their considerable energy into the next set of grand challenges, developing advanced general algorithms that could one day help scientists as they tackle some of our most complex problems, such as finding new cures for diseases, dramatically reducing energy consumption, or inventing revolutionary new materials,” Hassabis said. “If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable. We can’t wait to see what comes next.”

DeepMind isn’t leaving the go community empty-handed, however. As a “special gift to fans of Go around the world,” DeepMind is publishing a special set of 50 AlphaGo vs AlphaGo games, which Hassabis and Silver said “we believe contain many new and interesting ideas and strategies for the Go community to explore.”

And while DeepMind doesn’t plan to give AlphaGo itself a wide release, Hassabis says he’s more than happy for others to make use of DeepMind’s research themselves. Programs like Tencent’s Fine Art and Japan’s DeepZenGo have used similar deep-learning techniques to achieve around 9th-dan level, according to Hassabis. DeepMind will soon publish another paper on how it architected the latest version of AlphaGo, AlphaGo Master, and Hassabis expects other companies to learn from the new research.

Also, Hassabis said that “We’re also working on a teaching tool – one of the top requests we’ve received throughout this week. The tool will show AlphaGo’s analysis of Go positions, providing an insight into how the program thinks, and hopefully giving all players and fans the opportunity to see the game through the lens of AlphaGo. We’re particularly honoured that our first collaborator in this effort will be the great Ke Jie, who has agreed to work with us on a study of his match with AlphaGo. We’re excited to hear his insights into these amazing games, and to have the chance to share some of AlphaGo’s own analysis too.”

Read more in The Verge and on the DeepMind website. photo courtesy The Verge

AlphaGo-Ke Jie watch parties help build AGA chapter “strength, longevity and cohesiveness”

Saturday May 27, 2017

AlphaGo-Ke-Jie surprising move copyChapters of the American Go Association held watch parties across the country for the historic AlphaGo-Ke Jie match this week. Here are a couple of reports and photos.

At the Seattle Go Center (right), 30 people came for Nick Sibicky’s lecture on a previous game by Ke Jie, and more than 40 were in the room for the first AlphaGo/Ke Jie game.

durham-sm_1970A dozen go aficionados gathered in Durham Wednesday night (left), to review and discuss Game One. A surprise guest was Cole Pruitt, the co-director and producer of “The Surrounding Game.” Says Bob Bacon, “We devoured pizza generously provided by the AGA as we witnessed another milestone in the history of go. Events like this help add to the strength, longevity and cohesiveness of the chapters and the AGA as a whole.”

photos by Brian Allen (right) and Bob Bacon (left)

AlphaGo defeats Ke Jie in Game 3 to sweep 3-0

Saturday May 27, 2017

AlphaGo completed its sweep of world number one professional Ke Jie 9P on Saturday, winning the third and final game of their match by resignation. Ke called it “one of the greatest matches that I’ve had.” The game once again showcased exciting and surprising moves from both sides, the first arising almost immediately on move 7, a four-space extension from the upper right in which AlphaGo played one space closer to 2017.05.27_ke-jie-hassabisthe corner than in the usual Chinese opening. White 20 was a counter-intuitive second-line probe into Black’s framework on the lower right, showcasing Ke Jie’s superb positional judgment.

When Ke Jie attained a local advantage in the centre, AlphaGo switched to build a powerful framework on the top that spurred White to invade. The action came to a head when Ke Jie sacrificed the territory on the upper side to AlphaGo, gaining initiative to pressure the lower left. After AlphaGo protected its group, the match proceeded towards the endgame. Ke Jie revived his stones in the upper left to take the territorial lead, but this sequence left AlphaGo just enough latitude to take control of his group in the centre, and White resigned after 209 moves.

“We held this event aiming to discover new insights into this ancient, beautiful game,” said DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis. “I can safely say that what has taken place since Tuesday has exceeded our highest hopes. We have seen many new and exciting moves, and we also saw AlphaGo truly pushed to its limits by the great genius Ke Jie.”

Adapted from a report on DeepMind’s AlphaGo page.

The Power Report (2): Kono starts well in Kisei S League; Yamashita becomes Gosei challenger; Murakawa wins Gratitude Cup; 4th Aizu Central Hospital tournament; Xie and Fujisawa reach final

Saturday May 27, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Kono starts well in Kisei S League:
 Kono Rin 9P, the previous Kisei challenger, made a good start in the 42nd Kisei S League. In a game played on May 11, Kono (W) beat Murakawa Daisuke 8P by resignation. That completes the first round. Besides Kono, Yamashita Keigo and
Ichiriki Ryo started with wins and Murakawa Daisuke 8P, Cho U 9P, and So Yokoku 9P with losses.

Yamashita becomes Gosei challenger: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 42nd Gosei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on May 18. Taking black, Yamashita Keigo 9P beat Motoki Katsuya 8P by resignation after 139 moves. Yamashita will challenge Iyama Yuta for the title. Thanks to this win, he will have played in at least one top-seven title match every year for 15 years in a row. Recently younger players have become more prominent in Japan, but Yamashita is still close to his peak at the age of 38. Motoki failed to convert his best-of-seven versus Iyama into a best-of-12. The first Gosei game will be played on June 22.2017.05.27_8okage2_06

Murakawa wins Gratitude Cup: The Gratitude Cup (O-kage-hai) is a tournament for players 30 or under and is sponsored by the souvenir shops in the sightseeing town of Ise in Mie Prefecture. The 8th Cup was held on May 14 and 15, with 16 players who had won seats in the qualifying tournament taking part. The winner was Murakawa Daisuke 8P. Taking white, he beat Ri Ishu 7P by resignation in the final, winning this title for the first time; his prize was three million yen. This year six of the players were teenagers and ten were making their debut in the main tournament. The cup is undeniably a minor title, but such prominent young players as Ida Atsushi 8P and Motoki Katsuya 8P were eliminated in the qualifying tournament.

4th Aizu Central Hospital tournament; Xie and Fujisawa reach final: This is the tournament with the second-richest prize in women’s go in Japan: seven million yen. The final was also the only two-day game in women’s go. However, some changes have been made this year. The name has been changed to the Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup. The flower concerned is the city flower of the host city, Aizu Wakamatsu. Strictly speaking, the plant, tachi-aoi, which has purple flowers, is not the same as 2017.05.27_aizuthe Western hollyhock; its botanical name is Althaea rosea. The second change is that the final has been changed to a best-of-three, and these are one-day games. Also, it has switched to the challenger system, that is, the winner this year will defend her title next year.
The quarterfinals and semifinals of the main tournament were held at the Konjakutei inn in Aizu Higashiyama Hot Spring on the weekend of May 21 and 22. The eight qualifiers wear kimonos for the games (our photo is from the welcome party held on May 20). Results in the first round, already the quarterfinals, which started at 10 A.M. on the 21st, were as follows: Xie 6P(W) beat Mukai Chiaki 5P by resig.; Fujisawa Rina 3P (W) beat Mannami Nao 3P by half a point; Makihata Taeko 4P (B) beat O Keii 2P (I don’t know the margin); Nishiyama Shizuk
a 1P (W) beat Okuda Aya 3P by 2.5 points.
The semifinals were held on the Sunday, starting at noon. Xie (B) beat Makihata by resig.; Fujisawa (W) beat Nishiyama by resig. (The time allowance in these games was one hour per player; in the final it will be three hours).
The final is scheduled for June 16, 18, and, if needed, 23.

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Power Report (1): Iyama makes good start in Honinbo defense; Korea wins 6th Tiantai Mt. team tournament; Iyama maintains Meijin League lead

Friday May 26, 2017

by John Power, Japan Correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama makes good start in Honinbo defense:
 Iyama Yuta, or Honinbo Monyu, to give him the title he assumed when he qualified as Honorary Honinbo last year, made a good start in the 72nd Honinjbo title match. The challenger is Motoki Katsuya 8P, who, at 21, is six years Iyama’s junior and is the third-youngest challenger ever. If he were to win, he would be the youngest tournament Honinbo.2017.05.26-Honinbo2dayfin03
The first game was played at the Gifu Grand Hotel in Gifu City. Iyama drew black in the nigiri and scored a convincing win, securing a resignation after 147 moves. There was an interesting fight early in the game in which Iyama sacrificed some stones in exchange for a ponnuki facing the centre (on the 6th line). A ponnuki is said to be worth 30 points. By my count, White’s profit was worth 20 points or so; the professionals following the game on the spot diverged in their evaluation, some of them considering the result equal, while others
thought that White’s profit was slightly superior. This was apparently Motoki’s own opinion. Soon after, Iyama started a large-scale fight with the support of his ponnuki in the background. Motoki went wrong with White 84. Ironically, this move looked like good style but actually gave Black the chance to strike at a vital point. A white group under attack managed to live, but Black took the lead. Iyama’s endgame was then flawless, so an early resignation was unavoidable. This was a tough title-match baptism for Motoki, but at least he had a chance to get used to the atmosphere of two-day games. The second game was scheduled to be played on May 23 & 24.

Korea wins 6th Tiantai Mt. team tournament: This is a team tournament for three-woman teams from China, Korea, Japan, and Chinese Taipei. The full name is the Tiantai Mt. Agricultural & Commercial Bank Cup World Women’s Team Tournament. The 6th Cup was held in Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, in China on May 10 to 12. Results were as follows:
Round 1 (May 10) China 2 beat Japan 1; Korea 3 beat Chinese Taipei 0
Round 2 (May 11) Korea 3 beat Japan 0; China 3 beat Chinese Taipei 0
Round 3 (May 12) Japan 2 beat Chinese Taipei 1; Korea 2 beat China 1
Placings: 1st, Korea (individual score: 8 wins, 1 loss); 2nd, China (6-3); 3rd, Japan (3-6); 4th: Chinese Taipei (1-8)

Once again, Japan was beaten by Korea and China, but there were some encouraging signs. On the top board, Fujisawa Rina had a good game against Che Cheong 7P of Korea, but missed her opportunities to wrap up the game. In the end, she lost by 1.5 points. Xie Yimin hasn’t delivered for Japan in international go, but she won her games against Lu Jia 2P of China and Zhang Kaixing 5P of Chinese Taipei. The third member of the Japanese team was Nyu Eiko 1P, who beat Zhang Zhengping 3P of Chinese Taipei.

Iyama maintains Meijin League lead: The 42nd Meijin League is looking more and more like a one-horse race. On May 18, Iyama Yuta scored his fifth straight win and leads the field by two points. Players with just two losses are Yamashita Keigo 9P (4-2), Murakawa Daisuke
(3-2), and Kono Rin 9P (3-2). Iyama will play Yamashita in June and Murakawa in July.

Recent results:
(May 11) Sakai Hideyuki 8P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by 4.5 points.
(May 18) Iyama Yuta (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.

Tomorrow: Kono starts well in Kisei S League; Yamashita becomes Gosei challenger; Murakawa wins Gratitude Cup; 4th Aizu Central Hospital tournament; Xie and Fujisawa reach final

 

Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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Familiar faces running for AGA board seats

Friday May 26, 2017

Incumbent Eastern, Western and Central board members Diego Pierrottet, Chris Kirschner and Martin Lebl have been nominated to retain their seats. Nominations, including self-nominations, may be made by full members for the region in which the member resides by June 15. Chapters should check their membership roles for recent and upcoming expirations which may affect their vote count. Nominations and questions must be emailed to elections@usgo.org. Click here for complete election information and qualifications.
Categories: U.S./North America
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AlphaGo Pair and Team Go wrap up

Friday May 26, 2017

“Playing games like this will give us new ideas about how to play,” said Gu Li 9P, after playing in the AlphaGo-Pair Go and commentating on 2017.05.26_alphago-pair-gothe Team Go event. “It felt like four painters working together on a shared canvas,” added AlphaGo Lead Researcher David Silver, “all with different styles, all combining together to make something truly beautiful.”

In Pair Go, the first of the day’s matches on Thursday, top Chinese professionals Gu Li and Lian Xiao each had their own AlphaGo teammate, alternating moves in tag team style. In the second, Team Go, five of China’s top professional Go players had the unique challenge of working together to take on AlphaGo’s distinctive style.

2017.05.26_alphago-team-goIn Pair Go, AlphaGo and its professional teammate agreed with each others’ moves – though they surprised each other from time to time too. In a sense, the match provided a glimpse of how human experts might be able to use AI tools in the future, benefiting from the program’s insights while also relying on their own intuition. The AlphaGo/Lian Xiao Pair Go team prevailed over AlphaGo/Gu Li, winning by resignation.

Team Go provided a different but no less compelling challenge, requiring players to coordinate closely to make the most of the format. The professional teammates – Zhou Ruiyang, Chen Yaoye, Mi Yuting, Shi Yue and Tang Weixing – had access to their own study board to discuss and analyse variations, allowing them to draw on centuries of Go wisdom and styles as they debated strategies. They approached the challenge in a light-hearted manner, clearly enjoying the experience of playing together, and their resulting style was very balanced. In the end, AlphaGo, once again, won by resignation.

“AlphaGo could actually broaden the horizon of Go playing,” said Lian Xiao. “It could bring more imagination into Go.”

The final game between AlphaGo and Ke Jie will be played at 10:30p EDT Friday night; DeepMind is streaming the matches live, posting match updates and expert commentaries every day on this page and on their Twitter account, @DeepMindAI. For more details, you can visit the official event page here

- adapted from a report on the DeepMind AlphaGo website

“Surrounding Game” launches screenings worldwide

Thursday May 25, 2017

“The Surrounding Game” is coming to a theater near you! The documentary team has just announced a summer lineup of screenings in major2017.05.24_ScreeningTourList cities across the US and Europe. The screening tour includes stops in: Toronto (6/10), San Francisco (6/10-11), Boston (6/28), New York City (6/29), Barcelona (7/07), The International Chess & Games Festival in Pardubice, Czech Republic (7/14), Berlin (7/18), Amsterdam (7/20), the European Go Congress in Oberhof, Germany (7/24), and the US Go Congress in San Diego, CA (8/05).

2017.05.24_surrounding-24x36-laurels_smallTickets are on sale now and the filmmakers urge those interested to “get yours now before they sell out!”

If you don’t see your city on the list, don’t worry – you can sign up to host a screening in your community. The film is now available to screen in theaters and community spaces. “We’re offering two options for volunteers to host a screening on their own” explains director/producer Will Lockhart. “ If you have a venue in mind, you can order a community screening pack, which will provide all the tools to host a successful event. Or, if you’re keen on getting the film to play in a local theater, you can sign up with our partners at Tugg. If you gets enough RSVPs, they’ll arrange to put the film in a local theater.” The team reports that several community screenings hosted by local go groups are already in the works.

“We’ve gotten a really positive response from non-players so far,” says producer Cole Pruitt, “and we feel this is the best way to share Go with people outside the community – by not just teaching the game, but telling a story. So if your club is looking for a way to bring more people in, I encourage you to host! I believe this is our chance to bring the world of go to the world at large.”

If your club wants to host a screening of the film, click here or contact the team directly at screenings@surroundinggamemovie.com.

photos: Berlin venue, San Francisco venue, film poster

Categories: Go Art,World
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“100 percent perfection,” AlphaGo clinches match against Ke Jie, 2-0

Thursday May 25, 2017

Despite 100 moves that “were the best anyone’s ever played against the Master version,” world number 1 Ke Jie 9P was forced to resign Game 2 of his match against AlphaGo on Thursday in Wuzhen, China, clinching the best-of-3 series for the go AI. Afterwards, Ke said that he thought he “was very close to winning the match in the middle of the game” and that he was so excited “I could feel my heart thumping!” But, he admitted, “Maybe because I was too excited I made some stupid moves. Maybe that’s the weakest part of human beings.” The latest version of AlphaGo, Ke added, “is 100 percent perfection…For human beings, our understanding of this game is only very limited.”

The game was extraordinarily complex, with seven separate groups on the le2017.05.25_26googleswins-1-master768ft and lower sides, all of them interrelated and none of them settled. This type of complex interaction, impossible to calculate fully and demanding the most of each player’s value judgment and intuition, brought both Ke Jie and AlphaGo into their element.

With many groups hanging in the balance, both sides continued raising the stakes. Ke Jie played daringly, creating the possibility of sacrificing the ko and two of his groups to take AlphaGo’s two groups in the upper left on an even larger scale. However, AlphaGo chose to settle the ko and the game by connecting at move 137, conceding enormous gains to White on the lower left to secure even greater profits in the lower right. As Ke Jie, playing white, could not control the whole upper left, AlphaGo’s territorial advantage proved decisive.

“What an honor it is to play with a genius like Ke Jie,” said Demis Hassabis, CEO and co-founder of DeepMind. “This is called the Future of Go Summit, and today I think we saw a game from the future,”

Still to come are Pair and Team Go on Friday, and the third AlphaGo-Ke Jie match on Saturday. (use this Time Zone Converter to determine local dates/times)

DeepMind is streaming the matches live, posting match updates and expert commentaries every day on this page and on their Twitter account, @DeepMindAI. For more details, you can visit the official event page here. American Go Association chapters continue to play watch parties (they’re eligible for $100 in non-alcohol expenses like pizza; click here for details); email details to journal@usgo.org and we’ll post an updated report.

- adapted from a report on the DeepMind/AlphaGo site; photo by China Stringer Network, via Reuters

Other match coverage:
Google’s A.I. Program Rattles Chinese Go Master as It Wins Match (New York Times)
AlphaGo beats Ke Jie again to wrap up three-part match (Verge)
Google’s AlphaGo Continues Dominance With Second Win in China (Wired)
China censored Google’s AlphaGo match against world’s best Go player (The Guardian)