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Janice Kim to Teach Workshop in Northern California This Weekend

Monday June 18, 2012

Janice Kim 3P, popular go teacher, go blogger, and co-author of the Learn to Play Go book series, will teach a workshop in Berkeley, California this coming weekend, June 23 and 24. Those who signed up early turned in game records for Kim to review before the workshop so that she could tailor the discussion topics specifically to students’ needs. “Course materials and game records will be provided in both print and electronic format so that students can take notes and annotate records on mobile devices or with pen and pencil,” reports organizer Roger Schrag. Seats are still available, and the deadline to sign up is this Friday, June 22 at noon. Class size will be kept small so that everyone can get as much individual attention as possible. Learn more about the workshop and sign up on the workshop web page.  Photo: Janice Kim lectures at the 2012 Cotsen Open; photo by Chris Garlock.

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Categories: U.S./North America
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Atlanta School Using Go to Develop Critical Thinking

Monday May 28, 2012

An Atlanta school is hoping that go will help its low-income students develop their critical thinking skills. At the Dekalb PATH Academy, in Atlanta GA, “our students are 76% Hispanic, 20% African-American and 87% are classified as low-income by federal government standards,” reports Assistant Principal Graham Balch, who launched the project. Balch says that at Dekalb “we have helped our children overcome the disadvantage of poverty,” noting that the school outperforms every other non-selective middle school in the local school system. “However, while we have done a good job of teaching them content, in my opinion, they still are behind on developing their analytical critical thinking.” Balch is hoping to change that by working with a group of teachers to teach the game of go. “Our students learned and played go for 70 minutes a day in class for three weeks,” he reports. “Our kids have loved playing go. They come in the morning and get out boards right away, we teach them how to play and technique in class, and they play, and play, in tutorial after school. It has been incredible hearing them tell us at first that ‘It’s easy’ and then a couple days later that ‘Man, this game is really getting hard.’” Balch, who says that “We look forward to seeing the impact go has on students’ critical thinking and global perspective,” adds that “I am so grateful for the American Go Foundation and None Redmond for making this possible,” and is hopeful that go may spread in Georgia schools next year. The project wrapped up the school year with a single-elimination tournament that drew 80 students. “Malcolm Ramey 30k, the boy in the middle of the picture, with a light blue shirt on, won the tournament,” said a proud Balch.
- Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Photo by Graham Balch.

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San Francisco Go Workshop with Janice Kim 3P Announced

Sunday May 20, 2012

Janice Kim, 3 Dan professional, will teach a two-day go workshop the weekend of June 23 and 24 in Berkeley, California. Berkeley is home to two go clubs and Bay Area Go Players Association, and is just across the bay from San Francisco.

The workshop is open to go players of all strengths (players below 10 kyu may want at least a year’s go experience to benefit from this workshop), and advanced registration is required. Each student will have the opportunity to submit game records before the workshop, and Janice will use them to tailor discussions to the specific interests and needs of the students. Each student will receive a workshop manual containing the records to be discussed, and files will be available for download as well.

“I enjoy seeing the clever moves played in finely-tuned games between world-class players,” Kim says, descriibing the main idea of the content of this workshop is, “but what I really need to know is what to do with the messed-up positions, wacky moves, and mistakes that come up in my games.”

Janice Kim co-authored the award-winning Learn to Play Go book series and also writes a go blog. Her recent workshop in Portland, Oregon and lectures at the Cotsen Go Tournament in Los Angeles were very popular. Learn more about the workshop and sign up on the Bay Area Go Players Association website.

photo: Janice Kim at the 2012 Cotsen Open; photo by Chris Garlock

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Categories: U.S./North America
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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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John Tromp Faces a New Challenger in Shodan Go Bet Rerun

Sunday January 15, 2012

In a rerun of 2010′s Shodan Go Bet match, John Tromp will once again meet the challenge from a top computer go program, in a best-of-five match this week. The challenger is Zen19, a program which has already surprised many by achieving a rank of 4-5 dan on KGS. Tromp, whose last known rank was EGF 2 dan, won a similar match against David Fotland’s Many Faces of Go at the 2010 London Open Go Tournament, with a clean sweep of four games to nil. This time the match will take place on the KGS Go Server. Tromp will connect from his home in New York, while Zen19 (written by Yoji Ojima) will connect from Japan. You can watch the match live on KGS. Even if you don’t have an account on KGS, just click here and login as a guest to watch. The match will be played in the Computer Go room. Here’s the schedule for the games: Fri, Jan 13, 8pm US Eastern Time; Sat, Jan 14, 8pm US Eastern Time; Sun, Jan 15, 8pm US Eastern Time; Mon, Jan 16, 8pm US Eastern Time; Wed, Jan 18, 8pm US Eastern Time. NOTE: Zen has multiple accounts for when it uses different configurations and hardware. You can find the games under the accounts ‘tromp’ or ‘Zen19N’.

The Shodan Go bet was a $1000 dollar bet between John Tromp and Darren Cook, made back in 1997. Tromp staked money on the claim that he would not “be beaten in a 10 game match before the year 2011″ and Cook took him up on it. Even though Tromp won the bet in late 2010, the question of when computers will reach the level of ‘international shodan’ still hasn’t been formally resolved. Can Tromp do it again?

You can find out more about the Shodan Go Bet at Darren Cook’s website and visit John Tromp’s website to learn more about him. More details are also available at Go Game Guru.

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Categories: World
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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 (#4)

Monday November 28, 2011

July 16: Today is Saturday, but the dojang is not open today because there is a tournament for the inseis. So Om, Chisu Yun, Cho Sun Ah, Masakito and I went sightseeing. We visited an old Korean palace which was really interesting and then we went biking near the lake even though it was raining really hard. There was also an awesome playground over near the river where we went zip-lining. Afterwards we went to the mall to eat and we spent some time inside a Korean music store listening to K-pop albums. When we got home there was a barbecue dedicated to the kids that went to the tournament. I can’t say Korean barbecue is good, but it was a good experience to be a part of a large gathering of celebration in Korea.

July 19: Today is the day I go back to America. It’s sad that I have to leave just when I had just started to settle in. Before leaving I got to say bye to the handful of kids that are there in the morning. It was sad to leave the dojang and Korea. It would’ve been nice if I had got the chance to stay a bit longer and learn more. I got a lot of Korean Go books as gifts when I left. I got a book each on hangmae, pae (ko), and life and death, and a Korean Baduk magazine (which is not really helpful because I don’t understand it). I left the dojang at 12:30PM on an airport bus heading back to the Incheon Airport reading the Baduk magazine that Mr. Oh had given me. One day I look forward to come back to the dojang where I have found many good friends and teachers.

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 appeared in the EJ this month (this is the final installment). 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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Imayo Matsumoto, Pair Go Tourney’s Oldest Player

Sunday November 27, 2011

Pair Go is proud of its inter-generational appeal. Many young children, elderly players and all ages in-between are drawn to the handicap tournaments staged with the annual  International Pair Go Championships, which recently took place in Tokyo (Koreans Win Pair Go Championships). For a number of years, the oldest player has been Ms. Imayo Matsuyo, who turned 90 this year and hails from Ehime prefecture on the island of Shikoku. Longtime go journalist and E-Journal contributor John Power had a chance to interview her between rounds.
EJ: What age were you when you learned go?
IM: 60.
EJ: How often and where do you usually play? On the Net?
IM: No I can’t get the hang of computers. I play twice a week at a local go club.
EJ: What is your rank now?
IM: The female rankings are a little more generous than the male. I’d be about 3-dan in the male rankings.
EJ: What is the appeal of go to you?
IM: Being able to play with my son once a year. My daughter-in-law doesn’t mind my stealing him for go tournaments. Playing with him, I feel that I’m improving all the time. By the way, my go club team became the Ehime representative in the Nenrinpikku [a festival of a wide range of sports for players 60 and over] and took first place.
    Read more about Ms. Matsumoto’s “Memories of Pair Go” in her essay submitted to last year’s 20th Anniversary  Pair Go Prize Essays competition, available in English translation on the Panda Net HP. Also available online are essays by Thomas Hsiang (U.S.), Tony Atkins (U.K.), Kirsty Healey & Matthew Macfadyen (U.K.) and more.  

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Categories: World
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Two Weeks at the Lee Sedol Baduk Academy: Van Tran’s Journal (#1)

Sunday November 6, 2011

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 will appear over the next few weeks. 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.”

July 5: Today is my first day of Go School. This is a very weird experience. I can’t understand anything that other people are saying, but somehow I feel like I have learned a lot about go today. The Koreans are very strong and I like the general Korean style that most people play. They like thickness very much and they like to fight aggressively. It amazes me how dedicated these kids are to go. Every day they have formal go study for 12 hours and then when they get back ome they study until 11PM when they go to sleep. Most of the people here my age are 9-dan and are aspiring professionals. It surprises me the gap in skill between a 9-dan and a 1-dan professional. There are even some 9-dans that aren’t inseis because they are weaker than the other 9-dans. There are many 9-dans who are very strong, but only a few become professional every year. A bit of food for thought is that these kids are able to give their all just for a small chance of becoming a  professional. They seem to live in a closed world of go. If they have free time they study go and they eat while they look at top go player’s statistics for “fun.” I lost all my games today even though I am playing with their very young students.

July 6: I woke up today with a terrible backache from sleeping on the floor. There are about 20 kids who are all exceptional at go staying in the headmaster’s apartment. They are all 3-dan and higher. Though most of them are 9-dans, the lowest-ranked out of the Koreans is a little kid I think about 6 who is a solid 3-dan. I have started to specialize my study in Korean Go to hangmae, a Korean technique which means the flow of stones. I find it to be somewhat similar to tesuji which applies many odd fighting shapes. It really helps with fighting and simplifies reading because hangmae acts as a bookmark leading to a favorable result. Today I lost all my games as well. It‘s a bit frustrating to lose all your games to little kids. To be continued next week…
Photo: Headmaster playing a serious go game with a student.

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Categories: World,Youth
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Go Beats Out Shedd Aquarium for Fourth Grader

Monday July 11, 2011

Five young students, and their teacher, Xinming Simon Guo, took advantage of Chicago’s recent Family Fun Festival to introduce go to a larger audience. The Chinese-American Museum of Chicago prepared an assortment of activities to promote Chinese art and culture for visiting families and day-camp groups.  Guo and his students staffed a booth on June 25 and 26, and taught over 60 visitors how to play. “The highlight of the weekend is no doubt the story of a fourth grader  from Springfield IL who visited the event tent on Saturday,” reports Guo. “He said he was pretty good at chess and won the champion in the tournament for 7th graders. He showed great interest in go and learned how to play it immediately. I gave him a cardboard set as a reward for having played his first complete game. On the second day, everybody was astonished to see this boy again. His mom told me their original plan was to visit Chicago’s  Shedd Aquarium, but this boy was so attracted by this new game that he gave up the aquarium to revisit the weiqi desk to learn more about go. ‘How can a fourth-grader choose a game of go instead of visiting Shedd Aquarium — rated as the number one attraction for kids??’ his mother asked.  That’s the magic of go, I answered with a smile.”  Guo began his class at Xilin North Shore School in 2010, with the  the support of the American Go Foundation. Since then, the project has attracted about 25 kids to learn go. “This weiqi (go) demo event is a great opportunity for kids to use what they have learned during the last year. It’s also a chance for them to learn how to serve the public,” added Guo.  Students who taught in the booth were Hann Diao, Edward Lee, Jiangao Fang, Ray Li, and Jeffrey Tang. -Paul Barchilon, E.J Youth Editor, Photo: Guo is at left, the  fourth grader mentioned is at right.  Photo by Xinming Simon Guo.
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