American Go E-Journal

The Power Report (Part 4): Humans Beat Computers in First “Igo Electrical King Tournament”; Kataoka Scores 1,000 Wins; Retirements

Thursday March 20, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Humans Beat Computers in First “Igo Electrical King Tournament”: To test how close computers have come to human level at go, the first Igo Electrical King Tournament was staged in the top playing room, Yugen, at the Nihon Ki-in on February 11. Please take our word that “electrical king” (dennou) sounds better in the original.  The program Zen played best-of-three 9×9 matches with Cho Riyu 8P and Hirata Tomoya 3P, but lost both without picking up a game. However, Zen lost by only half a point in its first game with Cho, and human commentators pointed out a winning sequence that it missed in the endgame. One of Zen’s programmers commented that it would still take ten years to catch up with pros in 9×9 go.
Zen vs. Hirata Tomoya 3P: Game 1. Hirata (W) by resig.; Game 2. Hirata (B) by resig.
Zen vs. Cho Riyu 8P: Game 1. Cho (B) by half a point; Game 2. Cho (W) by resig.

More games in this tournament were played three days later on 13×13 and 19×19 boards. On the 13×13, Emura Koki (W), a former WAGC representative for Japan, twice beat Zen by resignation. On the 19×19, Zen beat Ozawa Ichiro, a prominent politician. He is dan level, but we don’t know his exact rank.

Kataoka Scores 1,000 Wins: A win on February 27 gave Kataoka Satoshi 9P (right) his 1,000th win as a pro, making him the 15th Nihon Ki-in player to reach this mark. It took him 42 years and his record was 1,000 wins, 530 losses, 4 jigo.

Retirements: Two more veteran players have retired as of March 31. They are Ishida Akira 9P and Fukui Susumu 9P. Ishida was born in Tokyo on May 23, 1949 and became a disciple of Fukuda Masayoshi 8P. He became 1-dan in 1966 and 9-dan in 1982. He won the top section of the rating tournament (Oteai) in 1972 and the 3rd and 4th King of the New Stars titles ((1978 and 1979). He played in six Meijin leagues and one Honinbo league. At his peak, when he played in the Meijin league for six years in a row, Ishida impressed as one of the top players on the go scene, but he never put it together to win a big title. Fukui was born in Tokyo on May 21, 1947 and became a disciple of Iwamoto Kaoru. He became 1-dan in 1965 and 9-dan in 1994. His older brother, Masaaki, is still active.

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AGA Go Camp Set for August

Wednesday March 19, 2014

The AGA Go Camp is confirmed for this summer, reports Camp Director Amanda Miller. Camp will be held the week before the Go Congress, from August 3rd to 9th, at YMCA Camp Kresge in White Haven, PA. White Haven is about 2 hours outside of New York City, so anyone who wishes to attend both camp and congress should be able to do so easily. Miller will be joined by co-director Nano Rivera, and they invite campers of all skill levels, and between the ages of 8 and 18, to join them for a week of go-playing and fun.  More information regarding the camp will be available soon, and registration will open within the next two weeks.  Keep an eye on the camp website for details.  Those who played in the NAKC or the Redmond Cup are eligible for a $400 scholarship, and need-based scholarships will also be available. Any questions can be e-mailed to Amanda Miller at agagocampeast@gmail.com. -Story and photo by Amanda Miller

Go Spotting: Teen Wolf – Third Week in a Row

Wednesday March 19, 2014

MTV’s Teen Wolf seems to be on a go jag.  This week’s episode featured another conversation about strategy, with Kira (Arden Cho) learning about go from her mother, who even explains what the game is about, and describes territory.  Later in the episode, Kira’s father tells her that go is called Baduk in Korea, and that her mother is a very aggressive player – too aggressive for her own good.  This marks the third week in a row that go has been featured on the show, and next week’s episode is titled “The Divine Move,” which any Hikaru no Go fan will immediately recognize as a key concept in the manga.  My guess is that next weeks episode will revolve around another go match, possibly between Kira and her mother. Check out Teen Wolf on the MTV website here. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor.

Guo Juan Go Class Starts New Term; Mingjiu Jiang Workshop Coming Up in Portland

Wednesday March 19, 2014

Guo Juan Go Class Starts New Term: The new term for Guo Juan’s Online Go Class starts up on April 12th. “You are welcome to join us,” says Guo Juan 5P. “Meet new friends, have fun and improve your go!”

Mingjiu Jiang Workshop Coming Up in Portland: Mingjiu Jiang 7P will do a two-day workshop in Portland, OR., April 26-27. Anyone interested in attending should contact Peter Freedman at peter.freedman@comcast.net.

The Power Report (Part 3): Takao Makes Good Start To Judan Challenge; Kato Evens Score In Women’s Meijin; New Tournament Launches

Wednesday March 19, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Takao Makes Good Start To Judan Challenge: The first game of the Mori Building Cup 52nd Judan Best-of-Five Title match, to give the tournament  its full name, was held on March 4, and the challenger, Takao Shinji 9P (left), got off to an efficient start by picking up a win by a half-point margin. The first game was played, for the fourth year in a row, at the Osaka University of Commerce; the president of the university, Tanioka Ichiro, is a scholar of games in general and has recently published a book on early go history.
The defending champion, Yuki Satoshi, seemed to take a lead in the opening, but Takao narrowed the gap through tenacious play and overhauled him in the end game. Takao had white and won by half a point after 303 moves. The second game will be played on March 27.

Kato Evens Score In Women’s Meijin: It has become the custom to hold the first game of the Women’s Meijin title match in conjunction with the first game of the Judan title match; it was held at the same venue, also for the fourth year in a row, on March 5. This year Kato Keiko 6P (right) was the challenger and was playing in her first title match for five years. She had just taken the winter off to have her second child (her husband is Mizokami Tomochika 8P) and she brought her daughter with her to Osaka, so she was quite busy. Kato, who drew white, played a little erratically at the start of the game — perhaps the lack of recent match practice told on her — but she found a chink in Xie’s armor and made the game close. However, she missed a good opportunity to strike as severe blow, and Xie seized the lead once again. This time Xie played tightly and forced a resignation after 195 moves. The second game was played on another campus, that of Heian Jogakuin Daigaku in Kyoto on March 12. The name translates as Heian Women’s Academy University but in English it is known as St. Agnes’ University. This was the third year in a row that the second game of this title match had been held there, in the Arisu-kan, a traditional Japanese building. Kato followed a strategy of avoiding fighting, which is Xie’s forte, so the game was not a spectacular one. Kato’s policy worked well until she let herself down with a couple of slack moves, but she was able to stage an upset in the endgame. Xie’s losing move was, in a sense, typical of her: she chose an endgame move not for its size but because it threatened the eye shape of an enemy group. However, Kato cleverly expanded the territory of another group with a move that provided a sente threat to secure eye shape for the group under attack. Playing black, she won by 1.5 points after 253 moves. The deciding game will be played at the Nihon Ki-in on March 24.

New Tournament Launches: A new tournament, the Tournament Winners Championship, has started. It is open to all title winners from 2013 plus a player chosen by a vote by go fans (13 players in all). The winner receives the Prime Minister’s Cup and the Minister for Education and Science’s Diploma. The first two rounds were held on February 14 and 15, with Yuki Satoshi Judan (left), Yamashita Keigo Ryusei, and Kyo Kagen, Nakano Cup winner, winning places in the semifinals. There they join Iyama Yuta, holder of six titles, who was seeded. The games were played on the Net, with time of 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes of thinking time to be used in one-minute units (the NHK format).The semifinals and finals will be held at the Nihon Ki-in on March 22. The 16-year-old Kyo, who was born in Taiwan, will play Iyama in one semifinal, and Yamashita meets Yuki in the other.
TOMORROW: Humans Beat Computers in First “Igo Electrical King Tournament”; Kataoka Scores 1,000 Wins; Retirements 

Categories: Japan
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Zhang Wins “Hikaru no Go Tourney” in Portland

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Nine-year-old Andrew Zhang, of Corvallis, OR, took 1st place with a record of 7-1, at the Hikaru no Go Tournament in Portland, on March 16th.  14 youth competed in the event, the youngest was six and the eldest in high school, reports organizer Peter Freedman. “We developed a unique format, designed specifically for new players, who had to play  four 9×9 games, three 13×13 games, two 19×19 games, or three total games of any of the previous combinations,” said Freedman.  Beverly Cleary’s John Meo, age 13, took second place with a 6-1 record. Third place went to Hikaru Sato, age 11, with a record of 5-2. Four children made the trek up the valley to Portland to play in the tournament. -Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor

Go Spotting: Haskell Small’s “The Rothko Room”

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Go is referenced prominently in the liner notes for Haskell Small’s new CD, The Rothko Room: Journeys In Silence, beginning with a quote from Iwamoto Kaoru: “Go uses the most elemental materials and concepts — line and circle, wood and stone, black and white — combining them with simple rules to generate subtle strategies and complex tactics that stagger the imagination.”

“Meditations on silence and space are as structurally important to the creative life of Haskell Small as are the grids on his beloved Go board,” the liner notes continue. “And, just as with that ancient and revered “game” (using that word advisedly), vast complexity arises.” An accomplished pianist and composer, Small is a longtime go player and organizer in Washington DC.

Categories: Go Spotting
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The Power Report (Part 2): Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League; Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League

Tuesday March 18, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League: Yamashita Keigo (left) started out and ended badly in his Kisei challenge, but his form in other tournaments has remained good, especially in leagues, where he is bidding to win three in a row (starting with last year’s Kisei League).  After six rounds in the 69th Honinbo League, he is the only undefeated player. He will meet his only remaining rival, Ida Atsushi 7P, in the final round in April, but Ida will have to beat Yamashita twice in a row, that is, in this game and then in a play-off, to become the challenger. Regardless of what happens, Ida has made a very good debut by winning five games to one loss against top-level competition.
Among the other league members, two top players are enjoying different fortunes. A sixth-round win ensured Cho U’s survival, but his defeated opponent in that game, Takao Shinji, has lost his place.
Recent results:
(February 13) Yamashita (B) beat Kono Rin 9P (W) by 1.5 points; Ida Atsushi 7P  (W) beat Sakai Hideyuki 8P by 5.5 points.
(February 14) Yuki Satoshi 9P (W) beat Takao Shinji 9P by 1.5 points.
(February 20) Yo Seiki 7P (W) beat Cho U 9P by resig.
(March 6) Ida (B) beat Kono by resig.
(March 7) Yamashita (W) beat Sakai by resig.
(March 13) Cho U (B) beat Takao by 3.5 points.

Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League: As mentioned above, Yamashita seems to be unable to put a foot wrong in the leagues. After four rounds in the 39th Meijin League, he is the only undefeated
player, though his score is only 3-0, as he has already had his bye. His closest rival is Kono Rin 9P on 3-1, but the other two players to have had byes so far, Cho U 9P and Ryu Shikun 9P, also have only one loss. Yamashita’s games with Kono next month and Ryu in May will be significant.
Recent results:
(February 17) Yamashita (B) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig.
(February 20) Ryu Shikun (B) beat Takao Shinji by 1.5 points.
(March 6) Hane Naoki 9P (B) beat Cho U by resig.; Ko Iso (B) beat Murakawa Dai
suke 7P by resig.
(March 10) Kono Rin (W) beat Yuki Satoshi 9P by 2.5 points.
photo courtesy EGC 2014 website
TOMORROW: Takao Makes Good Start To Judan Challenge; Kato Evens Score In Women’s Meijin; New Tournament Launches 

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The Power Report (Part 1): Iyama Defends Kisei Title, Defeats Yamashita 4-2

Monday March 17, 2014

by John Power, EJ Japan Correspondent

Iyama Defends Kisei Title, Defeats Yamashita 4-2: Iyama Yuta swept to a 3-0 lead in the 38th Kisei title match, but then Yamashita made a comeback, saving two kadobans (games that can lose a series) to keep the match alive. However, the tide turned again in the sixth game, with Iyama outfighting Yamashita to defend his title 4-2. This is Iyama’s second Kisei title, his 7th big-three title and his 23rd title overall. He also maintained his sextuple crown.

To take up the story from my previous report, the fourth game was played at the Hokkaido Hotel in Obihiro City in Hokkaido on February 20 and 21. Yamashita (white) had his back to the wall, but he played in his usual aggressive fashion and took the lead in the middle game. He suffered a number of losses in the endgame, but just managed to hang on to a half-point lead. The game ended after 243 moves, with Yamashita looking relieved that he had kept the series alive. He comes from Hokkaido, so he also made local fans happy, and the sponsors were probably also relieved that the series hadn’t fizzled out. Incidentally, this win redressed the balance for Yamashita’s half-point loss in the first game.

The fifth game was played at the Atami Korakuen Hotel in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture on February 26 and 27. Yamashita took the lead in a fight centered on a ko and then coolly wrapped up the game. Playing black, he won by 3.5 points. He was still one game behind, but his successive wins put a lot of pressure on Iyama. On the evening of the first day, Go Seigen, who lives nearby in Odawara, visited the tournament venue to look at the game and to chat with the players. Go will turn 100 on May 19 and is already the longest-lived top player in history, but he still takes a keen interest in the go scene.
The sixth game was held at Ryugon, a traditional Japanese inn with a large pond and extensive garden, in South (Minami) Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture on March 12 and 13.  Iyama (B) played well and was never behind; he decided the game when he skilfully resurrected a group of three stones that he had ‘sacrificed’ in the opening. This secured a resignation after 229 moves.

This series was yet another good demonstration of Iyama’s fighting power. Yamashita is known for his fondness for fighting, but Iyama matched him blow for blow. Yamashita’s current results in other tournaments show that he’s in good form, but he was able to take only two games off Iyama.

The referee for the final game, Hane Naoki 9P, gave his view of Iyama. ‘He has stable strength in every field. He can handle any kind of game and has the confidence to trust his own judgement.’
photos: top right: Game 3; bottom left: Game 4. photos courtesy EGC 2014 website
This is the first in a 4-part series this week. TOMORROW: Yamashita Keeps Lead In Honinbo League; Yamashita Takes Lead In Meijin League 

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Your Move/Readers Write: Thanks for the Problems

Monday March 17, 2014

“Thank you very much for the problems link, especially the ebook (‘New on the AGA Website: Classic Chinese Problem Collection‘ 3/16 EJ)” writes Lee Frankel-Goldwater. “I think it’s been a challenge to have a good, and simple solution to mobile go problems while not connected to the internet. Appreciated.”