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Yuan Zhou Marks Decade of Teaching in North Carolina

Friday December 30, 2016

Longtime go teacher and author Yuan Zhou (right) recently celebrated a milestone anniversary, leading his tenth North Carolina2016.12.30_yuan-zhouWorkshop December 9-11 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Members of the Triangle Go Group have benefited from Yuan Zhou’s workshops for 10 years,” reports Bob Bacon, “and we continue to appreciate his expertise and wisdom.” More than just proper play guidelines, Zhou shares insights into the philosophical depths of the ancient game. “As he reviews attendee’s games he tailors his instruction to each individual and clearly shows how correct play leads to good results. Teacher Zhou explains common patterns with easily remembered expressions, such as ‘heroes live a short life’ — describing a foolhardy invasion — and ‘even the demon is afraid,’ after hane at the head of two stones.

Yuan Zhou serves up a rich banquet of information about Chinese language phrases and meanings relating to go, Bacon says. This year, in addition to sharing many new expressions, he examined and explained the Chinese characters 围棋 (wéi qí), including the subtle alterati2016.12.30_yuan-zhou-studentson made to the characters when later adopted by the Japanese.

One of the highlights of the workshop was Lao Shi Zhou’s review of recent professional games played between Ke Jie and Gu Li, and between Ke Jie and Tang Weixing. Attendees received copies of the games prior to the workshop, and Yuan Zhou analysed and explained some interesting new moves.

“As always, the workshop inspired and empowered the lucky listeners, and left us looking forward to his next appearance in the Triangle,” says Bacon. The workshop was sponsored by the Triangle Go Group of North Carolina; read a more detailed report here.
photos courtesy Bob Bacon

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Categories: U.S./North America
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New SmartGo Books Releases Include Tsume-Go Collections & Shuko Tesuji Dictionary

Sunday October 16, 2016

SmartGo Books has added several new titles to its collection. Volume 2 of Thomas Redecker’s “Tsume-Go Strategy — Learn to Recognize Vital Points in Go” joins the previously-released Volume 1 to offer over 700 problems based on 47 corner patterns (vol. 1) and 44 side patterns (vol. 2). The problems are analyzed in great detail, providing hints to guide you to the 2016.10.16_smartgo-books-collagevital shape points. SmartGo Books has also released Redecker’s new book “Workbook: One-Move Life and Death Problems — Basic Tsume-Go Strategy Made Easy,” with over 700 problems ordered by shape. While it’s designed especially for beginners, requiring you to only think a single move ahead, the repetition helps you recognize shapes instantly. For many years, Redecker was the editor of the problem section of the German Go-Journal. He is also the author of several books on Igo Hatsuyōron 120, the most difficult go problem ever. Click here to find more about his books.

Shuko’s Dictionary of Basic Tesuji is one of the most famous Japanese go books, and Slate & Shell has now brought that series to the Go Books app (in English). “Dictionary of Basic Tesuji — Volume 1: Tesuji for Attacking” is the first in the four-volume series; later volumes will cover tesuji for defense, as well as tesuji for the opening, capturing races, and the endgame. The 188 tesuji problems in the first book are analyzed in detail, with over 900 inline diagrams making it easy to visualize all the variations.

The Go Books app (for iPad, iPhone, and Mac) now provides access to 115 high-quality Go books: popular books by major publishers, out-of-print classics, and books available only in Go Books.

 

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Go Congress Updates: Bao Yun Clinches ’16 US Open Masters; Broadcast Schedule & Tourney Reports

Friday August 5, 2016

Bao Yun Clinches ’16 US Open Masters; Battle Underway for Runner-Up: There’s still one more round to2016.08.05_Bao-Yun-champ-DSC_0158 play in the 2016 US Open Masters but the name of this year’s winner can already be inscribed: Bao Yun 7D. Bao defeated Song Zirui 1P Friday night by 3.5 points to build an unassailable 8-0 lead and clinch the 2016 title. The action now moves to the battle for second place. Zhang Hanchen will have to beat Ito Kenryo to take second place; if Ito wins, tiebreaks will determine the winner. In other Round 8 action, Andy Liu let certain victory against Zhang Hanchen slip away when he neglected to secure the life of a group in the endgame on Board 2 (click here for an sgf of the commentary by Feng Yun 9P and Yilun Yang 7P); Ito Kenryo 1P beat Ryan Li by half a point on Board 3, Eric Lui 1P defeated Sun Shuo 7d by 4.5 points on Board 4, Jian Zhongfan 7d beat Zhang Siyuan 7d by a half-point on 5 and Zhaonian Chen 7d won by 8.5 points over Albert Yen 7d on Board 6. Click here for the 2016 Masters Division crossgrid, with results and top-board game records. Click here for the US Open crosstab, updated through Round 5. 

Broadcast Schedule
10a: US Open Masters Round 9 (final): Live pro commentary on the AGA YouTube Channel.
10:30a: US Open Masters Round 9: Live pro commentary on KGS.
PLUS: Check all the pro game commentaries from the week here.

US Go Congress Tournaments Schedule: Saturday 8/6
9:00a: US Open, round 6; US Open Masters, round 9

2016.08.05_US-Open-Round5-DSC_0118Diehard
Exactly 100 players ranging from the low 27 kyu to 7d decided they did not need a day off on Wednesday 8/3 — “because rest is for babies” — and gathered in the main playing room for the annual Diehard Tournament. Both Ted Lin 3k and Alexander Foti 4k were undefeated with four wins.

Pair Go
Click here for a Facebook album of all this year’s pairs, and read here for the tournament story and results to find out who will be representing North America in the International Pair Go Championships in Japan!

Senior Cup
Visit live.gocongress.org for final tournament crosstabs. Chunlin Xu 7k won all four games to be the only undefeated player in the tournament.

Women’s Tournament
Visit live.gocongress.org for final tournament crosstabs.

Lightning Tournament
Players are on their own to find and complete their playoff games, and both the dan and kyu section playoffs have not yet reached the semi-final round. With just one more day left of play, will they complete before the end of the Go Congress? Will we be left without lightning champions? Stay tuned to find out!

report by Karoline Li, Congress Tournament Liaison; photos by Chris Garlock

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Hajin Lee’s Next Big Move

Friday August 5, 2016

It’s only August and already Hajin Lee has had one heck of a year. She got married, stepped down from her post as Secretary General of the International Go Federation, got promoted to 4-dan professional at the Korean Baduk Association and got accepted to an MBA program in Switzerland. Oh, and there was that whole AlphaGo thing.
2016.08.05_hajin-lee-IMG_0744
The AlphaGo games against Lee Sedol in March came just before the end of Lee’s tenure at the IGF and the huge crush of media interest generated headlines and news reports around the world as hundreds of journalists descended on Seoul, where she’d spent years as a pro. “Working at that event was really crazy, it was one of the busiest times of my life, but it was still fun,” she said. In addition to witnessing the most massive promotion of go in the history of the game, Lee came away with a personal memento of the moment:  “DeepMind sent me a beautiful set of Wedgewood tea cups and pots” for her wedding to fellow go player Dan Maas.

But the tea party will have to wait; Lee is moving to Switzerland this Fall to get an MBA focusing on international organizations. “When I applied for the program, I wanted to get some kind of job at the UN. But right now, I am open to other options because there are many organizations that do education or philanthropy work and I am mostly interested in those sectors,” building on her work at the IGF. “I really enjoyed working with the global community and the international context [at the IGF],” she told the E-Journal.

Lee was also recently promoted to 4P by the Korean Go Association. “In the Korean pro system, it’s a cumulative point system,” she explains. Her last promotion was to 3D in 2007. As for the question on many of her fans’ minds, Hajin — known for her popular go broadcasts as Haylee on YouTube — says this, “For the time being, my plan is to continue my YouTube broadcasts in Switzerland. The hope is to continue it for as long as I can.”
- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress . photo: Lee with husband Dan Maas at the Pair Go tournament Thursday night at the 2016 US Go Congress; photo by Chris Garlock 

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Why We Play: Nqua Xiong 1k, Alister Hake 12k

Tuesday August 2, 2016

Nqua XiongNqua Xiong 1k
Age: 28
Lives in: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Home Club: Twin Cities Go Club
Years playing go: 9
Favorite thing about go: “The adrenaline rush. It’s the whole game… being able to see all the different fighting variations that come out from different people.”

IMG_7754Alister Hake 12k
Age: 29
Lives in: Sedona, AZ, originally from Liverpool, England
Home Club: Started a local one with friends, and the ASU Go Club
Years playing go: 3
Favorite thing about go: “The subtlety to the way it moves.. it’s an amorphous game. It’s just the way it shifts. Things that are all dead come back to life, things that were alive die. That interchange, the way it just spins with the moves. It’s mind-boggling and at the same time enigmatic and intriguing and that’s the best bit about it. Especially when you watch pro games, like Andy [Liu 1P] and Myungwan [Kim 9P], you see the depth of thought and visual imagination and how powerful that is. That level of skill is just mind blowing.” It’s not just about the game for Alister. “It’s really friendly, everyone’s welcome. Everyone can just play and have a good time. It’s an overwhelming characteristic of the US Go Congress.”

- report/photos by Samantha Fede, E-Journal special correspondent, reporting from the 2016 U.S. Go Congress  

 

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China, Korea & Taipei Into Pair Go World Cup Semi-Finals

Saturday July 9, 2016

Rain and wind from the edges of Typhoon Nepartak swirled outside Hikarie Hall in in Tokyo’s upscale Shibuya neighborhood Saturday morning as the 2016 Pair Go 2016.07.09_Iyama-HsiehWorld Cup contestants gathered for the tournament’s first round. As is traditional at Pair Go events, the players were dressed up, many in outfits native to their countries, and the 32 players made a fine sight as they paraded, two by two, into the playing area. Promptly at 11a, the round began, and shortly thereafter, spectators crowded in to watch, deepest around top player Iyama Yuta and his partner Hsieh Yi Min.

Pair Go at this level is a deeply thrilling game, combining the beauty of go with the excitement of a team sport. Although players cannot betray any hint of their feelings or react to moves, there’s an unmistakable electricity in the air that comes from the intense focus of four players over the go board.

2016.07.09_NA-teamThere were no surprises in the first round, as the Central/South American team of Rosario Papeschi and Fernando Aguilar lost to hometown favorites Hsieh Yi Min and Iyama Yuta (above right), Oceania/Africa’s Amy Song and David He fell to Korea’s Choi Jeong and Park Jeonghwan, while Europe’s Natalia Kovaleva and Ilya Shikshin lost to China’s Yu Zhiying and Ke Jie and Chinese Taipei’s Chang Kai Hsin and Wang Yuan Jyun fell to Korea’s Jeon Yujin and Song Hongsuk.
On the other side of the draw, North Americans Sarah Yu and Eric Lui had no trouble dispatching Asia’s Pattraporn Aroonphaichitta and Nuttakrit Tarchaamnuayvit (left), Chinese Taipei’s Joanne Missingham and Chen Shih Iuan beat Japan’s Wang Jong Yi, Japan’s Mukai Chiaki and Ichiriki Rui defeated Europe’s Rita Pocsai and Ali Jabarin and Korea’s Oh Yujin and Choi Chulhan prevailed over China’s Wang Chenxing and Shi Yue.

After traditional Japanese box lunches, Round 2 began at 2:30. The playing room had been completely reset, the eight 2016.07.09_Ke-study-grporiginal boards (32 players, two pairs to a board) now shrunk to four. As play began, spectators again flooded in to watch, while hundreds more watched on monitors in an auditorium next door, where professionals provided commentary and children tried their hand at solving life and death problems in the Panda Sensei tent in the back of the hall.

Back on the boards, epic battles were playing out as the pairs fought to get to the semi-finals on Sunday. The North American team got into a major ko fight with Taipei’s Missingham/Chen early on that they had to win and never really recovered, though Sarah Yu later said “I really enjoyed the fight.” Korea’s Oh/Choi beat Japan’s Chiaki/Ryo, China’s Yu/Ke won over Korea’s Jeon/Song and Korea’s Choi/Park defeated Japan’s Hsieh/Iyama. So Yu/Ke will face Choi/Park and Missingham/Chen will face Oh/Choi in the semi-finals on Sunday. Latest results here.

Photo (l-r): Ke Jie, Nie Wei Ping, his son Ko Rei Bun and Yu Zhiying review the Ke/Yu Round 1 game while Michael Redmond looks on. 

- report/photos by Chris Garlock

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Categories: Japan,Pair Go
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Panda Sensei Tsume-Go Challenge Kicks Off Pair Go World Cup in Tokyo

Friday July 8, 2016

Thirty two players comprising sixteen teams gathered Thursday in Tokyo to launch the second Pair Go World Cup. First 2016.07.08_panda-sensei-chinainvented in 1990 by Hisao and Hiroko Taki to attract more female players to the game, Pair Go has grown steadily in popularity around the world and the Pair Go Association now boasts 74 member countries and territories.

After an elegant Japanese box lunch at the Cerulean Towers Tokyu Hotel in the Shibuya district, the players assembled for the draw ceremony to determine their first-round opponents. With a top prize of $10M JPY, organizers have attracted an impressive array of top players, including Ke Jie – Yu Zhiying (China); Iyama Yuta – Hsieh Yimin (Japan); Park Junghwan – Choi Jeong (Korea) and Chen Shih-Iuan – Hei Jiajia (Taiwan). Notable pairs from the West include Eric Lui – Sarah Yu (North America); Fernando Aguilar – Rosario Papeschi (Latin America) and Ilya Shikshin – Natalia Kovaleva (Europe). All games will be broadcast on Pendant. “I’m very excited to see top professionals and top amateurs gathered here,” said an obviously pleased Mrs. Taki, who then conducted a warm series of interviews with the players.

2016.07.08_panda-sensei-japanThe highlight of the afternoon was the Panda Sensei Tsume-Go Challenge, showing off the Pandanet Sensei life and death computer program, which has been developed over the last 30 years and on which many tsumego creators rely to check their work. In a dramatic timed competition, the professional pairs were given a series of high-level tsumego problems. They had 10 minutes to solve each problem; the first five pairs to hit the call button won the right to show their solution to the judges, led by the famous Ishida Yoshio, also known as “The Computer.” Correct answers were worth up to five points each, while wrong answers penalized the incorrect team two points. Onlookers crowded around the players as they raced to solve the problems, and it was quite entertaining to see top-level professional players wrestling with reading out problems in real time and often, just like amateurs, missing key moves that refuted their solutions. Perhaps not surprisingly, Pandanet Sensei crushed the contest, scoring 24 points; the Chinese team of Ke Jie – Yu Zhiying (top right) scored just 6 points to take second place and the Korean team’s 4 points was enough to take home third place. Acknowledging that the problems were tough and the solving time short, Ishida (at left, refuting a solution from Japan’s Iyama Yuta and Hsieh Yimin) admitted that “I had fun watching all the trouble the top players got into” trying to solve them.

The Pair Go tournament begins Saturday, with two rounds scheduled, followed by semi-finals Sunday morning and the final Sunday afternoon. All games will be broadcast on Pendant.
- report/photos by Chris Garlock

 

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Categories: Japan,Pair Go
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Your Move/Readers Write: E-Journal Forum (Part 2); Where’s the 2015 Yearbook?

Monday June 27, 2016

E-Journal Forum (Part 2): In another response to Eric Osman’s query about a forum for responses to articles in the E-Journal, Steve Colburn also notes that the AGA has a sub forum on Lifein19x19.com. “This is for AGA stuff much like there is for other organizations. There are a few AGA officials who also read/comment on Reddit.”

Where’s the 2015 Yearbook? “I tried looking through the AGA website to find the archived zip file with all of the yearbook 2015 sgf files,” writes AGA member Shane, “but I’m having a difficult time locating it on your website. The news article doesn’t seem to link me to where to find the file and a website search for ‘year book’ didn’t yield much better results. Help?” In a related email, Dan writes “I am a member who cannot figure out how to download the 2015 Go Yearbook. Please advise.”
The Yearbook is only for AGA members, so it’s not posted on the website; look for your June 22 Member’s Edition of the E-Journal, which contains individual links to the game commentaries published in 2015, as well as in a handy zip file. 

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Rational Play? The Master of Go vs. AlphaGo

Monday June 13, 2016

by Andrew Feenberg

This is the story of two go matches. In March, Google’s artificial intelligence computer AlphaGo defeated world champion Lee Sedol 9P 4-1. This is considered a great triumph for artificial intelligence. Does it mean that AI is almost human? Or that humans have simply become machine-like? Another historic match in 1938 provides some useful perspective.

Games are ambiguous phenomena. On the one hand they are models of rationality. There are unambiguous rules, actions, and measures of success and failure. On the other hand games are social events, collaborative performances governed by meta-rules such as sportsmanship that contextualize the play. The players need each other in order to perform. They produce an object together through their combined efforts. The effect of this activity is to contribute to their own personal development as human beings. And we often qualify the product of their activity in aesthetic terms: a beautiful play in football for example.

Rationality as found in games is also a general attribute of the culture of modern societies. Modern societies contain many game like systems. Individuals act as players in these systems in order to get a raise, get a job, learn new skills, take a plane, avoid paying taxes, and so on. Thus games can appear as models of modernity and what happens with games can tell us something about what happens in modern societies in general.

This is why the Nobel prize-winning Japanese author Kawabata chose the game of go for one of his most famous novels. “The Master of Go” is based on a real match that Kawabata witnessed as a newspaperman in 1938. This was the last match of the old master Shusai and his challenger, called Otake in the novel. Each player represents an era. The old master represents traditional play, while his challenger represents modernized play, influenced by Western ideas. Traditional play is all about the human side of the game, deference, the notion of way or vocation as practiced in Japanese martial arts for example, and beauty, the beauty of the moves and the board as the game evolves. Modernity is about winning. Just that.

The novel recounts the game’s play as it reveals the characters and the historical background. The whole intrigue centers on a single move in the game, move 121. The reason this move is so important has to do with Western innovations introduced by the challenger and favored by the newspapers. In the old days the master would have regulated the flow of play, deciding when to start and end each day’s session. But the 1938 match was organized around time limits and sealed moves at the end of the day as in Western chess. Of course players are equal in the game play, but the traditional way of playing recognized the differences between the players in the world outside the game. Now the equalization internal to the game was being extended outward into the world of play. One can see how this might appeal to the challenger and to the newspapers, both of whom would prefer not to be subject to the whims of the old master. To the old master it seemed a lack of due deference.

As it happened, the challenger began to run out of time toward the middle of the game. To gain time to reflect on a difficult position in the center of the board he sealed a final move off in a corner. This trivial move required the master to respond away from the central struggle. The manipulation implied in this use of the time limits and sealed moves upset the master. He was offended and said that the beauty of the game was lost. As a result he made several mistakes and the challenger won. Modernity triumphs over tradition. But we are left with the clear impression that the old master was the better player of the two.

Kawabata wrote after World War II that he would only write elegies, elegies for the lost beauty of the old Japan. The novel is obviously a critique of modernization. But note that it is not about the contrast between rational modernity and the irrational tradition. There is nothing strategically irrational or inferior about the old master’s play. So the contrast of modernization and tradition is not about strategic rationality vs. irrational sentimentality. It is about the place of strategic rationality in the real world. Tradition is a set of meta-rules that contextualize and organize the rationalized sectors of social life such as games. Modernity extends the rationality of games into the real world. This has counterintuitive consequences. For example, in the case of the actual match the inferior player wins through manipulating the new meta-rules and upsetting his adversary rather than through superior play.

Here is the how Kawabata described his elegy for traditional go: “It may be said that the master was plagued in his last match by modern rationalism, to which fussy rules were everything, from which all the grace and elegance of go as art had disappeared, which quite dispensed with respect for elders and attached no importance to mutual respect as human beings. From the way of go the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled.”

The losers of the two matches were Shusai and Lee Sedol. The winners were Otaké and AlphaGo. What do they have in common? If we understand games in all their ambiguity as both strategic exercises, rational systems, and also ways of self development and aesthetic achievement, then I would suggest that their reduction to mere winning is a disaster. The matches reveal the limits of modernity as a way of understanding and organizing human life. In reorganizing the social world around strategic rationality, modernity prepares the triumph of the machine.

This essay is based on a talk presented at the McLuhan Centre at the University of Toronto in early March. It has been condensed and updated. Feenberg has written extensively about Kawabata’s novel previously in his book Alternative Modernity.

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Categories: Computer Go/AI
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More than 200 set record at historic simul in Saint Petersburg

Friday June 3, 2016

Henceforth, May 21 will be a memorable date in the history of Russian go. On that date, more than 200 go fans gathered in 2016.06.03_russian-simulSaint Petersburg, Russia, for a massive simultaneous go game. The event took place on the street near architectural masterpiece the Kazan Cathedral. Even cold wind and drizzling rain did not deter players who turned out to challenge their country’s strongest go masters, including Alexander Dinerchtein 3P, Ilya Shikshin 1P and Natalia Kovaleva, who’s been European Female Champion. Some passersby got intrigued and played go for the very first time in their life, adding to the game’s fanbase. Every participant got a memorable souvenir and anyone who could defeat a master got an additional prize. Overall 218 people played on 191 boards, setting a national record. Click here for a video of the event (added 6/9).
- report by Daria Koshkina; photos by Mikail Krylov

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Categories: Russia
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