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In Memoriam: Horst Sudhoff

Monday March 21, 2016

by Allan AbramsonOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Horst Sudhoff, long-time friend of the U.S. Go Congress and go players all over the world, died at 84 on Saturday, March 18, peacefully and surrounded by his family, in Bochum, Germany.

We met at his first U.S. Go Congress. He loved to play rapid games, and we quickly became partners, playing late into the night during the week. He attended 20 straight Congresses. After each one, he drove thousands of miles in a few weeks, hitting virtually all of the tourist sights in nearby states. Horst touched every state but Alaska and Hawaii, and delighted in sharing what he saw in story after story.

Horst’s joy in go was unlimited. He once he told me that he had memorized over 10,000 tesuji. Indeed, his game was full of aggressive tesuji, and it took me several years to learn the patience to counter with a late probe at a weakness. He was about five Dan when we first met, able to give me three stones and still make me feel silly.

We talked about go, travel, business, investing, Germany, and his family. Pride in his children was foremost, and he never tired of relating all of their educational and professional accomplishments. My wife Helga and I visited the family in Bochum, and our families formed a lasting bond.

2016.03.21_horst-sudhoff-2009At his 20th Congress Horst said that it would be his last, and that it was time to explore more of Europe. So, to memorialize his final Congress, we agreed to play 100 “serious” games, and finished the last as appetizers were served at the banquet. We laughed, looked at each other, and declared that it would be a long time before anyone else came close to this record (or would want to)…

Later, we invited him to the 2009 Congress in Washington, DC, but when he arrived it was clear that Horst had some health problems. Sudden low blood pressure made it hard to walk, so after a while in the hospital undergoing diagnosis, he was flown home and his travels were over. We visited him in Bochum again, and his spirit remained high, along with his unbounded joy in life.

Horst Sudhoff was outgoing and warm with everyone, and made friends in many countries. Anyone who would like to contribute memories, stories, or photos may send them to me at allango1@verizon.net for a memory book for his family.

Allan Abramson is a longtime Northern Virginia go organizer and former president of the American Go Association. photo (top right): Horst Sudhoff shows off his sheaf of Self-Paired Tournament wins at the 2002 U.S. Go Congress (photo by Phil Straus); left: at the Abramson home in 2009; photo by Allan Abramson

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Categories: Europe
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Humanity the winner at Deep Mind Challenge Match, Google Chief Says

Monday March 7, 2016

“The winner here, no matter who wins, is humanity,” said Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt at Tuesday’s press conference launching2016.03.08_google-press-conf the Google Deep Mind Challenge Match between Google’s AlphaGo and world champion Lee Sedol 9P. Alphabet is the parent company of Google. Hundreds of journalists crowded into the 6th-floor ballroom at the Four Seasons in downtown Seoul. Camera flashes exploded as Schmidt took the stage to proclaim that “This is a great day for humanity. Humans will be smarter, the world will be a better place.” Deep Mind CEO Demis Hassabis called go “The most elegant game humans have ever invented.” Hassabis, a go player himself, noted that because of go’s complexity, “It’s been a longstanding challenge for the AI community to master this game.” Lee Sedol, who a few weeks ago confidently predicted he would defeat AlphaGo, adopted a more circumspect approach this time. “Playing against a machine is very different from an actual human opponent,” the world’s Number 1 told the BBC. “Normally, you can sense your opponent’s breathing, their energy. And lots of times you make decisions which are dependent on the physical reactions of the person you’re playing against. With a machine, you can’t do that.” Indeed, asked about AlphaGo’s strengths, Hassabis sais that “AlphaGo will never get tired and it won’t be intimidated, unlike a human opponent.” Even so, Hassabis said, “We’re many decades away from a real human AI; we’re still playing games.” And Sedol turned a bit philosophical at the end of the press conference, quietly saying that “If I get defeated it might be negative for go, but it is inevitable in this modern life. But it won’t destroy the value of go itself.”
- report/photo by Chris Garlock; photo: (l-r): Hassabis, Lee & Schmidt

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Categories: Computer Go/AI,Korea
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Your Move/Readers Write: Computer Chess v. Go is Apples & Oranges

Sunday March 6, 2016

“Apples and oranges,” writes Chris Uzal in response to our 2/29 report, Chess Players Counsel Calm As Computers Close in on Go “Chess has not come to terms with the fact that the game is over. Kasparov lost almost 20 years ago. The most recent computer cheating scandal was last year. Chess players have been facing a brute force program whenever a computer is on the other side of the board. Go players will be facing an 2016.03.03_apples-orangesartificial intelligence. Chess players can give their judges tools to show the best move for a certain rating. Go players will not be able to distinguish human moves versus artificial intelligence moves. Judges will have no such tools. Go players online may soon be faced with a situation that any game slower than blitz will not be accepted. Go players who want a slow, deep game won’t bother with humans once they can gain access to the likes of AlphaGo. Human to human, real-life games will be either very casual, teaching or tournament. Go will become a more philosophical and sublime endeavor. Not necessarily a bad thing. There are too many players using their rank as a measure of mental prowess. People either do not know or do not care about the ancient greats like Shusaku or the not so ancient Go Seigen. Those are just ghosts if they are known at all. AlphaGo would be a welcome symbol of the summit for the game of Go. If you’re not AlphaGo, and you’re not, get back to studying life-and-death. Bottom line: I look forward to playing, losing and learning in the new artificial intelligence era.”
The first game in the Lee Sedol-AlphaGo match will be Tuesday, March 8, 8p PST (11p EST). The match will be livestreamed on DeepMind’s YouTube channel with English commentary by Michael Redmond 9p with American Go E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock.

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AlphaGo-Lee Sedol Match Set for March 9-15; More responses to AlphaGo win

Sunday February 7, 2016

As the go world — and indeed much mainstream media — has continued to buzz in the wake of the recent announcement of AlphaGo’s defeat2016.02.07_Fan-Hui-vs-AlphaGo of a professional go player, details of the matchup between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol have been released. The five-game match will take place in Seoul, March 9-15, with a $1 million prize — and the question of whether man or machine will prevail — at stake. We’ll keep you posted on broadcast coverage plans. Meanwhile, here’s a few of the reactions that have come in; we welcome your thoughts at our Facebook page, Twitter or at journal@usgo.org.

SmartGo’s Kierulf on AlphaGo: “Exciting times with the AlphaGo announcement!” writes SmartGo’s Anders Kierulf “If you’re in need of some more analysis and speculation on the Lee Sedol match, I’ve got you covered: Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo.” Kierulf has also written a bit about how AlphaGo works, and encouraging people to learn go now. He also reports that SmartGo has “definitely seen a spike in sales last week, subsiding again now.”

Cobb: A Flawed Test: “These sorts of tests of computer programs against pros (chess or go) all have the same flaw,” writes Slate & Shell’s Bill Cobb. “While the computer of course plays at the speed it needs to in order to use all of its resources, the pro is forced to play much faster than he/she can make use of their resources to a similar degree. For a go pro, one hour basic time is ‘lightning’ go, not a true test of the player’s ability—especially when it is followed by 30 second instead of one minute byoyomi periods. I don’t understand why people are so impressed about the computer program winning under such unfair conditions. Many strong amateurs could beat many pros under a similarly unbalanced time arrangement.” Cobb is the author of “Reflections on the Game of Go” a collection of his E-Journal columns, many of which focus on ways in which go can be related to Buddhist views of the search for enlightenment.

“Alphaville” Warned Us: The night before the announcement that a computer had won a 5-game match with no handicap against a 2016.02.07_alphavilleprofessional, I watched ‘Alphaville,’ a 1965 French film,” writes David Doshay. “In it an evil computer saps vocabulary, emotion and eventually life from the people of Alphaville. That computer’s name is Alpha-60. This program is called AlphaGo. Coincidence or conspiracy? Go and 60 look a lot alike to me …Should we warn the world?”

Learning from Chess: “Regarding Google’s AlphaGo achievement, I’d be interested in reading an E-Journal article discussing how chess software has affected online chess tournaments,” writes Syracuse go organizer Richard Moseson. “There have already been a few scandals at top chess tournaments in which players were found to be using chess playing software. How long will it be before players can use iGlasses to receive recommendations for each move?”

Moving the Goalposts: “Perhaps it is time to consider moving to the next prime number with a go board that is 23 by 23,” suggests Ronald Davis.
Update (7:08p): The source of the “Moving the Goalposts” quote has been updated.

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Categories: Computer Go/AI,World
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Your Move/Readers Write: Pro Tourney Highlight Videos a Hit

Wednesday January 6, 2016

“I like the You Tube highlights from the qualifier games,” says Bob Gilman. “These analyses of important situations provide insights in a readily 2016.01.07_Round 5 Highlightsdigestible form. Longer game commentaries are good to have also, but they demand a big time commitment to watch, and it’s easy to forget many of the points made. I hope you continue to do features like these.”

“Just wanted to compliment the short videos,” writes Keith Arnold. “While there is some suggestion that they were born of necessity and bad internet connection, I actually think they have been uniformly excellent, informative and just right for busy modern life and short attention spans.”

The latest batch of pro tourney game highlights includes Sarah Yu (W) vs Manuel Velasco (B)Ben Lockhart (W) vs Aaron Ye (B) and Jeremy Chiu (W) vs Eric Lui (B), all from the fifth round of the round robin.

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“Celestial Arsenal” Translation Released

Friday January 1, 2016

Sun Ruoshi has just released “The Celestial Arsenal,” his English translation of the late Ming dynasty classic “Xianji Wuku.” Originally 2016.01.01_The Celestial Arsenalcompiled around 1629, “The Celestial Arsenal” comprises a collection of hundreds of famous games, corner and side josekis, opening and invasion patterns, and over 400 life-and-death problems. Lu Xuanyu, a famous collector of go manuscripts, carefully selected and edited material from several famous go manuals and game records into eight scrolls: Gold, Rock, Silk, Bamboo, Gourd, Earth, Leather and Wood. This translation, however, is on 500 paper pages. The cover features two problems from the book; White to live on each side of the board. The book is available on Amazon and CreateSpace.

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Your Move: Famous Quote Mystery Deepens

Saturday November 28, 2015

The mystery deepens about the source of the quote about “if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play go”2015.11.27_Brettspiele der Völker (“Who Really Said Famous Go Quote? 11/21 EJ).

“I was a friend of Ed Lasker in the latter part of his life (we played chess together – I wasn’t playing go then),” writes Mike Ryan. “Although he told me a fair amount about his involvement with go, and various things he and his cousin Emmanuel did in that respect, he never once mentioned that quoted idea. I tend to think that neither he nor Emmanuel said that.”

Thomas Rohde in Germany thought that he’d tracked the quote to Emanuel Lasker’s 1930 book “Brettspiele der Völker: Rätsel- und Mathematische Spiele” (“Board Games of the Peoples – Riddles and Mathematical Games”), but had to order a copy of the book to confirm it. Meanwhile Erwin Gerstorfer, who has “Brettspiele der Voelker” in his collection “checked the complete chapter about Go (as well as the introduction chapter) and if I did not overlook something, then there is unfortunately no reference to the quote that we are interested in.” When Rohde’s copy arrived he confirmed that the quote isn’t there but in an online history of European go he found a reference to Emanuel Lasker that reads “In another publication he says: When there are other intelligent beings in the universe, than they maybe know chess, but surely Go.” “I wonder which ‘other publication’ this may be,” says Rohde.

“This is the original German quote,” Rohde adds: “Wenn es im Universum noch irgendwo intelligente Lebewesen gibt, dann kennen sie vielleicht Schach, höchstwahrscheinlich jedoch Go,” which Rohde translates as “If somewhere in the universe there are [other] intelligent beings, then maybe they know Chess, but most probably [they know] Go.”

 

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Go Spotting: Vagabond Manga; The Uncommon Series

Monday November 9, 2015

Vagabond Manga: “A favorite coffee barista of mine suggested I read the manga Vagabond, a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by2015.11.09_Vagabond21 Takehiko Inoue,” writes Devin Fraze. “It portrays a fictionalized account of the life of Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, based on Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi. In Volume 6, go is being played by the hero’s love interest. Unfortunately more of the game play is not shown as her opponent “accidentally” knocks over the board.

2015.11.09_vagabond-seriesThe Uncommon Series: One of the protagonists in The Uncommon Series is an avid go player. “The thriller trilogy follows a pair of entrepreneurs that drop out of college to found a new tech startup and get caught up in an international conspiracy along the way,” author Eliot Peper tells the E-Journal. “James Chen is the protagonist who’s a go enthusiast. He’s Chief Technology Officer of the startup in the book and the brains behind the whole operation. He develops a complex algorithm that identifies fraud in large financial datasets, allow law enforcement to take down money laundering rings, etc. He loves go because it’s all about pattern recognition and is the perfect analog for the breakthrough software he’s developing. He even uses online go players to train the software’s artificial intelligence routines. As the startup in the book skyrockets from garage to IPO, they have to use his technology and their own wits to take down a major cartel that’s in bed with the big banks and government regulators.”2015.11.09_vagabond-series
Spotted go somewhere? Let us know by emailing us at journal@usgo.org!

 

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Categories: Go Spotting
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Why We Play: Edward Zhang 6d

Wednesday October 28, 2015

Age: 362015.10.28_Edward Zhang-self
Years playing go: 26
Lives in: McLean, VA
Home club: Capital Go Club

Life is unpredictable: could be great, could go south. Playing go for nearly three decades has taught me strategies that have benefited me tremendously in my current career in financial planning. Reading out the variations helps me understand which is a manageable trade and which is an unfavorable battle. It’s also important to keep a couple byo-yomi periods for the uncertainties at the end. That said, it’s still impossible to predict a go game or life, but we can always plan to avoid the unnecessary pains, taking only the calculable risks.

Why do you play? Tell us in 100 words or less your favorite thing about the game of go, include your name, age, how long you’ve played go, where you live and your home go club, and email to journal@usgo.org. Be sure to include a current photo!

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Categories: Why We Play
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Qiu Jun 9P and Lian Xiao 7P Advance to Chang Qi Finals

Tuesday September 29, 2015

Qiu Jun 9P and Lian Xiao 7P won their Chang Qi Cup semifinal third-round decider matches Monday to advance to the tournament’s final 2015.09.28_Qiu-Lian-collagerounds later this year. The games followed the pattern of the first two matches, with Lian Xiao (right) defeating Li Qincheng 1P in just 161 moves, while Qiu Jun (left) prevailed over Tuo Jiaxi 9P in yet another marathon match — this one 331 moves — in which he used a ko threat to cleverly bring a group of dead stones back to life, forcing a resignation for the first time in the series.

Game records: Rd3 QiuJun v. TuoJiaxi, Rd3 LianXiao v. LiQinCheng (also available on KGS, look under ChangQi1 and ChangQi2); special thanks to the Chinese recording team, who generously broadcast the games on KGS as well as on their Chinese servers.

Special bonus: click here to see the video of E-Journal’s Steve Colburn demonstrating the custom-built Ing table with built-in go board and stones, shot by Andrew Jackson.
- report, photos/collage by Chris Garlock

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