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Janice Kim on Why Solving Go Problems Isn’t Boring (& Two Books to Read Now)

Wednesday January 2, 2013

Although I agree with most of the article on how to improve (The Spirit of Play: “What can I do to improve?” 12/31 EJ), I must — tongue firmly in cheek — object to the statement that solving go problems is ‘boring’.

When I was a student at the Korean Baduk Association, the protocol for solving a problem was that you had to be willing to stake your life that your answer was complete and correct. ‘Complete’ is key, as you definitely didn’t want to scramble for a reply if an alternate move in some sequence was suggested; the executioner may have itchy fingers. Solving problems to this day remains a high-octane, nail-biting affair for me, especially if it’s not much of a reading challenge, so tempting then to omit steadying the nerves and triple-checking. You can hold yourself to a higher standard when practicing, and everybody loses sometimes so the pressure is off when playing, so you might think it’s the actual competition that is the tedious part of go…”

Last (well, not really) thoughts. They don’t call the experts ‘practitioners’ for nothing. Janice’s brain cross-references with two suggested reads: The Little Book of Talent, questions-answered-from-real-world-not-author-agenda-practical-really-works tips for improvement in any endeavor, and the science fiction novel Ender’s Game, almost required reading on the American Cultural Experience syllabus. Spoiler alert the entire premise is this idea of thing-itself-is-a small detail or afterthought, the lead-up to the game, not during the game, is where the winner is decided.
- Janice Kim 3P; photo: Kim playing primary schoochildren at the Shuang Huayuan campus of the Beijing Chaoyang Fangcaodi International school on December 17; photo by Chris Garlock

 

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Andy Liu 1P – Chang Hao 9P Exhibition Match Highlight of ACGA Spring Expo

Friday December 14, 2012

A professional exhibition match between new American professional go player Andy Liu 1P and Chinese pro Chang Hao 9P highlights the 2013 American Collegiate Go Association’s Spring Go Expo. “We’re really excited to host a large go community-wide event for the first time,” says Michael Fodera 5d, one of the event’s organizers, “and we have lots in store for attendees, including workshops and simuls with professional players as well as lectures and presentations.” The March 23-24 event will be held at Harvard and MIT campuses in Boston, MA. Aimed at both go players and the general public, the Expo will emphasize the importance of cross-cultural education and collaboration, especially as applied to go and its future in America. Organizers include Fodera, Brian Lee 1d, Jasmine Yan 4d, and the co-directors of The Surrounding Game, Will Lockhart 5d and Cole Pruitt 1d, who will present a preview of the first feature-length documentary on go during the Expo. Other Expo attendees include Liu Siming, president of the Chinese Bureau of Games, and Ing Minghao, the president of the Ing Chang-Ki Weiqi Education Association, a philanthropic organization dedicated to worldwide go education, a legacy of business magnate Ing Chang-Ki. The Expo is open free of charge to the general public, and students K-12 and university are especially encouraged to attend. The American Collegiate Go Association is dedicated to promoting go to students as a means for education; travel and accommodation subsidies are available; email acga.organizers@gmail.com for details or to RSVP.

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Historians and Anthropologists at the 2012 International Go Symposium

Tuesday December 11, 2012

The 2012 International Go Symposium in Black Mountain, North Carolina attracted leading scholars and researchers from around the world for two days of presentations and discussions on the many aspects of the game of go. Hours of footage have now been edited down and posted online to accompany the conference papers. This 3-part series covers highlights of Symposium presentations by teachers, scientists, historians and anthropologists. 

Students of the long and fascinating history of go who attended the 2012 International Go Symposium were richly rewarded with presentations on anime, poetry, and history, while also learning about the development of the game itself, such as why and when the 19×19 board came into use, and the challenges involved in developing a universal set of rules.

The most well-attended event of the Symposium took place on Sunday afternoon, when Hikaru No Go fans packed the lecture hall to see Hotta Yumi, the author of the wildly popular series. Ms. Hotta, interviewed by go teacher and E-Journal Youth Editor Paul Barchilon with  translation by longtime AGA volunteer Akane Negishi, answered questions ranging from how she came up with the idea for Hikaru to who’s her favorite character.

Reflecting a growing general Western interest in China, several presentations centered on Chinese themes. Stephanie Mingming Yin, now one of America’s resident pros, described Growing up Pro in China, while Joshua Guarino reminisced about his recent visit there, offering tips to go players who might be planning a trip, and Symposium organizer Peter Shotwell recalled his visit in 1985, making the first official contact between the AGA and the newly formed Chinese Weiqi Association. Documentary filmmaker Marc Moskowitz shared highlights of his new film on Chinese go, Weiqi Wonders.

Intertwining history and art, Dr. Chen Zu-yan , a professor of Asian and Asian-American Studies at Binghamton University, spoke on The Art of Black and White: Weiqi in Chinese Poetry.  In a fascinating example of the global nature of the game, Konstantin Bayraktarov of Bulgaria’s research into Vietnamese go was presented by American go writer – and Symposium organizer — Peter Shotwell. Shotwell also updated his longtime inquiry into the origins of go with “The Origins of Go Strategies in Classical Chinese Grammar: Why the Chinese Play Go and the West Plays Chess” Noting that fundamental differences in the structure and purpose of language can impact a society’s development, Shotwell showed how in the case of the West they pose a barrier to grasping go. In a second talk, Shotwell muses about so-called “custodial capture” games in ancient Greece and Rome, and in a Tibetan game known as Mig-Mang.

Other speakers looked at the special nature of the game itself, which is ephemeral yet universal. The rules were never even written down until the 20th century, and to this day there are several seemingly irreconcilable rule sets — yet everyone knows how to play. Chen Zu-Yuan, a leading rules expert, reviews the history and merits of Japanese (territory) and Chinese (area) counting. Potentially infinite, go is occasionally played on boards of various sizes, especially 9×9 and 13×13, but could be played on a grid of any size, and has even been played on a special board with no edges at all. At the 2012 US Go Congress it was played on a US-shaped board. So why 19×19? Ichiro Tanioka has studied this question concluding that the change probably happened during the 4th century AD along with other fundamental changes, for instance in the Chinese calendar. Mr. Tanioka goes on to speculate on other questions, such as why Chinese boards are perfectly square while Japanese boards are slightly rectangular. Continuing the inquiry into why the board is the way it is, Dalsoo Kim gave a history of the board’s “star points”, which at various times has ranged as high as 17.

The AGA and the 2012 US Go Congress are extremely grateful to the for financial support that made this event possible, and to the American Go Foundation for supporting the video recording.  Links to all the videos and to associated papers, links and contact information be found at the Symposium website. NEXT: Scientists at the Symposium.

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Teachers at the 2012 International Go Symposium

Tuesday November 27, 2012

The 2012 International Go Symposium in Black Mountain, North Carolina attracted leading scholars and researchers from around the world for two days of presentations and discussions on the many aspects of the game of go. Dozens of hours of footage have now been edited down and posted online to accompany the conference papers. This 3-part series covers highlights of Symposium presentations by teachers, scientists, historians and anthropologists.

Games may be a major key to learning, suggested keynote speaker Nolan Bushnell (right) at the 2012 International Go Symposium, August 4-5, 2012. The entrepreneurial wizard behind products as diverse as Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, Bushnell is now applying principles such as “thalamic engagement” and “spaced repetition” to develop Brainrush, a game-based learning app that aims to help students learn all kinds of material more effectively. Mexican Go Assoiation President Israel Rodriguez offered some interesting speculations on the nature of the barriers to developing a go culture. Yet go is a superb medium for growth and development, as Dr. Roy Laird – a clinical social worker who manages treatment programs for The Children’s Aid Society in New York City and former President of the American Go Association – explores in his talk “Play Go And Grow,” about the unique aspects of go that favor positive development, and some interesting recent research on go and the brain. While go is popular in Asian communities and has developed a growing base among Caucasians in the West, its presence is very limited in other Western cultures. In Playing Under and Pushing Through the Stones, Roxanna Duntley-Matos, a member of the Western Michigan University School of Social Work faculty, describes how she used go as a tool for “emancipatory education” with the Ann Arbor Hispanic community, promoting leadership, camaraderie and success among a marginalized minority. At the upper end of the learning spectrum, Peter Schumer described a for-credit course on go  that he has taught at Middlebury College for years, offering tips on everything from curriculum development to teaching style. In “How Rules, Terms and Attitude Help or Hinder the Game,”, American Go Foundation (AGF) President and AGA Rules Committee Chairman Terry Benson (left) urges a rethinking of what it means to “play go,” and what we teach. Peter Freedman, an experienced go teacher from the Portland area, looked beyond simply teaching children the game to how to help them develop a lifelong love for go, while go teacher Siddhartha Avila’s Mexican school is committed to teaching through the arts. On a practical level, AGF VP Paul Barchilon  outlined some of the many ways that the AGF can help aspiring organizers in the US. Laura Martinez ended the go teacher’s panel, and the conference, by unveiling the winners of The Second International Go Art Contest.

The AGA and the 2012 US Go Congress are extremely grateful to the International Go Federation for financial support that made this event possible, and to the American Go Foundation for additional support.  All presentations can be found at the Symposium’s YouTube channel. In addition, links to all the videos and to associated papers, links and contact information be found at the Symposium website. NEXT WEEK: Historians and anthropologists at the Symposium.

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New Documentary Tracks Chess, Challenge and Championships at a Brooklyn Middle School

Thursday November 15, 2012

by Dr. Roy Laird
At Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, three out of every four students qualify for free lunch, but when it comes to spirit, support and  pure brain power, some of them have plenty of resources. In fact, as we learn in Brooklyn Castle, the award-winning new documentary from Kelly Dellamaggiore, IS 318 is home to some of the strongest young chess players in the country; the school’s teams have brought home nearly 30 national championships. As a longtime proponent of go in the schools, I found the film to be an inspiring reminder of what mind sports can do for kids. Brooklyn Castle follows five members of the 2009-2010 team, each with their own goal.   Rochelle Ballantyne wants to be the first African-American female Master level (ELO 2000) player (11/18 update: she made it, with a new rating of 2057 following the recent World Youth Chess Championship in Maribor, Slovenia). Patrick Johnston, on the other hand, just wants a positive result so he can raise his ranking out of the 400s. (Spoiler alert: chess seems to help him with some attention issues he had in earlier grades; he emerges from middle school as an honor student.) As the students pursue their dreams, we are reminded that behind every dream is a team. With support from the school’s budget, fundraising efforts and help from foundations such as Chess-In-The-Schools, school staff go far beyond the call of duty, for instance taking 57 players of all levels to the National Championship in Dallas. That’s 57 potentially life-altering experiences right there. Chess-loving children apply from far and wide because they know that all sixth grade students are required to take at least one period of chess per week; in seventh and eighth grade it becomes an elective, but students can schedule up to seven periods of chess per week. We also meet the players’ families and see the crucial role their support plays. The team’s toughest opponent turns out to be a succession of budget cuts that threatens to take them out of a national competition they know they can win.  Hurry if you want to see it in theaters, although the low-tech sound and video quality may be better suited for a smaller screen. You can also read about the school at length in How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.

Brooklyn Castle – in theaters now — vividly highlights the benefits of school-based mind sports programs. (Post-film progress report: As reported in The New York Times earlier this year, five players from IS 318 achieved the equivalent of a college baseball team winning the World Series, becoming the first middle school team to win the National High School Championship!)  Go is also a wonderful arena for this kind of growth and development, in some ways even better than chess. If you’re thinking of starting a go program in your community, The American Go Foundation can help you with free equipment, matching funds, mentoring and much more – you’ll be surprised how easy it can be, and how rewarding for teacher and student alike.
- Laird, a former President of the American Go Association, currently serves on the Board of the American Go Foundation and manages school-based mental health clinics for The Children’s Aid Society in New York City.

 

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NoVA Pumpkin Classic; Debarre’s 3rd French; Best School for Inseis?; Go & Strategy Club; Berlin Tourney; More Than Just a Game?

Monday October 22, 2012

NoVA Pumpkin Classic Reminder: Register at www.novagoclub.org by 10P October 25 for the annual Pumpkin Classic in Arlington, VA. More details on the AGA-rated four-round tournament on the website.

[link]

Debarre Wins 3rd French Championship: Thomas Debarre 6d won his third French Championship title recently in Lyon, defeating Tanguy le Calve in the final. Here’s the game.
- Alain Cano

What’s The Best School for Inseis? Joy Craft wonders “what is the best school in the world for students who want to become pros?” Her son has been to a program in China and is looking into one in Korea and she’s curious what EJ readers would recommend. Email your suggestions to us at journal@usgo,org

Go and Strategy Club: Social thinker, venture investor and founder of the Russian School for Strategic Branding Efim Ostrovskiy runs the graphically striking Go and Strategy Club website, which has some interesting perspectives on the history of the game.

Berlin “Go to Innovation” Tourney: If you’re planning to be in Berlin next month, check out the 5th “Go to Innovation” tournament there, scheduled for November 16-18. The 8-round event has over 2,000 Euros in prizes.

More Than Just a Game? Saying that go is fundamentally a recreational board game like chess, the Washington State Department of Revenue Board of Tax Appeals recently denied the Seattle Go Center’s request for an exemption from local property taxes. The SGC had argued that go enhances the “functioning of individuals in society” and promoted cross-cultural understanding and tolerance, as required by state law governing such exemptions. “I guess someone who is clueless enough to think of chess as fundamentally a recreational board game is not going to appreciate the depth of Go,” said Forbes contributor Peter J Reilly in his fascinating column “Go Is More Than A Game Despite What State of Washington Thinks,” which quotes Thore Graepel, a Principal Researcher for Microsoft as saying that “Go is a great game that develops intellect and character.”

 

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Capital Go Club Hosts Yang Shuang 2P Workshop This Saturday

Wednesday October 10, 2012

The Capital Go Club (CGC) is hosting a workshop with Chinese pro Yang Shuang 2P (at left) this Saturday, October 13 in Fairfax, VA. Space is limited; click here to reserve your seat. Yang won 5th place in the Women’s World Go Championship in 1993, and in recent years has been focusing on teaching. A former go coach in the Nie Weiping Go Dojo in Beijing, Yang has trained many strong players who take the pro test in China. She’s also lectured at the European and U.S. go congresses, anchored go programs on TV in China and taught in Singapore. “A lot of students love her teaching games because she plays as even games without using aggressive trick moves, so that students can use their own tactics instead of being harassed by abnormal tricks,” says organizer Edward Zhang. Click here to pre-registerand see who’s coming. The fee for teaching game and game review is $24.50 for a half-day, $44 for the whole day and $5 for lecture only, with all proceeds benefiting the CGC . The Capital Go Club will also run an AGA-rated tournament Saturday with prizes, and players who travel more than 40 miles will receive a $5 travel subsidy. UPDATE: the location for the morning session has just been confirmed: 8200 Greensboro Drive, Suite 900, McLean VA (free parking). For latest info click here. photo: Yang Shuang at the October 5 GWGC demo game and analysis; photo by Edward Zhang

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Hikaru Author Hotta Yumi Interviewed

Monday September 3, 2012

Hikaru no Go author Hotta Yumi was interviewed on film at the International Go Symposium on August 5th, 2012. For those who missed the live stream,  the Tiger’s Mouth website has printed the entire text of the interview.  The AGF is currently editing the videos from the symposium, all of which will be available online at a later date.  A few choice highlights from the Hotta interview are below, you can read the full article here.

On how the series began, Hotta says “I wanted to learn go, so I paid a go school and started to attend classes once a week with a pro. He was mean, and never let the students win the teaching games. This was frustrating to me, because I was thinking ‘Why am I paying to lose all the time?’ I wished that I had a guardian angel or a ghost that could help me beat him really bad. It was at that moment that Hikaru no Go was born.”  When asked about how go has affected her life, Hotta replied: “Honestly, I had no idea that so many kids would want to learn how to play go. Not just in Japan, but all over the world. Especially kids in other countries where there aren’t many teachers or resources for playing go. Nowadays many more kids can play go thanks to the efforts of teachers, professionals, and groups that are helping to bring go to kids around the world. For my own life, Hikaru has made it very hard for me to attend go tournaments. So many people will watch over my shoulder during my games, and I’m not a very strong player so it is very embarrassing!” – Paul Barchilon, E-J Youth Editor. Translation by Akane Negishi and Solomon Smilack.  Photo: Hotta Yumi, by Paul Barchilon.

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Go Teaching Project Takes Root in Brazil

Monday June 18, 2012

The Caroline Campelo Cruz e Silva School in Palmas City, Brazil, has launched a full go program for kids, reports teacher Luciano Sanches Teixeira. Recent changes in organization and curricula at the school opened up space for new teaching activities, including a room equipped for teaching chess and checkers. “The first contact with go came about through research about (chess and checkers) on the Internet,” that led to the discovery that “there was another game, an oriental game played with glass spheres on a wooden board,” says Teixeira.

The school received its first go board in 2010, and while the initial interest was sparked by curiosity about an ancient game, Teixeira says that go “gained our attention thanks to its relationship with mathematics.” In addition to the calculations required for playing go, “We also think that looking at the different shapes built on the board and dealing with the delicate stones could also help develop motor coordination and laterality,” which are both important in the literacy process. This year the school launched a project to teach go to all students, for two months the students had go lessons, and “We also offered workshops after the regular classes, where students had access to the game of go throughout the school year.”

Continue reading…)

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Categories: World,Youth
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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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