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Feast of “food for thought” at recent Conference on Mind Sports

Sunday May 21, 2017

by Dr. Roy Laird2017.05.21_CIDEMgroupphoto-laird

A fabulous feast of “food for thought,” the International Conference on Mind Sports in Camaguey, Cuba came to a successful close on May 5 after affording some 70 participants a chance to get to know enthusiasts of other sports. Mornings were devoted to lectures and presentations, with various events , friendship matches and exhibitions in the afternoon. In an indicator of the level of interest Cubans have in mind sports, the first day of the conference was televised.

Here’s a rundown of some of the interesting presentations.
ARE MIND SPORTS REALLY SPORTS? If you’ve ever told a sports fan about mind sports, you’ve probably heard a version of this question. International Mind Sports Association Secretary General Thomas Hsiang took on this question head-on in his opening remarks, reviewing the rigorous requirements for admission to IMSA. Noting that “there is no doubt that mind sports have a beneficial impact on players, especially children,” Hsiang concluded by saying “with educational benefits for the young and health benefits for the old, promotion of mind sports is a social responsibility.”
PROMOTING WEIQI IN CUBA: Dr. Zhang Wei, Director of the Confucius Institute in Havana, musing on why weiqi is not more widely known throughout the world, theorized that the lack of economic development and constant warfare in western Asia had interfered with cultural exchanges throughout history. He also expressed the hope that weiqi would grow in Cuba throughout the world because it is good for the moral fabric of society since “no bad person plays weiqi.”
THE FUTURE OF MIND SPORTS IN CUBA: Dr. Lazaro Bueno said that notables from Simon Bolivar to Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez have all spoken of the importance of mental competition and chess in particular. Dr. Bueno 2017.05.21_Pitarra-lairdalso unveiled plans for a large Mind Sports Complex to be built soon in Camaguey.
TEACHING CHESS IN PRESCHOOL: Columbus introduced chess to Cuba in 1492, and the subsequent history of chess in Cuba is filled with distinction. The Cuban school system has included chess in its curriculum since 1989, and at present chess is taught in more than 9000 primary schools and over 1000 high schools. Luis Enrique Perez Pena said chess is now being introduced to preschool children. With Cuban children starting at such a young age, the world may see another Capablanca before long.
PITARRA – INDIGENOUS OR UBIQUITOUS? Maria Cristina Quintanar Miranda from the Universidad Queretaro in Mexico gave an intriguing presentation, describing the evolution of Pitarra (right). Played only by indigenous Mexican tribes, she theorized that it had developed as an ancient folk tradition. However, it turns out that “Pitarra” is identical to Nine Men’s Morris, a game dating back to the Roman Empire and still played in Europe. Not only that, another attendee recognized the game from his childhood in Taiwan as “The Watermelon Game,” and it is played in Cuba as “Tres,” named after the central principle of lining up three pips in a row. Ms. Quintanar came to the conference with an interesting finding and left with an even more interesting question.
SPANISH SCRABBLE: A2017.05.21_play at cide conf Spanish version of Scrabble is a big seller in Latin America, and Mexico in particular, where it is so widely played that some Mexicans call it “Lexico.” Javier Guerrero, the head of the International Spanish Scrabble Federation (FISE), said that FISE aspires to IMSA membership, but since IMSA does not admit sports that involve any amount of luck Scrabble advocates have proposed a form of “duplicate Scrabble” in which each player would play against a computer programmed to assure randomization of moves. However, Scrabble faces an even bigger hurdle — IMSA does not admit mind sports that are copyrighted or trademarked.
UNDERSTANDING ASIAN THINKING THROUGH GO: Fernando Aguilar of Argentina is one of the strongest Latino go players and certainly among the best known, having scored upset victories against two Japanese 9Ps in the 2002 Toyota Denso Cup and having played in many international tournaments. Aguilar was not able to attend the conference, but submitted a paper entitled “Go As A Way to Understand Oriental Thinking” in which he identified five sets of contrasting concepts that are spelled out in detail in Sun Tzu’s classic “The Art of War,” noting that their meaning can be more deeply understood through the study of go. The strong player maintains a balance between Attack and Defense; Efficiency and Concentration of Forces; Transparency vs. Deception; Emptiness and Solidity; and “Chi” (potential) vs. “Li” (material gain).

Other speakers held forth on the importance of physical exercise and fitness if one is to play one’s best, the superiority of in-person game play over video and computer game, the social and cultural significance of dominos, and draughts (10×10 checkers) as a metaphor for life. The overarching theme that emerged, and with which participants surely agreed, was well stated by the Scrabble representative: “The family that plays together is a happy family.”

Dr. Laird, former president of the American Go Association, attended the conference, presenting on “Play Go and Grow.”

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AlphaGo watch parties planned across U.S.

Sunday May 21, 2017

American go clubs across the country are making plans to watch the upcoming AlphaGo-Ke Jie match. AGA chapters that hold an AlphaGo viewing party are AlphaGo 2nd gameeligible for $100 of (non-alcohol) expenses from the AGA’s chapter rewards points pool (read more here). Participating chapters thus far include the National Go Center in Washington, DC, Seattle, Austin and Durham. If your chapter is planning a watch party, email details to us at journal@usgo.org

The National Go Center’s watch party starts at 10:30p Monday night and runs until the match ends; pizza will be provided. The Center will be open for play starting at 9p and is located at 4652 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20016. “We’ll also be open for the remaining events,” reports Nate Eagle, including Tuesday starting at 7p and staying open for the Future of Go forum at 9pWednesday starting at 7p and staying open for the game starting at 10:30pThursday starting at 6p and staying open for the Pair Go / Team Play starting at 8:30p, and Friday starting at 7p and staying open for the final game starting at 10:30p. Click here for the up-to-date listings.

The Seattle Go Center reports that it will be open late to watch all five AlphaGo events.  The full Seattle schedule is on their calendar.  “We had over 60 players for the first AlphaGo/Lee Sedol game, and there is a lot of interest in this match between Ke Jie and AlphaGo as well”, reports Manager Brian Allen.

The Austin Go Club will be sponsoring a watch party on Monday evening for the first game of the Alpha Go vs Ke Jie match; check their Facebook page for details. The Triangle Go Group will host an AlphaGo viewing party on Wednesday evening at the EcoLounge at Recyclique, 2811 Hillsborough Rd, in Durham. “We’ll discuss and review the first game and thanks to the AGA, we’ll enjoy pizza as we try to digest the future of go,” says Bob Bacon. “This will be fun!”

The Neo Millennium Go Club will hold an AlphaGo vs Ke Jie watch party between 3pm and 6pm on May 28th in Andover, Massachusetts (497 South Main Street).  Jie Liang, Zhiping You and Ke Lu will be the main commentators.

photo by Brian Allen: Following the 2nd AlphaGo/Lee Sedol game
This story has been updated with the Millennium Go Club party.

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AGA Master Review Series, Game 48: Master [W] vs. Park Junghwan 9p [B]

Sunday May 21, 2017

Michael Redmond 9p & Chris Garlock of the AGA E-Journal provide commentary and analysis of the forty-eighth game of Master (AlphaGo). In 2017.05.21_AGA Master Review Series, Game 48this game, Master plays white against Park Junghwan 9p. “Up to move 24, this game is identical to game 22, in which Master shows a new way for White to invade the Chinese opening,” says Redmond. “Park stayed in the game much longer than most, but finally started to fall behind after White’s invasion at 78 was successful.”

 

[link]

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AlphaGo-Ke Jie match schedule released

Saturday May 20, 2017

DeepMind has released the schedule for the upcoming Future of Go Summit, featuring an updated AlphaGo in several formats, including pair go,2017.05.20_AlphaGo China  DeepMind team go, and a 1:1 match with the world’s number one player Ke Jie.

The action begins Tuesday in China (Monday night in the US), with an opening ceremony at 9p EST and the AlphaGo-Ke Jie match starting at 10:30p EST. The Future of A.I. Forum will take place on Wednesday, the second AlphaGo-Ke Jie on Thursday, pair and team go on Friday, and the third AlphaGo-Ke Jie match on Saturday. (use this Time Zone Converter to determine local dates/times)

DeepMind will be streaming the matches live, posting match updates and expert commentaries every day on this page and on their Twitter account, @DeepMindAI. For more details, you can visit the official event page here.

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AGA Master Review Series, Game 47: Master [B] vs. Tan Xiao 7p [W]

Saturday May 20, 2017

Michael Redmond 9p & Chris Garlock of the AGA E-Journal provide commentary and analysis of the forty-seventh game of Master (AlphaGo). In 2017.05.20_AGA Master Review Series, Game 47this game, Master plays black against Tan Xiao 7p.

“Tan Xiao was rated the top Chinese player in 2011, and has been a point getter for China in the Nongshim Cup,” says Redmond. “I am choosing this game to display Master’s peep to the 5-5 point, another move that was considered to be a bad exchange before Master played it.”

[link]

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Problem of the Week

Variant on Last Week

White to play