Welcome to the American Go Association

Redmond returns!

Friday June 25, 2021

After a 7-month hiatus, Michael Redmond 9P returns with a new live AlphaGo game commentary this Sunday, June 27 at 7p ET on the AGA’s Twitch channel. E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock will host as Redmond reviews Game 50 in the AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo series. “The pandemic gave us both an opportunity to generate a lot of commentaries earlier in 2020,” says Garlock, “but later on we both got busy with other projects, Michael with his Go TV channel and me with the Labor Radio Podcast Network I’ve been building.” Adding that the plan is to resume a regular schedule of broadcasts – “though probably not weekly” – Garlock said that both Redmond and he are excited to complete the AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo series and that Redmond also has some other interesting game reviews planned. “Tune in Sunday to find out more!” Garlock promised.

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50 Years aGO – June 1971

Friday June 25, 2021

by Keith L. Arnold, hka, with Patrick Bannister

Ishida Yoshio, the youngest ever Hon'inbo in June 1971
Ishida Yoshio

This was Ishida Yoshio’s month, by the end the 22-year-old would hold three titles, youthful success in newspaper tournaments unprecedented before that time.

On June 10-11, in Game 5, he scored an upset victory over Rin Kaihō Hon’inbo to take a 3-2 lead in the title match. Then on June 21-22, in Game 6, he navigated a complicated ōnadare joseki — to become very much in vogue — to lead to the famous exchange: Rin – “Half a point?” “Half a point to the good” replied Ishida and he was Hon’inbo. The counting, under the watchful eye of Sakata Eio, is pictured here. (Game records: Hon’inbo Game 5, Game 6.)

Ishida added the Pro Best 10 to his Hon’inbo and Nihon Ki’in Championship, but it was not without difficulties. Carrying a 2-0 lead in the five game match into the month he stumbled, perhaps under the pressure of the concurrent Hon’inbo match. On June 6, Ishida, known as “The Computer” for his calculating skills, had an AlphaGo Game 4 moment when he retook a ko without a threat – the first time this had happened in a tournament final – and lost by forfeit. He then was defeated by Kajiwara Takeo in Game 4, setting up a decisive Game 5. On June 29, with the Hon’inbo title secured, he returned to form and secured the title. Watching the smiling Ishida is a constellation of pros, including white haired taisha expert Yamabe Toshirō, Awaji Shuzō, Takemiya Masaki and Ishida Akira. Standing on the left is a gentleman who I think might be a pro who regularly attends the European Go Congress – his name escapes me, perhaps a reader can help. (Game records: Pro Best Ten Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.)

On June 21, Murakami Bunshō won the Amateur Best 10 for the fourth time in the event’s 11 year history.

Scoring Game 6 of the Hon'inbo title match - Ishida wins by a half point
Ishida wins the Hon’inbo by a half point
Ishida wins the Pro Top Ten
Ishida wins the Pro Top Ten
Murakami Bunshō wins the Amateur Best Ten Tournament
Murakami Bunshō wins the Amateur Best Ten Tournament

Photos courtesy of Igo Club.

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Are you coming to the US e-Go Congress?

Thursday June 24, 2021

Join the 131 currently players and sign up for the 2021 US e-Go Congress. Taking Place from July 17-25, the e-Go Congress will take place on OGS, KGS, and Pandanet go servers. Play against players from at least seven countries during the biggest go event of the year! “We have been working hard to update the website with the most up-to-date information on this years congress,” reports congress director Steve Colburn. “We’ve partnered with Baduk.Club to use their tournament management system to help our players throughout the rounds. This will help the players to find their opponents and start their games through out the week as easy as possible. We’ll have a video posted to the website ahead of the events to help players prepare.”

Organizers are reporting that there will be a discord server setup to connect with all of your go playing friends between rounds. “We miss seeing friends at the Go Congresses and hope to see many of them through the week on the social channels!”

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International professional go scene getting more interesting

Monday June 21, 2021

by Yuan Zhou

International professional go play is becoming more interesting with the recent addition of pro players in the United States, as well as in Europe. Non-Asian players have been included in some international tournaments by invitation in recent years, but it is very unusual for one of them to survive the first round of the final competition. There are a large number of international events nowadays, and the title winner can receive as much as the equivalent of $400,000 US. Most of the well-known events are open to anyone who can survive the competition in their own countries to gain a place in the international event, although some are restricted to female players and others are a competition between the winners of similar titles in other countries. In some cases even amateurs can gain admission.

The most striking thing about the current international scene has been the dominance of Chinese pros in recent international events. Only one international title is now held by Japan: Cho U 9p of Japan won the playoff between the holders of the Agon Cup from China and Japan. Recently most of the top titles were held by Chinese players, although currently the Koreans are making a comeback. The Chinese player Ke Jie 9p holds eight international titles, more than any other active player, and is widely considered the strongest active player in the world. However, Shin Jinseo 9p of South Korea has won nine games in international tournaments this year, which is more than any other player. The Korean team of five won the Nongshim (Spicy Noodles) international event in February of this year. This win-and-continue event between five player teams is one of the oldest competitions and very popular among fans. Occasionally a single player will manage to wipe out most of another country’s team. This year, Shin Jinseo 9p of Korea won the last five games in the contest, defeating two Japanese and three Chinese players, including Ke Jie of China in the last game.

One of the oldest top tournaments is the LG Cup, now in its 26th year. The second round was held on June 1st, leaving eight players in the contest. Three are from China, including Ke Jie, Mi Yuting 9p, and Yang Dingxin 9p. Four are from Korea, including Park Junghwan 9p, who has been ranked as number one in the world in recent years, Shin Jinseo 9p, Shin Minjun 9p, and Byun Sangil 9p. The one remaining player from Japan is Ichiriki Ryo 9p, who currently holds five titles in Japan, including two of the top five. All of these names will become familiar as we continue to follow the current international pro scene. The LG Cup will conclude with a three game finals match early next year. Last time’s winner of the title was Shin Minjun of Korea, who is in his early twenties, as are most of the current top pros.

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National Go Center Reopens, INAF Grant Renewed

Sunday June 20, 2021

“Face-to-face Go is returning to the Washington DC area,” reports NGC Executive Director Gurujeet Khalsa. “Our NOVA Go satellite met Monday night in Arlington, VA and Wednesday night play resumed at the NGC in DC.” Play at both sites will continue weekly with details available at the NGC website

“It was great to see smiling faces and friends old and new playing their favorite game,” says Khalsa. “We were very happy to welcome back Eli Ferster (below on the left, Larry Kaufman on the right) who recently returned to DC after 2 ½ years in Japan teaching English.”

Gary Smith reported from NOVA Go that despite a first night glitch getting the church unlocked where they play, an intrepid crew stayed and played outside (below). “We expect to be smoothly running inside the next week” says Smith. With continued good progress against Covid in the area an expanded schedule of activities will be announced in the coming weeks. Watch for the return of Pair Go/Paella night with Chris Garlock’s famous paella. Both sites are requiring vaccinations for adults for the time being and will be following local guidance on relaxing restrictions. Masks are required at NOVA Go inside the church there.

“We had another piece of great news recently,” reports Khalsa. “Our grant from the Iwamoto North America Foundation (INAF) was renewed for another 5 years. We are very grateful to INAF for their continued confidence in us and are excited about getting back out in the community and teaching Go as things open back up.”

-report and photos by Gurjeet Khalsa

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