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Go Spotting: New York Times obituary for Nobel prize winner Phillip Anderson

Thursday April 2, 2020

The obituary for Philip Anderson, a Nobel prize winning physicist, appeared in the New York Times March after his death on Sunday at the age of 96, report E-Journal readers Dan Kastenholz and Larry Russ. Anderson was a professor at Princeton University and consultant at Bell Labs in New Jersey, which had an active Go scene in the 60s and 70s. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1977, and his obituary – authored by Scott Veale – ends with a mention of his being a “first degree master of the Japanese board game Go.” An anecdote describes a conversation Anderson had with economist W. Brian Arthur in the 1990s: “‘Well, I play a bit of Go,’ he said,” Professor Arthur recalled. “I pressed him. ‘Are you any good at it, Phil?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘How good?’ ‘Well, there are four people in Japan who can beat me.’ Then a long silence. ‘But they meditate,’ he added.”

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Go Spotting: Devs

Tuesday March 31, 2020

Carol Geary reports that in the latest episode – Episode 5 – of Devs, a drama miniseries available on Hulu, one of the main characters flashes back to her childhood playing Go with her father. The series stars Sonoya Mizuno as Lily, the character in the flashback, and Nick Offerman as her employer at a tech company called Amaya with a mysterious quantum computing division called Devs.

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Players use Zoom to give online Go an in-person feel

Sunday March 29, 2020

For many players, online play can lack a sense of ownership and connection, but a group of east coast players led by Haskell Small (right) is testing the limits of Zoom’s ability to bring groups together by making online play feel as ‘in-person’ as possible. By creatively positioning computer cameras, players were able to play on real boards with real stones in the first of a recurring Friday night ‘REAL Go’ club.

The camera feed was not a perfect solution for board sharing; “The board is distorted near the ends and we couldn’t see each others’ faces without leaning over, “admits Small, “but except for a few moves near the edges that needed to be clarified, this arrangement sufficed for being able to play the game without needing to relay moves aurally.” 

“We limited it this time to only 4 players at a time,” says Small. “More than this might be difficult to manage, but I think doable by selecting individual participants’ video and muting others.” Here are a few tips from Haskell Small to simplify this approach:

  • Look only at your opponent’s screen and your own physical board without looking at your own camera screen; the orientation will be the same and it will be easier to keep the game flowing.
  • Use Zoom’s ‘gallery view’ to see all the boards through each camera view, and make any one of them larger.
  • A problem came up a few times when one of us neglected to keep up with our opponent’s moves on our physical board – this was easily cleared up once discovered. 

Small encourages other clubs who enjoy the tactile experience of playing with real equipment to attempt this approach and share feedback. “Of course this is still not as good as playing in person,” admits Small, “but for those of us who find playing online impersonal and prefer playing on a physical board, this was great! The games flowed easily and conversation was fluent, and perhaps that is the main advantage of this paradigm – we didn’t have to sacrifice the party atmosphere of a club environment.  I had a blast (and won both of my games)!”

-photo by Betsy Small

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Redmond on AlphaGo Game 39 Sunday night on Twitch

Saturday March 28, 2020

Tune in to the AGA’s Twitch channel Sunday night at 7p EDT to catch Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock with their latest live game commentary on the AlphaGo vs AlphaGo series. “Michael Redmond always makes sense no matter how hard he tries to deal with the impossible and I love him for that,” says Thumper. Tune in at 7p EDT on Sunday, March 29; viewers will be able to ask Redmond and Garlock questions during the live commentary.

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How we’re coping: the Walla Walla Go Club makes connections

Saturday March 28, 2020

“We have used this pandemic as an opportunity to make connections between our Go club and other regional clubs,” reports Stephan Tanner of the Walla Walla Go Club. “Last week, in place of our usual in-person gatherings, the Walla Walla Go Club of Walla Walla, Washington and the Grande Ronde Go Club of La Grande, Oregon met online for a ‘Social Isolation Swiss’ tournament on OGS. Next week we plan to do the same and invite the Idaho Go Club of Boise, Idaho to join us as well.”

“I’d encourage other clubs to see this as an opportunity!” Tanner continues. “Contact another club in your area or in the next state over and arrange to meet online. Use this as a way to strengthen the connections in regional Go communities.”

How are you coping with the COVID-19 pandemic? Playing more online go? Studying more? Producing online go content? We’d especially like to hear if you’re streaming on Twitch or posting videos to YouTube. Email us today at journal@usgo.org. We’ll share the best tips and ideas with your fellow go players!

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Problem of the Week

Connection Theme

Black to play