American Go E-Journal

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

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.

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!

WAGC postponed until 2021

Saturday March 28, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Go Federation has postponed the 41st annual World Amateur Go Championship – originally scheduled to be held in June in Vladisvostok, Russia – until the summer of 2021. “We kindly ask you to understand this critical decision and hope to meet with players from all over the world in Vladivostok in 2021,” said Russian Go Federation Vice President Natalia Kovaleva in an announcement. The pandemic, still growing rapidly around the world with near 600,000 confirmed cases and 27,000 deaths, has brought a near complete halt to most face-to-face activity in the world of mind games. Tournaments scheduled for spring and early summer in Chess, Bridge, Draughts, and Go have been postponed or cancelled outright in many countries. The AGA has urged its chapters not to hold meetings or tournaments for the time being, and while the US Go Congress is still being prepared for August in Estes Park, CO, AGA and Congress staff are monitoring the situation and will issue an update in April. Organizers of the European Go Congress 2020, set for Kamyanets-Podilski, in the Ukraine, have put their preparations on hold. “A decision will be made by mid-May whether EGC will be postponed or held as planned,” according to the EGC website.

-report by AGA President Andrew Okun

Corona Cup 2020 brings over 350 players across Europe together on KGS

Friday March 27, 2020

“On Thursday 12th March I was working in the garden for many hours and I knew my country was going to be in a quarantine soon,” says tournament founder and organizer Lukas Podpera, setting the scene for the tournament’s inception. “Many live tournaments had already been cancelled, therefore I started to think about ideas, what could I do for the Go community. And one of the ideas was to run an online tournament, originally planned only for Czechia, maybe Central Europe.” Originally hoping to gather about 100 participants, news of the tournament spread through international Facebook groups, prompting Podpera to send invitations to all EGF associations. “Corona Cup is an online tournament in the times of coronavirus crisis, when tournaments are cancelled around Europe and most of the Go clubs are not meeting. I’m trying to make it look as much as a live tournament as possible.”

Podpera and his team are using Google Docs to post pairings and disseminate information. The tournament will be a total of six rounds over the next three months, with paired players given a week to meet on their own time to play in the Corona Cup 2020 room on KGS and report results. The tournament is sponsored by Jena International Go School and supported by the Czech association who will also publish registration and results. Over 350 players have registered so far, including three professionals. “You can see that many European top players are participating,” says Podpera, “but I hope I can get a good result myself even in this kind of competition!”

How AI study helped improve my go

Wednesday March 25, 2020

by Benjamin Teuber 6d (Germany)

For many years, I was considered the “eternal second” of the German championship. I finished as runner-up nine times – while never winning the title. No matter how well I did, I always managed to lose the decisive game.

Until November of last year, when, to my own and everyone else’s big surprise, I finally became German Champion with a perfect 7-0 record. After the tournament, I got a lot of comments like “you clearly improved” or “you must have studied a lot” from people. But, to be honest, I didn’t prepare much for this tournament. I did no go problems at all, I didn’t play many tournaments, I didn’t take any pro lessons. Please don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend these measures and have used them a lot in the past; that’s how I became 6 Dan, after all. They just can’t be responsible for my recent improvement.

What I have been doing though, was creating my own go study website, ai-sensei.com. It allows you to upload your games and quickly get them analyzed by very strong AI. I believe the key feature of this tool is the focus on big mistakes; that way you can work on your biggest weaknesses instead of getting lost in minor details. So while I didn’t spend as much time studying as I had previously, I did use AI Sensei to review every one of my games and find my biggest mistakes. I would also check an old game every now and then to review my past mistakes. Looking back, I believe this was a very efficient way to spend the limited time I had to study, and it might well be the biggest factor of my recent improvements.

So here’s my advice to anyone using go AI to study:
Focus on your biggest mistakes in each game
Don’t waste time exploring all the variations
Think about the AI recommendations in terms of shape, direction, and strength of groups
Revisit your past mistakes

I invite you to try out AI Sensei yourself; it can be used for free. But whatever tool or AI you are using, I think you’ll find these recommendations useful.

NY Institute of Go launches new “Epic Battle” series on YouTube

Wednesday March 25, 2020

NYIG_Go, the YouTube channel of the New York Institute of Go and the New York Go Association, launched a brand-new series, ‘Epic Battle,’ earlier this week on March 22. This series, produced, directed, and edited by Allen Moy, features professional 1-dan players Stephanie Yin and Ryan Li facing off one another while proving viewers with both players’ perspectives and commentaries; similar to the successful New Year’s special video. Following each game, Stephanie and Ryan will give their reviews of the entire match and their strategies, as well as adding some entertainment and chemistry to the video. Videos are expected to be posted on Mondays and Fridays.

How we’re coping: WMGC & SiliValley

Monday March 23, 2020

“The WMGC (Western MA Go Club) held it’s usual Thursday night meeting via Zoom last week,” reports Trevor Morris. “Ten of us showed up on-line. At times, it was a bit chaotic, with three different conversations going on simultaneously! Several of us used OGS for the first time. I signed up as a supporter there; I really like the AI analysis.” The club is hoping for an even bigger turn-out this Thursday. “Perhaps some out-of-town friends would like to join us?” Trevor wonders. “I’m hoping that Zoom’s breakout rooms with cut down on the chaos.” Reach him at gotrevor@gmail.com

“The SiliValley Go Group is, of course not meeting,” says David Doshay. “I am playing correspondence go both via OGS and email, sending coordinates back and forth. I am trying to help some of our folks who are not computer savvy to get set up on OGS, and last night I was setting up Zoom sessions so that I can continue teaching the child of a friend how to play. We will try the first lesson tonight. I am not playing any games in real time via go servers. Other than that we are well stocked with food and are watching streaming content, avoiding zombie-pandemic movies.”

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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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 37: Into thin air

Sunday March 22, 2020

In this game, “the attacking side suddenly abandons the attack and sacrifices some stones,” says Michael Redmond 9P in his latest AlphaGo game commentary with Chris Garlock. “The attack sort of disappears into thin air.” At the same time, the defending side is trying to sacrifice some stones as well, “so it’s a very unusual fight,” Redmond says, “it wouldn’t happen among human players, I don’t think.” Oh, “And the endgame gets a bit exciting, too.”

The commentary originally streamed live on the AGA’s Twitch channel; follow it to get notified of upcoming live streams.

[link]

How’re you coping with the crisis?

Sunday March 22, 2020

Playing more online go? Studying more? Producing online go content? We’d like to hear about how go players around the world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Email us today at journal@usgo.org. We’ll share the best tips and ideas with your fellow go players!

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