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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #12

Wednesday November 28, 2018

By Bill Cobb2018.11.26_empty-go-board-with-bowls-and-stones-bw-inverted

As in life, there is a color issue in go that has an impact on most players’ experience. The fact that Black plays first has an obvious effect. Most players, at least in the early years of playing, find it more comfortable to be Black in a game. It provides a certain comfort to feel like you are in control of the game for at least the first few moves. This preference is particularly evident in handicap games, especially high handicap games where the player with the black stones starts with an enormous advantage but feels like the white stones are invincible. No matter how isolated or surrounded by black stones, a white stone just seems inherently strong and dangerous. “The white stones never die” is a saying familiar to weaker players. I’m not sure that this ever goes away completely, though players who are especially successful with Black may feel differently. The fact that AlphaGo won slightly more often with White than with Black when playing itself makes many feel that part of the problem is that the komi has gotten to be too large. At any rate, this is not a real problem in enjoying the game, but it would be nice if we could at least sometimes in life try a policy of Black goes first.

photo by Phil Straus; photo art by Chris Garlock

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The Power Report (2 of 2: Iyama takes lead in Oza and Tengen; Fujita wins Young Carp; Youngest players & one veteran share lead in Honinbo League; Xie picks up first win in Women’s Honinbo; Ida defends Crown

Monday November 26, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama takes lead in Oza and Tengen: This report is a contrast to my reports of November 2 and 3, which told of losses by Iyama in three different titles. His Meijin title is now gone, reducing him to “just” five top-seven titles, but he has turned the tide in the Oza title match, in which the challenger, Ichiriki Ryo 8P, won the first game. The second and third games were held in quick succession at the same venue, a relatively rare practice but seen occasionally in recent years because of Iyama’s tight schedule. The games were played at the Shima Kanko Hotel (“Kanko” means “sightseeing,” but the hotel doesn’t translate the word in its English name) in Shima City, Mie Prefecture, on November 17 and 19. In the second game, Iyama, taking white, secured a resignation after 196 moves, so he evened in the score. This ended a losing streak of four games for him. In the third game, Iyama, playing black, forced a resignation after 175 moves. Ichiriki will face a kadoban in the fourth game, scheduled for November 30. The third game of the 44th Tengen title match was held at the Yutoku Imari Shrine in Kashima City, Saga 2018.11.25_Fujita CarpPrefecture, on November 23. Taking white, Iyama forced the challenger Yamashita Keigo 9P to resign after 140 wins, so he now leads 2-1. The fourth game will be played on December 10.

Fujita wins Young Carp:  The main section of the 13th Hiroshima Aluminum Cup Young Carp Tournament was held at the Central Japan Newspaper Building in Hiroshima on November 17 and 18. Sixteen players took part in a knock-out tournament. In the final, Fujita Akihiko 6P (aged 27, at right) (B) beat Koike Yoshihiro 3P (aged 20) by resignation. These two are both disciples of Takabayashi Takuji 6P. Third place was shared by Fujisawa Rina 4P and Adachi Toshimasa 5P. Shibano Toramaru 7P was probably the favorite, but he lost to Koike in the quarterfinals. This tournament is open to professionals 30 and under and 7-dan and under. The time allowance is 30 seconds per move plus ten minutes’ thinking time to be used in one-minute units. First prize is three million yen (about $26,600).

Youngest players & one veteran share lead in Honinbo League: In my previous report, I mentioned that Shibano Toramaru, who just turned 19 on November 9, and Ichiriki Ryo (aged 21) shared the lead in the 74th Honinbo League, on 2-0. They were joined by the 23-year-old Yo Seiki, so the three youngest players in the league shared the lead at this point. Yo improved his score to 2-0 on November 15, when, taking black, he beat Ko Iso 8P by resignation. The final game of the second round was played on November 22. Hane Naoki 2018.11.25_honinbo-League9P (W) beat Kono Rin 9P by 2.5 points, so the veteran player (aged 42) joins the above three young players in the lead. Four players are on 2-0 and four on 0-2, so fortunes have been cleanly divided so far. That will change in the third round in December, when Yo will play Ichiriki and Hane will play Shibano.

Xie picks up first win in Women’s Honinbo: The third game of the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match was played at the Honinbo Shusaku Memorial Hall on In-no-shima Island, which is part of the mainland city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, on November 24. Taking white, Xie won by resignation after 284 moves. Fujisawa Rina won the first two games, but Xie has survived her first kadoban. The fourth game will be played on December 5.

Ida defends Crown: The Crown title is a tournament limited to the 40 members of the Central Japan branch of the Nihon Ki-in in Nagoya. In the final, Nakano Hironari 9P challenged the title-holder Ida Atsushi 8P. Playing white, Ida won by 2.5 points. He has now held this title three years in a row.

Promotions
To 3-dan: Bian Wenkai (40 wins, as of Nov. 16). Bian, who was born in China, is a member of the Central Japan (Nagoya) branch of the Nihon Ki-in. He became a professional in 2013 at the age of 20.
To 5-dan: Takekiyo Isamu (70 wins, as of Nov. 23). Born in 1979, Takekiyo became a professional in 2001.
To 9-dan: Takanashi Seiken (200 wins, as of Nov. 23). Takanashi was promoted to 8-dan in 2002, so it has taken him 16 years to accumulate the wins required to make 9-dan. He is the 78th (active) 9-dan at the Nihon Ki-in (there are 31 at the Kansai Ki-in).

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The Power Report (1 of 2): Samsung Cup: Ke v. Ahn, China v. Korea; Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger, sets record; Fujisawa extends lead in Women’s Honinbo challenge; New faces in Meijin League

Monday November 26, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Samsung Cup: Ke v. Ahn, China v. Korea: The best-of-three semifinals for the 23rd Samsung Cup were held at a Samsung Research Center in Taeon City, Korea.
Results were as follows:
(Game 1, Nov. 5) Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Xie Erhao 9P (China) by resig.; Ahn Kukhyun 8P (Korea) (W) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.
(Game 2, Nov. 6) Xie (W) beat Ke by 1.5 points; Ahn (B) beat Tang by resig.
(Game 3, Nov. 7) Ke (W) beat Xie by resig.
Ke and Ahn will meet in the best-of-three final on December 3, 4 and 5. Ke will be vying for his sixth international title; Ahn will be making his debut in an international final.

Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger, sets record: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 43rd Kisei title was Kisei chall L Yamashita R Konoheld at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 9. It featured Yamashita Keigo 9P (left), winner of the S League, and Kono Rin 9P (right), who was second in the S League but who earned his seat in the play-off by defeating Onishi Ryuhei 3P in the final knockout tournament. Taking white, Yamashita beat Kono by resignation. Although the final is called a “best-of-three,” this was enough for Yamashita to win it, as the S League winner starts with a one-game advantage. Unusually for a big game, this also marked a landmark in Yamashita’s career: his 1,000th win. He is the 24th player in Japan to reach this mark and, at 25 years seven months, the fastest. He broke the record set by Yuki Satoshi 9P of the Kansai Ki-in of 27 years one month. The title match with Iyama Yuta will start on January 10. The Kisei will be a familiar arena for Yamashita, as he held the title for one term in 2003 (the 27th Kisei) and for four years in a row from 2006 to 2009 (30th to 33rd). He also made three unsuccessful challenges in a row to Iyama Yuta: he lost the 38th to 40th title matches (2014 to 2016) 2-4, 3-4, and 0-4 in sequence. This may be a good time to challenge Iyama, as he seems a little vulnerable recently. First, though, Yamashita has to try to win the Tengen title match between the two that at this point was tied 1-1. Victory in this match would give him a good springboard for the New Year.

Fujisawa extends lead in Women’s Honinbo challenge: The second game of the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match was held at the headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 9. Playing white, Fujisawa Rina forced the title-holder Xie 2018.11.25_MutsuuraYimin to resign after 212 moves. Fujisawa also won the first game, so she needs just one more win to take the title. The third game will be held on November 24.

New faces in Meijin League: The final play-offs for the three vacant seats in the 44th Meijin League 2018.11.25_Sonwere all held on November 8 but at three different locations. At the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, Mutsuura Yuta 7P (W, right) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. At the Nagoya branch, Suzuki Shinji 7P (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 7P by half a point. At the Kansai Ki-in, Son Makoto 6P (B, left) beat Fujii Shuya 7P (a member of the Kansai Ki-in) by resig. All three players will be making their league debuts. Son also earned a promotion to 7-dan, dated as of the following day. Matsuura’s win was his eighth and Son’s his seventh in ongoing streaks.

Tmw: Iyama takes lead in Oza and Tengen; Fujita wins Young Carp; Youngest players & one veteran share lead in Honinbo League; Xie picks up first win in Women’s Honinbo; Ida defends Crown  

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 24: More human?

Saturday November 17, 2018

“It could be that the way humans play go is changing, but in this game AlphaGo plays a lot of moves that human players are2018.11.16 AG24 playing these days,” says Michael Redmond 9P in the latest installment of his game commentaries with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. “There’s a lot of fighting, as usual, but the territory is balanced and right up into the endgame there are groups whose life and death status is ambiguous,” Redmond says. “That affects the way the endgame is played, which makes it really interesting.”

Thanks to NGC Executive Director Gurujeet Khalsa for technical support, Jeff Fitzgerald for camera, lighting and sound; produced by Nathan Epstein and Michael Wanek.

[link]

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The Power Report: Samsung Cup update; Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger, sets record; Fujisawa extends lead in Women’s Honinbo challenge; New Faces in Meijin League

Wednesday November 14, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Samsung Cup: Ke v. Ahn, China v. Korea: 
The best-of-three semifinals for the 23rd Samsung Cup were held at a Samsung Research Center in Taejeon City, Korea. Results were as follows:
(Game 1, Nov. 5) Ke Jie 9P (China) (W) beat Xie Erhao 9P (China) by resig.; Ahn Kukhyun 8P (Korea) (W) beat Tang Weixing 9P (China) by resig.
(Game 2, Nov. 6) Xie (W) beat Ke by 1.5 points; Ahn (B) beat Tang by resig.
(Game 3, Nov. 7) Ke (W) beat Xie by resig.
Ke and Ahn will meet in the best-of-three final on December, 3, 4 and 5. Ke will be vying for his sixth international title; Ahn will be making his debut in an international final.

Yamashita becomes Kisei challenger, sets record: The play-off to decide the challenger for the 43rd Kisei title was 2018.11.14_kisei43 Yamashita L Kono Rheld at the Tokyo headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 9. It featured Yamashita Keigo 9P (left), winner of the S League, and Kono Rin 9P, who was second in the S League but who earned his seat in the play-off by defeating Onishi Ryuhei 3P in the final knockout tournament. Taking white, Yamashita beat Kono by resignation. Although the final is called a “best-of-three,” this was enough for Yamashita to win it, as the S League winner starts with a one-game advantage. Unusually for a big game, this also marked a landmark in Yamashita’s career: his 1,000thwin. He was the 24thplayer in Japan to reach this mark and, at 25 years seven months, the fastest. He broke the record set by Yuki Satoshi 9P of the Kansai Ki-in of 27 years one month.

The title match with Iyama Yuta will start on January 10. The Kisei will be a familiar arena for Yamashita, as he held the title for one term in 2003 (the 27thKisei) and for four years in a row from 2006 to 2009 (30thto 33rd). He also made three unsuccessful challenges in a row to Iyama Yuta: he lost the 38thto 40thtitle matches (2014 to 2016) 2-4, 3-4, and 0-4 in sequence. This may be a good time to challenge Iyama, as he seems a little vulnerable recently. First, though, Yamashita has to try to win the Tengen title match between the two that is now tied 1-1. A win here would give him a good springboard for the new year.

Fujisawa extends lead in Women’s Honinbo challenge: The second game of the 37th Women’s Honinbo title match2018.11.14_37fhon2 Fujisawa L Xie R was held at the headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in on November 9. Playing white, Fujisawa Rina (left) forced the title-holder Xie Yimin to resign after 212 moves. Fujisawa also won the first game, so she needs just one more win to take the title. The third game will be held on November 24.

New Faces in Meijin League: The final play-offs for the three vacant seats in the 44thMeijin League were all held on November 8 but at three different locations. At the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo, Mutsuura Yuta 7P (W) beat Ko Iso 8P by resig. At the Nagoya branch, Suzuki Shinji 7P (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 7P by half a point. At the Kansai Ki-in, Son Makoto 6P (B) beat Fujii Shuya 7P (a member of the Kansai Ki-in) by resig. All three players will be making their league debuts. Son also earned a promotion to 7-dan, dated as of the following day. Matsuura’s win was his eighth and Son’s his seventh in ongoing streaks.

Promotion: To 4-dan: Mannami Nao (50 wins, as of Nov. 9)

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The Power Report: Cho U wins Meijin title; Young players share lead in Honinbo League; Choi Jeong wins Bingsheng Cup

Wednesday November 7, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Cho U wins Meijin title: 
This year’s Meijin title match not only when the full distance, but was also decided late in the second day of a two-day game. The challenger Cho U won back a title that he had lost to Iyama Yuta ten years ago. The seventh game of the 43rd title match was held at the Imai Inn in the town of Kawazu in Shizuoka Prefecture on November 1 and 2. Since it was the seventh game, the nigiri was held again and Iyama Yuta Meijin drew black. From the outset, Iyama went for territory, so naturally Cho built thickness. With three very bold moves from 60 to 64, Cho sketched out a large center moyo. The major part of the game consisted of the fight started when Black tried to cut back the potential of the moyo. After2018.11.07_Meijin Cho wins Black lived with his invading group, the position seemed a little favorable for Black, and the players following the game in the pressroom thought that Iyama might have defended his title, though the game was very close. However, Iyama made a mistake in the endgame with move 167, letting White set up a ko that Black didn’t have enough ko threats to win. This decided the game, with White winning by 4.5 points.

At his peak in the late 2000s, Cho dominated the go scene in Japan, becoming the first player to win five of the top-seven titles in 2009 (they were the Meijin, Tengen, Oza, Gosei, and Judan). In 2010, he also became the second player after Cho Chikun to complete a cumulative grand slam. However, his last top-seven titles were the Kisei and Judan in 2012; thereafter, he was eclipsed by the reign of Iyama. He has now made a comeback at the age of 38. The Meijin prize is 31 million yen (about $282,000) (reduced from 33 million last year and, if my memory is correct, from 35 million earlier). This is his fifth Meijin title and his 40thtitle overall. Iyama has been reduced to a quintuple crown for the first time since November 2015.

In an interview after the game, Iyama was asked what Cho U’s strong points were and replied: “His speedy judgment and precision; his decisiveness.” As mentioned in a previous report, Cho has a policy of playing quickly in the opening and middle game to make sure he doesn’t get into time trouble. At the end of this game, Iyama was down to his third-last minute of byo-yomi, while Cho still had 59 minutes. Asked about scene in which this game was decided, Iyama said: “Since several moves earlier [before 167], I didn’t know what to play or what the territorial balance was. I knew that the ko was not good, but my hand played that way. Recently there have been few games that I have played properly from beginning to end. Looking back over the whole series, I couldn’t win games I should have won and I couldn’t play tenaciously. I would like to have some time off to refresh myself.” Cho: “In one way, thinking about having taken a title makes me a burden. I haven’t been able to win international games; I can’t go on like that. I would like to say to the younger playe2018.11.07_honinbo-chartrs that if I can do this, they should be able to try harder.”

Young players share lead in Honinbo League:  The first two games in the second round of the 74th Honinbo League were played on November 1. Ichiriki Ryo 8P (W) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by resig. and Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat Anzai Nobuaki 7P, also by resig. On 2-0, they are the front-runners, though it may be a little early to be talking about the lead. They play each other in the fourth round in January.

Choi Jeong wins Bingsheng Cup: In full, this tournament is called the Qionglong Mountain Bingsheng Cup World2018.11.07_Bingsheng all participants Women’s Go Tournament. This year it was held for the ninth time. As the sponsoring country, China had six players to three each for Korea and Japan, but the Koreans dominated the tournament. Judging by recent results, the Koreans, led by Choi Jeong, seem to be the strongest women players in the world. First prize is 300,000 yuan (about $43,000) and the time allowance is two hours per player, with the last five minutes going to one-minute byo-yomi. Komi is 7.5. Below are full results. Incidentally, in this tournament the key to winning seemed to be drawing black: white won only three out of 15 games.
Round 1 (Oct. 31). Zhou Hongyu 4P (China) (W) beat Fujisawa Rina 4P (Japan) by resig.; Oh Jeongah 3P (Korea) (B) beat 2018.11.07_Bingsheng right Xie winsUeno Asami 2P (Japan) by resig.; Lu Minquan 5P (China) (B) beat Stephanie Yin 1P (US) by resig.; Hei Jiajia 7P (Oceania, also known as Joanne Missingham) (B) beat Natalia Kovaleva 6D (Russia) by 21.5 points; Oh Yujin 6P (Korea) (B) beat Wang Chenxing 5P (China) by resig.; Yang Zixuan 2P (Chinese Taipei) (W) beat Gao Xing 4P (China) by resig.; Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) (B) beat Yu Zhiying 6P (China) by resig.; Xie Yimin 6P (Japan, right) (B) beat Li He 5P (China) by resig.
Quarterfinals (Nov. 1). Oh Yujin (W) beat Lu by resig.; Choi (B) beat Zhou by resig.; Hei (B) beat Xie by 1.5 points; Oh Jeongah (B) beat Yang by resig.
(Semifinals, Nov. 2). Choi (B) beat Hei by resig.; Oh Yujin (B) beat Oh by resig.
(Final, Nov. 2). Choi (B) beat Oh by resig.

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The Power Report (2): Honinbo League; Korea wins International Gratitude Cup; Kono reaches Kisei play-off; Ichiriki makes good start in Oza

Saturday November 3, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Honinbo League: The third game in the new Honinbo League was played on October 18. Taking black, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Ko Iso 8P by resignation. The opening round was completed on October 25 when Shibano Toramaru 7P (B) beat 2018.11.02_74th Honinbo Round 1Kono Rin 9P by 2.5 points. The league chart was given in my previous report (October 21).

Korea wins International Gratitude Cup: The Gratitude Cup is an unofficial tournament for junior players in Japan that was founded nine years ago. Five years ago, it added an international component, pitting five-player teams (including two women players) from China, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Japan against each other. First, a three-round tournament is held; the top two teams go to the final and the bottom two to a play-off for third place. The 5thGratitude Cup International Young Stars Tournament, to give it its full name, was held in Ise City on October 14 and 15. In the first section, China scored three wins, beating Chinese Taipei 4-1, Korea 3-2, and Japan 4-1. Korea won two matches, beating Japan 4-1 and Chinese Taipei 5-0. Japan beat Chinese Taipei 3-2. In the final, Korea turned the tables, beating China 4-1; Japan beat Chinese Taipei 3-2 to take third place. For Japan, Ichiriki had the best results, scoring 3-1. First prize is 4,500,000 yen (about $41,000).

Kono reaches Kisei play-off: The third game in the irregular knock-out to decide the challenger for the 43rd Kisei title was held at the Nihon Ki-in on October 22. There was probably a lot of fan support for the 18-year-old winner of the C League, Onishi Ryuhei 3P, who had beaten the winners of the B and A Leagues. Three more wins and Onishi would be the challenger, but Kono Rin 9P, who came second in the S League, stood in his way. The game was very close, but Kono (W) was too wily for his opponent, eking out a win by half a point.

Ichiriki makes good start in Oza: The first game of the 66th Oza title match was held at the Hotel Gajoen Tokyo in Meguro, Tokyo, on October 26. Taking white, Ichiriki Ryo 8P beat Iyama Yuta Oza by 2.5 points after 285 moves. That’s a very encouraging start to his challenge for Ichiriki after the ordeal he underwent last winter. In effect, Ichiriki played a best-of-17 with Iyama when he made successive challenges for the 2017 Oza and Tengen and the 2018 Kisei titles; he was unable to pick up even one win, which means he lost ten title-match games in a row. However, there is a caveat concerning this win. Iyama actually played brilliantly from the opening on, first making a successful moyo invasion, then, in what was more or less a continuation of the same fight, winning a big ko fight in the center. At this point, he was convinced he had a win. His first misstep came when he missed the best defensive move for securing the capture of some stones related to the center ko fight. Ichiriki was able to take some profit by harassing his position. He then turned his left-side position into a moyo and, according to spectators, seemed to have visibly perked up. When Iyama missed an endgame move that would have kept him narrowly ahead, Ichiriki was able to pull off an upset. The second and third games will be played on November 17 and 19.

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The Power Report (1): Iyama’s sextuple crown under assault; Yoda wins international invitational; Fan of China dominates opening Nong Shim round; Tengen title match tied; Cho catches up in Meijin title match

Friday November 2, 2018

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama’s sextuple crown under assault: 
This is an unusual report. Though he lost the Gosei title to Kyo Kagen, Iyama Yuta still holds six titles, but he is now engaged in defending three of them and is meeting with setbacks in each one. I don’t believe any previous report has included so many Iyama losses over such a short period. These are the last of the top-seven title matches for this year, so at this point all Iyama can be completely confident of is that he will greet the New Year with at least three titles.

Yoda wins international invitational: Yet another special international tournament has been held in China. The previous one was the International Weiqi Great Players Tournament (described in my July 22 report). This one is called Camphor Tree: The Chinese Medical Capital Cup and was held in Camphor Tree (or Zhangshu) City in Jiangxi Province. I was unable to elucidate the meaning of the name, but it sounds as if there’s an interesting story behind it. A player was invited from each of Korea, Japan, and China, and an irregular knock-out was held on October 10 and 11. In the first game, Chang Hao 9P of China (B) beat Yoda Norimoto 9P of Japan by 3.5 points. Chang went directly to the final. In the second round, Yoda (B) beat Lee Changho 9P (Korea) by 1.5 points. The final was held on the second day. Taking white, Yoda beat Chang by resignation, winning the first prize of 150,000 yuan (a little over $21,500).2018.11.02_nongshim Fan left Shibano R

Fan of China dominates opening Nong Shim round: The first round of the 20th Nong Shim Spicy Noodles Cup was held in Beijing in mid-October. Japan got off to a good start when Shibano Toramaru won the first game, but then Fan Tingyu of China took over and won the remaining three games in this round. Results are given below:
Game 1 (Oct. 16). Shibano Toramaru 7P (Japan) (B) beat Ahn Kukhyun 8P (Korea) by resig.
Game 2 (Oct. 17). Fan Tingyu 9P (China) (W) beat Shibano by resig.
Game 3 (Oct. 18). Fan (B) beat Shin Minjoon 9P (Korea) by resig.
Game 4 (Oct. 19). Fan (W) beat Motoki Katsuya 8P (Japan) by resig.
The second round will be played in Busan from November 23 to 27 and the final round in Shanghai from February 18 to 22.

Tengen title match tied: The first game of the 44th Tengen title match was held at the Matsuya Sensen inn in Awara2018.11.02_44tengen game 1 Iyama right Hot Spring, Awara City, Fukui Prefecture on October 19. From the opening on, the game featured fierce fighting that spread over the whole board. Playing white, Iyama Yuta punished Black for a mistake toward the end of the game and secured a resignation after 234 moves. However, in the second game, played at the Toyo Grand Hotel in the town of Nakashibetsu (which in Ainu means “a place with many salmon”) in Hokkaido on October 29, Yamashita Keigo 9P (W) won by half a point after 312 moves. There is now a break of three and a half weeks till the third game, scheduled for November 23. Note: photo is from Game 3

Cho catches up in Meijin title match: In my previous report, I promised some more details on the fifth game of the 43rd Meijin title match. Playing white, the challenger, Cho U, won by 9.5 points. This made the score 2-3 and kept his chances alive. The game was held at the Tokiwa Hotel in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on October 15 and 16. Unlike the previous game, there was a peaceful start, so it looked like becoming an endgame contest. However, around the evening of the second day, Iyama Yuta Meijin made a do-or-die move, so complicated fighting started. This was tough on Iyama because he was in byo-yomi. Cho has a policy of trying to leave as much time for the late middle game and endgame; when Iyama reached his last ten minutes, which is when byo-yomi starts, Cho still had three hours and a half hours on his clock.
The fighting in the latter part of the game is too complicated to describe; suffice it to say that a major trade took place. During a subsequent ko fight, Iyama went wrong 2018.11.02_43meijin6 Cho rightwith his ko threat, so Cho took a safe lead.
The sixth game was played at the Atami Sekitei, a traditional Japanese inn that has hosted many important games and is located in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture, on October 22 and 23. There were no major fights in the first part of the game, so it looked like becoming a contest in endurance. However, Cho, playing black, built a strong wall that affected the whole board and helped him to gain points in various places. As in the previous game, Iyama launched a do-or-die attack in an attempt to upset Cho’s lead. In the difficult fight that followed, Cho’s reading surpassed that of the defending champion, so Iyama resigned after move 195. Akiyama Jiro 9P, the Asahi Newspaper commentator, summed up the game as follows: “This was a convincing win for the challenger. Rather than saying that the Meijin played some bad moves, my feeling was that the challenger’s performance surpassed that of the Meijin.” The deciding game will be played on November 1 and 2.

Tomorrow: Honinbo League; Korea wins International Gratitude Cup; Kono reaches Kisei play-off; Ichiriki makes good start in Oza

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Categories: Japan,John Power Report
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The Empty Board: Philosophical Reflections on Go #11

Wednesday October 31, 2018

By Bill Cobbart poster-purple

I’ve been working with Yuan Zhou on a new book about the astonishing degree to which pros are adopting an AlphaGo tactic that is a direct rejection of traditional theory about how to play. The move in question is invading on a 3-3 point behind the opponent’s 4-4 point stone very early in the game—even as Black’s third move! Any strong player would have laughed (or screamed if it was your teacher) if a relatively weak player had done that a year ago. But now, even the very top pros do it. I have seen several games in which Ke Jie 9p of China, considered by many to be the best player in the world, has done this, including invading with move 3 as Black. If you browse through the games in any pro tournament, you will find a lot of these early 3-3 invasions. I don’t know whether amateurs are picking up on this—the people I play on DragonGo often seem somewhat startled when I do it. But it is an amazing instance of how much freedom there is in playing go. The fact that AlphaGo has pretty much proved that go is not going to be “solved” so that a knowing player with first move can always win (even AlphaGo can’t do that), you can enjoy participating in something that truly offers a real opportunity for creativity and freedom. Of course, this doesn’t mean that anything goes and can be freely tried. Starting on the 1-1 points is not going to lead to a happy result. In that regard, go continues to be a lot like life. There are a lot of quite appropriate restrictions on our behavior, but no one really knows the limits of what can be done. Don’t just stay with the same old routines all the time—look for new possibilities. They could be revolutionary.

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 23: LIVE from Washington DC!

Monday October 22, 2018

Game 23 in the AlphaGo self-play game series gets a very special extended treatment in this episode of Michael Redmond 2018.10.22_AlphaGo23-demo-board9P’s commentaries with E-Journal Managing Editor Chris Garlock. The episode was recorded live on 2018.10.22_AlphaGo23Friday, September 7 at the National Go Center in Washington DC, before a live audience, which had braved torrential rains to be on hand. Redmond first provides a brief overview of the game and then the two move to a demonstration board (at 18:40) for a more in-depth analysis, along with Q&A with the live audience. Check out the video here and the commented game record below.

Thanks to Jeff Fitzgerald for camera, lighting and sound, Nathan Epstein for production, NGC Executive Director Gurujeet Khalsa for technical support, and Andrew Jackson for editing.

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