American Go E-Journal » Columns

AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 35: The ko that wasn’t

Saturday January 25, 2020

Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock return with their latest AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo game commentary, Game 35 of the series, posted on the AGA’s YouTube Channel.

The game features “A lot of intense fighting in the center of the board that sort of spreads to the corners,” says Redmond. Plus, “We’ll see some ko’s, as well as some ko’s that didn’t happen.”

The commentary was originally streamed live on Twitch, which gave viewers a chance to interact with Redmond and Garlock, who will be live-streaming more game commentaries — some AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo and some of Redmond’s games — on January 30 on the AGA’s Twitch channel. Follow the AGA’s Twitch channel and get notified of live streams.

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Double Redmond on Twitch tonight

Thursday January 23, 2020

Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock return to the AGA’s Twitch channel this Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7p EDT with two brand-new live game commentaries. Both will be on games by Redmond in the Judan B elimination tournament last year, one against Shiraishi Yuichi, the other against Kudo Norio, who won the Oza in 1977 and the Tengen in 1997. “Lots of fighting and dead groups,” says Redmond. “The high point of the game against Kudo was that I calculated a difficult endgame to win by half a point and got it right.”

“Love these commentaries,” says viewer Frank van Will about the latest Redmond Review (Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 17: Michael Redmond 9P vs. Takao Shinji 9P). “The analysis of the lower right corner joseki was fascinating,” added hippophile. “You could have gone on for an hour and I would have been happy!”


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Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 17: Michael Redmond 9P vs Takao Shinji 9P

Friday January 17, 2020

Tune in to the AGA’s YouTube Channel at 6p EST today when Redmond’s Reviews Episode 17 with Chris Garlock and Michael Redmond 9p is released.

In this 93-minute episode, Michael reviews his Meijin tournament game with Takao Shinji 9P, which he calls his “best game of the year,” or as he also puts it, “my one half-decent game.” Most of the time, Redmond adds, “I seem to have the right idea” in this game, which features a lot of fighting. Takao held the Meijin title three years ago, dropped out of the league the next year, and the following year made the league’s final section. “He’s still at the top of the tournament scene in many ways,” Redmond says, noting that Takao is in the highest league of the Kisei tournament. A prodigy from an early age, Takao “played a thick, influence-oriented style, until he was confronted by Cho U,” whose territory-oriented style “inspired Takao to adapt his style and he does more fighting nowadays.” Chris and Michael also chat about what they were up to during their break from producing video commentaries, along with an update on their AlphaGo book-in-progress.

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The commentary was originally streamed live on Twitch, which gave viewers a chance to interact with Redmond and Garlock, who will be live-streaming more game commentaries — some AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo and some of Redmond’s games — on January 23 and 30 on the AGA’s Twitch channel. Follow the AGA’s Twitch channel and get notified of live streams.

Video produced by Stephen Hu, Allen Moy, Chris Garlock and Andrew Jackson.

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Redmond livestream tonight on Twitch

Thursday January 16, 2020

Tune in the AGA’s Twitch channel tonight at 7p EST for a livestream game commentary by Michael Redmond 9P with Chris Garlock. Follow the AGA’s Twitch channel and get notified of live streams. “Hope this series never ends!” said psyopus syzygy. “Learn so much from Michael. Thank youuuuu!!”

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 34: The AI and the ponnuki

Friday January 10, 2020

After a brief break for the holidays, Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock return with their latest AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo game commentary.

The game features a ponnuki* near the center of the board,” and Redmond says that “nowadays with people getting new ideas from AI’s, a lot of the old ideas — the old values, you might say — about things like ponnukis or josekis have been questioned. So in this game we get to see how an AI handles a ponnuki.” After that, Redmond warns, “things get very tactical, there’s a lot of calculating, a lot of groups and you have to figure out what’s alive and what’s dead; there’s a lot to figure out.”

The commentary was originally streamed live on Twitch, which gave viewers a chance to interact with Redmond and Garlock, who will be live-streaming more game commentaries — some AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo and some of Redmond’s games — on January 16, 23 and 30 on the AGA’s Twitch channel. Follow the AGA’s Twitch channel and get notified of live streams.

* Capturing a single stone, leaving a diamond shape. According to the proverb, “A ponnuki is worth thirty points” Sensei’s Library

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The Power Report: December updates

Monday December 30, 2019

by John Power, Japan correspondent for the E-Journal

Iyama loses Oza, keeps Tengen

   Iyama Yuta started the year with five titles, but ended it with only three. Like the previous year, he lost two titles, but he remains the number one player even in his 30s.

   The fourth game of the 67th Oza title match was played at the Ginbaso inn in Nishiura Hot Spring in Gamagori City, Aichi Prefecture, on November 29. Taking white, Shibano Toramaru Meijin (left) beat Iyama Yuta (right) by half a point. This gave him a lead of 3-1, so he took the title. The first half of the game focused on a struggle by Black to secure life for a group inside White’s sphere of influence. Shibano’s attack was more severe than Iyama had expected: he seemed to read more deeply in this fight. He discarded a group while capturing the tail of Black’s group in sente, so he took the lead here. However, he made a slip later that let Black catch up. The game was decided by the final half-point ko: Black didn’t have enough threats to win it.

   This is Shibano’s second title, so he has clearly established himself as Japan’s number two. Shibano: “There were many difficult positions and tough fights [in the series]. I was lucky to win.” Iyama: “Shibano has developed into a player who can represent Japan. I expect even bigger things from him. [As for being reduced to three titles,] I would like to commend myself for having been able to secure good results over a long period. Going by my recent form, this loss can’t be helped.”

   Iyama came to the fourth game of the 45th Tengen title match in the same position as in the Oza: down 1-2 to a youthful challenger. Kyo Kagen (aged 21) was also the player who put an end to his second grand slam when he beat Iyama 3-0 in the 43rd Gosei title. The 4th game was played at the Hotel New Awaji, a hot spring hotel in Sumoto City, Hyogo Prefecture, on December 9. Taking black, Iyama forced a resignation after 177 moves. This game started with the large avalanche joseki, which was the king of the josekis in the 70s. Kyo got a bad result, with his outside influence not being a match for Black’s territory. Kyo narrowed the gap with some good play later, but Iyama kept the initiative and scored a comfortable win.

   The fifth game was played at the Tokushima Grandvrio Hotel in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, on December 18. Kyo drew black in the nigiri. The game was a spectacular one: Kyo fell behind, so he started a fight to the death between two large groups; Iyama outplayed him, saving his group and securing the lead. The game ended in a large capturing race that Kyo lost, so he resigned after move 234.

   Incidentally, ever since he won the Honinbo title in 2012, Iyama has always held at least three titles. 

Nakamura Sumire beats 9-dan, is top new 1-dan

   Ten-year-old Sumire is continuing to enjoy good results, scoring a win against a 9-dan, but her winning streak against male professionals has come to an end. Details of her games since my previous report are given below, but first let’s look at an honor she earned off the go board. A meeting of go-linked media representatives to choose the 37th Japan Igo Journalists Club Prize was held at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo on November 26, and, not surprisingly, the unanimous choice was Sumire. There were other landmark performances by young players—for example, Shibano Toramaru’s becoming the first teenaged Meijin and Ueno Asami’s becoming the first woman to reach the final of a tournament open to male and female players—but they did not match the impact Sumire had on both the go world and the general public. The citation read: “[Sumire] attracted attention as the youngest professional in history and has had outstanding results since becoming 1-dan. Her success is worthy of the Special Promotion System.” 

   In a game in the second round of the 45th Kisei preliminary tournament, played at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in on November 28, Sumire (W) beat Baba Shigeru 9P (aged 71) by resignation after 260 moves. This took her official record to 13-5 and was her seventh win in a row against male players. After the game, she said: “I thought it was bad for me.” Baba commented: “She played tenaciously at the end. I think the lead changed hands two or three times in the endgame.” Three more wins in the Kisei will secure a seat in the C League, which would be quite a coup.

   The sponsors of the 2nd Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen) tournament arranged as a side event a best-of-three match between Sumire and Wu Yiming 2P of China. It had the grand title of the Japan-China Women Super New Stars Invitational Best-of-Three. The result was a 2-0 win for Wu, who had just turned 13. This victory won her a seeded place in the 3rd Cup next year. The games were played in the Wu Qingyuan Hall in Fuzhou City, which is the hometown of Wu Qingyuan, in Fujian Province on December 2 and 3. Taking black, Wu won the first game by resignation; in the second game, Wu (W) won by 2.5 points. Sumire’s parents accompanied her on the trip, and her father, Shinya 9P, commented: “Overall, she showed all her strength. This result reflects her present level.” Sumire again attracted a lot of attention and a photo of her was used for the cover of the weiqi magazine Weiqi Universe. Incidentally, her opponent Wu became 1-dan last year in the Chinese qualifying tournament; she was one of 14 women who were successful. This year another 12 women made it, but Wu is still the youngest female player in China. (These games are not counted by the Nihon Ki-in as official games; just guessing, but the reason might be that, as invitational games, they are not in a tournament open to other women players.)

   On December 9, Sumire played Hane Ayaka 1P in the preliminary tournament for the 7th Aizu Central Hospital Women’s Hollyhock Cup. Taking black, Sumire won by 7.5 points after 290 moves. Her record against Hane, daughter of Hane Naoki Gosei, is now 2-0. She needs two more wins to get a seat in the main tournament. The game was played at the Nagoya Nihon Ki-in.

   On the 12th, Sumire played Komatsu Daiki 3P in Preliminary B of the 59th Judan tournament. Taking black, she lost by resignation after 202 moves. This put an end to her winning streak against male players. 

   On December 16, Sumire played Nyu Eiko 2P in one of the finals of the preliminary round of the 45th King of the New Stars tournament. Nyu (W) won by 6.5 points. The game was played at the Nihon Ki-in in Tokyo.

   On December 19, Sumire played Takatsu Masaaki 1P in the preliminary tournament of the 45th Kisei tournament. Taking white, Sumire won by resignation after 294 moves. 

   On December 23, Sumire played Tafu Kae 3-dan of the Kansai Ki-on in the preliminary round of the 5th Senko Cup. Taking white, she won by resignation after 224 moves. The game was played at the Kansai Ki-in. Two more wins will secure her a seat in the main tournament, in which the top 16 women players compete.

   Sumire’s last official game of the year was played at the Kansai headquarters of the Nihon Ki-in in preliminary C of the 46th Meijin tournament on December 26. Her opponent was Yamada Wakio 7P, younger brother of Yamada Shiho 7P, whom she beat in October (their younger brother is Yamada Kimio 9P). Taking white, she secured a resignation after 144 moves. Actually her opponent had the lead, but, according to Ishii Kunio 9P, “as if entranced, he played a move he shouldn’t have,” so she pulled off an upset. This result was reported on at least 11 different news sites on the Net,  

   Sumire’s record for the first “year” (actually nine months) of her career was 17-7, a winning record of 70.8%. These stats were the best of the 13 new 1-dans who debuted in 2019. That’s a remarkable performance, and no one can claim to have foreseen it. In an interview after the award ceremony for the above-mentioned press prize, held on December 17, Sumire commented: “I won more than I expected, so I’m happy Becoming a pro and being able to travel to China and Taiwan for games was great. I’ll do my best to get stronger next year.” Her first 2020 game is on January 13. She plans to attend a summer camp in Japan at the end of December and to make a study trip to Korea in the new year.

Choi wins 2nd Wu Qingyuan Cup

   The semifinals and finals of the 2nd Wu Qingyuan Cup World Women’s Championship were held in the Wu Qingyuan Hall in Fuzhou City in Fujian Province. Fuzhou was the birthplace of Wu Qingyuan (Go Seigen). As reported in the June 23 issue of this journal, three Chinese and one Korean made the best four. In the semifinals, held on November 30, Choi Jeong 9P (Korea) beat Li He 5P and Wang Chenxing 5P beat Rui Naiwei 9P. The latter was apparently an epic game. The 28-year-old Wang became well known when she won the 4th Bingsheng Cup in 2013. She married Liu Xing 7P and after having a baby in 2017, became famous for taking it with her around the country as she played in the women’s team league. The 55-year-old Rui, who has won 13 women’s titles, seemed to have a sure win, but Wang fought back, securing a four-approach-move ko, usually quite disadvantageous (she had to add four stones before it became an immediate ko), for a group of hers that had been captured. Somehow she pulled off an upset. Rui was bitterly disappointed: as a disciple of Wu’s, she would have loved to win this tournament.

   The final is a best-of-three. On December 2, Choi (W) beat Chen by resig. and on the 3rd, Choi (B) again won by resig., so she took the title 2-0. First prize is worth 500,000 yuan (about $71,500). Choi has also won the Bingsheng title four times. She confirmed her standing as the world’s number one woman player.

Cho U wins Japan-China Kiriyama Play-off

   The 21st Japan-China Agon Kiriyama Cup Play-off was held at the Guangzhou Garden Hotel in Guangzhou City in China on December 3. Taking white, Cho U 9P (Japan) beat Fan Tingyu 9P (China) by 1.5 points after 300 moves. This is the first win for Japan in four years and its sixth overall. It is also Cho’s first win in five appearances.

Suzuki to challenge for Women’s Kisei

   The play-off to decide the challenger to Ueno Asami for the 23rd Women’s Kisei title was held in the Ryusei Studio in the basement of the Nihon Ki-in on December 5. Playing white, Suzuki Ayumi 7P beat Nyu Eiko 2P by resignation. Suzuki will be making her first challenge for this title and playing in her first title match since 2015. The best-of-three will get off to a start on January 16.

75th Honinbo League

   After three rounds, league debutant Kyo Kagen 8P has the sole lead with 3-0. He is followed by four players with one loss. Recent results: 

(Dec. 5) Hane Naoki Gosei (W) beat Shibano Toramaru Meijin by resig.; Ichiriki Ryo 8P (B) beat Yamashita Keigo 9P by half a point; Kyo Kagen 8P (B) beat Yokotsuka Riki 7P by resig.

(Dec. 19) Kono Rin 9P (W) beat Shida Tatsuya 8P by 2.5 points.

45th Meijin League

    The new Meijin League got off to a start on December 12. Ichiriki Ryo (B) beat the previous Meijin Cho U 9P by resig.; Hane Naoki (W) beat Yamashita Keigo by 2.5 points; and Kyo Kagen (B) beat Murakawa Daisuke Judan by resig. The first round was concluded on December 26, when Iyama Yuta clashed with Kono Rin, who will challenge him for the Kisei title in January. The result was a convincing win for Iyama, who, playing black, forced a resignation after 161 moves. Kono will have to rethink his strategy over the New Year.

Ueno sets women’s record

    In a game played on December 26 in Preliminary C of the 46th Meijin tournament, Ueno Asami (aged 18) (B) beat Mitsunaga Junzo 6P by half a point. This was her 44th win (to 25 losses), so she broke the record for most wins by a woman player set by Fujisawa Rina last year. She also maintained her third place in the most-wins list.

First pros from Southeast Asia

   The Winter Qualifying Tournament for new professionals next year was held in October and November and concluded on November 24. Usually the top two place-getters qualify as 1-dan, but for players from outside the Far East there is a rule, known as the Special Qualification for Overseas Citizens, according to which a 50-50 score earns you the status of a probationary 1-dan. Two players have just qualified under this rule. They are Chang Fu Kang of Malaysia and Fitra Rafif Shidoki (this spelling is just a guess) of Indonesia. They both scored 9-5 and finished 4th and 5th respectively in the 16-player tournament. Chang was born on January 30, 2003 and is a student of Hong Seisen 4P of the Kansai Ki-in. He learnt go in Shanghai as a preschooler; he wanted to become a pro, but thought that he might have trouble as a Malaysian. Fortunately, he heard about the Nihon Ki-in system and has been studying in Japan since January this year. Fitla was born on August 12, 2002 and has no teacher. He commented: “I want to do well, so people don’t think I’m weaker than regular professionals.” Although his parents are Indonesian, he was actually born and brought up in Tokyo.

   The last player to qualify under this system was Antti Tormanen of Finland four years ago. (Probationary players become full-fledged professionals when they earn promotion to 3-dan, which requires 50 wins. Until then, they receive just half of the regular game fees.) The new pros will start their careers on April 1. 

Promotions

To 9-dan: Omori Yasushi (at right; 200 wins, as of November 29)
To 8-dan: Mochizuki Ken’ichi (150 wins, as of December 13)
To 3-dan: Oomote Takuto (40 wins, as of December 20) 

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Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 16: Michael Redmond 9P vs Otake Hideo 9P

Friday December 27, 2019

Grab an extra-large bucket of popcorn and tune in to the AGA’s YouTube Channel at 6p today when Redmond’s Reviews Episode 16, with Chris Garlock and Michael Redmond 9p is released.

In this 90-minute episode, Michael reviews his game with Otake Hideo 9P. This game was played in August 2019, just a week after the RR #15 game against Ishida Yoshio that started Redmond’s winning streak. The game was in a different tournament than the Ishida game — this one is from the Oza — but Redmond once again has white, plays the star points and the opening is similar to the game against Ishida. Things take a few different turns in this game, and Redmond provides a detailed and entertaining commentary.
In his prime, Otake held a number of titles, including the Meijin. “He said he didn’t like to get too busy,” so Otake never held multiple titles, Redmond says. Otake plays “a very natural style and tends to play for thickness, but he can play any kind of game.”

“Great to see one of Michael’s games, and congratulations on the nailbiting win!” commented Rory Mitchell on RR #15. “Interesting background on how computer analyses are being used by pros and amateurs alike nowadays.” Quang Nguyen said that “I subscribed to this channel for Redmond’s brilliant analyzing, seeing him analyzing himself makes me understand better how to make more of my games and how to improve.” Tolux303 added “Early Christmas with this many Redmond vids!”

Video produced by Stephen Hu, Allen Moy, Chris Garlock and Andrew Jackson.

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50 years aGO: December 1969

Tuesday December 24, 2019

Keith Arnold (hka) with Patrick Bannister

On December 10 we see the daughter of the great Kitani, then Kitani Reiko 6 dan (right), defeating Honda Sachiko 4 dan to even up her defense of the 16th Ladies Honinbo Title. She would lose the decisive game on Christmas Eve. She was also the wife of Kobayashi Koichi 9 dan and mother of Kobayashi Izumi 6 dan. It is noteworthy that while she held this title half a dozen times, her great father and dominant tournament playing husband never managed to capture the Honinbo title.

On December 17 rising star Ishida Yoshio 4 dan captured the first game of the 17th Nihon Kiin Championship over veteran Ohira Shuzo 9 dan. We know Ohira 9 dan s the author of the book translated as “Appreciating Famous Games” by Ishi Press. Of course, Ishida now 9 dan is still active, a recent Redmond Reviews featured a game of Michael’s with him recently.

On Christmas, Otake Hideo 8 dan completed his sweep of Sakata Eio 9 dan in the Judan title. Go Review, while praising the young man’s victory, shared a classic go fan’s lament, “ Sakata, who once had many big titles became a mere 9 dan, losing the last title he had”. Here’s a shot of the first game of that match.

Finally, in its tenth issue, The British Go Journal reported the promotion of John Fairbairn to 2 dan. In addition to being the greatest baseball fan in England, fantastic Scots dancer and best inside London tour guide a dad could ask for, John is a prolific translator and author of go books – including “Appreciating Famous Games,” and my all-time favorite, “Kamakura.” If that is not enough, surely his role with the late T Mark Hall on the GoGod game collection and database cement his place on the Mount Rushmore of Western Go.

Photo credits: Go Review, Igo Club and Melanie Arnold

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Redmond’s Reviews, Episode 15: Michael Redmond 9P vs Ishida Yoshio 9P

Saturday December 21, 2019

In this episode, Michael Redmond reviews his game with the legendary Ishida Yoshio 9P. This game started Redmond’s winning streak earlier this year; up to this game Redmond had never won against Ishida.
A student at the legendary Kitani Minoru go school, Ishida’s fellow students included Cho Chikun, Kobayashi Koichi, Kato Masao, and Takemiya Masaki. He joined the dojo at a young age like his fellow students and became a professional in 1963 when he was 15. His dan rank grew quickly because of the Oteai. He would go up the ranks faster than rules allowed after winning the first 14 Oteai games when he was being promoted from 6 to 7 dan. He reached 9 dan in 11 years, faster than most other players. Ishida was given the nickname “The Computer” because his yose play and counting skills were far more accurate than other pros.

Click here to see the video, produced by Stephen Hu, Allen Moy and Andrew Jackson.

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AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo; Game 33: Slightly unusual josekis

Saturday December 14, 2019

The latest AlphaGo vs. AlphaGo game commentary — Game 33 — from Michael Redmond 9P and Chris Garlock. The popular series resumed last week after a 6-month hiatus. “This time we’re going to be seeing some slightly unusual josekis,” says Redmond, “including some of the fighting follow-ups to the 3-3 invasion. And, unlike the crash we saw in #32, this is another of those long, close games.”

NOTE: The EJ plans to livestream from the First Southeast Asia GO Congress, which runs December 15-22 in Singapore. Be sure to follow the AGA’s Twitch channel and get notified of live streams.

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